Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Professional Learning Communities: Empowering Teacher Leaders for the Twenty-First Century
Ervin F. Sparapani, Danielle R. MacKay, David G. Fuchs, Paul J. Voydanoff, Shannon M. Pietras, Nicole M. Rogers

Teaching is a complex endeavor. Given the diversity in today’s classrooms as well as recent federal legislation, this task becomes more and more challenging. It is apparent that teachers are caught between doing what they know is best for students and meeting federal and state expectations. Teachers know what they should do to meet students’ needs, but fear the repercussions of not meeting specified outcomes. Teacher empowerment has become an issue. “Empowerment” has at its base the concept of “power,” and, from the perspective of school, “teacher empowerment,” particularly here in the twenty-first century, raises issues about teacher decision-making and accountability. No Child Left Behind, the common core curriculum, and the resultant high-stakes testing have placed unprecedented expectations on teachers. The problem is that teachers, as has already been stated, are charged with providing appropriate instruction and are held accountable by school districts for meeting expectations of state mandates, but have been marginalized in their ability to make decisions regarding best practice. “Empowerment, as perceived by Short, Greer, and Melvin (1994, see Bogler & Somech, 2004) is defined as ‘a process whereby school participants develop the competence to take charge of their own growth and resolve their own problems’” (Bogler & Somech, 2004, p. 278).

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