Susan Moore Johnson is the Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she served as academic dean 1993-1999. A former high school teacher and administrator, Johnson has an ongoing research interest in the work of teachers and the reform of schools and school systems. Johnson has written three books about teachers and their work: Teacher Unions in Schools (1984), focuses on the role of teachers unions in the day-to-day work of schools. Teachers at Work examines the school as a workplace for teachers. Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (2006), written with colleagues at The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, centers on the experiences of new teachers. Subsequent research at the Project focuses on teachers’ careers, alternative preparation, the role of unions, hiring, induction, performance-based pay, teacher teams, and teacher evaluation. Between 2007 and 2014, Johnson served as co-chair of the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP), where she and her colleagues wrote Achieving Coherence in District Improvement (2015), which examines the management relationship between the central office and schools in five large urban school districts. Johnson is a member of the National Academy of Education.
In this interview, which is part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Johnson shares her thoughts on the most important issues in education change today:
At this time, public education is being seriously challenged in the US by citizens and politicians who do not believe that our society should invest the resources necessary to educate all students. Educational change is not being designed to provide greater opportunity for all students, but instead, to increase options for some students. Although I think that market-based strategies and de-regulated schools can contribute to a richer, more robust system of schools, relying on those mechanisms alone will not lead to a well-informed, prosperous society. Although this current direction of reform concerns me greatly, I continue to be encouraged by the work of certain states, districts, and schools that reap benefits from their sustained commitment to both equity and excellence.
This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also published interviews with Diane Ravitch, and the contributors to Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform (Teachers College Press, 2013) edited by Helen Janc Malone, have participated in a series of blogs from Education Week.