Public School Teachers and Responsible Advocacy: What Are the Perceived Limits?
This qualitative study focused on the attitudes of a sample of 60 teachers in two Houston Independent School District schools toward applying public relations strategies, particularly responsible advocacy and advocacy-like techniques, to help reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students. It also focused on ethical implications of any attempt by teachers to mobilize public opinion to demand change and on the perceived ethical problems in failing to address the achievement gap. A six-page, 14-part survey instrument was used to measure attitudes. Results show that large majorities of teachers endorsed the use of responsible advocacy and advocacy-like techniques and that many actually said they have engaged in responsible advocacy in behalf of public school education. Results suggest (a) a need for a process to address the achievement gap, (b) a high demand for more professional development opportunities for teachers, and (c) a need to promote understanding of the values—such as justice, critique, and care—that might guide an individual’s ethical practice in schools. Scholars and practitioners can further explore the link between public relations, education, and responsible advocacy with social justice being the common denominator. The author recommends large-scale quantitative studies grounded in this research, which helped map the theoretical ground that should be explored.