Teachers’ resistance to educational reform has been explored, with special attention given to the reasons driving opposition and the resistance practices employed inside school walls. These studies have not, however, examined the agenda setting strategy employed by teachers opposing new policy on the national level, nor has any extensive study focused on the messages or rhetoric characterizing their opposition. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the rhetoric and images used in web‐based campaigns by teachers to secure public support for their resistance to the “New Horizon” reform in Israel 2007 teachers’ strike.
This study employs a descriptive case study methodology to illustrate the bottom‐up political strategy employed by teachers seeking public support for their opposition to reform. Content analysis of entries and manifestos posted on prominent teachers’ weblogs and partisan school web sites during Israel’s 64‐day teachers’ strike in 2007 was conducted. Texts discussing the reform and its leaders, as well as educational and policy issues were analyzed inductively, divided according to meaning units, and then grouped together into categories.
Data indicate that the media, and specifically the internet, are perceived as major arena for garnering legitimacy and support. Teachers’ rhetoric of resistance to reform was found to be characterized by: the use of emotional and rational appeals, the attempt to present teachers as “champions of education”, the use of dramatic labeling addressed at reformist leaders, and symbolic images of political parties.
The paper presents a conceptual model of political processes in the education system. The findings show the agenda setting strategy as reflected in teachers’ cross‐level bottom‐up attempts to influence politics. Furthermore, teachers’ rhetoric in resisting educational reform shows great similarity to the rhetoric of political campaigns. Theoretical and practical implications of findings are discussed.