Philosophies of education of administrators in demographically matched charter and public schools of one Florida county


Material Information

Philosophies of education of administrators in demographically matched charter and public schools of one Florida county
Physical Description:
vi, 179 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Hegarty, Mona T
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations thesis, Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2001.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 166-178).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mona T. Hegarty.
General Note:
General Note:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 028216035
oclc - 49315298
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text







This study could not have been conducted without the cooperation of the

twelve principals and two directors who unselfishly gave their time to participate.

My heartfelt thanks go to this group of educators.

My appreciation goes to my committee chairpersons, Dr. Paul George and

Dr. David Honeyman for their encouragement, enthusiasm, and willingness to

work with me although an ocean separated us. Thanks also go to my wonderful

committee members Dr. James Doud, Dr. Francis Vandiver, and Dr. Walter

Busby for their accessibility and sound advice.

My gratitude extends to a dream team support group in this thesis

endeavor: my brother, Dr. Alan Teck; Dr. Beree Darby; Angela Rowe; Dr. Karen

Castor-Dentel; Miriam Pacheco; Dr. Katherine Gratto; Eileen and Melissa

Swearingen; and the Atlantic Design and Construction family. Without them this

work could not have been completed.

The love of my family, Eugene, Erinna, Galen, and Evan Hegarty and Dr.

Lisa Tichenor, makes it possible for me to follow my dreams wherever they may

take us.

Finally, thanks to my mother Sue Teck and my late father, Jack Teck, for

providing loving guidance and a firm foundation in my life.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................... ............ ............. ii

ABSTRACT.................. ...... ........ .... ...... v


1 INTRODUCTION........................ ................. 1
Statement of the Problem........................ ..... 2
Purpose of the Study................... ..... ........ 4
Delimitation......................... ...................... 6
Lim itations......................................... 6
Significance of the Study......................... ..... 7
Definition of Terms............................. ............ 8

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE............................ 10
Philosophy, Education, and the Philosophy of
Education............................... ........... ......... 10
Educational Philosophies............................ ......... 13
The Need for Educators to Clarify Their Own
Educational Philosophies................... ...... 24
Uncovering Philosophies in Schools...................... 27
Philosophical Debates of the Twentieth Century........ 29
Other Research on Educational Philosophy Related
to School Choice............................... ......... 33
Situating Charter Schools in the Historical, Political,
and Philosophical Context of Education in the
United States................... ............. 34
Charter School Defintions............................. 40
The Growth of Charter Schools.............................. 42
Federal Charter Schools Legislation....................... 44
Florida Charter Schools Legislation......................... 45
Florida's Academic Accountability........................... 46
The Public's Attitude Toward Schools: Public and
Charter............................. .................. ............. 47
Some Charter School Issues and Debates................ 48
Summary....................................................... 74

3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY................................. 76
Introduction............... ..... ... ............. 76
Purpose and Hypothesis..................... ........ 76
Research Participants........................ ............ 77
Instrumentation....................... ................... 77
Statistical Methods................................ 81
Qualitative Data Collection............................. ....... 82
The Interview Process.................. ...... ...... 83
Qualitative Data Analysis...................................... 87

4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION............................... 89
Introduction.......................... ...................... 89
Descriptive Information........................... ........ 90
Quantitative Results.............................. ........ 90
Qualitative Findings................... ....... ...... ........ 97
Summary of Findings......................... ............ 111

Introduction....................................... .............. 113
Additional Limitations Found in this Study.................. 113
Discussion of Implications...................... ............ 115
Recommendations................... ...... .. ...... 120


A INFORMED CONSENT.................. ...... ............. 122

SCHOOLS............................ .. .......... 124



E INTERVIEW CATEGORIES.................. ............. 164

REFERENCES.............................................. 166

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................ ............... 179

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements of Doctor of Philosophy



Mona T. Hegarty

December, 2001

Chairmen: Dr. Paul S. George and David S. Honeyman
Major Department: Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations

The purpose of this study was to examine differences among philosophies

of education of leaders in charter schools compared to leaders in

demographically matched public schools in one medium-sized school district in

north central Florida. Based on the Philosophy of Education Inventory (PEI)

(Zinn, 1997) the following null hypothesis was tested:

There are no significant differences in the average scores of public and

charter school principals on the five philosophical scales measured by the


Six charter schools were operating in this school district. These six were

matched with six public schools for a total sample size of twelve participants.

Demographic matching considered the percentage of students eligible to receive

free- or reduced-price lunch and the percentage of Hispanic and African-

American students.

To investigate this question, both quantitative and qualitative methods

were used. The quantitative component consisted of applying criteria in the PEI

to all administrators included in the study. A repeated measures analysis of

variance was performed to test significance of differences among means on the

two groups: charter and public. Repeated measures on each of the five

philosophies were applied to determine whether or not there were interactions.

Specific contrasts were also planned for instances when main effects were


The qualitative component was comprised of collecting data from multiple

sources: informal observations at selected school sites, structured interviews with

all participants, structured interviews with a board member and the director of

charter schools for the school district, and document reviews.

The findings indicated no significant difference in the philosophies of

charter and public school administrators. Furthermore, both groups preferred the

behavioral education and progressive education philosophies. Observations,

interviews, and document reviews indicated differences in administrators' abilities

to align school operations with their philosophies of education. Most charter

school administrators believed they were able to put their philosophy of

education into action more easily due to the size of the operation, hiring

practices, ability to supervise directly financial decisions, and closer proximity to

staff and constituents.


The launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the report of the National Commission

on Excellence in Education (1983) sharply increased interest in alternatives to

traditional public school education. Since those early concerns about the quality

of our education system, educational critics, reformers, and the public at large

have suggested that our public schools have failed to meet the needs of at least

some of the students they serve (Futrell, 1989; Granowsky, 2000; National

Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; Ravitch, 1983; Stevenson &

Stigler, 1992). In the final years of the 20th century, alternative visions of

education continued to proliferate (Cline & Witte, 1990; Fuller & Elmore, 1996;

Rawson, 1992; Steel & Levin, 1994). One such vision, the charter school

movement was tentatively outlined in the1970s by Budde (Liu, 1999). It was later

proposed in 1988 by the late president of the American Federation of Teachers,

Albert Shanker. By 1996, it had grown to an estimated 226 schools nationwide,

serving approximately 28,000 students (American Federation of Teachers, 1996).

By 1998, more than 800 charter schools existed (Nathan, 1998). At the turn of

the century, 2000 charter schools were serving more than 430,000 children

(Center for Educational Reform, 2000). These schools presumably reflected a

variety of beliefs that represented the values, beliefs, and attitudes of their

founders (Liu, 1999; Matwick, 1996; Othus, 1998).

In both the public school and charter school setting, educational leaders

must make a variety of decisions. Beliefs about the purpose of education provide

a basis for selecting instructional content, establishing teaching and learning

objectives, selecting and developing instructional materials, interacting with

learners, and assessing educational outcomes. The view that theory cannot be

separated from practice was widely supported in the literature (Cuffaro, 1995;

Nespor & Garrison, 1992). An educator's belief system, whether well formulated

or only vaguely recognized, whether understood explicitly or implicitly, served as

an interpretive filter that directed that person's actions (Barth, 1990; Bolman &

Deal, 1997; Drake & Row, 1999; Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 1996). Even

though a person's life philosophy was ever-changing, accommodating new

experiences and needs, those philosophical beliefs provided a framework by

which to live and act.

There are historically recognized positive correlations between beliefs and

actions in the literature of psychological theory, values clarification, and

educational theory. Thus, it was believed that there might be value in comparing

the philosophy of educational leaders in charter schools with the philosophies of

educational leaders in demographically matched public schools.

Statement of the Problem

Proliferation of charter schools nationwide has resulted in numerous

concerns. Critics decried the diverting of public school dollars to charter schools,

and cited gaps in financial, academic, and equity accountability (Dygraff & Lewis,

1998; Furtwengler, 1998; Hawley, 1996; McKinney, 1996; Medler &

Nathan,1995; Molnar,1996a; Tyack,1992). Supporters cited school choice and a

match between stakeholders' educational philosophies and the philosophy of the

charter school of choice as an optimum condition for achieving desired academic

outcomes (Nathan, 1996; Page & Levine, 1996). Philosophical arguments

appeared on both sides in educational journals and in the mainstream media.

The increasing incidence of school choice rather than compulsory assignment

indicated the need for more research into differences in those two public

education institutions.

The increase in the number of charter schools prompted researchers to

study potential improvements that charter schools might contribute. Schools at

the start of the 21st century faced new demands and new kinds of students

(Morris, 1992). Inquiring into educational leaders' values, goals, beliefs, and

vision as expressed in their educational philosophies for their schools seemed a

viable starting point to increase understanding.

Hoyle, English, and Steffy (1998) expressed the need for every school

leader to have a well-defined educational philosophy in order to make decisions

that might not be handled through skill and knowledge alone. Comparing the

philosophies of charter school educational leaders to demographically similar

public school educational leaders in the same area was expected to extend the

knowledge base concerning what philosophies were operating in charter and

public schools. It was also expected to define, interpret, and further elucidate the

diversity within the charter school movement and between charter and traditional

public schools. Stereotypes of schools may have prevented public school parents

from making informed decisions. Research was needed so that the public would

be better educated about the diversity that existed within the public schools.

Central problems to understanding the nature of charter schools included

understanding the concept of charters and how their goals, curricula, and

methodologies reflected philosophies that might differ from traditional schools.

There was also a need for traditional public schools to identify more specifically

the educational practices at work in their schools, so that they too might more

clearly formulate a coherent philosophy that could be communicated to the public

(Chandler, 1999).

Charter schools were public schools mainly founded by what Adler (1997)

termed "intrapreneurial" citizens. These were people who valued innovation and

had a passion for quality education and new ways of thinking. Originally, charter

schools were conceived as a way of bringing families into the process of learning

(Becker, Nakagawa, & Corwin, 1995). Another view (Budde, 1988) was that

groups of teachers within schools, who held a similar philosophy, would negotiate

a contract with their school board to create and implement educational

innovations in a school-within-a-school setting.

Amsler (1992) claimed that Budde had originated the school-within-a-

school model, one of the major educational innovations at the close of the 20th

century that continued into the 21st century. Charter schools could be viewed as

an extension of that movement as they prompted individuals, teachers, parents,

a group of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity organized under the laws of

a state to propose a charter school (Florida's Charter School Legislation-1999

Version). In each of the 37 states with charter legislation, pre-existing public

schools could convert to charter status (RPP International, 2000).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine differences among philosophies

of education of leaders in charter schools compared to leaders in

demographically matched public schools. Based on the Philosophy of Education

Inventory (PEI) (Zinn, 1997) the following null hypothesis was tested:

There are no significant differences in the average scores of public and

charter school principals on the five philosophical scales measured by the


One medium-size school district in north central Florida was selected, and

schools were demographically matched using two criteria: (a) the percentage of

students eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches, a standard measure

used to determine socio-economic status (SES); and (b) ethnicity-the

percentage of African-American and Hispanic students (see Appendix B for

demographic matching of participants' school populations used in this study).

The selection of the educational leader focused on the principal of the public

school matched with an educator of similar standing in the charter school,

presumably the director.

Statistical analysis was employed to identify philosophical preferences of

educational leaders in each type of school: public and charter. Descriptive

statistics were generated. Differences were analyzed among educational leaders'

philosophies within the traditional and charter school settings and between the

settings. The percentage of educational leaders expressing no clear

philosophical preference, or expressing conflicting philosophical preferences,

was calculated. Follow-up interviews were conducted to deepen the

understanding of philosophies revealed by the PEI.


The following delimitation existed in this study:

The sample was restricted to educational leaders of public and charter

schools in one school district. The findings and conclusions of this study are

generalizable only to this population.


The following limitations existed in this study:

1. The primary support for a positive correlation between beliefs, values,

and attitudes as expressed in an educational philosophy to actions is

theoretical rather than empirical.

2. Identification of one's personal philosophy of education did not

represent a definitive statement that would hold true for all time

because belief systems and philosophies are often eclectic and


3. The sample under study included only those who agreed to participate

in completing both the PEI and the follow up interview.

4. No statistical testing of external validity on the PEI existed.

5. The small sample size for this study diluted the power of the

statistical analysis. With only 12 participants, detection of

hypothesized differences between group means on the five

subscale scores of the PEI was unlikely.

Significance of the Study

The major thesis of the study was that examining the philosophies of

educational leaders in the traditional public school and charter school sectors, as

measured by the PEI would lead to a greater understanding of the purposes and

processes of those leading these educational institutions and would illuminate

the diversity that existed. Revealing whether differences in philosophy actually

existed and what those differences were would provide a deeper understanding

of the importance of the charter school institution.

Clarifying and describing various educational philosophies held by

leaders in the two settings of a Florida school district had not been done

previously and would expand the available knowledge about what diversity in

philosophies existed in public schools. Follow-up interviews with educational

leaders completing the PEI questionnaire in both public and charter schools

provided further definition and clarification of similarities and differences among

those educators' philosophies. The study increased awareness among Florida's

consumers of public education for the need to question their assumptions about

the types of public schools available in their area and the need to request precise

information concerning the philosophies and educational practices employed at

those schools.

Definition of Terms

Charter schools are defined by The State of Charter Schools 2000:

Fourth-Year Report (RPP International, 2000) as

public schools that come into existence through a contract with either a
state agency or a local school board. The charter--or contract-
establishes the framework within which the school operates and provides
public support for the school for a specified period of time. The school's
charter gives the school autonomy over its operation and frees the school
from regulations that other public schools must follow. In exchange for the
flexibility afforded by the charter, the schools are held accountable for
achieving the goals set out in the charter including student performance.
(p. 1)

In this report the use of the word public school will refer to non-charter

public schools. These schools will also be referred to as regular or traditional

public schools to further clarify the comparison of public charter schools with

regular or traditional public schools.

Comprehensive education refers to a philosophy of education also known

as perennialism. All students take the same subject-centered curriculum which

promotes high academic standards in broad areas of practical value: the three

R's and problem solving at the elementary level. At the secondary level,

language, literature, fine arts, mathematics, natural sciences, history, and

geography. This striving for excellence in education eliminated elective course


Behavioral education refers to an educational philosophy that is subject-

centered but that allows for adjustment of quantity and rate of content

presentation based on the learner's capacity. Ability grouping to facilitate mastery

of essential skills is permitted, as is partial credit for a limited number of elective

courses. There is an emphasis on routine evaluation of program effectiveness

and on setting goals and assessing progress toward goals.

Progressive education refers to an educational philosophy that is student-

centered. This approach encourages cooperation among students for the

purpose of developing responsible citizens in a democratic society. Rather than

concentrating on a fixed body of knowledge, the emphasis is on how to think.

Teachers act as guides in this active-learning process. Community service

projects, multicultural education, drug-abuse awareness, and sex education are

part of the curriculum.

Humanistic education refers to an educational philosophy that is student-

centered. The goal of this approach is the self-actualization of each student. The

emphasis is on the psychological needs of students and requires teachers to be

facilitators and helpers, mutual participants in the teaching-learning exchange.

The curriculum includes independent study; personalized, self-directed learning;

and self-assessment, with existential education representing the liberal end of

the humanistic education continuum.

Social change education refers to an educational philosophy that

emphasizes a partnership between students and teachers for the purpose of

transforming society. The emphasis is on knowledge as power. It is a society-

centered philosophy which seeks to raise consciousness about social, economic,

environmental, and political injustice and to promote student autonomy and



This chapter reviews literature relating to two areas. The first section

presents literature pertaining to philosophy as applied to the practice of

education, an overview of the main philosophies, and the need of educational

leaders to clarify their own educational philosophies.

The second section presents a historical overview of the development of

charter schools and accompanying legislation. Definitions, characteristics, facts,

research, and issues and debates follow.

Philosophy, Education, and the Philosophy of Education

Students of philosophy have long grappled with issues of fundamental

significance. Indeed, the role of philosophy was, and continues to be, to raise

questions in the continual search for wisdom and meaning (Langer, 1959).

Philosophy encouraged reflection and attempted to make sense of universal

issues. Any research study had key elements that required philosophical thought.

The term philosophy was itself an evolving concept. In antiquity, any

systematic study was known as philosophy. Later philosophical discussions

revolved around questions of what was real (metaphysics), and what was

knowable (epistemology) (O'Neill, 1981). Overtime, definitions of philosophy

were broadened to include questions of truth and value. Values, ideas, and

opinions of individuals or groups became the more common definition.

Philosophy became associated with the idea of a personal orientation to the

world: the meanings a person assigned to events, the values to which he

aspired, and the standards that guided his choices (Kaplan, 1961). Philosophy

was inseparable from living experience, as people tried to express their beliefs

about their lives and their relationship to the rest of life (Brameld, 1955; Langer,

1959; Kaplan, 1961). The manner in which people organized their thoughts and

their facts in an effort to see life in its fullest perspective expressed each person's

personal philosophy (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998).

Educational scholars such as John Dewey (1916) argued against the

tendency to separate thought and emotion, the cognitive from the affective.

Adhering to earlier definitions of philosophy, which included emotion, Dewey

supported the position that internalized philosophies represented a formulation of

views that acted as a guide to an individual's approach to the difficulties of

contemporary life.

Some philosophers believed that discussions of philosophy could not be

separated from discussions of education (Goodlad, 1984). They categorized

philosophy of education as a branch of philosophy, which dealt with the practice

of education. Society was made up of individuals, and education was seen as

taking one's place in society (McClellan, 1976). Education was sometimes self-

guided, institutionally guided, and even unguided (Dewey, 1916). That western

society had long been conducting philosophical debates concerning the duality of

society versus the individual was acknowledged by both Goodlad (1984) and

Dewey (1916) with Dewey stating, "we not only wish to make [good] citizens and

workers, but also we want to make human beings who will live life to the fullest"

(p. 23).

All members of society were to some extent associated with education as

learners, teachers, parents, and citizens. Thus, all were at some time engaged in

philosophizing about education. A philosophy of education was viewed as a set

of beliefs about education (Apps, 1973; Brameld, 1955). Education simply meant

"growth," and the meaning that growth had for the individual and society

(Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998). For others, the application of philosophical method

and outlook to the educational experience included the search for concepts that

would coordinate various aspects of education into a comprehensive scheme. A

philosophy of education sought to clarify meanings in educational terminology

and to illuminate basic premises underlying statements about education (Phenix,


Although some educational theorists, such as McClellan (1976), rejected

as synonymous the words "schooling" and "education," the inextricable

association of the concepts of teaching and learning could not be overlooked.

Education did imply the intentional guiding (teaching) of the development of

people (learning) by themselves or others. In the latter half of the 20th century,

personal becoming added concepts of direction and intention to discussions of

development and group process in education, (Phenix, 1958).

Educational Philosophies

This study made use of existing categories of educational philosophies in

order to study how educational leaders assessed their own frameworks, with the

possibility of delineating their preferences for themselves and others. Although

there were many possible classifications, the organization of educational

philosophies presented here began with the work of Elias and Merriam from their

book Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education (1980). The instrument used

in this study, the Philosophy of Education Inventory (PEI) (Zinn,1997), reprinted

with permission of the publisher, was based on their work.

Behavioral Education

Behaviorism was more often presented in discussions of psychology than

in philosophy. Psychology provided explanations of the teaching and learning

process. Behaviorism as a psychology underlying learning theory encompassed

aspects of stimulus-response and reinforcement. The behavioral scientist, B. F

Skinner, attempted to apply those theories to the classroom, emphasizing

reinforcement and rewards, frequent feedback, practice and drill, modeling,

praise, diagnosis of competency, and reteaching.

Philosophical discussions of appropriate instructional content were absent

in most discussions of behaviorism. However, Elias and Merriam (1980) and Zinn

(1997) alluded to the aim of the behavioral educational system as the survival of

individuals and of society. A back-to-basics curriculum most often characterized

behavioral educational programs (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998). The role of the

teacher in this process was central. According to Skinner (1968), the teacher

arranged contingencies of reinforcement in a sequenced, procedural manner, in

order to arrive at specific terminal behaviors. The teacher was to design an

environment which elicited desired behavior toward meeting goals and aimed at

extinguishing undesirable behavior, mainly through systematic rewards.

Curriculum literature spoke of behavioral objectives with measurable

outcomes in terms of observable behavior expected of students after instruction

(Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998).Vocational education, job skills, programmed

learning, mastery learning, ability grouping, and competency-based instruction

stressed evaluation and accountability. Various methods of individualizing

instruction were included in discussions of behavioral education. Behavioral

education was subject centered and teacher directed.

The Sputnik era precipitated the most conservative approaches to a

behavioral curriculum. Proponents of behavioral education included William

Bagley, Arthur Bestor, and Admiral Hyman Rickover. Rickover (1958) wrote, "For

all children, the educational process must be one of collecting factual knowledge

to the limit of their absorptive capacity" (p. 61). Rickover suggested that only

students' hard work and discipline would result in attainment of high standards.

He did not believe there was any way to make such work more palatable. Bestor

(1955) decried the increasing tendency of schools to focus on adolescents'

problems and societal concerns, thus redirecting attention away from intellectual

development of students.

Recognizing and rewarding academic excellence reflected the behaviorist

component of the excellence movement begun in the 1980's. This was

evidenced in several policy reports, the two best known being the A Nation at

Risk report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) and

the America 2000: An Educational Strateqy Report (U. S. Department of

Education, 1991), both of which again directed Americans' attention to what was

known as a "back to basics" curriculum. Additionally, Theodore Sizer in Horace's

Compromise (1984) emphasized the need for high schools to eliminate social

promotion, and to demand mastery of "solid" subjects like English, history,

science, and mathematics. Finally, E. D. Hirsch's (1987) book Cultural Literacy

focused on specific information and the knowledge of culturally relevant facts,

instead of on processes or teaching students how to think. The basis of Hirsch's

argument lay in the need to enculturate America's young, to transmit shared

knowledge and values in order to shape our emerging society.

Incentives for increasing student achievement, as well as for rewarding

high quality teachers, were an important part of the emphasis on higher

standards. U. S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, in his "Sixth Annual

State of American Education Speech" (1999), spoke of the new academic

standards being put in place in 48 states. Specifically, Secretary Riley mentioned

several states that had seen "test scores rise because of their commitment to

high standards, vigorous assessments, and increased accountability" (p. 2). As

the main focus of his address, Secretary Riley stated that the task of getting

those standards into the classrooms was the job of the nation's teaching force.

Comprehensive Education

Comprehensive education was considered a traditional and conservative

philosophy. It was rooted in realism and was historically the oldest and most

conservative of the educational philosophies. Proponents of comprehensive

education based their educational goals on their belief that human nature was

constant. By careful training of the intellect, the rational person would be

developed and would be able to uncover universal truths, which comprehensive

educationalists believed existed as universal knowledge and cherished values of

society. They believed in knowledge that had stood the test of time and relied on

certain studies that comprised our intellectual heritage and that developed

intellectual power (Adler, 1982; Wiles & Bondi, 1993). Efforts were directed

toward developing a "Renaissance person," one who sought knowledge for its

own sake. The great books of the Western world, ones that covered the

foundations of Western thought and its scientific and cultural knowledge, would

be read and discussed. In turn, the mind and intellect of the student would be

cultivated. At the elementary level, the three Rs, listening, speaking, observing,

measuring, estimating, and problem solving would form the basis of a liberal arts

and science curriculum. At the secondary level, language, literature, fine arts,

mathematics, natural sciences, history, and geography would comprise the core,

and only, curriculum. There would be no credit given for vocational subjects or

any of the traditional electives that comprehensive educationalists believed had

diluted education and deprived youth of engagement with the great ideas of the

past (Adler, 1982; Wiles & Bondi, 1993; Zinn,1997).

Advocates of comprehensive education, Robert Hutchins, Mortimer Adler,

and Allan Bloom, decried cultural relativism (Adler, 1982; Bloom, 1987; Hutchins,

1953). They sought the re-establishment of a curriculum with high academic

standards and a subject-centered curriculum that included broad areas of

practical value in developing intellectual skills for the purpose of promoting

educational depth. Excellence in education would require that all students take

the same curriculum and that quality teaching be provided for all students.

Fundamental subjects and intellectual skills would lead to a higher level of

learning, reflection, and awareness. Adler in The Paideia Proposal: An

Educational Manifesto (1982) urged schools to spend more time teaching about

concepts and their meaning for students and about the processes by which

scientific truths had been discovered. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan

Bloom (1987) contended that American society was heading for educational

nihilism on a national level. Bloom believed that by emphasizing equity and

equality in education, excellence was sacrificed.


Progressivism described the reform movement that was advanced at the

turn of the 20th century. The roots of educational progressivism were reflected in

the writings of Horace Mann and Henry Barnard in the 19th century, and of John

Dewey (1916) in Democracy and Education. In that book, Dewey expressed his

belief that democracy and education were inextricably joined. He viewed school

as a democratic society, participatory and emergent. According to Dewey, the

purpose of school was to develop practical knowledge and problem-solving skills

for participation in society. Progressivism's focus was learner, rather than

subject-centered. Given that reality was constantly changing, Dewey dismissed

the need to concentrate on a fixed body of knowledge, preferring instead to

emphasize how to think, not what to think.

Progressivists' believed that students should be active learners. Dewey

(1916) decried traditional education's, "method of imposition from the side of the

teacher and reception, [and] absorption from the side of the pupil" (p. 36).

Students were often involved in collaboration, active inquiry, and experience-

based learning. Teachers were organizers and providers of real-life learning

experiences. Rather than being lecturers and repositors of knowledge,

progressivist teachers acted as guides in the learning process, arranging

simulations, group investigations, integrated curriculums, projects, community

service, practical experiences and field trips, all designed to promote transfer of

learning (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998; Wiles & Bondi, 1993).

The Progressive Education Association initiated a study in the 1930s

comparing almost 3,000 graduates of progressive and of traditional schools as

they made their way through college. The Eight Year Study (Sadker & Sadker,

2000) was intended to determine which type of education had been more

effective. Results favored students educated by progressive methods. Through

college those students tended to earn slightly higher grade point averages,

slightly higher grades in most fields, and slightly more academic honors. They

also were judged to be more objective and precise thinkers and to exhibit greater

intellectual curiosity and greater drive.

In the 1960s, a resurgence of interest in progressivism came from both

students and educators desiring a more relevant curriculum. Multicultural

education, sex education for social responsibility, anti-drug abuse education,

race relations, and urban problems were some of the topics to appear in the

curriculum. Individualization of education, special projects, work-study programs,

and independent studies were permitted as educational alternatives. The middle

school movement began to take root, as educators addressed developmental

differences in this population. An entirely new educational institution arose,

tailoring cognitive and affective educational experiences with a distinctly

progressive design to engage the pre- and early- adolescent student.

Progressivists united in their distaste for teacher-centered and subject-

centered learning, texts as the main source of information, memorization and drill

of facts, punitive methods of discipline, and the isolation of school from individual

and societal reality. Theodore Sizer, (1984) placed emphasis on more active

learning, while still supporting the need for students to meet fundamental

standards of literacy. Sizer believed that subject matter should be useful and

interesting to students, and at the same time should support the acquisition of

basic academic and communication skills.

Progressivists did not agree among themselves about the role of adult

authority and social controls. Boyd Bode (1938), in a book entitled Progressive

Education at the Crossroads, cautioned against a "one-sided devotion to the

child," which would deprive the child of appropriate subject matter and which

"nurtured the pathetic hope that it could find out how to educate by relying on

such notions as interests, needs, growth and freedom" (p. 128).

Humanistic Education

Humanistic education had its roots in humanistic psychology. The works

of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers helped shape what some educational

philosophers considered a separate and distinct approach to schooling.

Similarities between progressivism and humanism existed, the principle one

being that both were child-centered and promoted affective rather than cognitive

outcomes. However, as Maslow (1962) advocated, schooling should have as its

goal the production of self-actualized people. Rogers (1961) used the words total

human beings. This represented a different focus than the progressivists'

purpose of developing students who would become responsible participants in

society. Charles Silberman, in his 1971 book Crisis in the Classroom, went so far

as to charge schools with promoting docility and conformity. Instead,

independence, self-determination, freedom, autonomy, self-directedness,

openness, and authenticity were terms used to describe the goals of humanistic


In considering the needs and interests of learners, humanistic education

moved beyond the philosophy of progressive education. In humanistic education,

the psychological needs and problems of students would consume more of the

teacher's focus. In the humanistic classroom, the teacher acted as facilitator and

helper, as well as a mutual participant in the teaching-learning exchange.

Humanistic philosophy assumed highly motivated students who would be able to

take responsibility for their own learning and participate in planning their

program. A high degree of interpersonal communication and emotional

intelligence was also required of students in the humanistic learning environment

(Zinn, 1997).

With regard to curriculum and instructional delivery systems, humanistic

and progressivist philosophy once again shared some common ground.

Independent study and collaborative learning were components of both systems.

In addition, humanistic education also included experiential learning, discovery

learning, open discussions, and open classrooms. Self-assessment was not

shared between the two philosophies, but lay solely in humanistic philosophy

(Zinn, 1997).

In both the humanistic and the progressivist philosophies, emphasis on

affective education dominated. Teachers and educational leaders were

encouraged to personalize learning and to relate personal needs and interests to

academic experiences. Students' self-understanding and self-awareness were

primary. Rather than a passive classroom, more common to behavioral or

comprehensive education, progressive and humanistic classrooms were

expected to be active, encourage cooperation rather than competition, and avoid

overuse of textbooks or teacher-dominated instruction (Ornstein & Hunkins,


At the liberal end of the humanistic education continuum is existential

education. In this variation of humanistic education, students rely entirely on

"self-directed learning, setting their own learning objectives, and choosing their

own methods, materials, teachers, and forms of assessment" (Zinn, 1997, p. 29).

The aforementioned activities would be based on the philosophy that "learning is

natural and that children will learn on their own when they are ready" (p. 29). This

description of the child "becoming" and concomitant trust in the process were

inherent in existential philosophy.

Social Change Education

The unifying purpose of educators ascribing to this philosophy was "to

bring about through education, fundamental social, cultural, political, and

economic changes in society" (Zinn, 1997, p. 25). Radical educationalists,

reconstructionists, internationalists, and reconceptualists took different

approaches to producing changes in society. They agreed, however, that the

current compulsory education system was oppressive and that, for various

reasons, equality of opportunity through education was not achievable by all

(Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998).

Radical education and reconstructionism

Radical educationalists including John Holt, Edgar Friedenberg, Paul

Goodman, A. S. Neill, Ivan Illich, Henry Giroux, and Peter McLauren all

expressed disdain for an authoritarian school system and with teachers who

acted as indoctrination agents for a corrupt capitalist system (Elias & Merriam,

1980; Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998). Although this interpretation may have seemed

harsh, it was important to remember that the roots of radical education lay in the

economic depression. Impatient for reform, those educationalists felt the need for

a society-centered educational philosophy. Reconstructionists such as Mario

Fantini (1986), Harold Shane (1981), and Alvin Toffler (1983) desired a

curriculum that emphasized equality, cultural pluralism, and futurism for the

purpose of promoting activism in the restructuring of society.

Internationalists and reconceptualists

Yet another subgroup of social change educators was the

internationalists. They sought an international component to the curriculum

focused on change and discussions of the world as a "global village"

characterized by common concerns. They saw the need to enhance mutual

understanding in the world community in order to promote cooperation and to

work toward world peace (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1998).

Finally, the reconceptualists represented the most recent branch of social

change educational philosophy. Those ascribing to this philosophical stance

advocated many of the progressive and humanistic approaches to education,

including learner-centered classes. However, they added a holistic dimension to

the curriculum that included linguistic, artistic, spiritual, and moral activities.

Existential concerns with expanding consciousness also found a place in this

educational philosophy. Whereas Maxine Greene and William Pinar expressed

the aspects that included psychological, philosophical, spiritual, and existential

attitudes and behavior, Michael Apple highlighted the more disturbing political,

economic, and cultural inequities that our public schools promoted. Both were

viewpoints expressing the diverse concerns of reconceptualists (Ornstein &

Hunkins, 1998).

Given the breadth of concerns expressed by social change educational

philosophies, it was important to note areas of commonality. All expressed

agreement that the teacher should be part of an equal partnership with students,

supporting the autonomy of students, and thereby empowering them.

Consciousness-raising and social transformation were goals common to all

subgroups, with critical discussion, interaction, problem posing, and sensitivity

training proposed as methods to promote social justice education (Zinn, 1997).

The Need for Educators to Clarify Their Own Educational Philosophies

Support for the need for educators to identify their personal educational

philosophy came from literature, which included educational philosophy, values

clarification, organizational skills, and human resource development and training.

"Philosophical issues had always impacted and still do on schools and society"

(p. 31), said Ornstein and Hunkins (1998). Support for this statement was

reflected in the words of John Dewey (1916), "Philosophy may be defined as the

general theory of education" (p. 186) and "the business of philosophy was to

provide" the framework for the "aim and methods" (p. 186) of schools.

The fact that the beliefs, values and theories of educational leaders were

reflected in schools, underscored the necessity for educators to study their own

perceptions, beliefs, and values so that they might more clearly define for

themselves and others their perceptions of the world around them and explain

how they decided what is important. As Ornstein and Hunkins (1998) said

concerning the study of philosophy, "It helps us to understand who we are, why

we are, and to some extent, where we are going" (p. 31).

Philosophy provides educators, especially curriculum workers, with a
framework or frameworks for organizing schools and classrooms. It
helps them answer what schools are for, what subjects are of value, how
students learn, and what methods and materials to use. It provides them
with a framework for broad issues and tasks, such as determining the
goals of education, the content and its organization, the process of
teaching and learning, and in general what experiences and activities they
wish to stress in schools and classrooms. It also provides them with a

basis for dealing with precise tasks and for making such decisions as
what textbooks to use, how to use them, what cognitive and noncogni-
tive activities to utilize and how to utilize them, what homework to assign
and how much of it, how to test students and how to use the test
results, and what courses or subject matter to emphasize. (p. 32)

The educational leader of a school could be viewed as the head curriculum

worker in much the same way as the President of the United States holds the title

of Chief of the Armed Forces. He makes the final call.

The importance of basing curricular decisions grounded in one's

philosophy was well expressed by Hopkins (1941), "Philosophy has entered into

every important decision that has ever been made about curriculum and teaching

in the past and will continue to be the basis of every important decision in the

future" (p. 198). Philosophy as it interacted with curriculum decisions continued

to be a topic of study at the close of the 20th century. Research on The

Relationship of Educational Philosophy to the Curriculum Preferences of

Preservice Teachers of 264 central and north Florida preservice teachers

identified a significant preference for rationalism over experimentalism (Wise,


The fact that many definitions of curriculum existed prevented more than a

cursory look at the field in this dissertation. However, since philosophy, theory,

and practice were interrelated within the curriculum domain, and because one's

beliefs, values, and philosophy formed the basis for theory and practice, then

philosophy was central to any discussion of curriculum and to principals'

philosophies of education as they impacted on curriculum. The philosophies of

educational leaders would be advocated or reflected in a particular school

through the school principal's influence on goals, aims, and content of the overt

curriculum, and just as importantly, in the domain of the null curriculum described

by Eisner (1994).

The null curriculum referred to the hidden curriculum, inextricably woven

into the fabric of educational institutions, and one which students most certainly

learned. It related to broad areas like punctuality and responsibility, as well as

judgments about how to present the curriculum and what was to be included. It

also included what was inferred to be valued, as opposed to what was left out,

which students might have inferred was not valued. Students might learn that

their stories and cultures were absent from a school's curriculum, and assume

that they themselves were of lesser value. Those types of discussions once

again highlighted the need for educators to clarify their own educational

philosophies, as their preferences affected the schools they ultimately created.

Koetting (1996) took a broader view of the importance of philosophy in

studying schooling. For Koetting, "Philosophy is the foundation (theory) of

educational research. Philosophical inquiry and analysis can help conceptual

clarification, as well as inform our praxis, and vice versa" (p. 364). Beyond

curriculum concerns, he believed that basic philosophical questions provided a

conceptual framework that provided the possibility for coherence in educational

practice. While the job of taking a theoretical stance toward educators' work did

seem to take those educators away from urgent educational problems

confronting them, philosophical inquiry could provide a framework for posing

questions from multiple perspectives that allowed reflection on educational

practice. Because the means and the ends of education were inseparable, the

philosophical question of determining the ends of education required educators

to be philosophical (Koetting, 1996).

This discussion on the importance of educational leaders' developing and

identifying their philosophies, concludes by citing John Dewey (1916). His view of

philosophy was that it was the all-encompassing aspect of the education

process, necessary for "forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual, and

emotional, toward nature and fellow man" (p. 186).

Uncovering Philosophies in Schools

A study of 336 elementary schools in Ohio described the need for schools

to identify the philosophy of education operating in their institutions (Chandler,

1999). The forward to that study discussed the existing nationwide debate

between educational progressivists, who wanted schools to be learner-centered,

constructivist schools; and traditionalists, who wanted teacher-directed schools

which focused on essential knowledge and skills and used standardized

achievement measures. The general public assumed that public schools were

more likely to be progressive and Catholic schools were more likely to be

traditional, employing a back-to-basics curriculum. Chandler's study revealed that

these assumptions were incorrect.

Principals of three different types of schools public; Catholic; and

independent, a category which included both charter and non-charter schools -

responded to the Schools Practices Survey (Chandler, 1999), which consisted of

a chart with 10 contrasting instructional approaches or practices. The principals

were asked to indicate on a Likert-type scale to what extent one of the two

contrasting practices was more commonly employed in their schools. The

contrasting pairs represented a traditional versus a progressive practice, such as

"teacher-led instruction vs. student-initiated discovery" (p. 17).

Contrary to conventional thinking, the study revealed considerable

educational diversity within each of the three sectors. There was more variation

in educational practices within each school category than across categories.

Catholic schools had the greatest number of schools identified by their principals'

as employing progressive practices. The most traditional schools were the

independent schools. Public schools fell in the middle. The traditional schools

were also the most consistent in their choice of practices, which led the

researcher to conclude that those schools had a more clearly articulated vision of

their educational philosophy.

The random sample of schools adopted practices that favored neither

extreme, with a tendency toward the mean, commonly found in survey research.

Most schools reported a mix of practices, some traditional and some progressive.

All three types of schools tended to be more traditional in their approach to

reading and to assessment. School practices appeared to be influenced by state-

mandated proficiency testing.

The study was an attempt to quantify how much variety existed in schools

in Ohio. Most schools employed a somewhat eclectic mix of instructional

practices. Selected schools, chosen for the consistency of their practices, as well

as schools at either end of the continuum, were interviewed and a review of

published information on their goals and philosophies was conducted for the

purpose of further clarifying the findings. Some principals, upon learning that their

schools tended toward the traditional end of the continuum, commented that they

hoped to move the school toward more progressive practices.

Rather than ask the principals to identify their philosophies, the School

Practices Survey revealed the kinds of approaches used at the schools.

Chandler (1999) concluded that in this era of increasing parental choice in the

schools their children attend, it is important that schools and the administrators

who run them present a clear picture of the operating philosophy of the school. A

neighborhood Catholic school might be more progressive than the local public

school and a charter school might offer a more behaviorist curriculum than either

of the other schools.

Philosophical Debates of the Twentieth Century

Chandler's (1999) survey was timely, mirroring national interest in the

debates about school choice. The debates at the turn of the 21st century

hearkened back to the ideas of progressivist John Dewey, who, in the early

1900s, posited that schools of the future would have curriculums in which the

central element was learning by doing. Dewey hoped for schools where learning

was a part of each student's life, connected to the student's present situation and

his needs (Dewey, 1943). Mid-twentieth century supporters of progressivism

included well-known educators Charles Silberman, Paul Goodman, Johnathan

Kozel, John Holt, and A. S. Neill.

The progressive schools that Dewey described also had new millennium

advocates: Theodore Sizer (1984) from the Coalition of Essential Schools and

Howard Gardner (1983), known for his multiple intelligence theory. Graduation

by exhibition, cooperative projects, habits of mind, portfolio assessments,

multiple entry points into a subject; integrated, collaborative curriculums; critical

thinking; and problem solving were the new descriptors of progressivist

curriculums (Eberstadt, 1999).

At the opposite end of the continuum were the back to basics advocates,

whose most famous champion was E. D. Hirsch, author of Cultural Literacy

(1987) and The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them (1996).

Representing the anti-progressivists, Hirsch espoused a core curriculum, known

as the Core Knowledge Foundation, a grade-by-grade, content-laden K-6

curriculum. Speaking for the least advantaged, Hirsch denounced the new

progressivist rhetoric as essentially old, placing it alongside theories of Dewey,

Romantic progressivist ideas of the 1920s, and the Bureau of Education's (1918)

Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education.

Calling progressivism "elite education," Hirsch (1987) claimed that

progressivist practices deprived students of the core facts necessary for

participation in the dominant economic and civic culture of American society.

Attacking progressivist ideas head-on, Hirsch argued that progressivism was

laden with mistaken ideas, ideas that had to be changed before education's

problems could be solved. The movement in many districts, states, and

potentially at the national level, toward mandatory standardized testing, merit pay

for teachers, fact-based fundamental schools, and school vouchers for

disadvantaged families was a turn-of-the-century reflection of

essentialist/behaviorist ideas.

Gardner (1983) and a host of educators across the country claimed that

progressivism had never really been tried in mainstream education. Studies

showed that teacher talking continued to dominate in most classrooms, and

teacher-centered classrooms continued to be the dominant instructional method

(Sadker & Sadker, 2000). At the same time, teacher preparation programs

continued to advocate for progressive approaches to education: authentic

assessment; attention to individualized learning styles; experiential, discovery

learning; non-graded, multi-aged classrooms; and a concern for development of

the whole child (Eberstadt, 1999).

Hirsch (1987) claimed that progressive programs, with a curriculum in flux

and a disdain for testing, eliminated handholds from below for the less

advantaged. Advocates for traditionalism claimed that a lack of emphasis on

academics failed to provide a solid foundation for lifetime learning. Publication of

A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983),

heralded the reintroduction into the public education vernacular of terms such as

standards, achievement, testing, accountability, and sequential, content-laden

curriculums. Hirsch and legislators across the United States at the close of the

20th century demanded accountability through standardized assessments

(Eberstadt, 1999).

Another perspective on this debate was offered by Labaree (2000). He

believed that it would be remiss to discuss accountability, also known as the

standards movement, without noting the vastly different philosophies and

attending goals that underlay the movement. Labaree noted three goals, two of

which lay within the domain of the public good and one that rested within the

domain of the private good.

Labaree (2000) situated the curricula of E. D Hirsch, Jr., and the subject

matter oriented standards movement within the goal of democratic equality, a

public good: an effort to reduce differences that existed between the

disadvantaged and advantaged, in order that all might participate in the broader

culture and be effective as citizens in a democracy. While this goal of democratic

equality to raise the cultural competence of American citizen was similar to the

goal of social efficiency, also a public good from which all of society benefited, it

was also vastly different. The goal of social efficiency aimed at producing a

skilled workforce and was most easily observed in the School-to-Work


On May 4,1994, President Bill Clinton signed the School-to-Work

Opportunities Act, committing federal funds toward a national initiative of

providing all students with relevant education, defined as opportunities to explore

a variety of careers; skills with which to pursue those careers; and valued

credentials, which translated into credentials that matched established industry

benchmarks (National School-to-Work Learning and Information Center, 1996,


Accountability via national, state, or local standards, also translated into

goals for the private, rather than the public, good. Social mobility as an

educational goal within the standards movement, focused on the individual, and

promoted distinctions between the more gifted and advanced, to the detriment of

the less able. Rather than improve the quality of learning in schools, which the

goals of democratic equality or social efficiency promoted, social mobility would

put in place standards that would make it harder for those not in the select group

to obtain grades, credits, or degrees that symbolized academic success.

Other Research on Educational Philosophy Related to School Choice

Some studies, such as Adler's (1997), had identified differences in

principals of elementary charter and non-charter schools in factors other than

philosophy. Adler discovered that principals of charter schools scored

significantly higher on what was termed organizational intrapreneurship, which

she equated with innovativeness in the overall school. Her recommendation was

that school leaders create a climate conducive to intrapreneurial behavior in

order to foster innovation within schools.

A similar study by Dolan (2000) examined a charter school in Connecticut

for evidence of organizational innovation and experimentation. Exploring the

charter school movement as a philosophically radical critique of public schooling,

Freeman (1999) studied values and goals of founders, principals, and teachers

involved in the formation of four new charter schools in North Carolina. Other

researchers saw some profit to conducting studies of school principals and of

schools' philosophies based on Kohlberg's (1973) six-stage model of moral

development. Certainly the study of administrators' philosophies as relates to the

school choice movement, which subsumes the category of charter schools, will

continue into the 21st century and will potentially involve new research models to

accommodate hybrids of traditional and non-traditional schools and new forms of

school restructuring (Keedy, 1992).

Situating Charter Schools in the Historical,
Political, and Philosophical Context of Education in the United States

United States public education is rooted in a democratic value system.

Thomas Jefferson believed that public schools could develop citizens able to use

and protect their democratic rights. He thought that public institutions should be

shaped by a democratic society, which it would then foster. Democratic decision-

making was to be supported in schools, with discourse enabling educators and

students to play active roles. They were to be creators rather than objects of

social and political institutions. Democratic principles were to be learned and

practiced in public schools and brought to bear positively on society outside the


Today's public school system originated in the mid-nineteenth century

when, in the 1840s and 1850s, states began to establish schools as an activity of

government. Until educational reformer Horace Mann succeeded in his lobby for

the common school, schools were community institutions under religious or lay

control, operating with a mix of public and private funds. Citizens sent their

children to these schools based on their financial abilities and preferences. As an

American institution, 20th century charter schools resembled village schools of

the early 19th century and one-room schoolhouses of the 20th century. They were

rooted in communities, locally autonomous, accountable to parents, and had to

generate revenues by attracting and retaining families (Sadker & Sadker, 2000).

The common school was to be both politically and economically in public

control. It was to include children of all classes and ethnic groups. As the

common school evolved, its mission became one of forging a common identity

from the growing and diverse population. A "one-best" system ideology was

deemed necessary to assimilate the millions of immigrants into the American

culture. States began to legislate compulsory attendance, graduation

requirements, and universal availability (Sadker & Sadker, 2000).

In the late 19th and early 20th century, new factory models of the industrial

age began to be applied to public schools. Scientific management principles

attempted to standardize and centralize operations in order to make schools

more orderly and efficient. States also legislated qualifications for teachers and

administrators, consolidated school districts and local school agencies, and

became one of the largest employers with one of the biggest payrolls in the

world. Today, 9 out of 10 school-aged children attend tax-financed, government-

run schools (Cline & Witte, 1990).

Democratic Education

Horace Mann (Sadker & Sadker, 2000) hoped that a public education

system would contribute to a common value system, while allowing for diversity.

Progressive educator John Dewey (1959) also espoused this belief in the

democratic ends of education. Beginning at the turn of the 20th century, Dewey

wrote prolifically about the need to build a more democratic and egalitarian

society. Dewey rejected individualism, asserting in My Pedagogic Creed, "all

education proceeds by participation of the individual in the social consciousness

of the race" (p. 19). Rejecting a passive or reactive role for individuals in relation

to social systems, progressive education offered a more holistic view.

Progressive education promoted deliberation among citizens as society

embarked on a path of endless change.

Further, Dewey (1959) did not believe in setting "any end outside of

education as furnishing its goal and standard," because that would "deprive the

educational process of much of its meaning" (p. 28). Dewey (1943) called for

schools to be a "genuine form of active community life... a miniature community,

an embryonic society" (pp.14 -18). He called for a curriculum that inspired

students to analyze, evaluate, and ultimately improve their social experience

using the guiding principle of democratic values to provide the philosophical

context. Ultimately, a democratic school would be one that tried to enable people

to create their own world collectively rather than to fit into one that had been

created for them.

Many teachers and schools had difficulty applying Dewey's concepts. By

the time Dewey published a more detailed explanation of his principles in

Experience and Education in 1938, progressive education was in decline.

Another force that developed concurrently with the progressive movement also

contributed to its demise. In the late 19th century, administrative reformers,

modeling their efforts after the business community, attempted to create a more

uniform educational system. By the 1930s, a professionally administered school

system made it difficult to express Dewey's democratic schooling within a

hierarchical bureaucracy (Engel, 2000). This shift from a democratic model to

what was considered a more economical model for public schools was the result

of unfavorable comparisons between efficient businesses and inefficient schools.

Dewey did not object to centralization, consolidation, and professional

administration. However, the form advocated in the 1938 report by the National

Education Association's (NEA) Educational Policies Commission (EPC) was

more consistent with Dewey's democratic school system. The report urged

participation in policy-making by the entire school staff, students, and the general

public. The report stated that such democratic practices would result in better

policies and placed value on the democratic process. Involving students was

attuned to the progressive's democratic ends of education, which included youth

in addressing concerns that affected young and old alike.

Such an administrative system, however, was not the type Dewey's

progressivism was attempting to operate within. Taylor's efficiency model

resulted in curricula, not organized around educational principles, but rather

focused on economizing on staff and facilities. Taylor believed in a "one best

method" of production determined mainly through time and motion studies.

Scientific management meant detailed management control of production, which

in turn translated to much less freedom and discretion for workers. Operating

under an economic philosophy, schools focused on 100% use of space at all

times (Callahan, 1962; Tyack, 1974). The result was organized and

compartmentalized curricula, with students moving from room to room.

Educational questions became subordinated to business considerations

(Callahan, 1962).

The Rise of Market Ideology in Education

In the 1950s, progressive ideas were under attack from conservative

politicians who blamed progressivism for America's lack of educational

preparedness in the face of the communist threat. The Russian's launch of

Sputnik, in 1957, clinched the arguments. They thought that America's

inadequate educational system was the reason for the Soviet's technological

victory (Engel, 2000).

The response of the federal government to this threat to national security

was the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958. The act funded

curriculum revision and marked the first direct intervention by the federal

government in educational policy. This was followed in 1961 by President

Kennedy's pledge to economic expansion and military preparedness that

indirectly gave rise to the human capital theory. Human capital, defined by

economists as the stock of knowledge and skills possessed by the labor force

that increases its productivity, became associated with the economic effects of

education. Although such capital was difficult to quantify, spending on public

education began to be termed an investment instead of an expenditure

(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1962).

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 proposed

categorical school aid to disadvantaged groups. This reflected the idealism and

movement toward equality that characterized the 1960s. Social activism was also

expressed in the rise of the free school movement that attempted to make

changes outside the mainstream educational system. This challenge to

conventional methods of education was unsuccessful, but its tradition was

reflected in the interest of progressive educators in charter schools at the end of

the 20th century (Engel, 2000).

A conservative political climate prevailed in the 1970s. In the early 1980s,

the Nation at Risk report (1983) alerted Americans to a crisis in education.

Proposals to increase graduation requirements, lengthen the school day, and

institute standardized testing required increased spending by states. This was

largely supported by the nation's governors (National Governors' Association,

1991). In the 1990s, business, technology, and government influenced the

direction of public education, as reflected in the school-to-work movement, the

push to increase technology in schools, and the movement toward standardized

testing at the state and national levels.

Site based management was concerned with implementing programs that

increased student achievement. Educational reform discussions reflected

competitive concerns. Community involvement was concerned not with the

purposes of education, but with how best to meet goals and standards. Civic

education and democratic concerns were no longer part of the discussion.

Standards-driven curricula provided criteria for academic achievement

(Anderson & Dixon, 1993; Plank & Boyd, 1994).

Malen and Ogawa (1988) conducted several district-wide case studies of

site-based governance councils. They found that even when governance

councils received training and were given broad jurisdiction and formal policy-

making authority, they demonstrated similar patterns of conformity. Site-based

schools moved toward more stringent and control-oriented policies. These

management councils did not significantly effect changes in curriculum or

instruction. Neither did they address equity issues or fundamental restructuring of

schools. Rather they developed such reforms as student conduct codes and

expulsion policies. The authors concluded that bureaucratic discourse created a

kind of control that predetermined the topics and direction of site-based


In Tinkering Toward Utopia (1995), Tyack and Cuban state,

In the last generation, discourse about public schooling has become
radically narrowed. It has focused on international economic competi-
tion, test scores, and individual 'choice' of schools. But it has largely
neglected the types of choices most vital to civic welfare: collective
choices about a common future, choices made through the democratic
process about the values and knowledge that citizens want to pass
on to the next generation. (p. 140)

Charter School Definitions

The definition of charter schools presented in the Executive Summary of

The State of Charter Schools 2000: Fourth-Year Report (RPP International,

2000) states,

Charter schools are public schools that come into existence through a
contract with either a state agency or a local school board. The charter--
or contract--establishes the framework within which the school operates
and provides public support for the school for a specified period of time.
The school's charter gives the school autonomy over its operation and
frees the school from regulations that other public schools must follow. In
exchange for the flexibility afforded by the charter, the schools are held
accountable for achieving the goals set out in the charter including
improving student performance. (p. 1)

Because approaches to establishing charter schools varied so widely

from state to state, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the

U.S. Department of Education funded The Charter School Roadmap (Education

Commission of the States, 1998). This guide's purpose was to assist

policymakers in identifying areas needing to be examined in initial consideration

of charter schools legislation or in reevaluating existing charter legislation. Their

report noted the lack of a common definition of charter schools. This was, in part,

responsible for the lack of consensus among states about the design of charter

school reform and a concomitant lack of legislative uniformity. In their report,

charter schools were described as,

autonomous public schools that are granted some freedom from district
and state regulations, allowing them to use innovative methods for
teaching, spending, and hiring. With this autonomy comes accountability.
If the school does not meet performance goals within a specified time, the
charter may not be renewed and the school may be closed. (p. 1)

Charter schools were part of a strategy for educational reform defined by

Finn, Manno, and Vanourek (2000) as an "independent public school of choice,

freed from rules but accountable for results" (p. 14). As public schools, charter

schools were financed with tax dollars and open to all who wished to attend

without regard to race, religion, or ability. They were accountable to an

authoritative public body, such as a local, district, or state school board, as well

as to those who enrolled in them. Charters were different from traditional public

schools in that they could be created by almost anyone, were exempt from most

state and local regulations, staffed by educators who chose to be employed

there, attended by students whose families chose the school, and could be

closed for not producing satisfactory results. Supporters concluded that charter

schools were the best strategy for removing bureaucratic obstacles that they

claimed were responsible for the poor academic performance of traditional public

schools (Finn, et al., 2000).

The Growth of Charter Schools

The term "charter" is reported to have originated in the 1970s with New

England educator Ray Budde (Liu, 1999). He suggested that local school boards

grant contracts or "charters" to small groups of teachers so that they might

explore new approaches in a school-within-a-school model (Amsler, 1992;

Budde, 1996). Albert Shanker, the late American Federation of Teachers

President, publicized the idea in a 1988 National Press Club speech. He called

for empowering teachers by creating charter schools that focused on teachers'

professional development and a clear commitment to improving student

achievement (Sautter, 1993).

Shanker further defined the innovation he envisioned as one in which any

group of teachers or school could develop a proposal for a way to educate

youngsters better and then would be granted a charter to implement that

proposal. Participation by teachers and parents would be voluntary. Each school

district would agree to maintain the school for 5 to 10 years. This would continue

as long as there was no decline in the indication of student achievement and as

long as teachers continued to teach and parents continued to enroll their

children. At the end of a probationary period, the charter school would be

evaluated to see whether its goals had been met. The charter could then be

extended or revoked. Like private schools, charter schools were self-governing

and had control over their staffing, budget, internal organization, calendar,

curriculum, schedule, and more.

In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to pass a law allowing charter

schools (Hadderman, 1998). California followed in 1992, and by 1996, 25 states

and the District of Columbia had charter schools laws. These schools served

28,000 students across the nation (American Federation of Teachers, 1996). A

50% increase in the number of charter schools was reported in 1998 by the

National Study of Charter Schools (RPP International, 1998); 34 states had

approved charter school legislation, and a dozen others were debating this

reform. In school year 1998-1999, more than 250,000 students were being

educated in charter schools in the 27 states that had operating charters. As of

September, 1999, 36 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of

Puerto Rico had passed charter legislation, and more than 1,600 charter schools

were in operation in 32 states (RPP International, 2000).

In February, 2000, the Office of the Press Secretary for President Clinton

announced a $30 million increase in charter school funding, bringing the total to

$175 million and paving the way for the 3,000 charter schools the President had

suggested be in operation by 2002 (Office of the Press Secretary, 2000). In May

2000, the Center for Educational Reform, which advocates alternatives to the

traditional public education system, announced the publication of their fifth

annual National Charter School Directory 2000 (Center for Educational Reform,

2000). This directory, whose publication annually coincided with National Charter

Schools Week, profiled the nation's 2,000 operating and approved charter

schools, serving more than 430,000 children.

In July, 2000, Volusia County, Florida, with 60,000 students and 65

schools, received legislative approval to become a charter school district, the

largest in the nation. Like operations of individual charter schools, the central

administration of the 66-school system was freed from many state rules and

regulations that applied to regular districts (Bowman, 2000b). Another larger

Florida county, Hillsborough, with 158,000 students, and a third, Sarasota,

received approval to become charter districts later that year (Rees, 2000). Most

of the nation's charter schools at this time were in the South and West. Half were

located in three states: Arizona, California, and Michigan, and another fourth in

Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas (RPP International, 2000).

Federal Charter Schools Legislation

President Clinton first proposed the Public Charter Schools Program in

1993. The Public Charter Schools Program (PCSP) was enacted as Title X, Part

C, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1994. This

program was designed to help charter schools cover planning, start-up, and early

implementation costs during the first three years of their existence. It also

authorized an evaluation of the program (ESEA Sections 10301[b] and 10305[a]).

In fiscal year 1995 the initial appropriation was $6 million (Center for Educational

Reform, 2000).

In 1998, Congress reauthorized the PCSP by passing the Charter School

Expansion Act (P.L.105-378). The expansion was to include mature charter

schools that could apply for funds to disseminate promising school practices. The

appropriation for fiscal year 2000 was $145 million (Center for Educational

Reform, 2000).

During National Charter Schools Week 2001, President George W. Bush

reaffirmed his support for charter schools by outlining his proposal for $175

million to establish a "Charter Schools Homestead Fund." The fund was

designed to address facilities needs. President Bush also announced his plan to

seek an additional $200 million in 2002 for the federal charter school grant

program (Charter Friends, 2001).

Florida Charter Schools Legislation

Enacted on May 17, 1995, Florida's charter school law authorized the

formation of both new charter schools and the granting of charter school status to

existing public schools (Florida's Charter School Legislation-1 999 Version).

Proposals for charters might be made by individuals, parents, teachers, a group

of individuals, a municipality, or a legal entity organized under the laws of the

state. The state of Florida did not, however, allow private schools, parochial

schools, or home education programs to be eligible for charter school status.

Florida's charter schools had to maintain nonsectarian programs (Florida's

Charter School Legislation-1999 Version). Methods by which a school would

achieve racial/ethnic balance that reflected the profile of the community it served

or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools within the district was also

to be included in the charter. Although Florida allowed non-certified teachers to

teach in charter schools, the charter had to specify the teaching qualifications

each charter school would require. Charter schools in Florida were required to be

specific as to baseline achievement data, as well as in describing how academic

progress would be achieved and measured as compared to other comparable

student populations. In Florida, charters might be terminated if achievement

requirements stated in the charter were not met. If a charter school was not

renewed or was terminated, all property purchased with public funds reverted to

full ownership by the district school board. Its debts did not revert, however, but

became the responsibility of the governing board.

Florida's Academic Accountability

On April 28, 1999, the Florida House and Senate approved Governor Jeb

Bush's A-plus Plan for education. This made Florida the first state to offer state-

paid tuition scholarships for children in what were characterized as failing public

schools to attend a public, private, or religious school of choice (Heritage

Foundation, 2000).

The legislation set up a grading system for Florida's schools that was

based on a standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Schools would be assigned a grade between A and F based on their scores.

Schools that improved their scores would be rewarded with up to $100 per pupil.

Students attending schools receiving a grade of F for two consecutive years

would be able to transfer to a school of their choice (Florida Department of

Education, 2001).

On March 14, 2000, a Florida judge struck down the State's eight-month-

old school voucher program as unconstitutional. On October 3, 2000, the Florida

First District Court of Appeals ruled that the school voucher program was

constitutional and could remain in effect. However, no new schools received a

grade of F at the conclusion of school year 1999-2000, because all 78 schools

that had received an F grade the year before had made substantial progress on

the writing part of Florida's standardized tests. Voucher proponents pointed to

the higher scores as proof that raising expectations got results (Heritage

Foundation, 2000).

The Publics' Attitude Toward Schools: Traditional Public and Charter

In the September, 2000, "32nd Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the

Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools," Rose and Gallup (2000)

documented the public's increasing satisfaction with the public schools their

children attended and the belief that reforming the existing traditional public

school system was preferable to seeking an alternative system. Half of those

surveyed in this poll had no knowledge of charter schools. When told that charter

schools were freed from many state regulations under which traditional public

schools operated, a majority of respondents opposed them. Granting charter

schools leeway in teacher licensing requirements, use of prescribed textbooks,

and length of school day and school year, were exemptions favored by

respondents. However, the public believed that curriculum requirements and

accountability to the state should remain in force.

Generally, parents showed strong support for local schools and a lack of

knowledge of charter schools. This figure changed when polling college

graduates, 69% of whom had knowledge of charter schools, compared to 37% of

high school graduates who had no knowledge of charter schools. Policy

implications cited in the poll highlighted that without efforts to educate the public

about charter schools, it would be erroneous to assume public support for them

(Rose & Gallup, 2000).

In support of charter schools, a survey of close to 3,000 charter school

parents conducted by Finn, Manno, and Vanourek (2000) showed consistently

higher satisfaction with philosophy, standards, school and class size, quality of

teaching, curriculum, parent involvement, and performance of children when

compared with the schools their children had attended or would otherwise attend.

The 521 charter teachers surveyed also showed high levels of satisfaction on

these same factors. These findings were not surprising given that these parents

and teachers had made a decision to leave regular public schools, probably due

to dissatisfaction.

Some Charter School Issues and Debates

Questioning the Polls. Disputing the Findings

The Center for Educational Reform, a Washington-based organization that

supported educational choice, challenged the findings of the "32nd Annual Phi

Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools"

(Rose & Gallup, 2000). The center's president, Jeanne Allen, disputed the

fairness of the poll's forced-choice question of whether to improve the existing

education systems or find alternatives to regular public schools. Allen stated that

"no viable public policy asks people to choose one thing at the expense of the

other" (Bowman, 2000c, p. 12).

Her views were echoed by Howard Fuller, a former superintendent and

president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Based in Milwaukee, the

organization pushes for educational choices for children of low-income black

families. Fuller agreed that "certain questions on the poll were designed to elicit a

particular response" and faulted Phi Delta Kappa for bias (Bowman, 2000c, p.


The poll's director, Lowell Rose, stood by the findings. He pointed to the

decline from 44% in 1998 to 39% in 2000 of the public's support for publicly

financed vouchers for private school tuition. Calling the supposed decline in

support for public schools a myth, Rose believed the poll showed solid support

for the traditional education system. Rose also commented that he had never

expected education to become "the number-one priority in the nation and in

every state," but that was his present observation (Bowman, 2000c, p. 12).

A similar debate existed over conclusions reached by 50 of 53 supposedly

objective studies conducted since 1995. These reported charter schools as

"innovative, accountable for results, and successful at providing new

opportunities for children and reforming the traditional education system"

(Bowman, 2000e, p. 10). The Center for Educational Reform (CER) reported the

collection to be exclusively research-based studies that drew mainly objective

conclusions, eliminating a hundred others the center deemed more opinionated.

Independent researcher Gerald W. Bracey accused the CER of being

highly selective, questioning the claims that an "overwhelming majority" of

charters exhibited these traits. Bracey directed policymakers to ignore the CER's

summary, which he believed clearly misrepresented the findings, and to "read the

reports themselves" (Bowman, 2000e, p. 19).

Also refuting CER's claims, the National School Board Association, one of

the staunchest opponents of charter schools, published a report entitled Charting

a New Course: Fact and Fiction about Charter Schools (2000). The researchers

for that report synthesized existing research and relevant state policies. They

concluded that little evidence existed to support charter claims of elevated

student achievement, classroom innovation, or influence on traditional public

schools (Good & Braden, 2000).

Conflict-of-interest concerns routinely surfaced in the examination of

charter school literature. For example, in "Can Charter Schools Revitalize Public

Education?" Vine (2001) complained of for-profit school systems that participated

in union busting, discrimination, and poor management. In discussing

Massachusetts charter school law, she noted that it allowed companies to set low

salaries, while requiring taxpayers to cover transportation costs for charter pupils.

Meanwhile, companies often got bargain rent on school facilities.

In one instance, Sabis International, a company headquartered in

Lebanon, assembled a board of directors for its for-profit school in Springfield,

Massachusetts that included the mayor, superintendent of schools and two

members of Springfield's School Committee. The Springfield Educational

Association disputed the Springfield School Committee's decision to give Sabis a

rent-free building, wondering just who the Springfield School Committee would

actually negotiate with in such proceedings (Vine, 2001).

Do Charter Schools Influence Traditional Public Schools?

A June, 2001, report issued by the U.S. Department of Education

supported claims made by the Center for Educational Reform. RPP International,

the independent research firm whose own connections with charter schools was

being scrutinized, conducted four one-year studies of charter schools for the

U. S. Department of Education, titled Challenge and Opportunity: The Impact of

Charter Schools on School Districts (RPP International, 2001). The research

questions asked of central office administrators and education newspaper

reporters or education analysts in 49 school districts in five states were, (a)

"What changes have districts made in district operations and district education

that can be attributed to charter schools?" and, (b) "Under what conditions do

charter schools affect change in district operations and district education?" (RPP

International, 2001, p. 1).

The study focused its research in the five states Arizona, California,

Colorado, Massachusetts, and Michigan where previous fieldwork in charter

schools had already been conducted. The charter schools in this study reflected

a broad variation among key components: grade level of students, urbanicity,

and other factors. State policy contexts also varied. Data was collected through

14 in-depth site visits in 14 districts, where multiple central office administrators

and newspaper reporters were interviewed. Telephone interviews were

conducted with a senior district official and a local newspaper reporter or

education analyst in the remaining 35 districts (RPP International, 2001).

The study found that every district in the sample reported effects from

charter schools and made changes in district operations, in the district

educational system, or both. Nearly half of district leaders reported becoming

more customer-service oriented, increasing their marketing and public relations

efforts, and increasing the frequency of their communication with parents. In

many districts, administrators began paying close attention to their local charter

schools, typically by tracking the number of students who attended charter

schools and monitoring charter school students' test scores (RPP International,


Most districts implemented new educational programs, made changes in

educational structures in district schools, or created new schools with programs

that were similar to those in the local charter schools. In addition to these findings

on changes in district operations and services, the study identified factors related

to state law and local conditions that influenced how charter schools affected

districts and how districts responded to charter schools (RPP International,


Conclusions from this exploratory examination were that districts made

changes in their educational services and district operations as a result of charter

schools, and that these changes were influenced by enrollments, financial

conditions, and nature of the granting agency. The rapidly increasing number of

charter schools and the tendency for districts to respond by making operational

and educational change suggested that charter schools could impact the public

school system (RPP International, 2001).

Hassel's (1998) study of charter schools in four states, however, reached

decidedly different conclusions. He found that innovations of charters were the

same as those proposed elsewhere. Hassel found that the direction of innovation

had actually gone from traditional schools to charters. Charters were mainly

characterized as employing tried and true educational practices known to the

broader educational system (Olsen, 2000). The UCLA Charter School Study

(Wells, Lopez, & Scott,1998) also found little difference in how teachers in the

charter schools taught in comparison to regular public school teachers.

Pack (1999) agreed. He found that charter teachers in his study had not

changed how they taught, since coming to charter schools. He further revealed

that their classroom performance had been negatively affected by consensus-

based, teacher-led, decision making management that left them feeling pressed

for time and overwhelmed.

With regard to instructional innovations moving from the charter to the

regular public school sector, findings did not strongly indicate instructional

innovation in charters. Further impediments to the spread of innovations from

charters to public schools included resistance by teachers and principals in

regular public schools. Because there had not been enough time to demonstrate

higher student achievement by charters, there was no reason for regular public

school educators to seek direction in educational practices from charters (Hassel,


Who Supports Charter Schools?

Walberg (2000) noted that "school choice makes for incongruous allies"

(p. 46). The most vocal proponents for charter schools, according to Walberg,

were groups and individuals representing a politically conservative point of view.

The political right, with a history of opposition to federal control of schools, was

represented by such substantial organizations as the Heritage Foundation. One

of the nation's largest public policy research organizations, the foundation has a

mission "to formulate and promote conservative policies" (The Heritage

Foundation, 2001). It became one of the most prolific publicists and influential

forces for the charter movement.

The reform strategies the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation sought to

advance included support for educational diversity, competition, and choice.

Reform of elementary and secondary education is the foundation's sole focus. In

1996, when Chester E. Finn, the foundation's president and chief executive

officer assumed office, the foundation assumed primary sponsorship of the

Educational Excellence Network (EEN). This 15-year-old umbrella organization

for the promotion of sound education reforms was founded by Finn and Diane

Ravitch in 1981. The EEN had long advocated high standards, strong academic

content, and accountability. It also was dedicated to the reinvention of K-12

education, to include such alternatives as charter schools, contract management,

and other strategies for stimulating more education choices, greater competition,

and consumer empowerment. This foundation frequently sponsors educational

research projects of the Hudson Institute.

African Americans were the most strongly represented ethnic group

supporting charters. Charter schools maintained bipartisan support in the

legislative and executive branches of government as well as from corporations.

Even wealthy private citizens could influence the direction of public education. In

June 2000, for example, billionaire Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft

Corporation, pledged $200,000 to support a signature drive for a statewide

initiative that would allow up to 80 charter schools to open over the next four

years in the state of Washington. If successful, Washington would become the

37th state with legislation allowing charter schools (Bowman, 2000a).

Opponents to charter schools included teacher and administrator groups

throughout the states. The National School Board Association was one of the

staunchest opponents of charters (Bowman, 2000d). Block (1996) cited teachers

unions and school boards as charter school foes. Meanwhile, Sperling's research

(1999) identified Michigan superintendents as representative of that population in

their skepticism about the ability of charter schools to provide better educational

outcomes for students. Teachers unions in various states have filed lawsuits

against charter schools for allegedly violating state laws.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation

of Teachers (AFT) moved from positions of opposition to cautious acceptance of

charter schools (National Education Association, 2000). In 1995, the NEA

launched its Charter School Initiative and began operating three charter schools

in Hawaii, Colorado, and Connecticut. Several features distinguished NEA's

program from other charter schools: employment of only licensed practitioners

and continued applicable collective bargaining provisions. NEA also welcomed

parental involvement and guaranteed open admission of students to its schools.

What Are the Philosophies Behind the Founding of Charter Schools?

The National Study of Charter Schools (RPP International, 1998)

addressed the questions of why charter schools were founded and what attracted

parents to them. These two questions revealed the underpinnings of charter

schools that resisted characterization as a single-philosophical entity. Given that

throughout charter states, for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations, parents,

individuals, universities, school districts, municipalities, and businesses were

some of the entities that could obtain charters, attempts to posit philosophical

generalizations proved fruitless.

However, answers to the study's (RPP International, 1998) questions

illuminated the attraction of charters. The study identified dissatisfaction with

regular public schools as a major factor in the popularity of charter schools.

Generally, parental complaints fell into four areas: concerns about academics,

school climate, safety, and accessibility for parents. Low academic expectations,

student feelings of isolation, harassment by other students, and parents' feelings

of frustration that their efforts to play a meaningful role in their child's education

were unwelcome contributed to their low regard for traditional public schools.

By contrast, parents and students felt attracted to charter schools because

they perceived higher standards for student achievement, a nurturing

environment, and flexibility features that were more likely to enable the school to

meet individual student needs or to offer the kinds of programs deemed desirable

by parents. According to this U.S. Department of Education sponsored study,

Charters start from the inspiration of individual educators, groups of
parents, community leaders, or teachers with a dream. They want
something different for children. They gather support, overcome skeptics
and political resistance if they need to-and they often do-and create a
proposal that says why they want to start their charter school, what
students they want to serve, and what they plan to do. Once a charter
school is founded, parents and students make deeply personal decisions,
exercise their choice and take a chance on enrolling in this new
opportunity. (RPP International, 1998 p. 6)

Most charter schools sought to realize an alternative vision of schooling.

Three-quarters cited vision among other reasons for founding, and 59% were

founded primarily to realize an alternative vision for schooling (RPP International,


In 1998-99, 28% of charters schools were started primarily to serve a

special population of students as compared to 19% of all charter schools founded

prior to 1998 (RPP International, 2000). Special populations included special

education students, emotionally impaired students, students with reading

disabilities, and physically handicapped students. Charter schools also targeted

programs for economically disadvantaged students, children of migrant workers,

and a wide variety of at-risk populations at all grade levels.

Students in charters were more likely to be educated in a school with a

grade configuration that deviated from the traditional elementary, middle, high

school progression. One-quarter of charter schools spanned K-8, K-12, or were

ungraded, compared to less than one-tenth of all public schools (RPP

International, 2000).

Regardless of whether charter schools were newly created or conversion

schools (public schools converting to charter status), the primary reason for

founding charter schools was to realize an alternative vision for schooling (RPP

International, 2000). Although diverse as a group, each charter school had a

single unifying mission or focus that lent coherence to the school and attracted

like-minded teachers, parents, and students. No two missions were identical;

each represented the founding group's philosophy or purpose. In a 1998-1999

survey of 305 charter schools across the United States, 58% had a curricular

focus that was described as core knowledge, back to basics, or direct instruction

(Center for Education Reform, 2000).

Do Charters Promote Stratification?

According to some studies, the trend toward choice had a distinct

consequence: increased sorting ( Dygraaf & Lewis, 1998; Hawley, 1996;

McKinney, 1996; O'Neil, 1996). A healthy mix of social, racial, and ethnic

characteristics of schools, long the chief description of public schools and

democratic education, seemed to be eroding. Opponents of choice said that

consumerism would exacerbate inequities (Carnoy, 2000, O'Neil, 1996). Critics

claimed that the opportunity for students of different racial and ethnic

backgrounds to learn from and about one another would be lost (Engel, 2000;

Plank& Boyd, 1994). For others, the shift had dangerous philosophical

overtones, with education increasingly seen as a "private good," and parents as

autonomous consumers (Hawley, 1996). Deregulation had schools belonging to

their immediate constituents, with many schools not required to deal with groups

having special needs (McKinney, 1996).

However, a large national study found that students in America's charter

schools had demographic characteristics similar to students in public schools.

The National Study of Charter Schools four-year research program, begun in

1995 and sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education, documented and

analyzed the charter school movement. It represented the most comprehensive

study on charters available to date. Almost 1,000 directors of charter schools

responded to the survey, as well as directors in 37 state charter offices. Ninety-

one charter schools participated in the longitudinal portion of the study (RPP

International, 2000).

While students in charter and public schools had similar demographic

characteristics, charter schools in some states served significantly higher

percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students. Charter

schools were more likely than public schools to serve black students (almost

24% versus 17%) and Hispanic students (21% versus 18%). Overall, charter

schools enrolled a larger percentage of students of color than all public schools

in the states with open charter schools (RPP International, 2000).

A common measure of economic disadvantage was students' eligibility for

free or reduced-price lunch under the National School Lunch program. In 1998-

99, charter schools served a slightly higher percentage of students eligible for

free or reduced-price lunch than did all public schools in the 27 charter states

(39% versus 37%). Charter schools in 1998-99 and all public schools in the 27

charter states both served approximately 10% limited English proficient students

(RPP International, 2000).

However, the National School Board Association (2000) argued that

recent studies by the U. S. Department of Education were misleading. Those

reports suggested that charter and traditional public schools served a similar

demographic mix of students. The NSBA report pointed out that this was true if

data were aggregated at the national level. When data were aggregated at the

level of neighborhood school clusters, or at individual schools, the evidence

revealed an ethnically and economically segregated student body.

How Well Do Charters Serve Students with Disabilities?

Research has shown that parents of students with disabilities seek school

choice for the same reason as parents of students without disabilities (Lange &

Ysseldyke, 1998; McLaughlin & Henderson, 1998; Rothstein, 1999). Some

charter schools targeted students with specific disabilities, but such segregated

education was contrary to the principles underlying the Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and could create vulnerability to legal

challenges (Rothstein, 1999). A 1995 survey of 110 charter schools in seven

states conducted by the Education Commission for the States found two-thirds of

the schools surveyed were not designed to serve children with learning

disabilities (Medler & Nation, 1995). In school year 1998-1999, states with

charter schools served 8% of students with disabilities, as compared with 11%

for all public schools in those states (RPP International, 2000).

Costs of compliance for students with disability could be prohibitive to

charter schools. However, charters were answerable to all sections of the law.

Approval of charter applications should have been dependent upon the ability of

the applicant to show evidence of special education preparedness (Estes, 2000).

Empirical data comparing the quality of instruction for special education students

in regular public and charter schools was scant and difficult to derive (Archer,

2000; Rothstein, 1998). Accountability data concerning compliance was also

hard to obtain (Levin, 1999). Evaluating comparative achievement of students

with disabilities to regular education students was especially difficult because

most charter schools had been in operation for less than three years (Archer,

2000; Levin, 1999; Rothstein, 1998).

The charter movement continued to be monitored for demographic

comparisons and quality of service for this special population. Stratification

concerns and questions surfaced about acquisition by charter schools of funds

targeted for special education, with minimal or no expenditures in that area.

These funds represented the profit margin for some for-profit charter schools'

managing corporations (Dykgraff & Lewis, 1998).

Academic Accountability

While improper financial management had been the chief cause of charter

revocations nationwide (Hess, 2001), debates about accountability center on

student achievement indicators as the chief measure of charter success.

Although charter schools have been in existence for nearly a decade, more than

half have been in operation less than five years (RPP International, 2000).

Besides lack of longevity, other complications brought academic accountability

into question. Even charter supporters who called for "accountability via

transparency" (Manno, Finn, & Vanourek, 2000, p. 478) acknowledged the

limited availability of performance data and recognized that state accountability

systems were not developed in many states.

Texas, which had a well-developed state assessment system, required

that charter schools, like regular public schools, be rated by the Texas

Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) after two years of operation (Texas

Education Agency, 2000). However, the majority of Texas charters were located

in urban areas and served high numbers of multiethnic and low socio-economic

students. In Texas, approximately 42% of students enrolled in charters were

Hispanic, compared to 37% in regular public schools, and 34% were African

American, compared with 14% in regular public schools. Nearly 66% of students

enrolled in charters statewide were at risk of dropping out, compared to 37% in

regular public schools of Texas (Charter Schools Resource Center, 1999).

Also like charters nationwide, however, Texas charters served fewer

special education and limited English proficient students, raising questions about

equity and social justice. Those types of students were also considered difficult to

educate. This further complicated the academic accountability issue because,

even without those students, charter schools throughout the state of Texas failed

to match the academic performance of traditional public schools (Fusarelli,


In addition, because charter schools enrolled less than 1% of Texas'

school population, comparisons were difficult. With so few charter students taking

the TAAS test, each one exerted a greater impact on the percentage passing at

each grade level. A more accurate measure would have been to compare

student achievement in charter schools with public schools with similar

demographics. Still, because of low numbers and the fact that many charters

catered to students who had not done well in regular public school programs,

accurate comparisons could remain elusive (Texas Education Agency, 2000).

Another southern state, Georgia, had similar problems. Georgia also had

a statewide academic assessment in place, and after four years found that

charters had mixed academic success. Some charters showed steadily

increasing test scores, while others posted declining scores. This was distressing

due to the fact that students attending Georgia's charters represented a higher

percentage of gifted students, a lower proportion of economically disadvantaged

students, and evinced more parental involvement than at most Georgia schools

(Georgia State Department of Education, 2000).

A key component of all charter schools' legislation was academic

accountability (Nathan, 1996; Vergari, 1999). According to the National Study of

Charter Schools. Fourth-Year Report (RPP International, 2000), 96% of all

charter schools used standardized assessments for accountability purposes.

Eighty-two percent used five or more types of assessment measures, with one-

third of all charter schools indicating use of all seven types of assessments listed

in report's questionnaire: standardized tests, performance assessments, student

demonstrations, student portfolios, parent surveys, student surveys, and

behavioral indicators.

Charter school proponents Manno, Finn, and Vanourek (2000) suggested

that even greater accountability for charter schools could be achieved by using

General Accepted Accountability Principles for Education (GAAPE). This was

borrowed from Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) used by

business. Application of those principles would permit "a regimen in which so

much is known about each school that its various watchers, participants, and

constituents, could and routinely do regulate it (p. 475).

The requirement to prove student performance forced charter schools to

have accountability that was tantamount to surveillance. Ultimate control, under

the threat of revocation of a school's charter, went to the chartering body. This in

turn was linked to local and state accountability mandates. The retention of

power over charter schools by the state reproduced traditional power


Interestingly, according to the Georgia Charter School Act of 1998, all

charter schools were waived from compliance with the state testing program.

However, Georgia's charters rarely waived curricular or testing requirements

(Opfer, 2001). Opfer's study revealed that regular public schools in Georgia

requested more waivers, including curricular and testing requirements, than did

charter schools. Her argument was that the requirement for charters to prove

quality with standardized performance measures limited their ability to innovate

and even ran counter to the philosophy of many charter schools.

Opfer (2001) argued that Atlanta, Georgia's, charter schools "cannot be

truly innovative because the accountability mechanisms paired with the schools

primarily standardized tests keep educators in those schools tied to traditional

pedagogy and curriculum" (p. 203). Her research in those schools led her to

conclude that pressure on charter schools to focus on meeting individual student

academic needs was done at the expense of curricular and pedagogical

innovation and camouflaged the retention of power by the state over charter


Standardized measures of achievement ran counter to the philosophy of

many charter schools. Schnaiberg (1998) reported that some Colorado charter

schools used multiage grade configurations in which students received neither

letter grades nor credits, but employed portfolios to chart student learning. She

noted that for some charters, such innovations represented the very essence of

their school. Having to contend with accountability systems based on standards

and performance goals set at the state or district level compromised the schools'

stated philosophies.

However, from its inception, the charter movement had been connected

with academic accountability, which excluded other educational discourses that

might have been more innovative. The disciplinary nature of accountability and

the advent of government intervention in education relegated the learning

process to a quantifiable event and negated the uniqueness of children,

teachers, communities, and schools.

Are Charter Schools Causing the Erosion of Democratic Values?

In the late 19th century, admiration of the efficiency in industry resulted in

efforts to create a more uniform system of education in the United States. The

outcome of the rise of professional administration was bureaucracies dedicated

to consolidation, rationality, impartiality, and precision (Engel, 2000). Between

1900 and 1925, unfavorable comparisons of school operations to businesses

promoted the cult of efficiency, based on Taylor's theories of scientific

management. Curriculum became organized and departmentalized around the

need to economize on staff and facilities (Callahan, 1962).

A perceived lack of educational preparedness and Russia's launch of

Sputnik catapulted schools into mainstream marketplace competition. National

security was at stake, and the federal government became heavily involved in an

arena that had heretofore constitutionally fallen to the states. Economic growth

became a companion goal, and terms like investment in education and global

competition spawned a wave of educational reforms.

The report A Nation at Risk (National Commission for Excellence in

Education, 1983) decried America's mediocre educational performance in

comparison with foreign nations. Quantifiable outcomes became the basis for

judging schools. Educational excellence was defined in terms of productivity and

achievement, and the institutionalization of market ideology was accomplished

without any appreciable improvement in America's standing in the global

economy or in the quality of its educational standing (Engel, 2000).

According to Engel (2000), charter schools clearly represented a

marketplace approach to education. "Charter schools intensify and profit from

market segmentation within education" (p. 86). In his book, Engel stated that

school choice had weakened the rationale for maintaining public education and

pushed civic education for democracy off the agenda, thereby undermining

democratic values in the educational system. School choice appeared as the

ultimate application of market ideology to the educational system.

Engel (2000) believed that market-oriented school choice eliminated

public education as a community enterprise, removing citizens from the common

effort to educate their children. The intergroup communication and social

cohesion that sustained democratic values was lost. In Rethinking School

Choice, Henig (1994) referred to the risk that market rationale for school choice

"will undermine the social and political institutions that are prerequisites to

achieving genuine reform" (p. 193).

To some educators, privatization in the form of charter schools seemed

incompatible with democratic values (Carnoy, 2000; Engle, 2000; Vine, 2001). In

a competitive market, charter schools must target a particular market in order to

ensure financial survival. "Charter schools are as much small businesses as they

are educational institutions" (Finn, Bierlein, & Manno, 1996, p. 20). For-profit

educational chains had already entered the picture. The transfer of control of

school instructional services to managers who were not elected nor on the public

payroll, but who were paid with public funds under contract with a governmental

body, was privatization that was inherently in conflict with a democratic

educational system (Engel, 2000).

There was no doubt that certain programs in charter schools had merit.

Those schools might be academically beneficial to their students. But the

question remained whether democracy was furthered. Without a common setting

and a curriculum that promoted civic responsibility, questions about the survival

of a democratic way of life were called into question. As proponents of charters

and school choice, Chubb and Moe's (1990) perspective was probably correct:

"the policy choice in education was between the market and democracy" (p. 68).

Do Parents Choose Schools Based on Philosophy?

Were parents choosing charter schools based on the school's philosophy?

Cooke's (2000) case study of a charter high school in California revealed that

parents overwhelmingly chose this charter school for their child based on school

social indicators. Was the culturally bounded choice, as opposed to school

academic indicators, a rational choice? This finding complicated marketplace

reasoning. Concern with global competition had seemed to be the impetus

behind policymakers' desire to overhaul education, whereas this research on

decision making in one school setting showed parents' motives to be other than


Stated Engel (2000), in his book on market ideology versus democratic

values, school choice "inevitably favors those with time, education, experience,

and assertiveness to make that selection properly" (p. 79). Wells' (1993) study

examining how parents make educational choices concurred:

Parents and students rarely seek out the best or most competitive school
in a systematic and well-informed fashion. Rather, several factors, in-
cluding expectations, racial attitudes, sense of efficacy, and alienation and
isolation from the larger society, affect the amount of information parents
and students have access to and the kinds of decisions they make...
[These factors] are strongly influenced by the social and cultural context
of the choosers. Thus, I argue that competition between schools for
students...will quite possibly lead to greater racial and social-class
segregation and stratification. (p. 30)

Carnoy (2000), in rebutting Goldhaber's (1999) article in the December

issue of Educational Researcher, pointed out that the increased school

effectiveness in delivering achievement would not necessarily offset the negative

effects of greater stratification. He pointed out that parents might chose schools

based on peer effects rather than on a school's effectiveness. Schools attracting

higher scoring pupils with more educated parents might appear to be more

effective and be more selective with regard to waiting lists. Conversely, schools

in low-income neighborhoods might lose higher scoring students and could not

compete, even if they truly were more productive schools.

In a study of 17 charter schools in California, charters formed in low-

income areas still drew higher educated parents from among the low-income.

Therefore, elitism could be relative to the overall student populations in their

school districts, with resulting stratification (Wells, 1993).

Do Leadership Requirements Differ in Regular Public and Charter Schools?

The importance of the role of the principal in creating an effective school

was borne out in the literature (Drake & Roe, 1999; National Association of

Elementary School Principals, 1990; Sergiovanni, 1995). Although those roles

had been documented mainly for regular public schools, charter schools were no

different. Charter schools also needed leadership that provided vision, as well as

the ability to manage effectively. Founders of charter schools needed a clear

purpose for their schools and had to hire directors for their schools who could

implement that vision through their knowledge about teaching and education, and

their competence in matters of school governance.

Dresser's (2001) study of urban Colorado charter schools explored the

role of the schools' leadership. The study gathered baseline data about the kind

of day-to-day leadership present in charter schools. It also attempted to identify

the role, function and challenges of charter school principals. The average

enrollment of the 17 responding schools was 242 students, representing 24% of

all students enrolled in all Colorado charter schools. The schools expressed a

multitude of philosophies as reflected in their curricular focuses.

Dressier (2001) reported that 13 of the 17 responding charter school

leaders had previous experience as the lead educator in a school. The same

number indicated that the founders or board of directors of the school had hired

them, rather than being founders themselves. Through the questionnaires,

respondents indicated that their roles, functions, and job descriptions were much

the same as those of traditional school principals. Likewise, the educational

challenges they faced were similar. Other than standardized tests, accountability

criteria differed. Some used formal beginning and ending reading and writing

tests, others used grade level report cards, and still others sought to adhere to

standards set by the district and state. All respondents indicated the importance

of parent satisfaction, which was determined by annual surveys. Finally, the

principals surveyed stated that their duties also included those of a school

superintendent. Even though they were a public school and part of a school

district, their work interfacing with the governing board and the chartering district

was unique.

The personal and professional challenges faced by these charter

principals raised questions about principal preparation, and provided a glimpse

into the crucial role principals play in the new and developing educational setting

of charter schools. Responding charter principals indicated that "they had to be

more consumer-oriented, had to work harder to increase ethnic diversity in their

schools, be more responsive to parental expectations, needed to involve

teachers in all areas of school life and to encourage diversity in thinking and

expectations" (Dressler, 2000, p. 180).

Effective leadership in schools of choice, where governance was expected

to be less burdensome, and focus on outcomes was supposed to be clearer,

called for further study. Expectations for principals in charter schools and the

ability of those principals' to meet those expectations, could benefit from field-

based exploration. Sarason (1999) noted that leadership was among the most

important variables to consider in successful charter schools.

Mestinsek's (2000) study comparing leadership characteristics of

principals in charter schools and traditional schools addressed that variable.

Forty elementary principals responded to the Multifactor Leadership

Questionnaire (Bass & Avolio, 1989). That questionnaire measured

transformational and traditional leadership styles. The Multifactor Leadership

Questionnaire provided 10 scales: four related to transformational leadership,

two to leadership, one to non-leadership, and three to outcome measures as a

result of leadership practice. Although a majority of all responding principals

preferred transformational leadership practices over transactional or

nonleadership practices, the degree of preference between the groups differed


The findings indicated that American charter school principals perceived

themselves as transformational leaders significantly more than did either Alberta,

Canada, or California's regular public elementary principals. Charter principals

scored significantly higher than Alberta elementary principals on the

transformational leadership characteristics of inspiration, intellectual stimulation,

and charisma. Charter school principals also scored significantly higher on the

leadership measure of charisma when compared to California public elementary

principals. All three groups preferred the collaborative transformational

leadership style. Also, all three groups appeared to be in transition from the role

of instructional leader to the new role of chief executive officer (Mestinsek, 2000).

Another leadership dimension pertinent to charter schools was shared

decision making. Since parents, the community, teachers, and other constituents

were expected to participate to a greater extent in charters (Duquesne University

Charter Schools Project, 1998), Johnson's study (1993) on emergent patterns of

leadership in a shared decision-making school (SDM) deserved attention.

Charter schools each had a unique school culture, ones not typically

characterized by isolation and not thought of as being governed by an authority

principle. Another feature of SDM was its organic nature, which developed

differently within each individual school setting. Charters seemed to be well

suited for the shared decision-making model.

When Johnson (1993) conducted her study, the first charter schools were

opening their doors and beginning to make their claims as models for renewing

public education. The developmental research school Johnson studied was much

larger and had a longer history than charter schools, but it was a school in need

of renewal. According to Johnson's observations over a two-year period, SDM

served as a vehicle for that renewal. At Neptune High School, Johnson observed

a principal who supported the work of the SDM committees and encouraged

participation of all stakeholders. Many of Neptune's faculty were reported to have

been resistant to change, but over the course of the study, interviews revealed a

move by all teachers to engage in the issues before the SDM councils. Positive

policy changes occurred and the entire school culture, including students, moved

toward more democratic processes of communication.

At Neptune, leadership was not confined to certain individuals or groups,

but rather was characterized by acts of leadership. As in Mestinsek's (2000)

study, the preferred model of leadership was transformational, based on the

writings of James McGregor Burns (1978). At Neptune, influence flowed from the

behavior of individuals assuming leadership positions to the followers. Charters

may yet become models for further democratic school reform of the type

described by Johnson (1993).


A comparison of public and charter school principals' philosophies of

education was not currently a part of the voluminous literature on charter

schools. Research in other areas of charter schools operations was inconclusive.

First, charter schools had been in existence less than 10 years, with most in

operation for fewer than three years. Second, while there was a substantial

amount of research, much of it was driven by various ideologies. At least four

large, conservative public policy think tanks conducted their own studies and

published findings favorable to charter schools. The U.S. Department of

Education had funded national studies, providing mainly demographic

information and evaluating federal aid programs and compliance issues in

charter schools. Even those federal studies had been cited in conflict of interest


If unbiased data existed, it would most likely have been based on

standardized tests administered by each state. Parent satisfaction surveys

already supported the fact that choice engendered satisfaction, even if the choice

was not markedly different or better than non-choice alternatives. Questions

about the effect of choice and charter schools on democracy had yet to be

answered. Conflicting data existed concerning racial and economic stratification,

and for-profit educational management organizations further complicated the

question of privatization's effects on an institution that was originally envisioned

as clearly in the public domain.


Findings that charter schools influenced the schools and school districts in

which they existed was also debatable. What was not in question was that the

number of charter schools was on the rise and that the support they received

transcended political, economic, and cultural divisions. Therefore, there was

clearly a need for further study of charter schools, their philosophies, and the

ideologies of their founders and leaders.



This chapter describes the design of the study. The first section restates

the purpose and hypotheses to be tested. The second discusses the selection of

the research participants. The third describes the instrument that was used to

measure participants' philosophies of education. The fourth presents the

statistical methods of analyzing the data. The fifth describes the interview

process and other qualitative methods used to clarify the quantitative findings.

The instrument used in this study resulted from an original study and a

series of revisions. The Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI) was

developed as part of a dissertation study (Zinn, 1983). After a decade of practical

validation of the PAEI, in 1994 Zinn created the first draft of the Philosophy of

Education Inventory, K-12 (PEI). Based on review of inventory scores and

evaluative information provided by over 800 teachers participating in educational

leaders workshops, in 1994 and 1995 two additional revisions of the PEI were

made. In 1997, Zinn updated and expanded the interpretive information but did

not change the PEI. No statistical testing of external validity of the PAEI was

done to determine that it could be accurately generalized to K-12 educators.

Purpose and Hypothesis

The purpose of this study was to examine differences among philosophies

of education of leaders in charter schools compared to leaders in

demographically matched public schools. Based on the Philosophy of Education

Inventory (PEI, Zinn, 1997), the following null hypothesis was tested:

There are no significant differences in the average scores of public and

charter school principals on the five philosophical scales measured by the


Research Participants

Participants consisted of 12 educational leaders in one Florida county--six

from charter schools and six from demographically matched public schools. One

medium-size school district in north central Florida was selected, and schools

were demographically matched using two criteria: (a) the percentage of students

eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches, a standard measure used to

determine socio-economic status (SES); and (b) ethnicity-the percentage of

African-American and Hispanic students (see Appendix B for demographic

matching of participants' school populations used in this study). The selection of

the educational leader focused on the principal of the public school matched with

an educator of similar standing in the charter school, presumably the director.

The sample size for this study limited the power of the statistical analysis. With

only 12 participants, detection of hypothesized differences between group means

on the five subscales of the PEI was unlikely.


The Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory

The Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI) was completed in

1983 as part of a dissertation study (Zinn, 1983). Its purpose was to assist adult

educators in a process of philosophical inquiry. The PAEI categorized an

individual's personal philosophy of adult education with respect to five prevailing

adult education philosophies. It was a self-report questionnaire consisting of 75


The PAEI was statistically analyzed for content and construct validity and

reliability. Content validity was established using a jury of six internationally

recognized "experts" in the field of educational philosophies. Instructions for the

content validity study directed jurors to assign a relative value on a 1 to 7 scale to

indicate how closely they believed each of the five options represented each of

the five philosophies. Thus, there were five relative values assigned to each

option of every inventory item.

Mean scores for each jurors' responses were calculated by Zinn for each

response item. These scores were then compared with the categories to which

the researcher had assigned each option on the inventory. Responses of six

jurors to Zinn's questionnaire were used to calculate mean scores for each

response item. Sixty-seven percent of the jurors assigned 97% of the individual

items to the same philosophy as did Zinn. Ninety-three percent of the individual

items correlated significantly with the total scores on the scales or philosophies

they were intended to represent. The majority of response options (84%) yielded

moderate to high correlation coefficients (.41-.77) with total scores.

The PAEI was judged to have a fairly high degree of validity based on jury

mean scores of >.50 (on a 7-point Likert scale) on 93% of the response options,

and communality coefficients of >.50 on 87% of the response options. Reliability

coefficients of >.40 on 87% of the response options and alpha coefficients

ranging from .75 to .86 on the five scales were considered measures of moderate

to high reliability.

Construct validity was determined through factor analysis, using

responses from 86 individuals across six states and the District of Columbia.

Internal consistency and test-retest stability were determined based on Pearson

product moment correlations for individual response options, items, and overall


The Philosophy of Education Inventory

The instrument used to measure the philosophical constructs of interest

for this study was the Philosophy of Education Inventory K-12 (PEI), designed

and validated by L. M. Zinn (1997) (Appendix C). Like the PAEI, the PEI was a

self-report questionnaire consisting of 15 sentence stems. Each of the 15 stems

had 5 sentence completions, for a total of 75 items. A Likert scale allowed

respondents to select within a range of responses from 1 to 7 (1 = Strongly

Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree). The choice reflected the completion that best

represented the beliefs of the respondent. A neutral point of 4 indicated that the

respondent had no opinion or was not sure about a particular sentence

completion option. Respondents were asked to respond based on what they

"most frequently or most likely do" (p. 3).

New Instrument Development

Development of a new Philosophy of Education Inventory (K-12) began

with a comparative literature review completed in 1993 by L. VanLoan Anthony

(South Florida Center for Educational Leaders). This secondary research was

designed to provide a theoretical basis for determining whether the five

philosophies of education central to the PAEI would also be relevant and

significant for K-12 educators (Zinn, 2000).

According to Zinn (2000),

based on a credible theoretical premise, combined with strong statistical
validation and a decade of practical validation of the PAEI, the first draft of
the PEI (K-12) was created in 1994. The new instrument was essentially
unchanged from the PAEI, except for minor language substitution to make
it more relevant to teachers of children. Interpretive information was also
modified to reflect educational theorists, methods, techniques, and
practices relevant to K-12 educators (p. 2).

In order to validate the use of this instrument with K-12 faculty, over 800

teachers participating in workshops sponsored by the South Florida Center for

Education Leaders reviewed the instrument for face validity. These "experts"

provided feedback that resulted in two additional revisions of the PEI. There were

no statistical validity studies done on this form of the PEI. Based on the strength

of the content and construct validity and internal consistency of the original PAEI,

only minor wording changes were made to the PEI. However, some of the labels

for the educational philosophies were modified, and the sequence in which they

were presented changed with the reversal of two philosophies.

Statistical Methods

For statistical analysis, the two independent variables were (a) the public

school principals and the charter school principals and (b) the combined variable

of ethnicity, the percentage of African-American and Hispanic students, and

socio-economic status, based on incidence of free or reduced price lunch. The

dependent variable was the principals' scores on the philosophy measure, with

each philosophy as a different level. The five philosophies were behavioral,

comprehensive, progressive, humanistic, and social change education. A

repeated measures analysis of variance was performed on responses to the

questionnaires to test significance of differences among means of the two

groups, charter and public. There were repeated measures on each of the five

philosophies, to determine whether or not there were interactions. Internal

consistency estimates of the five scales with this sample of principals were

calculated. Specific contrasts were planned for instances when the main effects

were significant.

The repeated measures analysis of variance was chosen as the statistical

procedure because of three assumptions. One assumption was that the repeated

measures utilized the same type of scaling procedure. A second assumption was

that respondents would apply the same response strategy when responding to

the items in each scale. The final assumption was that that the statistical test was

designed to determine whether there were differences among the scales (J.

Algina, personal communication, August 6, 2001).

According to Stevens (1996), the repeated measures analysis of variance

was an appropriate choice of statistical procedure for scoring the PEI because of

power issues. Stevens counseled against using the multivariate approach if n

was less than a + 10. In this study a equaled 5, the 5 levels that are types of

philosophies-the repeated measures. Using the formula n = 5 + 10, which

equals 15, this study had fewer; only 12 participants' questionnaires were

analyzed. The multivariate test would have been relatively less powerful than the

univariate approach that was used because of low n. Furthermore, use of the

Huynh-Feldt adjusted p-value yielded an honest error rate, controlling for type I


Qualitative Data Collection

In April, 2000, four visits were made to the school board office in the

county in which the study was to be conducted. The county office supplied

demographic information about the area's charter and traditional public school

populations. Another researcher assisted in the process of matching schools for

the study. Participants consisted of 12 educational leaders in one Florida

county-six from charter schools and six from demographically matched public

schools. Demographic matching considered the percentage of African-American

and Hispanic students and the percentage of students eligible to receive free or

reduced price lunch.

According to McCracken (1988), qualitative data can clarify quantitative

findings and quantitative data can identify the scope and distribution of qualitative

findings. McCracken's (1988) book The Long Interview directed the qualitative

data gathering and reporting process. McCracken made the case that the

literature review was a kind of qualitative analysis, a critical undertaking that

served two purposes. First, it revealed the assumptions of previous literature and

forced a deconstruction of it to determine how problems and findings had

previously been defined. Second, it aided in the construction of the interview

questionnaire, establishing categories and relationships to be investigated.

Reviews of the literature of philosophy of education and of the charter

school movement were conducted. The county school board offices provided a

multitude of charter school documents: several charter schools' applications, on-

site charter school monitoring review instruments, a packet from various school

board departments required to support charter schools, Florida's Charter Schools

Legislation 1999 and 2000 Versions, and "The Bush/Brogan A+ Plan for

Education." Public and charter school websites and brochures provided

contextual data for the schools included in the study.

The Interview Process

In May, 2000, when informed consent was obtained from the university's

Institutional Review Board (see Appendix A), preliminary contact was made with

charter school principals and a visit was made to each school in order to contact

the chief administrator, introduce the study, and deliver the PEI. Requests were

made to allow informal observations before the school year concluded. Four of

the six charter schools agreed to observations.

Class activities a half-hour to an hour in length were observed at four

schools beginning mid- May through summer session's end in June. The purpose

of these observations was to familiarize the researcher with the charter school

settings, to provide a context for the study. Field notes taken during or

immediately after each observation provided supplemental contextual data that

was useful in formulating interview questions.

The county school board office granted access to public school principals

in late May. At that time it was suggested that waiting until public schools

dismissed for summer recess might better allow public school principals to

participate in the study. Rather than the county office mailing the consent

documents and the PEI, it was agreed that they would notify the selected

principals via electronic mail that permission had been granted for the researcher

to solicit their participation.

All participants required a minimum of three visits: the first to explain the

study and solicit participation; the second to retrieve the completed PEI so it

could be scored; and the third to explain the results of the PEI, give a gift copy of

the instrument, and conduct the interview. Contact was made with the traditional

public school principals beginning mid-June. During the first and second visits,

informal conversations with teachers at school sites occurred. These

conversations contributed to the contextual database.

Interview Sites

All public school administrators were interviewed in their offices, but

interviews with charter school administrators were held in a variety of settings

that best suited the needs of that administrator. One charter principal was

interviewed at the construction site of that school's new facility. Another

requested the interview take place in her home. A third charter administrator was

interviewed in his office at the local community college. The other three were

interviewed at their schools.

Development of the Semi-structured Interview Guide

Prior to constructing the questionnaire, McCracken (1988) suggested a

review of cultural categories, meaning a reflection by the researcher on the

familiarity the investigator had with the research settings. This review was

attempted in order to alert the researcher to personal biases that might exist, as

well as to an appreciation of the insights an intimate acquaintance with the

settings might provide. The paradoxical juxtaposition of creating distance and

embracing familiarity provided the context for developing the questionnaire and

conducting the interviews.

The questions for the interview guides were developed based on the

literature and document reviews. Discussions with committee chairpersons for

this study also contributed to the formulation of questions. Preliminary and

subsequent visits to school sites provided the historical and cultural context from

which planned questions evolved. The observations and conversations that took

place at charter and public school sites prior to beginning the interviews also

helped generate questions.

McCracken's (1988) questionnaire construction included biographical

questions followed by open-ended questions, designed to allow respondents to

expand on the topic. Various methods to elicit continuation of testimony along

certain lines were contained in his book. Planned questions assured that the

interview covered the critical areas of the topic being researched.

The Interviews

McCracken (1988) suggested that the interviewer combine a professional,

as well as a friendly approach. Listening for key terms and for interrelationships

in the data, and awareness of implications, and assumption were of paramount


The interviews began several weeks after the PEIs were collected. The

interview sessions averaged 45 minutes each. Two separate and successive

stages of interviews were conducted. Both sets began with biographical and

descriptive data concerning the research participants. In some instances, this

data was available on schools' websites or in school publications. In those cases,

the researcher reviewed that information before beginning the interview.

The first six interviews, five with charter school administrators and one

with a public school administrator, used Interview Guide #1 in Appendix D. For

the next six interviews, one with a charter school administrator, and five with

public school administrators, the number of questions increased to include

planned questions added as a result of the initial six interviews, while also

refining and narrowing questions to those which bore most directly on the

research hypotheses. Interview Guide #2 in Appendix D displays those


Finally, in an effort to gain as wide a perspective as possible concerning

the research hypotheses, a decision was made to seek two additional interviews:

one with county's charter school director and one with a charter school board

member serving on three charter boards. These interview guides are also

contained in Appendix D. The first interview was conducted at the end of May

and interviews concluded at the end of July.

Qualitative Data Analysis

The purpose of the interviews was to further explain the findings of the

Philosophy of Education Inventory (Zinn, 1997), in order to enhance the power of

the quantitative findings. The interview was designed to probe beyond the

questions contained in the instrument to explain the results. Although

McCracken's The Long Interview (1989) served as a guide for formulating

questions and conducting the interviews, the purpose of the qualitative research

in this study did not aim to uncover constructs, patterns, or themes contained in

formal qualitative research. However, some stages of McCracken's analysis

process were employed.

Data analysis of the interviews began with verbatim transcripts, sets of

observations, and the interview guides. Interview questions became files into

which utterances and observations were collected. Combining and reducing the

number of questions resulted in categories. Categories were validated by having

an independent reader, familiar with both qualitative research and Florida public

and charter schools, complete the process of establishing categories. Categories

identified by the researcher and the independent reader were then compared for

overlap. (See Appendix E for Categories by School Setting.)These categories

ultimately became the conclusions drawn concerning the reasons for similarities


and differences between the educational philosophies of charter and traditional

public school principals, as uncovered by the PEI. These explanations are

contained in the qualitative section in Chapter 4 Results.



The purpose of this study was to examine differences among

philosophies of education of leaders in charter schools compared to leaders

in demographically matched public schools. Based on the Philosophy of

Education Inventory (PEI) (Zinn, 1997) the following null hypothesis was


There are no significant differences in the average scores of public and

charter school principals on the five philosophical scales measured by



The study was guided by the research question of whether differences in

philosophy existed between public and charter school principals. This

required the examination of quantitative data provided by the PEI, and by

qualitative examination of semi-structured interviews with all 12 administrators

completing the PEI, an interview with the county's charter schools director,

and an interview with a member serving on three charter schools' boards of

directors. Examination of documents, including school websites, school

publications, the county school board's monitoring documents for charter

schools, sample charter school proposals, Florida State Statutes governing

charter schools, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores, as well as

informal interviews with teachers at selected schools and observation of classes

at selected charter schools provided multiple sources for answering the research

question, thus providing data triangulation.

Descriptive Information

Six charter and six public school administrators' responses were

calculated for the PEI and those administrators also participated in semi-

structured follow up interviews, as did two charter school officials. One medium-

size district in north central Florida was selected and schools were

demographically matched using two criteria: (a) the percentage of students

eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches and (b) ethnicity-the

percentage of African-American and Hispanic students (see Appendix B). The

selection of the educational leader focused on the principal of the public school

matched with an educator of similar standing in the charter school, presumably

the director.

Quantitative Results

Estimates of internal consistency were obtained for the 12 principals'

responses to the PEI to ensure the stability of the results reported in this study.

The five philosophical scales measured by the PEI were each defined by 15

items, making the entire instrument 75 items long. The coefficient alphas for the

total instrument and each scale are reported in Table 1.

The reliability of the total score on the instrument (computed as the sum of

the individual scale scores) was 0.92. The reliabilities of the scale scores ranged

from 0.64 for the comprehensive scale to 0.87 for the social change scale.

These high reliabilities were deemed adequate for the purpose of this study.

Table 1
Coefficient alpha for the total score and scale scores

Total Behavioral Comprehensive Progressive Humanistic Social Change
Alpha* 0.92 0.75 0.64 0.77 0.85 0.87
Note. Reported alphas are for raw variables.

Similarities Between Public and Charter School Principals

This study proposed one hypothesis: there are no significant differences in

the average scores of public and charter school principals on the five

philosophical scales measured by the PEI. Table 2 presents the means and

standard deviations of the public and charter school principals on each of the five


Table 2
Mean scores and standard deviations of public and charter school principals on
each of the five philosophies

Sector Behavioral Comprehensive Progressive Humanistic Social Change
Public" M= 81.70 M= 76.30 M= 90.20 M= 74.80 M= 76.30
SD = 10.86 SD = 10.56 SD = 07.94 SD = 07.78 SD = 10.56
Charter M =81.33 M= 75.70 M = 83.00 M= 69.50 M= 73.20
SD= 10.76 SD= 06.83 SD= 10.20 SD= 18.29 SD= 15.64
Note. a n=6 public school principals, b n=6 charter school principals.

According to these results, public school principals most strongly

endorsed items indicative of a progressive philosophy (M = 90.2), followed by

less strong endorsement of items representative of a behavioral philosophy (M =

81.7). Items describing a humanistic philosophy were rated lowest (M= 74.8).

Charter school principals followed a very similar pattern. These principals gave

higher ratings on items measuring progressive and behavioral philosophies (M =

83.0 and 81.3, respectively), and lower ratings on items measuring a humanistic

philosophy (M = 69.5). Average ratings on the social change and comprehensive

items were very similar for both the public and charter school sectors. On the

items measuring comprehensive philosophy, public schools had a mean score of

76.3 and charter schools had a mean score of 75.7. For items measuring social

change philosophy, public schools had a mean score of 76.3 and charter schools

had a mean score of 73.2.

Table 3 presents the means and standard deviations of the principals who

were matched according to their schools' socioeconomic status (SES) and

percent minority enrollment. Principals in blocks 1, 3, 4, and 6 indicated the

greatest alignment with a progressive philosophy (M = 90.5, 79.0, 87.5, and 97.0,

respectively). Principals in blocks 1 and 6 evinced agreement with a behavioral

philosophy as their second highest philosophical category of alignment (M =

86.0 and 87.0, respectively). Principals in blocks 3 and 4 expressed next highest

agreement on the social change philosophical category.

Principals in blocks 2 and 5 also shared the same pattern of scores.

Unlike principals in blocks 1, 3, 4, and 6, however, these principals indicated the

highest agreement with a behavioral philosophy (M = 90.0 and 88.5, respectively)

and next highest agreement with a progressive philosophy (M = 88.0 and 77.5,

respectively). (For those interested in comparing demographic matching with

blocks in Table 3, see Appendix B.)

Table 4 presents the means and standard deviations of each of the five

philosophies. According to these results, all 12 principals agreed most with a

progressive philosophy (M = 86.58). This was followed by a behavioral

philosophy (M = 81.5). In contrast, the principals in this sample agreed least with

a humanistic philosophy (M = 72.17). Both the social change and

comprehensive philosophies were rated similarly by all principals (M = 74.75 and

76.0, respectively).

Table 3
Mean scores and standard deviations on each of the five philosophies by blocks

Block Behavioral Comprehensive Progressive Humanistic Social Change
1 a M = 86.00 M = 76.50 M = 90.50 M = 76.00 M = 83.50
SD= 05.66 SD= 16.26 SD= 02.12 SD= 08.49 SD = 07.78
2 a M= 90.00 M= 81.00 M= 88.00 M= 81.00 M= 77.00
SD= 05.66 SD = 07.07 SD= 09.90 SD= 00.00 SD= 04.24
3 M= 65.50 M= 65.00 M= 79.00 M= 67.50 M= 68.50
SD= 04.95 SD= 11.31 SD= 04.24 SD= 00.71 SD= 07.78
4 a M= 72.00 M= 78.00 M= 87.50 M= 79.00 M= 84.50
SD= 05.66 SD = 02.83 SD= 10.61 SD= 01.41 SD= 02.12
5 M = 88.50 M = 75.50 M = 77.50 M = 49.00 M = 58.50
SD =02.12 SD = 00.71 SD= 14.85 SD= 19.80 SD = 21.92
6a M = 87.00 M = 80.00 M = 97.00 M = 80.50 M = 76.50
SD= 02.83 SD= 02.83 SD= 01.41 SD= 07.78 SD= 14.85
Note. an=2.

Table 4
Overall means and standard deviations for each of the five philosophies

Behavioral Comprehensive Progressive Humanistic Social Change
Mean a 81.50 76.00 86.58 72.17 74.75
SD 10.31 8.49 9.48 13.69 12.83
Note. an= 12.

Repeated measures ANOVA was used to test whether (a) there was a

difference in the mean ratings of principals from public and charter schools on

the five philosophies, (b) there was a difference in the mean ratings of principals

from schools with different SES and percentages of minority students, (c) the five

philosophies had different mean ratings, and (d) there were interactions between

the scores for the five philosophies and the type of school (i.e., public or charter)

and the schools' SES/minority composition. The ANOVA table is presented


Table 5
Repeated measures analysis of variance table
Source DF MS F p-value H-F p-value b H-F epsilon
Sector" 1 166.67 0.86 0.2692
SES/Minority 5 477.8 2.45 0.1731
Error 5 194.87

Philosophy 4 402.94 6.87 0.0012 1.6427
Phil*Sector 4 26.13 0.45 0.7745
Phil*SES/Min 20 100.69 1.72 0.1179
Error (Phil) 20 58.68
a Sector = public vs. charter, b Huynh-Feldt adjusted p-value, significant at alpha=0.05

The results of this analysis show that there was sufficient evidence to

conclude that there were significant differences in the mean ratings of the five

philosophies across all 12 principals (4, 20 = 4.00, p = 0.0012). Using a

significance level of 0.05, there was not enough evidence to support that public

school and charter school principals differ in their mean ratings of the five

philosophies (F1, s = 0.86, 2 = 0.27), or that principals from schools with different

SES/percent minorities differ in their mean ratings of the five philosophies ( 5, =

2.45, 2 = 0.17). There was no evidence of interaction between philosophy

ratings and sector (E4, 20 = 0.45, 2 = 0.77) or between philosophy ratings and the

schools' SES/percent minority (20, 20 = 0.72, = 0.12). Therefore, the results

showed that both charter and public school principals preferred certain

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID E18SZJCFU_LU82JC INGEST_TIME 2013-03-21T14:16:43Z PACKAGE AA00013633_00001