Portland State University. Graduate School of Education
Robert B. Everhart
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration
Educational Leadership and Policy
1 online resource (3, vii, 244 pages)
Charter schools -- Oregon, School management and organization -- Oregon
Over the past two decades, pressure to both reform public education and provide educational choices for families has led to the creation of charter schools. Charter schools are based on the premise of operational autonomy in exchange for accountability for agreed upon results. Their appeal is widespread, with over 2,000 charter schools opening in the United States since 1990.
The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive study is to describe the process of initiating a charter school. Eight key informants representing five Oregon charter schools were included in the study. These key informants were directly involved in the formation of their schools. I also interviewed a charter school specialist at the Oregon Department of Education to provide context. Potential limitations included the size of the interview pool and the experiences of the author at an Oregon charter school.
I collected interview and document data from the key informants. The interview data were transcribed and analyzed using NUD*IST 4 data analysis software. Study findings revealed that the key informants were motivated by (a) the desire for freedom, (b) the desire to meet perceived community needs, and (c) a desire to exercise school choice. The key informants accessed opportunities, including (a) the opportunity to access Oregon's newly created charter school law, (b) the opportunity to work with individuals with whom founders had previous professional experience, and (c) the opportunity to form new working relationships. The key informants also accessed (a) grants, (b) professional services, and (c) community resources as means to initiate their schools.
Additionally, I found that the experiences of the participants in creating their charter schools had strong connections to Berger and Luckman's (1966) concepts of social construction.
The results of the study indicated that (a) Oregon's charter school founders had a strong desire for freedom, (b) charter schools were a safety valve for school districts to respond to opposition, (c) Oregon's charter school laws handicapped charter founders, and (d) the future of Oregon charter schools is uncertain.
Valley, Anthony Dean, "Not For the Faint of Heart: The Social Construction of Oregon Charter Schools" (2003). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3556.