CHARTER SCHOOLS AND TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A CROSS-SECTOR COLABORATION CASE STUDY

Open Access
Author:
keefer, shelby Lee
Graduate Program:
Educational Leadership
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 23, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Edward J Fuller, Dissertation Advisor
  • Edward J Fuller, Committee Chair
  • Maria M Lewis, Committee Member
  • Maryellen Schaub, Committee Member
  • Davin Jules Carr-Chellman, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • charter schools
  • traditional public schools
  • cross-sector collaboration
  • in-group bias
Abstract:
Over the past 25 years, the rapid expansion of charter schools has been met with controversy and polarizing political rhetoric. Ironically and unfortunately, this anticollaboration sentiment stands in stark contrast to the original vision of charter schools. In response, funding initiatives such as the 2012 Gates District-Charter Collaboration Compacts have begun to incentivize partnership through large grants. This case study examines one such cross-sector principal training collaboration between a traditional public school district and a charter school district. The researcher leveraged social psychology literature on in-group bias and intergroup collaboration to frame programmatic challenges cited by participants. The methods used for this qualitative study included interviews with principal trainees, mentor principals, collaboration staff, and partners. The researcher also performed observations and document analysis to both guide interviews and triangulate analysis. The results of this study yielded three primary conclusions: Collaboration positively impacted perceived in-group bias at the individual level; individuals from each sector had a different understanding of the purpose of the partnership, which impacted the collaborative experience and resulted in missed opportunities for a reciprocal flow of knowledge and best practice; and public rhetoric impacted stereotype development and the collaborative experience, particularly for participants who struggled with their competing identity. For further study, the researcher recommends the development of a quantitative bias self-assessment instrument to measure impact on bias before and after the collaborative experience at different levels of participation. Additionally, the researcher recommends further examination of the impact of public rhetoric on collaborations.