Date of Award

Spring 8-9-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristina Brezicha, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Will Rumbaugh, Ed. D.

Third Advisor

James R. Kahrs, Ed. D.


Over the last several decades, charter schools have proliferated across the United States promising to close the persistent achievement gap between White and Black students. As the number of charter schools has increased, competition between charter and traditional public schools for students has had several impacts on the educational experiences of these students (Winters, 2020). While studies have focused primarily on the impact of student outcomes when comparing charter schools and traditional public schools, there are limited studies that examine traditional public school (TPS) principals’ perspectives of charter school competitors. In this study, I focus on social justice principals’ perceptions of and responses to charter school competition. I use the term social justice principals to refer to TPS principals who: (1) understand that equity in redistribution, recognition, and representation requires the reversal of systematic/institutional injustice (Wang, 2016) and who address inequity by bringing theory to practice to achieve more equitable and just schools. I focus on social justice principals because their commitment to educational equity speaks to the social justice implications. Using a case study design, I purposefully selected seven public school principals in a district with a high concentration of charters schools. I ask the following research questions: What are the perceptions of social justice principals of TPSs about the proliferation of charter schools? How do social justice principals of TPSs respond to charter school competition? How do social justice principals’ responses to charter school competition impact their work in addressing educational inequities? Using document analysis, individual interviews, and focus group interviews, the following findings emerged from the study: 1) social justice principals of TPSs either collaborate, compete, or work to change the perceptions when faced with charter school competition, and 2) social justice principals of TPSs exhibit intentionality, provide opportunity for dialogue for stakeholders, and provide support and access to resources.


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