Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Lisa Eckert

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Monske

Abstract

This study investigates a perceived inconsistency between pedagogical theory and uncritical practice in education, specifically in charter schools. The researcher reflects on the historical creation of charter schools to fulfill the needs of struggling students in contrast to a perception of modern charter schools that are more rigorous or specialized.

The study includes thematically coded interview data from five Midwestern charter school educators in conjunction with site visits including two unspecified charters and two Montessori charters. Educators are asked to describe their evolving teaching philosophies, views on the purposes of education, and identify differences between charter schools and traditional public schools. Three primary themes emerged in educator rhetoric including: 1. instruction of values, 2. language charged by the free-market metaphor, and 3. issues of access for ESL and disabled students. The conclusion posits that homogenous teaching theory can result in uncritical practice and education reforms that do not meet the needs of all students. Thus, not meeting the original vision of charter schools. Themes are analyzed using the critical theory of Louis Althusser who identifies ideological systems and Paulo Freire who discusses the goals of public education as a “democratizing” experience.

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