The Voices of One Urban School District Taken Over by a State
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This qualitative research investigates the experiences of education stakeholders in a city that requested a state takeover. Using the voices of stakeholders of one urban school district, this study reveals the real, yet unseen, mechanisms which led to the takeover. These same voices tell of the takeover’s resulting impact. These mechanisms are presented using the framework of critical realism to establish the truth found in each voice. Additionally, critical race theory is layered in to understand the mechanisms found in the counter-stories of the voices of one urban district taken over by a state. Not typically assessed in takeover research, existing literature is scant in its attention to elements of stakeholder voice. Yet, these voices add complexities and thickness to explanations of the lead up to and impact of takeovers. The current literature identifies the actual events of financial mismanagement and test scores/academics as the actual indicators of a district’s prerequisites for takeover. However, these two acts are inadequate in understanding what factors lead to takeovers and its resulting impact. The voices of the stakeholders will respond to these concerns, which are at the heart of the research questions for this study. This study focused on one urban district with a profile analogous to other urban districts taken over by a state and placed the local actors (the stakeholders) at the center of the investigation. In the extant literature, the findings reveal that the actual events (the seen) of takeovers are fiscal mismanagement, test scores, and board dysfunction. To explore the phenomenon of takeovers and the intersection of stakeholder voices additional data sources of newspaper articles and media, board of education meeting transcripts, and semi-structured interviews were used in this study. Interpretive phenomenological analysis and content analysis guided the data’s examination, leading to this study’s findings, which add depth to the findings in the literature. Moreover, the researcher of this study, who has worked as an educator in a district taken over by the state, provides an insider perspective. In response to the first research question, the findings tell us the voices point to three major areas of concern that led up to the takeover of the school district: (1) finances, (2) internal BOE concerns, and (3) safety. The subthemes of: (a) academics, (b) school policy, (c) people connections, and (d) personnel were also present in the concern of the voices prior to the takeover. The voices also tell us that, in response to research question two of this study, the impact of the takeover had four findings; the takeover: (1) had no impact, (2) attempted privatization, (3) excluded some parents and excluded other parents, and (4) exposed the relationship between the city and the district. Finally, the study’s recommendations and conclusions points to three implications for practice and several recommendations regarding community voice and takeovers.
Liles, Vanessa Monique (2017). The Voices of One Urban School District Taken Over by a State. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from