Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Anne J. Hacker
From 2017 to 2019, the primary strategy to improve public schools in the U.S. was increasing competition through the expansion of charter schools and the promotion of vouchers to send public school students to private schools. The problem this presented was that key education leaders had not provided adequate input and feedback into this strategy. The purpose of this qualitative study was to gather the perspectives of accomplished education leaders on how Tiebout's theory of competition and the concept of the Ontario K-12 School Effectiveness Framework impacted quality, trust, and capacity. Data were collected using semistructured interviews with a purposeful sample of 15 accomplished education leaders from the charter/school choice community and traditional public schools. Data were analyzed using Bernauer's modified three-phase method. School and classroom leadership, meaningful and informative assessment that guides instruction, substantive student engagement, and a focus on a strong curriculum and effective teaching were the key themes that aligned with quality, trust, and capacity. Education leaders did not see Tiebout education as a key driver that would alone improve the quality of public education. Leaders believed that some schools improved in response to Tiebout competition but also shared cautions on the diminishing returns, collateral damage, and equity concerns because Tiebout competition created winners and losers. Social change may be impacted by the results of this study in that the results define and share examples of healthy and unhealthy competition in public education. The results of this study can help inform policy makers and educators as they create opportunities that will enhance the long term personal and economic success of all U.S. students.