Spring 4-10-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Aura Wharton-Beck

Second Advisor

Sarah J. Noonan

Third Advisor

Kathlene Campbell


This mixed-methods multiple case study through a feminist research lens examined COVID-19 era Minnesota K-12 school district leaders’ perceptions of the purposes of education, their roles, and measures used to assess student and system success. Examining these findings through the lenses of relationships between political economy, ideology, and schooling, critical theory, and feminist theory revealed how Minnesota school district leaders maintain systems that promote dominant ideologies, illuminated leverage points for educational reform focused on equity and social justice, and presented topics for future research. Four themes emerged from this study. Minnesota K-12 district leaders agree with the purposes of education as outlined in federal and state legislation, but their actions and measures of student and system success are not aligned to these purposes. Equity and social justice leadership is scarce across Minnesota K-12 district leadership. District leaders have mixed feelings about local control of schools in Minnesota, and federal, state, and local school funding systems act to limit educational reform and administrative leadership. Lastly, opportunities for educational reform focused on equity and social justice include district leaders’ calls to action and diversification of district leadership roles. Study methods included an online survey (101 participants), semi-structured interviews (11 participants), and document analysis of school board policies (28 sample school districts). Participants included superintendents, school board chairs, and district assessment coordinators representing diverse geographical regions of Minnesota. This study provides recommendations for educational stakeholders within and beyond the state of Minnesota.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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