Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

James Barott, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Ella Burton, EdD

Committee Member

David Anderson, PhD


The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the experiences of school-choice students at Southgate Anderson High School (SAHS). Qualitative methods were utilized to complete this interpretive study. The conceptual framework combined socialization theory with organizational theory. The researcher worked as a participant observer who conducted interviews, recorded observation data, and studied archival documents. Conceptually-driven sequential sampling was used to identify participants for initial interviews. Data collected through the initial round were analyzed and led to the use of purposive sampling for the remaining interviews. Interview transcripts, archival data, and observation logs were analyzed until a point of data saturation was reached.

Southgate Community School District (SCSD) is located approximately 5 miles south of Detroit in Southeast Michigan’s Wayne County. The community that SCSD serves was incorporated in 1958 and grew rapidly during the exodus of Caucasian residents from Detroit in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The State of Michigan began a statewide interdistrict public schools-of-choice program in 1996. As of the 2004–2005 school year, 687 school-choice students were enrolled in SCSD from nearby school districts.

The history of Southeast Michigan and of Michigan school funding shaped the experiences of school-choice students. The experience of schoolchoice students at SAHS was a cultural experience, and the adaptive socialization response chosen by the students fell along the lines of racial and socio-cultural congruence. The relationship between school-choice students and the culture of vi SAHS shaped the experiences of school-choice students. Schools-of-choice, Proposal A, and the culture of the community combined to create conflict between organizational rationalities. This conflict framed the experiences of school-choice students at SAHS.

Michigan’s school funding system and schools-of-choice policy was intended to create a market-driven system that would result in increased effectiveness of schools. Schools-of-choice, in this case, was a competition between communities and not a competition between schools. Perceptions related to socio-cultural characteristics of communities shaped the experiences of school-choice students.


Additional committee member: Sarah Ginsberg, EdD

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