Date of Award:

5-2008

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Advisor/Chair:

Edward M Reeve

Abstract

Thomas Jefferson envisioned a symbiotic relationship between democracy and public education because he considered educated citizens to be the critical ingredient of a successful democracy. Nevertheless, political and educational reforms over the past two centuries have not always been kind to the relationship that Jefferson envisioned. This study examines frequency that postsecondary education institutions declare a democratic social purpose in their mission statements. The DSP definition, data instrumentation, and theoretical lens for this study were situated from the Jeffersonian perspective.

Although the primary concern for this study was publicly funded/subsidized postsecondary education, recent enrollment growth in private education and privatization initiatives, such as voucher programs, justifies comparison with private nonprofit and private for-profit institutions to reveal how the different types of institutional control influence DSP. The comparison also provides a sense of the non-economic consequences of reduced public education subsidy and intentional or unintentional privatization. A number of Carnegie classification variables were also examined to better understand what factors influence DSP expression.

This study utilized a national random sample of undergraduate institutions, from associates colleges to research universities. The sample size was 336 and there were no cases of missing data. Interrater reliability was calculated as .873 Kappa on the dichotomous dependent variable (DSP presence or absence).

The first research objective was to determine if public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit institutional mission statements differ in the frequency of DSP expression. Public institutions exhibited 36.5% DSP, private nonprofit institutions exhibited 69.1% DSP, and private for-profit institutions exhibited 11.9% DSP. Chi-square test determined that there was significant difference between each of 2x2 comparisons (p < .003). The second research objective utilized logistic regression analysis to gauge the influence of several variables on DSP frequency. Institutional control, focus, enrollment, and mission statement length were found to be significant at the p = .05 level.

There are differences between public and private institutions and also between two-year and four-year institutions in the frequency of DSP expression. These differences have serious social and political implications that will likely go unnoticed as the bulk of society focuses on private and economic concerns.

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