Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Korach, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Kent Seidel

Third Advisor

Roger Sadler

Fourth Advisor

Carolyn Mears


Charter schools, Conversion charter schools, Grammar of schooling, Leadership, School change, Systemic change


Three decades of change efforts in American urban public school districts to improve educational opportunities for students have had a lackluster impact on student achievement. For students living in areas of concentrated poverty, achievement gaps and drop out rates remain unacceptably high. These gaps were brought into stark relief in the city of New Orleans following the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005.

This qualitative study is about school change from the perspective of school leaders who were hired to run the converted Orleans Parish schools. These experienced, former Orleans Parish school administrators took on leadership roles in a time of personal hardship and collective uncertainty for the future of the city. They did so with the express charge of improving educational opportunities and demonstrating improved student achievement over the course of the five years granted in their respective charter contracts. Using narrative inquiry, the personal stories of how these leaders went about opening and building their new organizations were mined to discern changes in the routines and practices, referred to in the literature as the grammar of schooling, post-Hurricane Katrina. Through the telling of their stories, evidence of innovation in the systems of schooling, including but not limited to teacher recruitment, induction, and development practices, authority and power distribution, knowledge transmission regarding vision and goals, was examined. The study aimed to illumine the perspectives of these principals regarding their leadership experiences and changes they were making in their organizations to improve student achievement.

Through the rapid authorization of conversion charter schools by the OPSB and the state take-over and creation of a majority charter-operated public education portfolio of schools, a new age of accountability has emerged in the city of New Orleans. This study brings to light changes in the grammar of schooling taking place in the conversion charter schools as revealed by the school leaders.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Bridget Dwyer Ramsey


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

240 p.


Educational leadership, Education policy, Educational administration

Included in

Accessibility Commons