Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Zorka Karanxha, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Vonzell Agosto, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William R. Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Shircliffe, Ph.D.


Charter Schools, Narrative Inquiry, Organizational Adaptation, Settler Colonialism


The encroachment of market-based practices on public education has resulted in the creation of vouchers, charter schools, virtual schools, home schools, and other forms of educational choice. While there has always been choice in education in the United States for the wealthy and White, the current conception of school choice, in theory, allows equal access to education for all. Undergirding the neoliberal practice of school choice is a connection to a troubling past of capitalist oppression and settler colonialism. Like settler colonialism, the practice of school choice has resulted in the displacement of educators, families, and students, inequality between different racial and socioeconomic groups, and the disappearance of traditional neighborhood public schools and their communities.

Through the utilization of Indigenous epistemology and narrative methodology, this inquiry seeks to tell the story of Mirkwood Middle School in Lake Town, a small town in central Florida, where the community turned to charter schools as a means to promote local control of education. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the politics and policies behind a traditional neighborhood middle school that has remained public and refused charter conversion despite being surrounded by a charter school district in order to provide insight into the complexities of school choice and organizational adaptation (McCormack & Milne, 2003). Based on a framework of settler colonialism, I have chosen to present the findings as a story because stories represent Indigenous forms of understanding that weave together complex webs of truths (Bishop, 1995; Kovach, 2009; Smith, 2012). Mirkwood Middle School is a story of refusal, survival, and adaptation in the face of persistent pressure to convert to a charter school.