Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


The purpose of this study was to expand the research concerning Illinois School Superintendents' perceptions of the importance of understanding, responding to and influencing the political context of schools in Illinois. The overarching research question for this study asked: What are Illinois superintendents' perceptions of the effectiveness of political activity as they advocate for resources and services to improve opportunities for student learning? The findings for this study were gathered through interviews with eleven active Superintendents in Lake County, Illinois. Interview transcripts were compared to the literature review including the political and economic climate in Illinois, networking, lobbying and working with legislators, and professional organizations. They were also compared to the information on the websites of the various professional organizations to which the research participants identified membership. Finally, the research findings were reviewed in light of the conceptual framework of social justice and equity.

Research findings include the following. Many Illinois superintendents belong to the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the American Association of School Administrators, ED-RED, FED ED, Phi Delta Kappa, ASCD, Illinois Association of School Business Officials and their County Superintendents' Group. Illinois superintendents perceived their membership in professional organizations provides them benefits through lobbying efforts in Springfield, providing professional development, and networking opportunities. The majority of Illinois superintendents perceived networking to enhance their ability to advocate for resources and services. Networking primarily enhanced their advocacy ability through providing information on how other superintendents have handled similar situations. It also reduced the loneliness inherent in the position. However, Illinois superintendents have mixed feelings about lobbying and working with legislators. Whereas they understood the potential positive benefits of lobbying of affecting policy and educating legislators about the impact of legislation, their experience has been that legislators do not listen, let party politics interfere with making good decisions for education, and that other lobby groups with more available funding sources can out-sway legislators. Finally, Illinois superintendents recognized the importance of networking with all stakeholder groups depending on the nature of the issue for which they are advocating.

Implications for further research, policy and practice are presented in the final chapter.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.