Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


This research examines the perceptions of arts education during periods of educational efficiency and accountability focusing specifically on the arguments made by advocates for the value of arts education within the Chicago area. It is intended to help leaders understand how we can learn from our past through revealing cyclical behaviors that can guide future decisions about how best to lead a school.

This study utilized a mixed methodology of historical documentary with oral history to compare two distinct time periods in education focusing on schools that operated in opposition to the norms of the time. Historical documentary was used to study The University of Chicago Laboratory School, led by John Dewey during the efficiency movement of the Progressive Era. Oral history was used to study three Chicago area recipients of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as Schools of Distinction during the current era of educational accountability.

The oral history collected at each school site involved interviews with four leaders that served as a voice of advocacy and support for arts education. The participants were asked to articulate the effect that continuing to embrace arts education has had on their school as well as beliefs that have driven their action as it pertains to sustaining arts programming.

Data collected from historical documents and interviews was analyzed for themes amongst leaders' attitudes and beliefs. Comparing and contrasting the oral histories of the Schools of Distinction with The Laboratory School brought clarity to the value of maintaining a focus on an education that supports the arts.

This study concluded that education responds to prevailing conditions, be it social, political, or economical. Regardless of the time period, qualities we desire to shape our citizenry remain common. Among the most commonly stated are: diversity of talents, curiosity, imagination, creativity, entrepreneurship, and passion.

Creative Commons License

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