Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

August 1994


The purpose of this study was to investigate the origin, development, and implementation of the Better Schools Program in Tennessee. Materials were gathered from East Tennessee State University Library, University of Tennessee Library, Walters State Community College Library, Belmont University Library, Tennessee State Library and Archives and Morristown-Hamblen County Library. These materials consisted of government documents, presidential and gubernatorial speeches, audio and video tapes, books, and periodicals. Personal interviews were also collected from two TEA members and seven legislators. The materials were analyzed, and important passages were marked, incorporated into the paper, and documented. The research questions were (1) What prompted the instigation of the Better Schools Program? (2) Who was instrumental in establishing the Better Schools Program? (3) What areas of education were affected by the Better Schools Program? (4) Who were the proponents and opponents of the Better Schools Program? and (5) How did the Better Schools Program's ten points translate into statutes or regulations in Tennessee? The research reached three conclusions based on an analysis of the materials. It was determined that Governor Alexander's political philosophy closely coincided with those concepts held by the Better Schools Program. Despite the opposition from TEA, the Governor and his cabinet were able to solicit enough support from politicians, educators, business people, the media, and the public to enact their policies into laws governing Tennessee's educational system. The reform movement terminated in four acts: the unnamed act whereby vocational-technical schools were placed under the Board of Regents, the Public Education Governance Reform Act of 1984, the Comprehensive Education Reform Act of 1984, and the Revised CERA of 1985.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted