Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1990


In 1979, President James E. Carter signed into law the thirteenth Cabinet-level office, the Department of Education. Although the United States has had a department, bureau, or office of education since 1867, the newly established Department of Education gave education a seat at the Cabinet table. Since that time, four individuals have served as secretaries: Shirley M. Hufstedler, Terrel H. Bell, William J. Bennett, and Lauro F. Cavazos. Examined in this study were the importance of leadership styles and educational philosophies as exhibited by the four secretaries. A tertiary concern viewed the role of the federal government in education. Leadership styles were determined along the political taxonomy of leadership (transactional or transformational) developed by Burns in 1978. Educational philosophies were examined under the traditional guise given them in most textbooks (Realism, Idealism, Pragmatism, etc.). Two views of government and education were also studied, limited and unlimited. The study was qualitative rather than quantitative. A content analysis was performed on the secretaries speeches, monographs, articles, addresses, and annual reports. Interviews were also conducted with the secretaries or their proxies. Conclusions of the study called into question the appropriateness of the federal Department of Education and its role as a reform agent in the schools and the ability of a given leader to lead at a federal level of responsibility. Educational philosophies were found to be nearly exact predictors of polices formulated and pursued and may act as good barometers for predicting what direction future secretaries may follow. The historical understanding of limited government may be lost on future secretaries, given the proliferation of federal programs by the government.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted