Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dane Joseph, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susanna Thornhill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gary Sehorn, Ed.D.


This case study investigated factors parents consider when choosing Christian schools for their children and how they made sense of their decision. Participants were northern Indiana public school employees who enrolled at least one child in an evangelical Christian School. In individual interviews participants were asked to reflect on their process of school choice decision making. The researcher used in-vivo and values coding to determine that the primary factors pushing participants away from public schooling are, (a) lack of individual attention, (b) low confidence in staff, (c) low academic rigor, (d) lack of Christian values, and (e) feeling unsafe. Primary pull factors drawing parents to Christian schooling include (a) alignment with values, (b) caring teachers who give individual attention, (c) Indiana Choice Scholarship (voucher) program, (d) preservation of religious identity, (e) sense of community, and (f) high academic expectations. Second cycle coding revealed that the primary commonality of all push/pull factors is self-interest. The researcher also asked participants to reflect on the moral and ethical dilemmas they face as public-school employees who chose Christian schooling for their children. Participants do not see a moral/ethical conflict between their public-school role and their Christian schooling choice. The researcher suggests that no conflict exists for some participants because their identity as evangelical Christians trumps their identity as public school employees. The results of this study suggest that this set of self-described evangelical parents are dissatisfied with the lack of Christian values in the public-school system and that Christian schools may be better positioned to serve the interests of some evangelical families. The researcher also suggests that rational choice models are inadequate to explain parent decision-making concerning school choice and that Weick’s (1995) sensemaking and Klein’s (2015) naturalistic decision making (NDM) models provide valuable insight in understanding school choice decisions. Further research is needed to investigate the decision-making process of evangelical public-school employees who choose to keep their children in public schools.

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