Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


School crisis management--United States; Elementary school principals--United States; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001--Influence;


The events of September 11, 2001, will be forever etched in the minds of citizens of the United States. Because students enrolled in the nation's elementary schools compose a significant segment of the population affected by these watershed events, this study investigated the responses of elementary school principals to the terrorist events of September 11. Specifically, this study sought to determine the degree to which elementary principals perceived their school's crisis management plan supported their leadership on September 11, 2001, and in the days and weeks that followed, and the degree to which elementary principals perceived these actions were connected to democratic values and national security.

A significant body of literature suggests that the quality of education in American schools is directly related to concerns of national security. From the Cold War to the present, this study provides a historical overview of the literature that relates the quality of the nation's schools to issues of national security. From the 1951 report Schools and National Security to the 2001 report Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change , the quality of American education was consistently associated with issues of national security.

Surveys and interview data were collected regarding the actions taken by elementary principals on September 11, 2001, and in the days and weeks that followed. While over the past decade, many school districts have prepared crisis management plans, the degree to which such plans informed the leadership decisions of elementary principals on September 11, 2001, was yet unknown.

A survey was mailed to 1,000 randomly selected elementary principals across the nation. Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted with 30 volunteers from among the survey respondents. Interview questions were designed to illicit personal insights, reflections, and anecdotal information that would illuminate and expand upon the survey data. The results of this study provided implications for school leaders in future crisis management planning and in the formation of school environments that encourage reflective and participatory democratic citizenship on the part of students. Connections to national security were also examined.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Lynn E. Nielsen, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 385 pages)



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