Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Terry Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Kahl

Third Advisor

Dr. Shannon Hart


As the number of school aged children living in poverty increases, the inherent inequities within the United States class system continue to grow. Teacher perceptions regarding the United States social class system are examined through focus group interviews with four teachers in an urban high school. A critical qualitative methodology was used to explore how the participants make sense of the complex social class system and how they perceive the impact of social class within the school context. The findings include two overarching themes that influenced these teachers’ perceptions and interpretations of social class; their own personal narrative /identity construction and the mindset of poverty. Personal narrative/identify construction includes the participants experiences from family life as well as interactions with friends, colleagues, students and their families. The mindset of poverty includes the belief in the “American Dream,” that all can achieve in spite of systemic barriers and overwhelming evidence that most people in the US die in the same social class in which they were born. Recommendations are made for further research and for specific professional development for educators to include an emphasis on how teachers perceive their own and their students’ social class, and how this impacts teaching and learning.