Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Steven Myran

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Ian Sutherland


In this qualitative study, I examined epistemic justice and testimonial injustice experienced by parents of children enrolled in preschool programs. I used a triadic model arising from the synthesis of Fricker’s (2003) markers of epistemic justice, Hoy and Tschannen Moran’s (1999) Five Facets of Trust and Lea’s (2006) markers of collaboration, and employed modified grounded theory (Charmaz, 2008). Public preschool programs often promise that they can ameliorate cognitive and experiential gaps experienced by children who at risk and allow them to enter kindergarten on an equal footing with their more privileged peers (Hulme, Goetz, Gooch, Adams & Snowling, 2007; Camilli et al., 2010; Fuller et al., 2010; Mashburn, 2008). There is evidence of success, but the current educators in preschool leadership positions have not benefited from specialized training making many of them ill-prepared to deal with an early childhood population coming primarily from marginalized communities (Leurer, 2011). There are studies that call into question the efficacy of early childhood educational programs in closing the cognitive gap for children from marginalized communities. Weikart (1998) finds that while lasting impact is possible, the types of programs to which children are exposed is an important variable. I conducted the study in a suburban community of southeastern Virginia with demographics similar to inner city school profiles. I interviewed twenty parents, using trustworthiness strategies to ensure credibility. Through these interviews, the study revealed problems in communication that were interruptive of the formation of meaningful relationships between parents and leaders.