In the field of educational administration there have been several years of active debate over how America's school systems are run. Contemporary educational administrators have been forced to reflect not only on educational policy and practice, but on the very nature of their position. How does administration contribute to the type of society we have? In what ways does it impede or enhance our cultural ideals and values?"Paradigms and Promises" offers an unorthodox solution by presenting administration as an arena for critical reflection and humanistic action, rather than a more technically-oriented style of management. Foster's critical analysis is premised on an understanding of the relationship of theory to practice, and as he provides alternative theories, he sheds new light on educational administration. Orthodox administrative theory receives heavy criticism in this text.
Foster employs progressive critical theory as well as conventional analyses in critical appraisal, and advocates a dialectical concept, through which administrators, teachers and students are encouraged to challenge and question each other - the eventual result being a more responsive, democratically-run system.