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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A policy mystery: The passage of the 2004 school calendar changes bill
by Higgins, Kyle P., Ed.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009, 294; 3355820
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research is to describe and explain how the major players representing the education associations in the North Carolina education political system create and employ power and influence in order to lobby and negotiate for their needs and values for state policy initiatives. This study's focus on the politics of the school calendar made it necessary to collect data from the major players representing the education associations in the North Carolina education political system. There are four key state-level education interest groups or associations in North Carolina. They are the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), and the Professional Educators of North Carolina (PENC). In addition, the Public School Forum of North Carolina (PSFNC) is a sister organization to the four key state-level education associations in North Carolina. Further, another major player in the North Carolina education political system is the Education Committee's chief legislative staff members.

The conceptual framework devised for the study is adapted from both Bronfenbrenner's (1979) Ecological System of Human Development and Marshall and Gerstl-Pepin's (2005) Politics from Margin to Center. Each circle in the conceptual framework has a lens that any researcher can use to observe and then understand any political system. The circles in the conceptual framework are arranged in order of concreteness. As one moves outward through each circle, the behaviors become more internalized and less measurable or observable. The political system is located in the center circle of the framework because the political system is the logical and obvious location to begin a study of political power and influence. The first circle exemplifies Mazzoni's (1991) Arena Model. The researcher found that an arena shift occurred because Representative Culpepper placed the school calendar bill into the Commerce Legislative Subsystem as opposed to the Education Legislative Subsystem. The second circle exemplifies Marshall, Mitchell, and Wirt's (1989) the hierarchies of power and circles of influence models. The third circle exemplifies Marshall et al.'s assumptive worlds model. The hierarchies of power, circles of influence and assumptive worlds models formed the bedrock of this study. Many of the interview questions spring from these models. These models also help to explain data describing actions that occurs in the different circles as well. The fourth circle is best explained through Elazar's (1966) political culture and Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky's (1990) cultural theory. The researcher did discover evidence that North Carolina is a traditionalistic-hierarchical state. The fifth circle is best explained through the competing-values perspective. The researcher employed the competing-values perspective to flesh out details and to help refocus the assumptive worlds model when behaviors or beliefs appeared to contradict. Beyond the five circles are ideologies. The researcher found two major discoveries concerning ideology. The first major discovery is that the ideology lens reveals North Carolina's persistent belief in the myth that education issues and education legislation are non-partisan. The second major discovery concerning ideology is that a political party in the majority can lock out the other party as well as certain education interests from participation in the legislative process. Finally, beyond the hegemonic policy square is situated politics from beyond the margins. The researcher discovered that a better classification system that denotes the political abilities of a marginal group is needed to structure a group's ability to maneuver beneficial legislation through the political and legislative arenas. Further, the conceptual framework provided a way to see how marginal groups must learn to organize, find their voice, make their issues more global, secure more money, communicate their issues more effectively to the media, free themselves from the myth of one champion and finally find voices from every region of the state to support their issues.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marshall, Catherine
Commitee: English, Fenwick W., Veitch, James
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Educational Administration (Ed. D.)
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration, Political science
Keywords: Assumptive worlds, North Carolina, North Carolina legislation, North Carolina state education associations, Policy mystery, School calendar bill legislation, State education associations
Publication Number: 3355820
ISBN: 978-1-109-15289-0
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