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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: John R. VanWagoner II
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: The Inception and Development of Michigan’s 21st Century Schools Fund
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. Doug McCall
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
220 University Center, Lansing Campus
This study documents the process of creating education policy in Michigan by examining the enactment of one major educational reform labeled Michigan’s 21st Century Schools Fund. Two policy frameworks were used in this analysis: (1) Fowler’s (2009) modified classical stages model, which allowed the examination using a sequential stages format, and (2) Kingdon’s (2003) multiple streams framework, which allowed an analysis of the complex nature of the policy creation process in a more organic format.
Michigan’s 21st Century Schools Fund was a proposal focused on redesigning large impersonal high schools into smaller schools housing no more than 450 students. Proposed by Michigan’s governor, this initiative was similar to other urban school redesign programs in Chicago and New York, which were designed to address poor high school graduation statistics, similar to the dropout figures found in Michigan. Components of the two frameworks were found to be similar; however, there were different aspects separating Fowler’s (2009) model from Kingdon’s (2003) framework.
In this qualitative study, 10 interviews were conducted with key strategic policy actors, as well as observations, examinations of publicly available documents, and personal electronic communications obtained from various stakeholders.
Using Fowler’s (2009) modified classical stage model, I was able to illuminate key details using the sequential view of the policy creation process; however, I found flaws in the lack of flexibility within the strict linear stages model. I found merit in Kingdon’s (2003) policy creation theory which employs a more flexible and organic structure for the analysis of education policy creation. Using both, I found emerging components of a “policy chasing a problem” situation (instead of a policy being created to solve a specific problem), when it became evident that Michigan’s 21st Century Schools Fund was a closely repackaged alternative to a previous urban charter school expansion proposal that had previously fallen off of the governmental agenda.
I concluded that multiple theoretical frameworks need to be used when studying a specific policy to allow the emergence of details not always found through the use of one policy creation framework.