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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 26 (August 29, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
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University of South Florida.
c August 29, 1999
Solving the policy implementation problem : the case of Arizona charter schools / Gregg A. Garn.
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1 of 18 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 26August 29, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Solving the Policy Implementation Problem: The Case of Arizona Charter Schools Gregg A. Garn University of OklahomaAbstractWhen Republican legislators in Arizona failed to ap prove educational vouchers in four consecutive legislative sessions, a charter school program was approved as a compromise. The charter s chool policy was written during a special summer session and within three years, over 30,000 students were enrolled in 260 charter school s across the state. Republican policy makers, who failed to enact vouch er legislation, proclaimed the charter school program to be an over whelming success and protected it from amendments by Democrats and p otential actions of bureaucrats that could have altered the policy inte nt. Research on the implementation of policy indicates that state and l ocal implementors frequently undermine or alter legislative intention s. However, when Arizona policy makers approved the charter school p olicy, they overcame this persistent implementation phenomenon and, in fact, succeeded in preserving the legislative intentions in the working program. This policy study analyzes how they were a ble to achieve this elusive result. Key policy makers attended to four significant features of policy implementation in creating the charter schoo l policy: communication, financial resources, implementor att itudes, and bureaucratic structure. Manipulating these key vari ables allowed policy


2 of 18makers to reduce implementation slippage.The Implementation Problem Contrary to the desires of federal, sta te, and local policy makers, policies are not self-executing. After policy enactors develop legis lation, various stages precede a working program. Simply because legislators express explicit intentions in policy does not guarantee those aims will be preserved through the implementation process. Frequently, implementors misconstrue or disagree wi th the conceived purpose and undermine legislative intent. Beginning in the 1970s with the work of Pressman and Wildavski (1973), studies on the implementation of government policy over the following 16 years illustrated the problem of convincing local implementors to adhere to the spirit of government mandates. This implementation problem has been repe atedly identified in studies of agricultural, economic, energy, environmental, labo r, penal, public health, urban planning, technology, and welfare policies at the s tate and federal levels. Baum (1981; 1984) and Clune (1984) identified similar frustrati ons in the implementation of judicial policy. In the late 1970s, research on federal and state educational policy also identified the implementation problem (Barro, 1978; Berman & M claughlin, 1978; Weatherly & Lipsky, 1977). Over the following two decades, educ ational researchers have continued to highlight the implementation problem in their wo rk (Elmore & McLaughlin, 1981; Hall, 1995; Hall & McGinty, 1997). In a comprehensi ve review of the literature Odden (1991) concluded: In short, early implementation research findings co upled with somewhat later findings on the local educational change proc ess concluded that local response was inherently at odds with state (or fede ral) program initiative. If higher levels of governments took policy initiative s, it was unlikely local educators would implement those policies in complia nce with either the spirit, expectations, rules, regulations or program components (p. 2) (Note 1)Social scientists from various disciplines studying an array of social programs acknowledge that policies emanating from h igher levels of government are inherently problematic. McLaughlin ( 1998) identified local capacity and will as two paramount variables that a ffect the outcomes of the implementation process.The local expertise, organizational routines, and r esources available to support planned change efforts generate fundamental differences in the ability of practitioners to plan, execute, or susta in an innovative effort. The presence of will or motivation to embrace policy ob jectives or strategies is essential to generate the effort and energy necessa ry to a successful project (p.72) (Note 2) Despite the preponderance of research i ndicating slippage during the implementation of social policy, legislators are no t completely impotent after enacting legislation. McDonnell and Elmore (1987) identified four discrete methods policy makers can use to increase the likelihood that poli cy intentions are preserved in working programs. "They can set rules, they can conditional ly transfer money, they can invest in


3 of 18future capacity, and they can grant or withdraw aut hority to individuals and agencies" (p.140). Baum (1984) described two additional sourc es of power policy enactors hold over policy implementorsthey can investigate and publicize. "These powers allow legislators to embarrass an agency and its official s." (p.41). What is consistent over three decades of research in the policy implementation li terature of social policy is that armed with these "policy instruments," more often than no t, policy enactors fail to manipulate the actions of policy implementors. Current researc h on the implementation of education policy is sparse and further exploration of this ar ea is necessary. Accordingly, this study sought to clarify the nexus between policy developm ent and program enactment by focusing on the implementation process. The actions of policy makers and the contextual environment surrounding the implementation of the A rizona Charter School policy were analyzed using a case study methodology. The purpos e of this research was to investigate three interrelated research questions c oncerning the design and implementation of Arizona's charter school legislat ion. How did policy makers articulate the intent of the charter school policy? 1. After three years of a working charter school progr am, were they satisfied with the results? 2. How were state policy makers able to preserve their original intentions through the implementation process? 3.Methodology A descriptive and exploratory case stud y approach was utilized for this policy study because how or why questions were posed, I ha d little control over the events, and the focus was on contemporary phenomenon (Yin, 1994 p.1). The study was completed using data from the analysis of documents, observat ions of key actors, and focused interviews with policy makers and policy implemento rs. Relevant documentary information from a variety of sources, including articles from Arizona newspapers, minutes from the Committee on Education meetings of the state legislature, and relevant charter school stat utes were analyzed. Data from documents were used to verify and strengthen data f rom other sources (Stake, 1995; Yin, 1994). Key actors were observed in various contexts including Committee on Education meetings in the Arizona State Senate and the Arizon a House of Representatives during the 1998 legislative session. Also, observations of the meetings of the State Board of Education and the State Board for Charter schools w ere completed from 1995-1998 (Note 3) My role in the field was toward the observ er side of the participant observer continuum (Gold, 1969). The third significant source of data ca me from focused interviews. A semi-structured interview protocol was employed wit h 24 key actors from the following four groups: Legislative insiders 1. Administrative staff and board members from the two state level charter school sponsoring agencies (the State Board of Education a nd the State Board for Charter Schools) 2. Administrative staff members from the Arizona Depar tment of Education, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction 3. Administrative staff members from the Office of the Auditor General 4.


4 of 18 Interviews were taped and transcribed. All participants were given a chance to comment on the content of the interview transcripts and all 24 granted permission for the quotations used in this study. In some cases partic ipants insisted on receiving credit for their comments, while others preferred to remain an onymous. Data collection and analysis occurred s imultaneously through a process of reduction, display, and verification (Miles & Huber man, 1994). When data from one source was collected it was coded and compared with data collected from the same source at another time, as well as data collected f rom alternative sources. As this process continued, patterns emerged. These patterns often b ecame themes that were refined and challenged against data from competing sources. Eve ntually distinct categories developed, and conclusions emerged. This qualitative case study provides a rich account of the Arizona policy making context, however, generalization is limited, and th is single case provides us with little insight into national trends. A multi-state compari son would be useful in such a pursuit. Moreover, most of the data collected was based enti rely on the perceptions of policy makers and implementors. The recent nature of the r eform, combined with the minimal reporting requirements for charter schools resulted in a meager amount of quantitative data. Although this research is focused on th e ways that Arizona legislators attempted to insure their intent was carried out, the author takes no position on the question whether this goal and these objectives are desirabl e in themselves. Others have pointed out the value of "loose coupling," (Weick, 1982) "s treet-level bureaucracy," (Lipsky, 1980) and other ways in which legislative or regula tory intent are modified or, in extreme situations, even subverted, for the good of all. Finally, this study does not address whether or not this particular reform, char ter schools, produces meaningful changes in classroom practice (see Bomotti, Ginsber g & Cobb, 1999 and Knapp, 1997 for further discussion of this type of research). U narguably an important question, it was beyond the scope of this research.Legislative Intent Across the United States many organizat ions, including Republicans, Democrats, teachers unions, business organizations, and parent groups have climbed on the charter school bandwagon. Many of the groups promote dispar ate ideologies, but every organization has specific motivations for its suppo rt (Note 4) In the US, the charter school concept h as been driven by three distinct ideologies. Consequently, policy makers define the problem to b e solved by charter schools differently in various states. Some state legislato rs argue that the current bureaucratic system of public education has stifled educational improvement and innovation in the United States. Charter schools in these states typi cally are granted a blanket waiver from most rules and regulations. Other state policy make rs believe that market mechanisms will improve the public school system. In these sta tes charter schools must compete for and maintain their student population. Finally, a f ew state legislators maintain that teacher professionalism must be increased before an y real improvements in public education will occur. In these states teachers have the power to make and implement decisions that affect learning in the classroom (Ga rn, 1998, p. 50). This research first examined how key le gislative insiders in Arizona defined the problem and articulated the intent of their charter school policy. Determining intent does not easily lend itself to precise measurement. Howe ver, the triangulation of various data sources confirmed the purpose of the policy.


5 of 18 The former Chair of the House Education Committee, Lisa Graham-Keegan, defined the "problem" that the charter school polic y was intended to solve in a 1994 article that appeared in the Arizona Republic. "I h ope this reform will begin to demonstrate that you don't need all of the bureaucr atic overlay we now have in public schools." What they [charter schools] are getting i s freedom from regulations in return for greater [market] accountability" (Mattern, 1994 p. A1). This was corroborated in the interview data. A leading legislator in the Arizona Senate reflected on the original intentions. The bureaucratic administration and the monopoly th at public schools used to have are now being eroded by charter schools." C harter schools have to compete in a market for students. So, if they for w hatever reason can't attract children to go to that school, they are not going to have a school. And that's the whole key to charter schools; that's wha t disciplines them and that is their accountability mechanism. (Senate Educatio n Committee Member Tom Patterson, March 16, 1998) Furthermore, even legislators from the minority par ty, who were ideologically opposed to market accountability, recognized the aims of th e charter school reform. Well, for the rest of the world, the non-charter pu blic schools, there is this perception, and also laws, which say, 'If I am goin g to give you the money out of the purse, then you have to give me accounta bility back.' So, what happened with these [charter schools] was that by u sing the definition of the 'innovativeness' of charter schools, we can just gi ve them the money and part of the 'innovativeness' is not bothering them about the details of how the money is being spent." So, I guess, I mean, to me there is no [bureaucratic] accountability. (House Education Com mittee Member Kathy Foster, March 24, 1998)Well, right now, currently, there's an atmosphere i n the state that the 'buyer beware,' 'let the market forces drive them,' 'peopl e are voting with their feet,' any number of clichs. As far as voting with their feet or the rhetoric you hear that charter schools are more accountable beca use there is an actual contract they have to adhere to. Well, the oversigh t of this contract is lame at best. The Department of Ed[ucation] and even the charter school boards themselves, and local districts that have all chart ered, there has been very little monitoring of activities and adhering to the ir charter. (Senate Education Committee member Mary Hartley, March 23, 1998) Arizona legislators created a charter s chool policy that was intended to address two intertwined problems. First, they wanted to red uce the bureaucracy with which public schools must contend. Second, they wanted to inject market mechanisms into the public school system. Satisfaction with the Results Building on the first research question, the second goal of the study was to deter mine if Arizona's policy makers were satisfied with the results of the working charter s chool program. Data from interviews with key actors indicated that they were pleased wi th the effect of the legislation. Well, we hoped that it [charter school policy] woul d have a large impact and I think it is more successful than we anticipat ed it would be in the time span. Arizona is probably one of the leading states in the number of charters


6 of 18that have been granted and we have a few failures, but we expected that. (Chair of the House Education Committee, Dan Schott le, March 25, 1998) It's [the charter reform] been one of those things that I think we had a pretty clear idea of what kind of principles we wanted it based on, and particularly what kind of accountability we wanted for charter s chools.... And we were astonishingly successful, but I don't think we real ized, or I certainly did not realize all the implications of that at the time an d what a large and profound public policy movement this would be. (Senate Educa tion Committee Member Tom Patterson, March 16, 1998)I am not a plan-ahead person, and I don't know what will happen in the future, and I certainly did not know with the chart er school legislation when I was working on it. That is just not the way I wor k. However, I did know there were some good principles in that legislation and then it took off.... Charter schools have just opened up one more venue for school choice. They vastly surpassed the number of schools that I or anyone else anticipated.... Yes, I am happy with the program, a nd, yes I think it is working like I wanted it to. (Personal communicatio n, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Graham-Keegan, April 21, 1 998) The interview data were confirmed by da ta from documentary sources. All proposed charter school legislation from 1995-1998 was coded into three categories: bills that reinforced the intent, measures that sub verted the intent, and acts not related to the intent (Note 5) Moreover, the proposals were grouped by party preference. Assuming that proponents would protect the program from bills that would alter the policy intent, the documentary record was clear. Al though many amendments (proposed by Democrats) would have subverted the legislative intent, very few of those made it out of the House or Senate Education Committees, and ev en fewer were written into law. And those proposed by Republicans reinforced the in tent and were more likely to be written into law. Legislators involved in passing the cha rter law in 1994, who remained in office through 1998, explicitly understood their role in p rotecting the principles expressed in the statute. Senator John Huppenthal, Chair of the Senate Education Committee stated that "They [charter schools] are still getting suck ed back into the bureaucracy." I've been able to defeat any legislation that would harm the charter schools" (March 23, 1998). The stability of the political support structure fr om 1994 to 1998 contributed to the preservation of intentions. Champions of the charte r school policy remained in powerful positions and were able to protect the program from amendments that could potentially subvert the aims of the policy. Senator John Huppen thal served on the Education Committee from 1993 through 1998 and chaired the co mmittee from 1995 through 1998. The Chair of the House Education Committee, L isa Graham-Keegan, resigned from the House of Representatives and soon after wa s elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. Representative Dan Schottle assumed le adership of the House Education Committee in 1995 and maintained a strong defense o f charter schools. Senator Tom Patterson was the first to introduce the idea of ch arter school reform to the Arizona Legislature. Formerly the Majority Leader, his supp ort and defense of the charter policy was invaluable to the preservation of intentions. In sum, policy enactors who enacted the statute remained in powerful positions. These champions were pleased with the working progr am and worked diligently to


7 of 18protect it. With regard to the first two research q uestions, the data were clear. Policy makers wanted to limit the bureaucratic requirement s for charter schools and replace them with market accountability mechanisms. Moreove r, after four years of charter school operation in the state, they were satisfied that the policy had achieved those objectives. The final step in this policy study was to address the third and larger research question: How were Arizona policy makers able to pr eserve the original legislative intent through the implementation phase when so man y mandates are subverted?Avoiding Implementation Slippage To address the final research question required a framework that could isolate the linkages between the national and state political l evels, state political and state bureaucratic levels, and state bureaucratic and cha rter school levels. Hall and McGinty's (1997) mesodomain framework was useful in clarifyin g how "the realization of intentions is shown as both constrained and enabled by (1) organizational context and conventions, (2) linkages between multiple sites an d phases of the policy process, (3) the mobilization of resources, and (4) a dynamic and mu ltifaceted conceptualization of power" (p. 439).The National Level At the national level, George W. Bush p ushed hard for systemic reform of the district public school system and was the first Ame rican president to endorse charter schools. Charter school legislation was first appro ved in Minnesota during the 1991 legislative session. Since that time, the charter s chool reform has evolved into a national movement as 34 states, the District of Columbia, an d Puerto Rico have approved this policy. Bush's successor, William J. Clinton, recog nized this national education reform trend and called for the development of 3,000 chart er schools by 2001 (Clinton, 1997). Accordingly, federal funds for charter school resea rch were first approved in 1994 through amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Federal stimulus funds to charter school operators (to defray start up costs) increased from $6 million in 1995 to $100 Million in 1998 (Wohlstetter & Griffin 1997). Information about charter schools sprea d nationally through various channels, but two organizations took the lead. The first issu e network was the Center for School Change at the Hubert H. Humphry Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota (Nathan, 1996). The Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank located in Massachusetts, was the second organization to take an early lead in publicizing this reform (Wohlstetter, Wenning, & Briggs, 1995).National to State Political Linkage Ted Kolderie, a Senior Policy Analyst a t the University of Minnesota's Hubert Humphry Institute, visited Arizona in 1993 to expla in the charter school concept. Kolderie, who was influential in lobbying the Minne sota Legislature on the merits of charter schools, emphasized the professionalism for teachers embodied in the reform. In Arizona, his vision of charter schools was rejected Providing teachers with more autonomy was not a problem that Arizona's leading l egislators wanted to fix. In addition to disagreeing with the core ideology (as described by Kolderie), in 1993 notable policy makers in Arizona were pondering more radical educa tional change--school vouchers.


8 of 18Vouchers for all children were a top education refo rm priority for influential Republican members of the legislature and Arizona's Republican Governor, Fife Symington. During the 1993 legislative session, Symington stated that he would defeat any education reform that did not contain a voucher program. Conversely, Arizona Democrats, the mino rity party, were fundamentally against the concept of a voucher program. They were able to unite and, with a few moderate Republicans, mustered enough support to defeat vouc her proposals in the 1991, 1992, and 1993 legislative sessions. By 1994, the calls f or educational reform were incessant. The public and the media were increasingly demandin g that legislators "do something." As Arizona's 1994 legislative session ended, again without voucher legislation, the pressure intensified. In the early 1990s, staff members at th e Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank located in Phoenix, developed several alternat ive voucher proposals, ranging from limited to full participation. When voucher legisla tion was defeated in four successive sessions, Goldwater staff members promoted charter schools as a viable policy option. Goldwater officials closely monitored the school ch oice issue networks and were aware of the Pioneer Institute's work on charter schools. They saw the potential in the concept, but rather than focusing on the teacher autonomy, t he Goldwater Institute's proposal emphasized radically decreasing bureaucratic oversi ght and forcing charter schools to compete for students. Behind closed doors in a Repu blican caucus, the Goldwater Institute's plan was modified without input from De mocratic legislators. Authored by House Education Chair Lisa Graham-Keegan and champi oned by leading legislators, it quickly passed through the special session and was enacted into law on September 15, 1994. Contrary to many other states, in Arizo na charter school legislation was approved as a compromise in place of vouchers. Although both Democrat and Republican legislators voted for the bill, it is too simplisti c to argue that there was bipartisan support. Democrats were against any plan that would divert funding from the district public schools. However, they were worried they wou ld not have the votes to defeat another voucher bill. Conversely, Republicans were displeased they had failed at their original voucher intentions, but were anxious to pa ss an education reform that increased parental and student choice while decreasing bureau cratic oversight. State Political to State Bureaucratic Linkage The state political to state bureaucrat ic linkage was critical to the preservation of policy makers' intentions. Although policy makers h ad clearly articulated intentions for the charter school plan, this did not guarantee tha t state level bureaucrats would promote those interests during implementation. There has be en a history of discord between the state Department of Education and state legislators ; the latter feeling that bureaucrats too frequently misinterpreted the aims of the policy an d the former feeling they were constantly being asked to do too much with too litt le. Due to the institutional distrust, policy makers took two explicit steps to ensure tha t state level bureaucrats did not undermine their intentions. First, the legislature minimized the authority of the Department of Education to regulate charter schools McDonnell and Elmore (1987) stated that "Selecting or creating an implementatio n agency is often as important a choice for policymakers as transferring money or sp ecifying rules" (p.138). The legislation granted two state sponsoring boards (th e State Board of Education and the newly created State Board for Charter Schools) gene ral sponsorship and oversight responsibilities for charter schools. This shifted the authority away from the Arizona


9 of 18Department of Education to regulate public charter schools. To reinforce this shift in authority, l egislators included a statute that provided the governor with the power to appoint members to the S tate Board for Charter Schools. Although Governor Symington was originally opposed to charter legislation, it was not because he opposed increasing school choice. Rather he wanted additional choices (including private and religious schools) and suppo rted education vouchers. However, he quickly reversed course and championed the chart er school reform when he realized vouchers were not a viable policy option. As a stro ng proponent of school choice, Symington appointed seven individuals to the State Board for Charter Schools who supported the legislative intent. Board members und erstood that they first needed to approve as many applications as allowed under the l aw, and that second, they would play a "hands off" role in oversight (Garn & Stout, in press). The members of the State Board of Education, while supportive, were so to a lesser extent because of a slightly more diverse board makeup (Note 6) In addition to transferring much of the authority for charter schools to the State Sponsoring Boards, legislators used a second policy instrument to ensure state bureaucrats would not interfere with the spirit of the legislation. They passed the charter school reform as an unfunded mandate for state leve l administrative staff. The Arizona Department of Education, the Office of the Auditor General, the State Board of Education and the State Board for Charter Schools r eceived no additional funding for charter school staff. This proved to be an effectiv e policy instrument in limiting the influence of bureaucratic agencies. The Arizona Dep artment of Education [ADE] and the Office of the Auditor General illustrate this p oint. The Arizona Department of Education cou ld easily justify an oversight role for charter schools. The legislative statute creating t his agency speaks of a responsibility for all public schools. However, without additional fun ds to hire charter school support staff, ADE's role was effectively limited. Moreover the charter statute asked little of the Department beyond providing general support to the sponsoring boards on an as-needed basis. Without clearly articulated statutory demand s and funding to hire charter school support staff, ADE was overwhelmed by these new res ponsibilities and unable to institute any meaningful oversight on charter schoo ls. The Office of the Auditor General faced the same dilemma as ADE: they had statutory responsibilities, but received no additio nal funding to carry out those duties. The Office of the Auditor General was created to en sure that public entities were using tax-payer dollars appropriately. Arizona Revised St atute §41-1279.03 requires this office: "to be an independent source of impartial i nformation concerning state and local governmental entities and to provide specific recom mendations to improve the operations of those entities" (http://www Accordingly, this agency had responsibilities for conducting and reviewing financial audits of public schools. Because charter schools are publicly funde d, they came under the purview of this agency. Similar to the Arizona Department of E ducation, the Office of the Auditor General Office was not allocated additional funding to meet this charge. One fundamental objective of the charte r reform was to make sure that charter schools were not caught up in the same bureaucratic rules and regulations as the district public schools. Transferring authority to specially appointed bureaucratic agencies and limiting funds to government agencies for administr ative staff effectively achieved that goal. An equally important contextual factor ensured the original intentions embodied in Arizona's charter school policy were intact duri ng the state political to state bureaucratic linkage. Lisa Graham-Keegan was the au thor of the charter legislation as


10 of 18Chair of the House Education Committee. The charter school legislation took effect in September 1994, and she was elected to the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction in November 1994. Wohlstetter (1991) argued that "success of educational reforms was tied directly to the political agendas and self interests of thei r legislative sponsors or champions" (p.289). Other legislators clearly recognized Graha m-Keegan's self interest in the charter school policy. "The Superintendent of Public Instru ction is a strong proponent of charter schools. As a matter of fact, I would say sometimes to the disadvantage of the noncharter schools" (House Education Committee Member Kathy Foster, March 24, 1998). The Superintendent of Public Instructio n had a place on both the State Board of Education and the State Board for Charter Schools. Observations of both boards recorded over three years verified that Graham-Keeg an used her position as expert on these layperson-dominated boards to ensure that the legislative intent was preserved. (Note 7) Moreover, in her capacity as CEO of the Department of Education, Graham-Keegan was able to make sure that her staff did not misconstrue the aims of the policy. Although the legislature had transferred au thority away from this agency and withheld funding, Graham-Keegan took several additi onal steps. First, Keegan ran on a platform of cutting the bureaucracy within ADE. One of her first actions after the election was to initiate a major downsizing of staf f at ADE. The year before she took office the Department of Education had 460 full-tim e staff members. By 1996, she reduced the number of full-time staff to 231 (perso nal communication, ADE Payroll Division, April 1998). However, the Department was unable to function effectively with such low staffing provisions, much to the concern o f some Democratic legislators. Well, for one thing they [ADE] could add a few more staff people and they could keep them longer than six months. I don't thi nk myself, I've called over there and gotten the same person twice. There' s no continuity of staff at all." I think that speaks volumes of what's going o n. (Senate Education Committee Member Mary Hartley, March 23, 1998) However, legislators from the minority party were forgotten players in education policy, and only after school district leaders bega n to vociferously complain about the quality of services, did the numbers rise to 348 fu ll-time staff by April 1998 (personal communication, ADE Payroll Division, April 1998). C onsequently, fewer staff had more responsibilities, further limiting the possibility for bureaucratic oversight of charter schools. Graham-Keegan took another explicit step i n order to limit bureaucratic interference from ADE. She discouraged effective co mmunication among the various divisions in the Department of Education. Her justi fication for this uncoordinated approach was as follows: Our main efforts are not to be to onerous on all sc hools. We don't have an internal structure of people who just focus on char ter school issues. We have people from all departments dealing with the s chools and don't isolate it anyway. We have specialists who work in various areas in all public schools. (Personal communication, Lisa GrahamKeeg an, April 21, 1998) The practical result to this uncoordina ted approach to charter school oversight ensured that each unit within the Department had no idea what the other divisions were doing and gave rise to the belief, reiterated in in terviews with ADE staff, that "somebody else must be looking at that." Keegan's p osition on the state sponsoring


11 of 18boards, a major staff reduction and persistent turn over, coupled with a lack of coordinated leadership, disabled the bureaucratic r esponse to charters. These contextual factors, in addition to the explicit steps taken by legislators to transfer authority away from state agencies and limit funding, allowed the original aims of the charter school policy to remain intact during the state political to state bureaucratic linkage. State Bureaucratic to Charter School Linkage The final linkage in the charter school reform was from the state bureaucratic to the charter school level. The institutional distrus t between political leaders and state level implementors was equally as strong among poli tical leaders and local implementors. Selecting a system changing policy in strument transferred authority away from district administrators and teachers, much as it did with state level implementors. Similar to creating the state boards and appointing handpicked individuals, local implementors were recruited. Most of the charter sc hool applicants participated in the Goldwater Institute's charter school project. Mary Gifford, a staff member at the Goldwater Institute during the early 1990s, said in a 1998 interview, We were integral in getting that legislation throug h in the summer of 1994, and then the Goldwater Institute launched a two-yea r charter school program, a project at that time. The first year [we ] aimed at getting the word out on charter schools" setting up conferences, dev eloping a how to apply type of manual, [and] trying to get as many qualifi ed applicants as possible before the board so we could get charters up and ru nning. (Mary Gifford, March 9, 1998) Consequently, those at the school level were socialized early on as to the intentions of state level policy makers. Some of th e charter school directors were formerly district teachers who were frustrated with the constraining rules, regulations, and levels of bureaucracy. Others came from private industry and wanted to run their school like a business. Whatever the rationale, vir tually all of the charter school directors attended the Goldwater seminars. Therefore, the ind ividuals who were creating the policy at the point of implementation understood th e intentions of policy authors; they would not have to endure the level of bureaucratic reporting as district public schools, but they would be forced to attract and maintain th eir student population. More importantly, individuals at the smallest unit had t he capacity and will to implement these principles (McLaughlin, 1998). In addition to trans ferring authority away from district public school personnel and recruiting local implem entors, the charter school policy also removed one linkage in the policy process. Traditio nally policy is interpreted at the state department of education, the central district offic e, and finally it is passed along to schools within the district. However, in a charter school, the district and school are one in the same. Consequently, one potential linkage, w here original aims could have been misconstrued or subverted, was averted with the cha rter school policy. In sum, local implementors were recruited, socialized and had the will to support the legislative intent.Conclusion The distortion of intentions for Arizon a's charter school policy when put into practice was minimal, a finding at odds with most o f the research on education (and social policy) implementation. From the literature, it appears that four variables


12 of 18influence successful policy implementation: communi cation, financial support, will, and bureaucratic structure (Edwards, 1980; McLaughlin, 1998; Weatherly & Lipsky, 1977). Arizona policy makers addressed all four features, significantly increasing the chances that the legislative intent, embodied in the charte r school policy, would be preserved in practice. First key Arizona legislators effective ly communicated their intentions to state and local implementors. They did so by clearly arti culating their intent to decrease the bureaucratic structure in statute. Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) §150183E obligates charter schools to comply with federal, state, and local rules, regulations, and statutes relating to the health, safety, civil rights, and i nsurance. In addition, charter schools must provide a non-sectarian, comprehensive curriculum a nd design a method to measure pupil progress. With the exception of the aforement ioned requirements, charter schools are "exempt from all statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards, and school districts" (ARS §15-183E5). This blanket waiver liberated charter s chools from over 1000 pages of rules and regulations by which district public schools must a bide. Moreover, the specific responsibilities for the Office of the Auditor Gene ral were omitted in the charter school statute, and there was only a single vague referenc e to the role expectations for the Arizona Department of Education. By explicitly excl uding a clear description of the responsibilities for state regulatory agencies, pol icy makers reinforced their message of limited bureaucratic controls. Key legislators pres erved their intent over the following four years by defeating proposals that would limit competition or increase reporting requirements for charter schools. Arizona policy ma kers were also acutely aware of the impact financial support would have on implementati on efforts. To limit excessive bureaucratic oversight, they simply refused to appr opriate funds for state level bureaucrats. The administrative staff for the State Board for Charter Schools through 1998 consisted of an Executive Director and one adm inistrative assistant (Note 8) The State Board of Education staff was also very lean. During the first two years of the charter school program, the staff included a n Executive Director and one secretary; the same staffing provision as before th e state board gained charter school responsibilities. In November 1997, the SBE created a new position, Director of the Charter School Division for the State Board of Educ ation, who was given all responsibilities for SBE sponsored charter schools. The simple yet effective strategy of withholding funds for administrative staff also thw arted the efforts of the Arizona Department of Education and the Office of the Audit or General to bureaucratically monitor Arizona charter schools. The attitudes of i ndividuals implementing policy were a third critical influence, which affected successf ul implementation. Arizona policy makers transferred authority away from state and lo cal implementors who lacked the "appropriate" attitude toward the charter school po licy. Republican legislators understood that many local implementors were hostil e to the charter school idea. District school administrators were threatened by the potent ial loss of students and funding. District school teachers felt the charter schools w ere a way to deteriorate inroads made by the teachers unions. Consequently, individuals f rom non-traditional backgrounds (e.g., the military, health care, private schools a nd industry) were recruited to run the public charter schools. The same technique was used at the stat e level. The Department of Education lost some of their authority when charter schools w ere granted a blanket waiver from the rules, regulations, and reporting requirements esta blished for district schools. This authority was assumed by two "charter friendly" boa rds. The State Board of Education, where all members were appointed by pro-school choi ce governors and the State Board


13 of 18for Charter Schools, where the main criteria for me mbership was a strong disposition toward increasing school choice. Transferring autho rity to individuals who had a favorable inclination towards the policy intent dra matically decreased the chance of slippage. Finally, organizational fragmentation a t the Arizona Department of Education, combined with minimal bureaucratic structure for th e state level sponsoring boards ensured that the policy intent was preserved in the working program. Lisa Graham-Keegan, the author of the charter school bil l, had an unusually large amount of power over the implementation of the policy and pro ved to be a key actor in preserving the original aims. In her capacity as Superintenden t of Public Instruction, Graham-Keegan had a seat on both state sponsoring b oards and was able to influence the behavior of board members who deferred to her judgm ent. Her position also allowed her to constrain the actions of bureaucrats at the Ariz ona Department of Education. The intent of the Arizona charter schoo l policy was preserved through a series of purposefully employed policy instruments and reinfo rced by a supportive contextual environment. Policy makers created a systemchangi ng reform, which successfully transferred authority away from state and district level personnel, both of whom had historically altered legislative intent. Hall (1995 ) stated, "Policy production is a very complex process requiring much integration and coor dination. It depends on the collective activity of many actors.... There are ma ny places for contingency and numerous opportunities for altering the patterns of the past and context" (p.409). Arizona policy makers were able to maximize the pot ential for the preservation of their intentions by their explicit actions to produce a p olicy that limited bureaucratic oversight and neutralized the influence of policy actors who traditionally play key roles in shaping policy in practice.Notes For a more thorough review of the implementation re search see Elmore & Sykes, 1992; Fuhrman, Clune & Elmore, 1988; or McLaughlin, 1998). 1. See also Kaufman 1972; Van Meter & Van Horn, 1975; or Edwards, 1980 for a further discussion on the character of implementors 2. These two state entities were responsible for appro ving new schools as well as general oversight. 3. For example, business leaders tend to favor the mar ket-based nature of the reform. Conversely, teacher organizations favor the reform because it provides teachers with more autonomy. 4. For example, amendments that would increase reporti ng requirements or restrict the choices of customers would run counter to the s pirit of the legislation. 5. All of the members were appointed by pro school cho ice Republican Governors. Although their position on this issue was not the m ain criterion for appointment, as it was with the members serving on the SBCS. 6. Although Keegan was never a professional educator, board members repeatedly deferred to her judgment because of her position as Superintendent of Public Instruction. 7. The SBCS had five Executive Directors in the first three years of the charter school program. 8.References


14 of 18Barrow, S. (1978). Federal education goals and poli cy instruments: An assessment of the strings attached to categorical grants in education In M. Timpane (Ed.), The Federal Interest in Financing Schools Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corporation. Baum, L. (1984). Legislatures, courts, and the disp ositions of policy implementors. In G. C. Edwards III (Ed.), Public Policy Implementation (pp. 29-57). Greenwich, CN: JAI Press..Baum, L. (1981). Comparing the implementation of le gislative and judicial policies. In D. A. Mazmanian & P. A. Sabatier (Eds.), Effective Policy Implementation (pp. 39-62). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Berman, P., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1978). Federal pro grams supporting educational change: Vol. VIII. Implementing and sustaining inno vations. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Bomotti, S., Ginsberg, R. and Cobb, B. (1999). Teac hers in Charter Schools and Traditional Schools: A Comparative Study. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7, 22 (Entire issue). Available online at Clinton, B. (1997). Public school choice and accoun tability in education. President Clinton's call to action for American education in the 21st century, Clune, W. H. (1987). Institutional choice as a theo retical framework for research on educational policy. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9(2), 117-132. Edwards, G. C. III. (1980). Implementing public pol icy. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.Elmore, R. & Sykes, G. (1992). Curriculum policy. I n P. Jackson (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Curriculum (pp.185-215). New York: Macmillan. Elmore, R. F., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1981). Rethinking the federal role in education Washington, DC: US Department of Education.Furhman, S. H., Clune, W., & Elmore, R. (1988). Res earch on education reform: Lessons on the implementation of policy. Teachers College Record, 90(2), 237-258. Garn, G. (1998). The thinking behind Arizona's char ter school movement. Educational Leadership, 56 (2), 48-50. Garn, G., & Stout, R. T. (In press). How a good the ory failed in practice. In R. Maranto, S. Milliman, F. Hess, and A. Gresham (Eds.), School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Gold, R. L. (1969). Roles in sociological field obs ervation. In G. McCall & J. L. Simmons (Eds.), Issues in participant observation (pp. 30-39). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Hall, P. M. (1995). The consequences of qualitative analysis for sociological theory:


15 of 18Beyond the microlevel. The Sociological Quarterly, 36 (2), 397-423. Hall, P. M., & McGinty, J. W. (1997). Policy as the transformation of intentions: Producing program from statute. The Sociological Quarterly, 38 (3), 439-467. Kaufman, H. (1973). Administrative feedback: Monitoring subordinates be havior Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Knapp, M. S. (1997). Between systemic reforms and t he mathematics and science classroom: The dynamics of innovation, implementati on, and professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 67( 2), 227-266. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individua l in public services New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Mattern, H. (1994, October 4). It's not much now. I t's humble, but that will change: Phoenix site will give rise to one of state's 1st c harter schools. The Arizona Republic p. A1.McDonnell, L. M., & Elmore, R. F. (1987). Getting t he job done: Alternative policy instruments. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9 (2), 133-152. Mclaughlin, M. W. (1998). Listening and learning fr om the field: Tales of policy implementation and situated practice. In A. Hargrav es, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), International Handbook of Educational Change (Part One). Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). An expanded sourcebook: Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Nathan, J. (1996). Charter schools: Creating hope and opportunity for American education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Odden, A. R. (1991). The evolution of education pol icy implementation. In A.R. Odden (Ed.), Education Policy Implementation (pp. 1-12). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Pressman, J., & Wildavsky, A. (1973). How great expectations in Washington are dashed in Oakland, or why it's amazing that federal programs work at all Berkeley, CA: University of California.Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Van Meter, D. S., & Van Horn, C. E. (1975). The pol icy implementation process: A conceptual framework. Administration and Society, 6, 445-488. Weatherly, R., & Lipsky, M. (1977). Street level bu reaucrats and institutional innovation: Implementing special education reform. Harvard Educational Review 47(2), 171-197.Weick, K. E. (1982). Administering education in loo sely coupled schools. Phi Delta


16 of 18 Kappan, 63(10) 673-676. Wohlstetter, P. (1991). Legislative oversight of ed ucation policy implementation. In Odden, A. R. (Ed.), Education Policy Implementation (pp. 279-295). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Wohlstetter, P., & Griffin, N. C. (1997, March). Creating and sustaining learning communities: Early lessons from charter schools Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, C hicago, IL. Wohlstetter, P., Wenning, R., & Briggs, K. (1995). Charter schools in the United States: The question of autonomy. Educational Policy, 9 (4), 331-358. Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.About the AuthorGregg A. Garn The University of OklahomaEducational Leadership & Policy Studies820 Van Vleet Oval Norman. OK 73019-2041 Email: B.A. University of Northern Iowa, 1994M.S. Arizona State University, 1996Ph.D. Arizona State University, 1998Gregg Garn is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches courses in politics and policy. His research interests include school choice, policy development and implementation, and the politics of education.Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board


17 of 18 Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina—Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas MauhsPugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education Robert T. Stout Arizona State University David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico


18 of 18 Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativaDIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do SulUFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los