Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Policymaking in education : understanding influences on the Reading Excellence Act / Jacqueline Edmondson.
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E DUCATION P OLICY A NALYSIS A RCHIVES A peer reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Sherman Dorn College of Education University of South Florida Copyright is retained by the first or sole author, who grants right of first publication to the Education Policy Analysis Archives EPAA is published jointly by the Colleges of Education at Arizona State University and the University of South Florida. Articles are indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals ( Volume 13 Number 1 1 February 3 2005 ISSN 1068 2341 Policymaking in E ducation: Understanding Influences on the Reading Excellence Act Jacqueline Edmondson Pennsylvania State University Citation: Edmondson, J. (2005, February 3 ). Policymaking in education: Understanding i nfluences on the Reading Excellence Act. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13 (11 ). Retrieved [date] from /. A bstract Educators and researchers are being called to participate in language and literacy policy making (Roller & Long, 2001). In order to do so, however, there needs to be an understanding of how policy is made. Although policymaking often appears to be an irrational process, there are theories that exist to explain the influences and mechanisms that work to shape policies. In what follows, I adapt Theodoulou and Cahns (1995) typology on policymaking in order to discuss how policy is made. These theories of policy making are explored within the context of the Reading Excellence Act to demonstrate how policymaking is read and explained. Given the limitations of these explanations, particularly the sense that there may be no explicit role for educators in such a process, an alternate theory of policymaking, critical pluralism, is propose d. This alternate typology suggests different roles for educators in relation to policymaking.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 2 History gives democracy no advantages. All democracies are weak and short lived, and no actually existing democracy is an ideal democracy. Most are minimali st democracies: most adults are allowed to vote in elections that are more or less fair, by which representatives, most of them rich, win their seats in visual media performances. Attempting in the face of this to educate for principled democratic activism for enlightened political engagement is am bitious, yet a moral necessity. (Parker, 2003, p. 52) Public policy touches all aspects of our lives, some in ways we appreciate and others in ways we do not. Stone (1997) defines policy as a rational attempt to obtain objectives; and indeed a policy is a set of objectives that legitimize the values, beliefs, and attitudes of its authors (Prunty, 1985). By design, policy making in a democracy is intended to be a process whereby those who are governed can parti cipate in their government (see Dahl, 1998), contributing to the authorship of policy. In the U.S., there are elected representatives who are supposed to be accessible to citizens and take citizen concerns into account when making policies. Likewise, there are opportunities to participate in citizens groups, to testify to government committees, and to write letters in the editorial pages of our local newspapers. Yet, the ideal of enlightened political engagement that Parker notes above seems to be elusive and difficult to achieve. Powerful influences that range from corporations to interest groups and political dynasties make meaningful participation seem out of reach for many ordinary citizens (see Metcalf, 2002; Palast, 2002; Suskind, 2004 among others), while other challenges to democracy, including the difficulty of achieving consensus, the demands involved on peoples time, and the need for a well informed citizenry (see Dahl, 1998), make involvement in policy making seem an unreasonable, perhaps utopi an, ideal. Yet, in spite of the challenges, educators are being encouraged to participate in policy making in order to make a difference in the goals and directions of particular policies (Eisenhart and Towne, 2003; Roller and Long, 2001). At the same tim e, as educators, we seem to have little strategic knowledge of policymaking processes. More than a decade ago, reading researcher Patrick Shannon (1991) noted that we have few sophisticated answers to even the most basic policy questions that could be pos ed about federal, state and citizen influences on the organization and process of reading instruction (p. 159). He raised important questions that still remain largely unanswered today. Specifically, Shannon asked who the policy insiders were and why they had particular influence, which agencies and organizations held sway over policy, and what the consequences of reading policies might be for teachers, students and researchers. To begin to approach these questions, and to untangle some of the influences and processes concerning education policymaking, I will use Theodolou and Cahns (1995) policy typology to explain some of key the influences on the Reading Excellence Act. In particular, the typology suggests how different individuals and groups effect po licy conceptualization and policymaking based on political theory and policy study. The four broad and somewhat overlapping areas Theodolou and Cahn consider are: pluralism, elite theory, corporatism, and subgovernment theories (see Figure 1 for an overvie w of these theories). While none offer one correct way to view policy per se, they each offer explanations that make clear various influences on policy making, which in turn suggest different roles and possibilities for educators participation in these e vents. Each area of the typology has shortcomings as well. For this reason, a fifth area of the typology, critical pluralism, suggests ways that educators may become more strategically involved in influencing policy.


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 3 Figure 1. Theodoulou & Cahn (1995) policymaking typology Theory Description Pluralism This theory of policy making argues that policy is a struggle among groups. Various groups in society (social, economic, ethnic, etc.) put pressure on government to produce policies favorable to them. Th is theory is associated with work by political scientists David Truman (1971) and Robert Dahl (1967). Elite Theory Policies are made by relatively small groups of influential leaders who share similar beliefs. Policy is determined by the preferences of a power elite (see C. Wright Mills, 1956; also see work by Ralph Miliband, 1969; Tyack & Cuban, 1995.) Corporatism These theories explain policymaking as influenced by interest groups that become part of the decision making and implementation system. In t his way, groups help to manage society for the state or government. Philippe Schmitter (see Schmitter & Lehmbruch, 1979) is most associated with these theories. Subgovernments These theories endorse a view of policymaking whereby sections of government wo rk with interest groups. The result, coalitions of Congress members, bureaucracy and interest groups, develop policies around specialized areas of interest. Hugh Heclo (1978) writes about policymaking according to this theory. I consider these policy ma king theories within the context of the Reading Excellence Act because this policy is in our recent past, but it is no longer being contested or influenced by political factors, as is the case with No Child Left Behind and other current policies. Looking b ack to the Reading Excellence Act allows a policy case study to demonstrate the various explanations of how this policy was made and what the influences on it were. In the


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 4 end, my hope is that this piece will work to inform educators about policy making a nd to begin discussions concerning the ways in which these processes need to be changed. The Reading Excellence Act Initiated by Representative Bill Goodling (R Pennsylvania), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, the Reading Excellence Act was proposed at the beginning of President Clintons second term in office, on the heels of Clintons America Reads Challenge literacy initiative (see Edmondson, 2000). Both occurred within a context of increasing expressed concern about American child rens reading ability as evidenced by scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests (Riley, 1996). Considered by some to be a Republican response to America Reads (Education Week, May 7, 1997), the Reading Excellence Act included fou r major goals: 1) Teach every child to read in their early childhood years, not later than the third grade; 2) Improve the reading skills of students and the instructional practices of teachers through the use of findings from reliable, replicable research in reading, including phonics; 3) Expand the number of high quality family literacy programs; 4) Reduce the number of children who are inappropriately referred to special education due to reading difficulties (S1293, 1998). The legislation was proposed in a sociopolitical context of neoliberal influences whereby reading was conceptualized as part of a reading success equation that would secure Americas place in the lead of the globalized economy (see Edmondson & Shannon 1998; Clinton and Gore, 1992). The Reading Excellence Act was the first legislation to explicitly define reading and research through federal education policy (Eisenhart and Towne, 2003). Of course this action was not without controversy or consequences (see Goodman, 1998; Taylor, 1998; Ga ran, 2001). In what follows, four policymaking theories to explain influences on the Reading Excellence Act will be offered, all with careful consideration of the groups and individuals who influenced this legislation (see Figure 1). My hope is that the e xplanations and questions offered might provide educators with different examples of how to read and understand policymaking, and in turn move educators closer to Parkers call for principled democratic activism and enlightened political engagement. The L etter W riting C ampaign: Pluralist A ttempts to I nfluence P olicy As word spread in December 1997 that the House version of the Reading Excellence Act (H.R. 2614) passed by voice vote (see Goodman, 1999), educators and researchers across the country lau nched a massive letter writing campaign in opposition to the legislation. Of particular concern was the legislations language as it defined reading primarily as a skill requiring decoding and comprehension strategies, and approved research as that which w as reliable and replicable (see Figure 2). Educators and researchers across the U.S. perceived these definitions to be both limited and limiting (see Goodman, 1999; Taylor, 1998 for examples of these expressed concerns). The terms were limited in the sen se that they did not capture the breadth and complexity found in the field at large, and they were limiting because they excluded these different perspectives from consideration. In an attempt to influence the policy before it proceeded through the Senate, individuals wrote letters to their respective representatives, and professional organizations drafted official responses. The National Council of Teachers of English, the National Research Council, and the National Conference on Research in Language and L iteracy,


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 5 Figure 2. Reading Excellence Act: Changes in language from House to Senate versions of Bill ( definitions are quoted directly from the legislative text available at ) House Senate Definition of reading The term reading means the process of comprehending the meaning of written text by depending on (A) the ability to use phonics skills, that is, knowledge of letters and sounds, to decode printed words quickly and effortlessly, both silently and aloud; (B) the ability to use pr eviously learned strategies for reading comprehensions; and (C) the ability to think critically about the meaning, message, and aesthetic value of the text. The term reading means a complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the foll owing: (A) the skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print; (B) the ability to decode unfamiliar words (C) the ability to read fluently (D) sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension (E) the d evelopment of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print (F) the development and maintenance of a motivation to read. Definition of research Reliable, replicable research the term reliable, replicable research means objective, valid scientific studies that (A) include rigorously defined samples of subjects that are sufficiently large and representative to support the general conclusions drawn; (B) rely on measurements that meet established standards of reliability and validity; (C) test compe ting theories, where multiple theories exist; (D) are subjected to peer review before their results are published; and (E) discover effective strategies for improving reading skills. Scientifically based reading research the term scient ifically based reading r esearch (A) means the application of rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge relevant to reading development, reading instruction, and reading difficulties; and (B) shall include research that (i)employs systematic, empirical m ethods that draw on observation or experiment; (ii)involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses and justify the general conclusions drawn; (iii)relies on measurements or observational methods that provide data across eva luators and observers and across multiple measurements and observations; and (iv)has been accepted by a peer reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective, and scientific review


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 6 representing ove r 100,000 educators, drafted a statement that included the following points, among others: Neither Congress nor any federal agency should establish a single definition of reading or restrict the type of research used in funding criteria for preservice or i nservice teacher education and professional development programs. Neither Congress nor any federal agency should establish a national reading curriculum or a national reading program Neither Congress nor any federal agency should impose an agenda that restricts investigation to any single definition of reading or any single research model (a summary of this statement can be found at /category/gov/107478.htm ) The statement concluded with a template letter that members of these organizations could send to their representatives. The letter writing campaign in opposition to the Reading Excellence Act provides an example of pluralist at tempts to influence policy. Pluralism involves various social, economic, and ethnic groups competing with one another to shape and produce policies that are favorable to them (Theodoulou & Cahn, 1995; Truman, 1971, and Dahl, 1967). In this way, public poli cy is made through interactions among various constituents as power circulates among policy actors who, at least in theory, can be representative of society as large. According to pluralist theories, policy is a struggle among groups. These groups have mul tiple centers of power (Theodoulou & Cahn, 1995) that circulates across the various constituents involved in the policy development and implementation (see Foucault, 1980 for explanations of power). Based in part on Rousseaus (1968) ideas that the ruled should be the rulers, the goal of policy making from this perspective is for broad participation to generate new knowledge that will result in policies that reflect the interests of diverse groups in society. Some policy researchers argue that pluralism has lost power as interest groups gain increasing control of American politics (see Lowi, 1964, 1979). While some groups in education may not have the requisite language to participate in policymaking decisions (see Roller and Long, 2001), others may be systematically excluded because they do not have the cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1997) needed to find a seat at the metaphorical policy table (see also Parker, 2003). Richard Long, the International Reading Associations (IRA) government relations lia ison offered one perspective on the loss of power held by pluralist groups in relation to influencing policymaking. Long explained that the Reading Excellence Act letter writing campaign was ineffective and largely misunderstood by legislators (personal co mmunication, November 24, 2003). While he offers but one view of this event from his position as liaison, he observed that members of the House of Representatives perceived the letter writing campaign as accusing them of setting out to hurt children, and s ome letters called specific researchers liars. In addition, Representative Bill Goodling felt harassed by late night phone calls (Taylor, 1998). According to Long, these ineffective letters and strategies could be perceived as doing more harm than good sin ce they potentially interfered with IRA or any other groups ability to intervene in the policy making process. Longs observation, which suggests that pluralist approaches to policymaking are ineffective and that instead policy


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 7 making should occur through the influence of professional organizations, reflects a second typology on policymaking from Theodoulou and Cahns framework. The R ole of P rofessional O rganizations in Policy making: An E xample of C orporatism Corporatism, a second explanation of how p olicies are made, assumes that interest groups are influential participants in this process (see Schmitter and Lehmbruck, 1969). In this way, businesses, professional organizations, and corporations have significant power to shape public policy content and implementation. Within this model, policies are negotiated bargains among and across these potentially powerful groups (Dryzek, 1996). The International Reading Associations influence on the language of the Reading Excellence Act legislation provides an example of policies being made through such influences. According to Richard Long, IRA spent considerable time working with Congress members, and when the House version of the Reading Excellence Act was first discussed among the Senate education committee staff, members were looking for a more balanced approach, they did not want the federal government to define reading, and they were aware of the limitations of research. At the same time, they were frustrated with schools that had continuing low scores on reading tests, and they wanted to provide more funds to schools in need of money for professional development. As changes were made to the House version of the bill, there was a brief window of opportunity for changes to be made (Long, personal communicat ion, November 24, 2003). Because of the influence IRA could exert, some of the language in the House version of the bill was changed in the Senate version (see Figure 2). In spite of this, many IRA members were not pleased with the organizations involveme nt and questioned whether the changes in the legislation really represented the views of the profession at large (Taylor, 1999; Goodman, 1999). Many questions remain about the role professional organizations might play in influencing policies, including wh ose voices among the constituency these organizations should represent. A major concern of corporatism as it influences policy is the potential for vast political and economic inequalities to result. Robert Dahl (1985) noted how this approach tends to: pro duce inequalities in social and economic resources so great as to bring about severe violations of political equality and hence of the democratic process. (as quoted in Held, 1996, p. 214) Corporate influences on policymaking limit the participants and na rrow the purposes in ways that potentially serve profit and limit policy options (see Lindblom, 1977, Dahl, 1985). Critics of corporatism argue that it lends itself to crony capitalism by creating direct ties between business and government, which in tur n weakens the social contract as government agendas and priorities are directed away from the needs and interests of the citizens in a democratic society (see Held, 1996; Palast, 2002). Corporations, interest groups, and professional organizations are no t the only influences on public policy. Groups within government can also work to influence policy. In the case of the Reading Excellence Act, the influence of the National Institutes for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) was apparent as this subg overnment groups


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 8 research influenced the language and intent of the legislation. This policy influence is discussed in more detail next. NICHD: Questioning S ubgovernment T heories Subgovernment theories explain how subsections of the government work in c onjunction with business and other groups to formulate policy. These iron triangle theories (see Heclo, 1978) reflect how coalitions of Congress members, bureaucracy, and interest groups (typically business or labor) work to develop policy around special ized areas of interest. These groups can hold a monopoly on expertise and influence that make it difficult, if not impossible for ordinary citizens to participate (Dryzek, 1996). Some policy researchers consider subgovernment theories of policy making to b e outmoded as more diverse groups work to influence policy (see Theodoulou and Cahn, 1995); however, the point that groups within or closely affiliated with the government make and shape policy is an important aspect of policymaking to consider. Before the Reading Excellence Act was penned, Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the National Institutes of Health G. Reid Lyon, a research psychologist whose doctorate from the University of New Mexico included an emphasis in developmental neurop sychology and special education, worked to influence states about the need to teach reading through direct and systematic instruction (see Taylor, 1998). One example of this influence occurred in 1997 when Lyon testified to the House of Representatives Co mmittee on Education and the Workforce and its chair, Rep. Bill Goodling. In his testimony, Lyon advocated for NICHD based research findings in reading, particularly the notion that children needed to have fast and accurate decoding of words in order to re ad well. Lyons ideas about reading were grounded in research funded by NICHD, summarized by Grossen (1997) and later critiqued by Allington and Woodside Jiron (1998). Prominent researchers funded by NICHD included Barbara Foorman and Marilyn Adams (see Ga ran, 2002 for an explanation of these connections). Lyons definition of reading and research were evident in the Reading Excellence Act (Goodman, 1999; Taylor, 1998). His influence surfaced explicitly when Rep. Goodling later testified before the House o f Representatives on October 6, 1997 advocating for the Reading Excellence Act. He cited Lyons testimony: Dr. Reid Lyon testified before the committee that fewer than 10 percent of our Nation's teachers have an adequate understanding of how reading deve lops or how to provide reading instruction to struggling readers. (Congressional Record, October 6, 1997) Senator Ted Kennedy similarly cited Reid Lyon in his statement in opposition to the House version of the Reading Excellence Act: Doctor Lyon testif ied that: Learning to read requires different skills at different levels of development. . It does not have anything to do with philosophy, and it does not have anything to do with politics. It has to do with making sure the kids get the ideas. That is it. . To be able to read our language, you have to know the sounds. You have got to know how to map it onto the letters . you have got to do it quickly, and you have got to know why you are reading and have good vocabulary ... It is never an eithe r/or. (June 26, 1998, Congressional Record)


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 9 Steven Strauss (2001), a linguist and neurologist, questioned the subgovernment processes at work in reading policy in his open letter to G. Reid Lyon, published in Educational Researcher Strauss critiqued the NICHD agenda in literacy research under Lyons leadership, and he questioned its relationship with the Business Roundtable (see also McDaniels and Miskel, 2002) in influencing literacy education policies. Strauss expressed concern about the consequences of this iron triangle as he noted how the: dovetailing of [NICHDs] work with the strictly business agenda of corporate America obligates us to question whether you really do welcome challenge from academic folks, not to mention the academic and research co mmunity, and if your goals are ultimately in their interest. (p. 32) As Strauss (2001) pointed out, NICHDs agenda has been powerful in limiting policy to narrow visions of research and practice in reading research and education. Problems with subgover nment approaches to policy making relate to the shared interests among and across these groups who make policy. In other words, there are limited possibilities for broad coalitions to form around policy issues. Some feel these iron triangles result in bad policies that waste taxpayer money (Dryzek, 1996). NICHDs relationship to reading research and policies as well as corporations (including McGraw Hills Open Court, and Robert Sweet, professional staff member for the majority members of the House Educati on and Workforce Committee and founder of the National Right to Read Foundation) raise important questions about the legislative decisions made for reading education and teachers, particularly when we consider the cozy relationships some businesses and o rganizations have to individuals and groups in the U.S. government (see Metcalf, 2002). Who D ecides? Exploring E lite T heories Across the corporate and subgovernment influences on policymaking, there is also evidence that elite individuals and groups can have an effect on policies. Elite theories explain policy making as limited in participation to those influential leaders who hold similar views and goals, both ideological and political, that are protected largely through their power and political maneu vering (Miliband, 1969; Mills, 1956; Suskind, 2004; Theodoulou & Cahn, 1995; Tyack & Cuban, 1995). As subgovernment groups influence panels that develop reports for the public and/or Congress (such as the National Research Councils Preventing Reading Diff iculties report or the National Reading Panels Teaching Children to Read ), for example, the selection process is purposely aimed at bringing together like minded and influential leaders. As Alexandra Wigdor from the National Academy of Sciences and the Na tional Research Council explained to the National Reading Panel members during the first meeting: Members of our committees are selected for their expertise, period That is the first criterion. Given that we then select members to try to have a rich and v aluable representation of age, region, ethnicity, and obviously the various scientists that need to be there but the primary criterion is always expertise. Members do no sit on our committee as representative of any group or any community of interests, or any policy position and, indeed, we make a rather big deal at the beginning of the committee process of making sure that the committee members understand that they have to leave their political enthusiasms at the door. (p. 12, lines 5 16)


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 10 Through such p rocesses, it is possible to bring together like minded individuals who can formulate consensual policy and influence public opinion as they work under the auspices of governmental agencies. The National Research Councils expert panel and subsequent report Preventing Reading Difficulties was being organized and written at the same time the Reading Excellence Act was under consideration, and reports of this nature, as well as reports commissioned from Congress (the National Reading Panel report) can and do s erve as a powerful policy lever (Allington and Woodside Jiron, 1999; Eisenhart and Towne, 2003). While Theodoulou and Cahn (1995) treat elite theories in relation to individuals, particular groups, like NICHD, likewise have an elite function in relation t o policy making as they have a measure of prestige and access to policy makers that are not available to ordinary citizens. In this way, policy can serve the preferences and ideals of those who hold power in society, systematically silencing non mainstream voices and interests as the status quo is perpetuated. Joseph Schumpeter (1976), a former Minister of Finance in Austria and a Harvard economics professor, explained: If all the people in the short run can be fooled step by step into something they do n ot really want, and if this is not an exceptional case which we could afford to neglect, then no amount of retrospective common sense will alter the fact that in reality they neither raise nor decide issues but that the issues that shape their fate are nor mally raised and decided for them. (p. 264) Within this model, policies consist of authoritative and prescriptive statements that reflect the values and goals of those powerful few, often without serious consideration of others. In this way, policy is in fluenced and made efficiently among a like minded power elite (Mills, 1956). Critics of elite policy making theories argue that too much power in the hands of a relatively small number of people produces policies that do not reflect the will of the gener al populace and thereby produces/reproduces inequities in public policy and society at large. Theodoulou and Cahns (1995) framework helps us to recognize some of the key groups and individuals who influenced the making of the Reading Excellence Act. Con troversy about this legislation reflected shortcomings in each of the approaches to policy making, most notably the concern about whose voice and interests are left out of the policymaking process and the vision for society that it elucidates. These expres sed concerns about omissions in the influences on policy and subsequent limitations of the policy raise important questions about the consequences of policy in reading education. Considering N ew P ossibilities An alternative approach to the above mention ed policymaking models can be found in critical pluralism (see Figure 3 for a summary), which applies critical theory to pluralist notions that value participatory democratic involvement in policy making. Engaging this alternative model highlights differen t aspects and questions around policy making and policy makers, and it offers different possibilities for engaging in and influencing policy content. Critical pluralism involves three key aspects: 1) knowledge of policy and policymaking through alternative approaches to policy study; 2) critical understandings of trends and issues in relation to ideological and political contexts, and 3) political strategies that direct social action in relation to policy study.


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 11 Figure 3. Overview of critical pluralism C ritical pluralism Definition of policy Policies are human constructions that are value laden, authoritative visions for society. Policies should be evaluated through different perspectives to ensure broad understandings of policy and policy contexts. Po licy makers Strategic intervention in policy making processes by coalitions among populace who attend to values and power inherent in policy issues. Goals Broad participation in policy making. Egalitarian policies that serve the interests of many in socie ty. Requirements 1. Requires a populace that is well informed about issues, willing to participate, and able to educate legislators and policy makers about policy matters. 2. Requires pragmatic understandings about the potential consequences of policy. 3. Requires critical analysis of the present in order to influence policy in strategic ways. Knowledge of policy and policymaking through policy study Patrick Shannon (1991) explained three types of policy research in reading education: policy driven, c ommunication, and critical. Each is essential for informed engagement in policy debates. Policy driven research, or functionalist policy study (see Edmondson, 2002) is directed toward conducting experiments and program evaluations to obtain empirically va lid, straightforward solutions to the complex, practical problems facing reading programs (p. 161). Such research lends itself to measurement, deductive logic, and empirical/analytic science, and it is this form of research that was sought out by the Nati onal Reading Panel. Policy driven research is directed toward questions posed by policy makers, and it establishes researchers as recognized experts in the field. Marginalizing policy driven research would be detrimental to the field of literacy education and research because it would limit knowledge about specifics regarding the application of policy in particular contexts. A second approach to policy study is policy communications research. Shannon explained this research as a focus on the: negotiation a spects of policy making and implementation, particularly the different frames of mind and expectations various groups of participants bring to the policy bargaining table. Such research would investigate how these participants make sense of their daily wor k and how the rules they use when conducting that work independently can construct barriers to open and effective communications during reading education policy discussions (1991, p. 162)


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 12 This type of research is evident in Roller and Longs (2001) explan ation of policy making and their subsequent call for researchers to participate in the policymaking process. It relies on naturalistic inquiry, inductive logic, and interpretation of policy events. Not engaging communicative policy research would limit ac cess to the stories and specific details of policy making in literacy education. A third approach, critical policy study, researches policy as an historical and political phenomenon to consider both what policies offer and what they deny (Shannon, 1991). F rom a critical perspective, policies are the articulation of some one or some groups vision for the way something should be, and they are revealed through various texts, practices, and discourses that define and deliver these values (Schneider and Ingram, 1997). These articulations name the ways in which groups in society should live together, and they always begin with their authors images of an ideal society. As such, policies are intended to be procedural and regulative statements to realize that ideal Ideals are based on values that always have social contexts and histories. Because of this, any discussion of policy must necessarily include considerations of values and ideologies, historical and social contexts, and power and prestige if it is to adeq uately capture the intricacies of the process. Without critical policy study, the histories and social attachments of policy are not considered, aspects of policy study that raise questions about visions for education in a democracy, social justice, and hu man rights. All three forms of policy study are needed in reading education to give broad understandings of the field, including new developments and contexts, and all three are crucial to critical pluralist approaches to policymaking. Knowledge of tr ends and issues in research and education In order to influence policy, there needs to be an understanding of present conditions, including how particular circumstances have come to be, who has influenced those circumstances, toward what end, and how they might be changed. Similarly, questions about absences in current policies need to be asked in order to fully understand present conditions. In other words, rather than studying the shadows on cave walls with increasing scrutiny and cleverness in order to find the way out, we must instead consider the ideologies and conditions that make the shadows seem real and reasonable (Platos metaphor, as explained in Parker, 2003). Because policy study requires an encompassing understanding of ideologies, trends, a nd issues education as they relate to political agendas in education (see Spring, 1997 for an extensive explanation of political agendas), responses can and should be ongoing, even before laws are proposed. For this to occur, a critical understanding of th e field in relation to societal influences and conditions, including the values and goals of those involved in policymaking processes, are essential. As educators critically understand the issues and ideologies, particularly the broader sociopolitical cont exts related to education, there should be a better anticipation of where particular trends will lead. Critical pluralist approaches to policymaking should move educators and researchers beyond reactions to policy and policy making to instead engage pragma tic understandings that allow educators to anticipate the potential consequences of particular policies and trends. Part of this necessarily entails understanding where the power lies, who the key players are, and what their agenda might be, and frameworks such as Theodoulou and Cahns should help to fully understand these influences. Critical pluralists need to shift the involvement in policy toward crafting policy rather than responding to it.


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 13 Strategic action Coupled with this focus on understanding po licy and issues, there needs to be an engagement of clear political strategies. Three seem to be particularly relevant: 1. Working locally and educating the public does much to affect policy change at a local level that may have ramifications at a national level. If federal policies are indeed influenced by state level policies, as was the case with Minnesotas charter school laws (see Cross, 2004), then these changes at local levels can do much to influence policy making. At the same time, educators need t o be savvy about outside influences on state level policies. The Reading Excellence Act was preceded by changes in California and Texas policies that were precipitated by Robert Sweets campaign, Barbara Foormans influence, and others (see Goodman, 1999; Taylor, 1998). Attention must be given to these state level activities and influences, and flaws and problems with these arguments must be pointed out at early stages in the process of influencing policy. Related to this, federal policies can be rejected at the state and local level. This takes a degree of civic courage, and some may consider it foolhardy given the desperate financial situations that many schools face. Yet, if the policy is contradictory to the aims and missions of local schools, if the po licy potentially sabotages successful local school practices (see Linn, 2003; Edmondson and Shannon, 2003), then local schools should not need to change their practices to conform to federal laws and initiatives. The federal government has no direct say in education, and while the influence of federal policy on state and local education matters by using money as a coercive device is evident at many levels, local schools can reject funding from federal programs. This was most recently evident in communities throughout Pennsylvania who were eligible for but did not apply for Reading First grants because of their restrictive nature. 2. Strategic alliances and coalitions with professional organizations and other groups should be fostered. The International Read ing Association and the National Council of Teachers of English played a role in bringing changes to the House version of the Reading Excellence Act. These organizations represent a range of views and positions in relation to reading and language, and they must rely on their memberships to remain viable. As such, it seems to be a responsibility of members to voice concerns and hopes to these groups in relation to policy and policy making. These groups have government liaisons, such as IRAs Richard Long, and they issue position statements and white papers directly related to federal and state policy concerns. In addition to this, educators must consider how to strategically build coalitions that include public groups (some possibilities include, Parent Teacher Associations, and others) and students (such as the East Philadelphia Organizing Projects Youth United for Change) with the goal of informing the broader public about matters directly related to education. This coalition building can begin effectively at local and state levels to educate and influence local school boards, local representatives, and state policy. This necessarily broadens teachers classrooms to engage the public sphere with the broader goals of bringing recognition of all groups and voices and redistribution of resources in a more equitable manner (Fraser, 1997). Related to this, careful attention must be given to ensure that critical pluralism as a process has some degree of success. As Parker (2003) noted, there is tens ion in the way pluribus manifests itself in liberal democracy as simply tolerating diversity (see also Shannon, 1995). Thoughtful work must be directed toward finding unity in diversity through


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 14 the inclusion of voices that are often marginalized or silen ced, and we must be willing to walk the path with other groups to create a larger public identity that is not essentializing (Parker 2003, p. 27). In this way, education policies should seek to ensure the rights of people to join together to engage diffe rence as diverse groups learn to live with one another in a democratic society. 3. Response to policy must occur on different fronts, particularly attending to those major influences on policy as they are described above. In other words, strategic respons es to NICHD, to elite control of policy, and to corporate influences and interest groups are sorely needed. Reading professionals must take a stand on ethical grounds concerning textbook publishing, national panels that are homogenously formed with the sam e or similar members over time, and groups that wrest control from the publics hands. Unfortunately there are educators who complain about the current state of reading legislation who have participated in some way: as basal reader board members and/or as authors, as members of elite panels, as authors of test items for major testing companies, as players in the standards movement, and more. The contradictory nature of this participation compromises the strength of the stand that can and should be taken for or against particular policies (see Goodman, 1999). If educators remain committed to the notion that democracy should be participatory (see Sehr, 1998) and that as citizens and educators we should have a voice in the policymaking process, then we must b egin to draw on the combined strength of pluralist and critical theories in order to participate well in the policy making that influences education. By attending to the points outlined above, educators can work to create and maintain a participatory democ ratic society. Of course this is no small matter, as Parker (2003) noted in the quot ation that opened this article, and it will require much commitment and hard work for the long term. Yet, if we do not attempt to change the ways in which education policie s are made, what might the consequences be? References Adams, M.J. (1991). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Allington, R. (2002). Big brother and the national reading curriculum Portsmouth, NH: Heineman n. Allington, R. & Woodside Jiron, H. (1999). The politics of literacy teaching: How research shaped educational policy. Educational Researcher, 28 (8) 4 13. Bourdieu, P. (1997). The forms of capital. In A. Halsey, H. Lauder, P. Brown, & A. Wells (E ds.)., Education, culture, economy, society (pp. 46 59). New York: Oxford University Press. Chomsky, N. (1999). Profit over people New York: Seven Stories Press. Crawford, J. (1998/1999). What now for bilingual education? Rethinking Schools


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 15 Cross, C. (2004). Political education: National policy comes of age New York: Teachers College Press. Dahl, R. (1967). Pluralist democracy in the United States Chicago: Rand McNally. Dahl, R. (1985). A preface to economic democracy Cambridge: Polity Press. Dahl, R. (1998). On democracy London: Yale University Press. Dryzek, J. (1996) Democracy in capitalist times: Ideals, limits, and struggles. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edmondson, J. (2002). Asking different questions: Critical analyses and read ing research. Reading Research Quarterly, 37 (1), 113 119. Edmondson, J. (2000). America Reads: A critical policy study Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Edmondson, J. and Shannon, P. (1998). Reading poverty and education: Questioning the reading success equation. The Peabody Journal of Education, 73 104 126 Edmondson, J. & Shannon, P. (2003). Reading First Initiative in Rural Pennsylvania Sch ools. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 18 (1) 31 34. Eisenhart, M & Towne, L. (2003). Contestation and change in national policy on scientifically based education research Educational Researcher 32 (7) 31 38. Feyerabend, P. (1993). Agai nst method New York: Verso. Foorman, B. Francis, D., Shaywitz, S., Shaywitz, B., Fletcher, J. (1997). The case for early reading intervention. In B. Blachman, (ed.). Foundation of reading acquisition and dyslexia: Implications for early intervention Mah wah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Foorman, B., Francis, D., Fletcher, J., Schatschneider, C. & Mehta, P. (1998). The role of instruction in learning to read: Preventing reading failure in at risk children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90 37 55. Foucault M. (1980). Knowledge/power: Selected interviews and other writings 1972 1977 New York: Pantheon Press. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice Interruptus New York: Routledge. Goodman, K. (1999). Comments on the Reading Excellence Act. [Online] Available: Goodman, K. (1998). In defense of good teaching New York: Stenhouse.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 16 Gonzalez, R. and Melis, I (2000). Language ideologies: Critical Perspectives on the official English movement. Urbana, IL: NCTE. Grossen, B. (199 7). 30 years of research: What we now know about how children learn to read. Santa Cruz, CA: The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Heclo, H. (1978). Issue networks and executive establishment. In King, A. (ed.). The New American Political S ystem pp. 87 124. Washington: American Enterprise Institute. Held. D. (1996). Models of democracy. 2 nd edition Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Johnson, C. (2000). How our laws are made On line [Available] Kingdon, J. (1995). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies New York: Harper Collins. Lagemann, E. (2000). An elusive science: The troubling history of education research Chicago: University o f Chicago Press. Linn, R. (2003). Accountability: Responsibility and reasonable expectations. Educational Researcher, 32 (7) 3 13. Lowi, T. (1964). American business, public policy, case studies, and political theory. World Politics (16) 677 715. Lo wi, T. (1979). The end of liberalism New York: Norton. Metcalf, S. (2002, January 28). Reading between the lines. The Nation 18 22. McCollum Clark, K. (1995). National Council of Teachers of English, Corporate Philanthropy, and National Education St andards: Challenging the ideologies of English education reform. An unpublished dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University. Mills, C.W. (1956). The power elite. London: Oxford University Press. National Research Council (2002). Scientific research in education R.J. Shavelson & L. Towne, (Eds). Committee on Scientific principles for education research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Neuman, S. (2002, February 6). The use of scientifically based research in education. Working Group Conferen ce Proceedings. Washington, DC. Palast, G. (2002). The best democracy money can buy London: Pluto Press. Parker, W. (2003). Teaching democracy: Unity and diversity in public life New York: Teachers College Press.


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 17 Prunty, J. (1985). Critical signpost s for a critical educational policy analysis. Australian Journal of Education, 29, 133 140. Rethinking Schools. (1999). Special collection on bilingual education. [On line] Available: http://www.rethinkingsc Roller, C. & Long, R. (2001). Critical issues: Sounding like more than background noise to policy makers: Qualitative researchers in the policy arena Journal of Literacy Research, 33 (4), 707 725. Rousseau, J. (1968). The social contract H armondsworth: Penguin. Schneider, A. & Ingram, H. (1997). Policy design for democracy Lawrenceville, KS: University of Kansas Press. Schmitter, P. and Lembruck, G. (Eds). (1969). Trends toward corporatists intermediation. Newbury Park, CA: S AGE Schump eter, J. (1976). Capitalism, socialism, and democracy London: Allen & Unwin. Sehr, D. (1997). Education for public democracy New York: SUNY Press. Shannon, P. (1991). Politics, policy, and reading research. In Barr, R., M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P.D. Pe arson (Eds.). Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. 2 New York: Longman. Shannon, P. (1995). Text, lies, and videotape: Stories about life, literacy, and learning Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Shannon, P. (1998). Reading poverty Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Stone, D. (1997). Policy paradox: The art of political decision making New York: W.W. Norton. Strauss, S. (2001). An open letter to Reid Lyon. Educational Researcher, 30 (5), 26 33. Suskind, R. (2004). The price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul ONeill New York: Simon and Schuster. Taylor, D. (1999). Beginning to read and the spin doctors of science Urbana, IL: NCTE. Theodoulou, S. & Cahn, M. (1995). Public policy: The essential readings. Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice Hall. Truman, D. (1971). The governmental process New York: Knopf. Tyack, D. & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 18 Woodside Jiron, H. (2003). Critical policy analysis: Researching the roles of cultural models, power, and expertise in reading policy. Reading Research Quarterly, 38 (4) 530 536. About the Author Jacqueline Edmondson Assistant Professor of Edu cation Pennsylvania State University 265 Chambers Building University Park, PA 16827 (814) 865 0655 Jacqueline Edmondson is Assistant Professor of Education (Language and Literacy Education) and Teache r Education Coordinator at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Her research focuses on policy and policy analysis. Her most recent book is Understanding and applying critical policy study: Reading educators advocating for change (2004, Inte rnational Reading Association).


Edmondson: Policymaking in education 19 Education Policy Analysis Archives Editor: Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Production Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about appr opriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Sherman Dorn, epaa editor@shermando rn .com EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University L inda Darling Hammond Stanford University Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Gene V Glass Arizona State University Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute of Technology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Berkeley Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven Western Michigan University Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of Illinois UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British Columbia


Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 13 No. 1 1 20 Archivos Analticos de Polticas Educativas Associate Editors Gustavo E. Fischman & Pablo Gentili Arizona State University & Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Founding Associate Editor for Spanish Language (1998 2003) Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Editorial Board Hugo Aboites Universidad Autnoma Metropolitana Xochimilco Adrin Acosta Universidad de Guadalajara Mxico Claudio Almonacid Avila Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educacin, Chile Dalila Andrade de Oliveira Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizon te, Brasil Alejandra Birgin Ministerio de Educacin, Argentina Teresa Bracho Centro de Investigacin y Docencia Econmica CIDE Alejand ro Canales Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Ursula Casanova Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona Sigfredo Chiroque Instituto de Pedagoga Popular, Per Erwin Epstein Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois Mariano Fernndez Enguita Universidad de Salamanca. Espaa Gaudncio Frigotto Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Rollin Kent Universidad Autnoma de Puebla. Puebla, Mxico Walter Kohan Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Roberto Leher Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Daniel C. Levy University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, New Yo rk Nilma Limo Gomes Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte Pia Lindquist Wong California State University, Sacramento, California Mara Loreto Egaa Programa Interdisciplinario de Investigacin en Educacin Mariano Narodowski Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina Iolanda de Oliveira Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brasil Grover Pango Foro Latinoamericano de Polticas Educativas, Per Vanilda Paiva Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Miguel Pereira Catedratico Universidad de Granada, Espaa Angel Ignacio Prez Gmez Universidad de Mlaga Mnica Pini Universidad Nacional de San Martin, Argentina Romualdo Portella do Oliveira Universidade de So Paulo Diana Rhoten Social Science Research Council, New York, New York Jos Gimeno Sacristn Universidad de Valencia, Espaa Daniel Schugurensky Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada Susan Street Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropo logia Social Occidente, Guadalajara, Mxico Nelly P. Stromquist University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California Daniel Suarez Laboratorio de Politicas Publicas Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina Antonio Teodoro Universidade Lusfona Lisbo a, Carlos A. Torres UCLA Jurjo Torres Santom Universidad de la Corua, Espaa


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