The focus of this research is State Boards of Education (SBOE). Few scholars have engaged in close examinations of SBOEs, their make-up, or the broader implications of their influence over time. In this exploratory study, SBOEs are understood as policy actors. Thinking about SBOEs as policy actors focuses attention not only on the power, authority and policy making functions of state boards of education, but also on their networks, their actions, and the discourses constructed through the performance(s) of their policy work. SBOE membership, authority and impact differ significantly across the 50 states. Viewing SBOEs as policy actors shifts from the consideration of the SBOE as a unitary policy actor among other policy entities to viewing boards as part of a policy network. Drawing on network studies and critical policy analysis, this project examines SBOEs both in terms of their roles and level of authority as well as their participation in larger policy networks.
The student(s) working with me, will engage in a policy network ethnography of ten states. For each SBOE, we engaged in three key sets of activities: 1) extensive internet searches focused on understanding the role and authority of each SBOE, the work it had recently undertaken, and its members; 2) interviews with state board members, and 3) the analysis of data from these sources to construct SBOE cases and networks. Thus, students will have the opportunity to 1) learn about SBOEs, 2) work with a team to manage, discuss and implement the project, 3) engage in data collection (archival and/or interview), 4) participate in data analysis, and 5) contribute to the development of reports on our findings.
It would be preferable for students have some familiarity and interest in policy, particularly educational policy. It would be helpful (but not necessary) for students have some familiarity with qualitative methodology (archival and interview data collection).
1. Have an understanding of how state level educational policy is made, interpreted and implemented
2. Develop skills in qualitative data collection and analytical methods
3. Develop their interest in and capacity to use theory