ERIC Number: ED385925
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Apr
Political and Social Roots of Education Reform: A Look at the States in the Mid-1980s.
Feir, Robert E.
Between 1983 and 1987, every state in the United States adopted some sort of education reform. This paper presents findings of an analysis of reform activity in the 50 states during the mid-1980s, with a focus on several education and socioeconomic indicators. The conceptual framework was grounded in general-systems theory, which attributes some of the reform activity to the "messiness" of human political behavior. Data were collected through a national survey of state-level, education policy reforms for the years 1983-87, which elicited a 94 percent response rate. State statutes were also reviewed. Dependent variables included types of reforms: increased graduation requirements, increased or instituted student testing, curriculum-materials policies, increased teacher entry requirements, teacher-compensation reforms, longer school day or year, and increased state funding of education. Independent variables that influenced the educational policymaking process included indicators of: educational performance, fiscal effort on behalf of education, socioeconomic status and fiscal capacity, administrative organization, the education-policy subsystem structure, and the general context of the states (political culture). Guttman Scalogram analysis was used to discern patterns among the dependent variables. Univariate correlations and stepwise regression analysis were conducted to determine relationships between dependent and independent variables. The data show that: (1) the wave of reform for 1983-87 was characterized by greatly expanded participation; (2) although the reform was centered in state capitols, the reforms were national in scope and character; (3) traditional education interest groups played minor roles in education reforms; (4) the involvement of business and political leaders reflected the heightened political salience of education for both groups; and (5) the most extensive reforms occurred in states that were hypothesized to have the least interest in reform and may well reflect the previous conclusions. Six tables are included. Much bibliographic data is contained in 35 notes. (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 18-22, 1995).