31.052 – Advocacy Networks and Intermediaries in Educational Policy: Local, National, and Global Perspectives
Fri, April 17, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Swissotel, Event Centre First Level, Zurich AB
Session Type: Symposium
Education policymaking has seen the rise of advocacy networks of loosely affiliated organizations that work to shape policies around their shared agendas. Such networks can include funders, researchers, media, lobbyists, think tanks, and the intermediary actors that connect them all. Yet little is known about how these emerging networks operate, what makes some more effective, or their impacts on research use and democratic access in the policymaking process. This session includes scholars focusing on this issue from local, national, and global perspectives, often employing innovative network analysis approaches in order to illuminate the role of advocacy networks in shaping policy. The discussion will consider how these networks operate across levels and contexts, and their potential for democratizing education policymaking.
Division L – Educational Policies and Politics / Division L – Section 1: Governance, Finance, and Intergovernmental Relations
Patricia Burch, University of Southern California
Mobilizing Reform: Global and Local Nodal Actors in Education Policy Entrepreneurship – Stephen J. Ball, Institute of Education – London
This paper draws on research from two funded projects — one funded by the Leverhulme Foundation and focused on parts of Africa, the other funded by the British Academy and focused on India. In both projects the aim is to identify and relate together local and global networks of influence and practice around processes of educational reform, as part of what Pasi Salhberg calls GERM — the global education reform movement. The paper employs a method I call ‘network ethnography’ — a combination of internet searches, social media following, network mapping and interviews with participants — that is deployed to understand and analyse the relations, processes and culture of policy communities.
The paper will attend to the ‘work’ of reform being done by both local entrepreneurs – like Ashish Dhwan in India, Chief Executive of the Central Square Foundation, a venture philanthropy investment organisation, and international organisations like McKinsey, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (which operates in the US, India and South Africa), the Omidyar Network, and ARK (a UK-based international social enterprise, which also operates in India and Africa).
The paper sets out first to ‘map’ the networks of which these actors and organisations are a part; second, to identify the ‘work’ of reform undertaken in specific locations; and, third, to plot the ‘movement’ and translation of some particular aspects of reform — public-private partnership, charter schools, blended learning, and assessment-based practice.
While research on education advocacy networks is starting to accelerate, much remains to be determined about what they are, how they operate, and how groups within these networks interact. By outlining a cartography of these advocacy networks at both national and transnational levels, the paper will offer insights into the shape of advocacy coalitions, as well as into the activities and relationships defining these networks.
Co-Creating Impact Measures of Research Mobilization With Intermediary Organizations – Amanda Cooper, Queen’s University
There is growing recognition of the importance of the roles of intermediary organizations (IOs) in bridging research-practice-policy gaps in education (efforts I call knowledge mobilization, KMb); however, IOs remain underexplored (Davies & Nutley, 2008; Nutley et al., 2007; Tseng, 2007). This study develops impact measures, through multi-stakeholder panels comprised of IOs and the educational stakeholders they work with, that can be used to assess the efforts of IOs in KMb processes.
METHODS AND DATA
This paper builds on [AUTHOR’S] (2014) study which mapped the efforts of 44 IOs across Canada using a matrix tool to measure KMb efforts in relation to evidence-based strategies (products, events and networks) and indicators (types, ease of use, target audience). The top 15 IOs (according to the matrix scores) were chosen to collaborate in this study, which aims to co-create impact measures of IOs with various stakeholders that they work with, including educational leaders, teachers, parents, policymakers and other community stakeholders. These 15 IOs include different types of intermediaries such as: a ministry of education (equivalent to State Education Agency in the US), advocacy organizations, research centres from universities, as well as think tanks. Multi-stakeholder panels were convened to propose an impact framework to measure their work.
RESULTS AND SIGNIFICANCE
[Author’s] (2014) analysis revealed 8 major brokering functions of Canadian IOs in education: 1) linkage and partnerships of diverse stakeholders around priority issues; 2) raising awareness about research; 3) increasing accessibility to research-based resources; 4) increasing user engagement with research; 5) capacity-building among practitioners to increase research use; 6) implementation support for initiatives in school districts; 7) organizational development; and 8) policy influence. Multi-stakeholder panels met to co-create impact measures for these 8 brokering functions. Initial indicators proposed by these panels include eight categories which mirror brokering functions: 1) collaboration indicators: #products/ services developed or disseminated with partners, social network growth (assessed by social network analysis); 2) reach indicators: # distributed, # requested, # downloads/hits, media exposure; 3) usefulness indicators: read/browsed, satisfied with, usefulness of, gained knowledge, changed views; 4) use indicators: # intend to use, # adapting the research; 5) practice change indicators: # or type of capacity building efforts, # training and education sessions, commitment to change, observed change, reported change; 6) program and service indicators: fidelity and uptake, documentation and feedback, process measures; 7) system indicators: infrastructure, strategic planning across provinces or states, annual reporting structures; 8) multi-level indicators: # used to inform policy/advocacy/enhance programs, citations in policy, invitations of researchers to meetings, involvement in policy process, media presence.
This research will extend our knowledge about: what strategies intermediaries utilize to accomplish their mandate to better connect research, policy and practice; any available evidence on the effectiveness of these strategies; what impact indicators can be used to measure the efforts of IOs; the relative merits of different strategies in relation to diverse target audiences; and, why some intermediaries (and the stakeholders they serve) are more effective at KMb than others.
E-Advocacy Among Intermediary Organizations: Brokering Knowledge Through Blogs – Elise Castillo, University of California – Berkeley; Priya Goel La Londe, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Stephen Owens, University of Georgia – Athens; Elizabeth H. DeBray, University of Georgia; Janelle T. Scott, University of California – Berkeley; Christopher A. Lubienski, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The call for reputable evidence on which to build educational policy in the United States has created a veritable marketplace of ideas. In this landscape, intermediary organizations (IOs) have assumed the role of knowledge brokers to policy actors and the public at large ([IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED], 2011). Operating in myriad forms, such as foundations, advocacy groups, think tanks, academic research networks, policy groups, and journalists, IOs are gaining traction as key players in advocacy and policymaking in the U.S. public education sector. To maintain such a presence, IOs are increasingly using blogs to broker evidence concerning key “incentivist” policies ([IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED], 2009) such as vouchers, charter schools, teacher pay-for-performance, and Parent Trigger ([IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED], 2014). Advocacy groups, such as Parent Revolution; higher profile outfits, such as EdWeek and Huffington Post; as well as individuals with branded blogs, such as Mark Weber’s Jersey Jazzman, Jennifer Berkshire’s Edushyster, and Jason France’s Crazy Crawfish, are engaging almost entirely in “E-Advocacy,” promoting and disseminating evidence via their online blog platforms.
This analysis will broaden our understanding of knowledge brokering in the blogosphere. Focusing specifically on charter schools, we report on forthcoming findings regarding the following questions:
1. Who is blogging, and for what intended purposes?
2. What, and how, do bloggers treat evidence?
3. How are blogs being treated as evidence among policy actors?
Echo chambers ([IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED], 2009) and the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) (Sabatier, 1993) frame our analysis. The ACF suggests that a policy “subsystem” consists of a range of actors and organizations, concerned with a particular public issue, who play pivotal roles in knowledge brokering and policymaking (Sabatier, 1993). The ACF offers an opportunity to understand the placement and penetration of the blogosphere in the charter school “echo chamber” of evidence, in which a “a small but defined set of studies is repeatedly cited” ([IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED], 2014, p. 285).
As part of a larger study focusing on research use among policymakers, this mixed methods analysis draws upon data gathered from blogs, interviews, and research reports. Data collection takes place from August 2011 to December 2014. We use a protocol to document the issues, regions, citations, evidence, and links in around 300 blog entries across 41 blogs. We also conduct open-ended interviews with ten bloggers and policymakers to understand bloggers’ approach to knowledge brokering and the role of blogs in policymakers’ work. Further, we track research reports cited by policymakers and bloggers. Using an open coding system, we selectively sample the entire set of blog, interview and document data to uncover themes pertaining specifically to charter schools in order to understand knowledge brokering in the blogosphere.
The blogosphere’s role in the proliferation and diversification of advocacy networks is understudied and important. This pilot analysis expands our understanding of relationships between policymakers and bloggers, new approaches to “effective advocacy,” and features of E-advocacy networks within U.S. educational policymaking.
Urban Regimes, Intermediary Organization Networks, and Research Use: Patterns Across Three School Districts – Janelle T. Scott, University of California – Berkeley; Elizabeth H. DeBray, University of Georgia; Christopher A. Lubienski, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Priya Goel La Londe, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Elise Castillo, University of California – Berkeley; Stephen Owens, University of Georgia – Athens
This paper is part of a larger study focused on the role of networks in disseminating research evidence on “incentivist” policies — namely charter schools and teacher pay-for-performance — to policymakers [IDENTIFYING INFORMATION REMOVED, 2001]. Researchers have known for some time that evidence is not always the primary consideration in policy discussions, particularly in education policymaking. But at the same time, some prominent funders have gone through extraordinary lengths to produce evidence — while also aligning media, advocacy organizations and other elements of the policy discussion apparatus — in order to increase the chances that their desired policy agendas will advance. Two prominent examples of this are the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study (Kane, McCaffrey, Miller, & Staiger, 2013); and the 2009 and 2013 CREDO/Stanford studies on charter school outcomes, both funded by philanthropic organizations trying to promote particular reforms in American education (although, interestingly, the initial CREDO findings were seen by many as undercutting the funders’ pro-charter school agenda).
In view of the importance placed on these studies, and their consequent usefulness for illustrating how advocacy networks can advance evidence in education policymaking, the following research questions will be addressed: 1.) What have been the responses in both the academic literature and a sub-sample of policy-related blogs to two studies, the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study, and the 2009 and 2013 CREDO/Stanford studies on charter school outcomes? 2.) Are there identifiable networks in the blogosphere and/or academic community that are interpreting and disseminating the studies in different ways? 3.) What can interview data drawn from three cities where the two reforms were implemented reveal about perceptions of the usefulness and validity of the studies?
The paper’s conceptual framework builds on that of Goldie et al. (2014)’s bibliometric analysis of vouchers, but broadens it by incorporating systematically collected blog data as well as selected interview data. For the 2009 CREDO study, there is approximately three and a half years of blog data, for MET, two and a half years, and for the 2013 CREDO study, one and a half years. Blog data were coded for their mention of the studies, links to reports, and nature of the commentary on the blog. In addition, coded mentions of the studies in over 250 interviews conducted with organization leaders and policymakers provide a third source of information of how and whether reform leaders in three cities (New Orleans, New York, and Denver) perceive the treatment of the studies’ usefulness and relevance to policy decisions, including sub-studies from CREDO that focus on specific states. Our analyses of the uptake of these influential studies sheds some light on the potential of advocacy networks to advance evidence in undergirding specific agendas, while also showing how other research reports typically do not enjoy the same degree of support.
The Movement Rising From Progressive Resistance to American Legislative Exchange Council–Inspired Legislation: The Case of North Carolina – Catherine Marshall, University of North Carolina
North Carolina’s usual education interest groups are increasingly losing influence in the face of privatization-focused policy initiatives that gained momentum, money, and model bills from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and similar new actors in the policy community. The neoliberal underpinnings of the model bills promote market-driven mechanisms and move toward privatized and deregulated systems as their way to increase productivity, competition, and efficiency. Their education policy proposals encourage entrepreneurs to invest in education and thus profit. North Carolina is significant as an extreme case of a national phenomenon whereby conservative and well-funded national networks like ALEC have become a force by offering benefits and assistance to state legislators who will use their model bills and strategies.
This paper documents the rise of networks that share goals and strategies of resistance. Coalitions comprised of actors whose interest has been pro public education and protecting and supporting those in the traditional public school structures, like school boards and administrators and teachers associations, now find they increasingly share marginal status with the advocacy groups whose “causes” are civil rights, voting rights, pro-labor, pro, health care and social services for the unemployed and poor, pro-peace, pro-environment, women’s reproductive rights, pro Hispanic, pro LGBTQ, and more.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODS
Conceptualizing from social movement theory and literatures on politics of education and on education professionalism, data were collected through participant observation, document analysis, and interviews over the course of a year.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The policy for vouchers, called “Opportunity Scholarships,” was the policy that brought together the most commonality of interest and the widest coalition for collaborative strategizing, litigation, and protest. It, along with the policy retracting teacher tenure, are the focus of lawsuits mounted by coalitions. Teachers who are often uninvolved in politics are now creating their own protests, petitions, and blogs, and they are increasingly joining forces with the wide range of progressive advocacy groups who, led by NAACP, are protesting on the legislative lawn weekly.
Analysis, with coding guided by the conceptual framing, reveals six key findings: 1) shared values among progressive advocacy groups and educators created a sense of solidarity, helping to mobilize collective activism; 2) traditional education interest groups capitalized on that momentum, and 3) within a year the neoliberal agendas were successfully challenged to 4) include teacher raises in the budget, 5) answer legal challenges to their policies, and 6) realize their policies had inadvertently catalyzed formation of a new, solidified coalition that was mobilizing with new strategies and were unconstrained by traditional patterns of professional or deferential political behavior. This research also found the emergence of new alliances and new strategies, such as “Moral Mondays” demonstrations on the legislative lawn, and coordination and cooperation in litigation when, as one informant said, “we can no longer be effective with just providing resources and testimony: we’re not heard at all.”
Kalervo N. Gulson, University of New South Wales