The policies, politics, and players in the North Carolina parental school choice voucher debate: why Wisconsin said yes, but North Carolina says no

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rita C. Haire (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Camille Cooper

Abstract: This qualitative study examines the education policies, political dynamics, and key players in Wisconsin (WI) and North Carolina (NC) to develop a theory to explain how a targeted parental school choice voucher policy was legislated in WI but not in NC. The study seeks to offer a theoretical policy framework that explains the absence of a targeted parental school choice voucher policy in NC. Using Grounded Theory methods, this study examined the policies, politics, and players of WI in the years leading up to 1990 when the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was legislated. The debate that took place is described through the lens of the six major controversial concepts found in the literature. The study reveals how the contentiously debated issues were overcome by the application of a policy framework that supported success. By contrast, the study explored the policymaking dynamics, the politics, and the players of NC to discover why no targeted parental school choice voucher debate has taken place and what level of controversy exists, if at all. This study used the generative and emergent processes of Grounded Theory through archival research, historical analysis, and personal interviews with a total of five identified and nine anonymous participants--including high level public officials--to systematically generate a theory about the absence of a targeted voucher policy in NC. The data analysis suggests that the social construction policy framework, as applied to both the dependent student population in Milwaukee and to the advantaged K-12 public school advocates in NC, provides a theoretical proposition to explain the absence of a targeted voucher policy in NC. Implications from the study's conclusions are that to attain successful school choice legislation advocates for parental school choice must recognize and work within the social construction policy framework. Their efforts should be directed at diminishing the advantaged status of K-12 public education advocates and constructing a targeted group of disadvantaged, dependent, and deserving students to be assigned the benefits of parental school choice vouchers. With a targeted population in place--either the disadvantaged and poor, mostly minority students of NC's inner cities and rural areas, or the students with disabilities population--the strength of an advocacy coalition, and striking at the "window of opportunity," the parental school choice advocates will improve the chances for success.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
School choice policy, Social construction, Vouchers
Educational vouchers $x Political aspects $z North Carolina.
Educational vouchers $x Social aspects $z North Carolina.
School choice $x Political aspects $z North Carolina.
School choice $x Social aspects $z North Carolina.
Educational equalization $z North Carolina.
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
School choice $x Law and legislation $z Wisconsin $z Milwaukee.
Educational vouchers $x Law and legislation $z Wisconsin $z Milwaukee.

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