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Reorganizing a countywide school district: A critical analysis of politics and policy development toward decentralization

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Published: 2018-01-05

Authors

Sarah Diem

University of Missouri

Carrie Sampson

Arizona State University

Laura Gavornik Browning

University of Missouri

Keywords: case study; critical policy analysis; decentralization; equity; multiple streams; policy process; politics; reorganization

Abstract

Policymakers and educational leaders continue to use school district decentralization as a reform effort that attempts to shift power and authority from central office administration to school-level leadership. In 2015, the Nevada Legislature passed legislation to restructure the Clark County School District (CCSD), the state’s largest school district, with the intent of breaking it up into smaller districts but instead evolving to decentralization. In this article, we use case study methods to explore the events leading up to the reorganization of CCSD. We take a critical perspective on Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to analyze the reorganization efforts, focusing specifically on how Nevada’s political context provided a window of opportunity for the reorganization to occur. We also examine the extent to which equitable educational opportunity was a factor in these efforts. Our analysis of the reorganization of CCSD contributes to a wider understanding of state-level policy development and politics within contemporary educational contexts. In this case, we find that state-level policymakers successfully leveraged the opportunity to enact the power and authority necessary to significantly and rapidly impact the structure of one of the largest school districts in the United States.  

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Author Biographies

Sarah Diem

University of Missouri

Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis

Sarah Diem in an associate professor of educational policy and leadership in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the sociopolitical and geographic contexts of education, paying particular attention to how politics, leadership, and implementation of educational policies affect outcomes related to equity, opportunity, and racial diversity within public schools.

Carrie Sampson

Arizona State University

Carrie Sampson is an assistant professor in the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University. Her research focuses on educational leadership and equity from three interrelated perspectives—democracy, community participation, and politics. 

Laura Gavornik Browning

University of Missouri

Laura Gavornik Browning is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her research interests encompass: PK-12 school leadership, special education policy & implementation, critical policy analysis, and sensemaking. Prior to entering the doctoral program, Laura worked for many years as a K-12 mild/moderate cross-categorical special education teacher spending most of her time at the secondary level. 

PDF

Published: 2018-01-05

How to Cite

Diem, S., Sampson, C., & Browning, L. G. (2018). Reorganizing a countywide school district: A critical analysis of politics and policy development toward decentralization. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 1. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.3253