Educator-legislators’ meaning making of education within the policy context

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2021-04-22

Authors

Chevalier, Andrea Jacqueline

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Abstract

Educator-legislators serve a unique role in providing a practitioner perspective and a voice for educators and students in their policymaking position. However, the literature on legislative behavior and occupation lacks specific findings about educator-legislators and how a professional background as an educator impacts education policy. Furthermore, the literature on legislative behavior is heavily quantitative and provides no information on how a professional background may moderate behavior. To address these gaps in understanding, this study asks the following research questions: (1) How do current and former Texas State legislators with an occupational background as an educator make meaning of education within the policy context? (2) How does this meaning making of education impact their legislative behavior? Using a conceptual framework based on sensemaking, this study employs a multicase study model to generate a theory about meaning making and legislative behavior. The findings showed that educator-legislators have deeply-held core beliefs about the purpose of public education and the role of government in fulfilling that purpose that drive their policymaking, both in terms of behavior and approach. These beliefs are rooted in their professional identity but are also impacted by their political and personal identities. The theory generated by this study extends current thought about legislative behavior and provides a conceptual and methodological framework for future studies on similar topics.

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