Political Agenda-Setting and Racial Integration in Public Schools: A Comparison of Denver Public Schools and New York City District 15




Madhani, Shyam

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Although prior research has been done applying the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET) and Multiple Streams Analysis (MSA) to political processes at the national or state level, no prior research has applied these theories on a local level specifically to racial and socio-economic integration plans in school districts. Interviews were conducted with key people in Denver Public Schools and New York District 15 in order to apply these theories to ascertain what the most relevant factors were that led to integration plans being approved in the respective school district. This study hypothesized that MSA would provide the most explanatory value when applied to these two school districts and that issue redefinition would be the most crucial factor leading to the approval of school integration plans. A deductive approach to qualitative analysis was used in order to analyze the interview data and connect the data to the theoretical frames of PET and MSA. This analysis revealed that while MSA had more explanatory value when applied to Denver’s integration plan, both MSA and PET had significant explanatory value when applied to New York City District 15’s plan. Overall, focusing events, issue redefinition, data availability, and long-standing community activism were all crucial factors in successfully creating and passing each integration plan.



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