Current Projects

Common Core POlitics:  Policy Feedback and Political Pushback

This book-length project examines the politics of implementing the Common Core State Standards, an effort to create uniform educational standards in the U.S. It examines how the adoption of the Common Core has created a politically potent policy feedback cycle that changed the alignment of educational interest groups in the U.S. and reshaped the terrain on which educational politics is now contested.  At the same time, this feedback cycle has spawned a new wave of ideological and interest group mobilization in opposition to the Common Core.  The book explores the dynamics of this ideologically-charged, odd bed-fellow counter-mobilization -- composed of Tea Party activists, Opt-Out movement supporters and teacher union officials opposed to value-added evaluations of teacher performance.   Together, these three forces potentially could derail the most successful effort to date to  create nationally uniform educational standards.  Their success relies on their ability to leverage frustration over how the new standards circumvent traditional modes of educational policy legitimation.  Supporters of the Common Core, in contrast, have focused too much on extending the policy reach of common standards and, for the most part, ignored the forces and expectations that created the wide range of standards and educational expectations in the first place.

Works in Progress:

Common Core Politics:  Policy Feedback, Political Pushback and the Role of Legitimation

HOmework:  Educational Rights of English learners and Policy Approaches to LInguistic Diversity in Schools 

With co-authors Sabrina Wesley-Nero and Edom Tesfa, this project broadly explores the challenges and obstacles confronting English learners, focusing on litigation efforts to secure their educational rights, and exploring policy alternatives that can deliver high quality educational experiences and outcomes for English learners.  Our first paper examines contrasting judicial and social scientific views on what satisfies the "appropriate action" requirement of the Equal Educational Opportunity Act.  We are currently undertaking research into how different models of English learner instruction influence the social networks of English learners within high school and whether those social networks are associated with better educational outcomes

Works in Progress:

Legal and Pedagogical Contexts of English Learners: Defining “Appropriate Action” under the Equal Educational Opportunity Act 

This paper examines how "appropriate action" under the Equal Educational Opportunity Act has insufficiently advanced the education of newcomers and how legal interest group efforts to define the term through litigation has been stymied by judicial vagueness and deference to political actors.  The paper argues that policy knowledge about how English learners acquire new language skills and content should define the range of "appropriate action." 

English Learner Policy variation

This project examines how English learner policies vary across local districts in the U.S.  Based on field interviews with English language coordinators in districts, it pays particular attention to how districts educate high school-age newcomers and long-term English learners.  The attached maps (Leg 1 and Leg 2) sketch out locations of interviews conducted in Summer 2016.