The Context of State-Level Policy Formation
AbstractTo identify the relative power and influence of various state education policy groups, data were collected by elite interviewing as part of a larger study by the authors. This article displays the variation among six states in the ranking of policy groups. The relative rankings show how the configurations of power differ among the states. Using the qualitative data, the article provides short analyses of the policy processes that explain these differences. History, recent political battles, and the action styles of policy actors are part of the context that explains the differences (e.g., showing how teachers' associations may rank first in one state and twelfth in another). The research explores further the qualitative data to search for policy actors' sense of the rules that must be followed to gain and maintain power in the cultural state policymaking. The article introduces the theory of assumptive worlds; the common action principles understood by all state policy actors and learned from their socialization in the culture of politics. It concludes by showing how assumptive worlds build cohesion, translate values, and are barometers of change.