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Dissertation Fellow, 2007
Dissertation: The Politics of Higher Education Spending in the American States
Abstract: Identifying policies that promote student access is at the core of higher education scholarship. However, little has been done to understand the political process through which these policies develop. My dissertation addresses the following questions: Why does the level and type of government support for higher education vary so much across states and over time? Does politics matter or is this variation just a by-product of the economic business cycle? How do political-economic trends affect states’ ability to make a university education possible for all? Given that the reasons for states supporting higher education go beyond individual economic returns then investigating how and how much states invest in higher education may provide clues to the specific political-economic dynamics driving higher education policy. My dissertation sheds light on this process by investigating differences in spending patterns across 48 states from 1976 to 2002, in combination with a case study of California.
Ryane McAuliffe Straus
UC Irvine/political science
Dissertation Fellow, 2003
Dissertation: Increasing Segregation as Magnet
Schools Seek to Attract Middle Class Students
Abstract: In response to a state court desegregation order, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) instituted magnet schools in 1978 for the dual purposes of integrating and improving schools. Now, however, magnets emphasize academic benefits over voluntary integration. Although these emphases are not mutually exclusive, this change appears to have accompanied the schools’ shift from attracting and retaining both urban poor and middle class students, to a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining middle class students. The study analyzes this process by using both existing theories of public policy and emerging understandings of racial power in urban settings. The study applies a social construction perspective and the policy design framework to school desegregation, and it adds Los Angeles to the body of desegregation case studies.