Policy logics, framing strategies, and policy change: lessons from universal pre-k policy debates in California and Florida
This article examines the dynamics underpinning universal pre-kindergarten policy debates in California and Florida in light of theories of policy investment, policy change, and sustainability of policy reforms. Because the expansion of prekindergarten raises key considerations about the appropriate role of the state in education and educational socialization experiences for young children, and because these investments involve significant budgetary outlays, they trigger two logics: a policy investment logic that leverages the power of evidence-based arguments and instrumentally rational calculations about costs and benefits of early years investments; and a cultural logic that rests on societal and policymakers’ views about and trust in the state vis-à-vis the family and market. Media analysis of public debates in California reveals that instrumentally rational arguments about the benefits of universal pre-k were trumped by arguments based on appeals to principled beliefs about appropriate levels of state involvement. It also finds that this policy area is particularly susceptible to challenges to the legitimacy of political leaders. These cases thus provide important insights into the kinds of complex political factors that go into getting and sustaining social policy investments over the long term.
KeywordsPolicy investment theory Policy framing Policy change Universal pre-kindergarten California Florida
This article was originally presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, 29 August – 1 September 2013. The authors wish to thank Steven Bernstein and Grace Skogstad for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Financial support for this research was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant # 410-2008-0630.
- Ackerman, D. J., Barnett, W. S., Hawkinson, L. E., Brown, K. & McGonigle, E. A. (2009). Providing preschool education for all 4-year-olds: Lessons from six state journeys. Preschool Policy Brief 18 (March). New Brunswick, NJ: NIEER.Google Scholar
- Ballotpedia. (2015a). California Proposition 10, “First Five” Early Childhood Cigarette Tax (1998). http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_10,_%22First_5%22_Early_Childhood_Cigarette_Tax_%281998%29.
- Ballotpedia. (2015b). California Proposition 82, Free Half-Day Public Preschool Program (June 2006). http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_82,_Free_Half-Day_Public_Preschool_Program_%28June_2006%29.
- Ballotpedia. (2015c). Florida universal pre-kindergarten, amendment 8 (2002). http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Universal_Pre-Kindergarten,_Amendment_8_%282002%29.
- Banks, G. (2004). Use of Prop. 10 Funds Faulted. Los Angeles Times, 16 July.Google Scholar
- Barnett, W. S., Carolan, M. E., Squires, J. H., Brown, K. C., & Horowitz, M. (2015). The State of Preschool 2014: State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.Google Scholar
- Bassok, D., Miller, L. C., Galdo, E., & Johnson, A. J. (2014). Florida’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program: An overview of the largest State Pre-school Program in the Nation. EdPolicy Works Report. Chartlottesville: Curry School of Education, University of Virginia.Google Scholar
- Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (1993). Agendas and instability in American politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Boskin, M. (2006). Off and running; quit taxing the rich to fund your pet projects. Los Angeles Times (28 May).Google Scholar
- Brennan, T. (2006). Wars of position: The cultural politics of left and right. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Bushouse, B. K. (2009). Universal preschool: Policy change, stability, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
- Cohen, S. S. (2001). Championing child care. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Colavecchio-Van Sickler, S. (2002). Free preschool proposal touted for long-term benefits. West Palm Beach Post (October 30).Google Scholar
- DiCamillo, M., & Field, M. (2006a). Feinstein well ahead of mountjoy in U.S. Senate race. Field Research Corporation. Release #2184, 7 March.Google Scholar
- DiCamillo, M. & Field, M. (2006b). Prop. 82 (pre-school education) leads but by a smaller margin than two months ago. Field Research Corporation. Release #2196, 19 April.Google Scholar
- DiCamillo, M., & Field, M. (2006c). Voters moving to the no side on prop. 82 (Pre-school Education). Field Research Corporation. Release #2199, 3 June.Google Scholar
- Druckman, J. (2010). What’s it all about? Framing in political science. In G. Keren (Ed.), Perspectives on framing (pp. 279–302). New York: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
- First Five Years Fund. (2013). Early childhood education is a top priority for voters, second only to increasing jobs and economic growth. http://edsource.org/wp-content/uploads/Poll-Fact-Sheet.pdf.
- Florida Department of State, Division of Elections. (2013). Voluntary universal pre-kindergarten education. Accessed August 5, 2013. http://election.dos.state.fl.us/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=34708&seqnum=1.
- Fuller, B. (2007). Standardized childhood: The political and cultural struggle over early education. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hull, D. (2005). Study supports measure’s claims: Preschool seen as cutting crime, limiting dropouts. San Jose Mercury Times (15 December).Google Scholar
- Jones, B. D., & Baumgartner, F. R. (2005). The politics of attention: How government prioritizes problems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Karch, A. (2013). Early start: Preschool politics in the United States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Karoly, L. A., & Bigelow, J. H. (2005). The economics of investing in universal preschool education in California. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
- Kingdon, John. (1984). Agendas, alternatives and public policies. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
- Kinsler, L. & Steele, K. (2002) Class-size amendment slips in poll. Tampa Tribune (October 23).Google Scholar
- Kirp, D. L. (2007). The sandbox investment: The preschool movement and kids-first politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- LeFevre, A. T. (2006). Report card on American education: A state-by-state analysis, 1983–1984 to 2004–2005. Washington, DC: American Legislative Exchange Council.Google Scholar
- McGuinn, P. (2006). No child left behind and the transformation of federal education policy 1965–2005. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.Google Scholar
- Morain, D. (2006a). TV ads put focus on Reiner. Los Angeles Times (20 February).Google Scholar
- Morain, D. (2006b). Reiner takes a leave from panel on children. Los Angeles Times (25 February).Google Scholar
- Morain, D. (2006c). Reiner Quits First 5 Panel. Los Angeles Times (30 March).Google Scholar
- N.A. (2005). Business group backs preschool initiative. Los Angeles Times (28 July).Google Scholar
- North Jones, A. (2004). Bush Vetoes ‘Flawed’ Pre-K Bill. Tampa Tribune (10 July).Google Scholar
- OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development). (2006). Starting strong II. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- Patashnik, E. M. (2008). Reforms at risk: What happens after major policy changes are enacted. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Pew Research Center. (2013). Breadwinner Moms. Pew Social and Demographic Trends Report (29 May). http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/.
- Raden, A. (1999). Universal prekindergarten in Georgia: A case study of Georgia’s lottery-funded Pre-K program. Working Paper Series. New York: Foundation for Child Development.Google Scholar
- Reynolds, A. J., Rolnick, A. J., Englund, M. M., & Temple, J. A. (Eds.). (2010). Childhood programs and practices in the first decade of life: A human capital integration. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Skelton, G. (2006). Schwarzenegger’s after-school plan needs more study. Los Angeles Times (6 March).Google Scholar
- Squires, J. (2014). One state’s bold step toward the future. Preschool Matters Today NIEER Blog (6 June). http://preschoolmatters.org/2014/06/06/one-states-bold-step-toward-the-future/.
- Steele, K. (2002). Voters support 4 of 6 amendments. Tampa Tribune (September 5).Google Scholar
- Universal Prekindergarten Education Advisory Council. (2003). Report and recommendations to the Florida State Board of Education. http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/Oct_21_03/UPK_Report.pdf.
- Vinovskis, M. (2009). From a nation at risk to no child left behind: National education goals and the creation of federal education policy. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
- Waldfogel, J. (2010). Britain’s war on poverty. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- White, L. A., & Prentice, S. (2015). Understanding policy changes in early childhood education and care in Canadian Provinces. Forthcoming Canadian Public Administration.Google Scholar
- White, L. A., Prentice, S., & Perlman, M. (2015). The evidence base for early childhood education and care program investment: What we know, what we don’t know. Evidence and Policy (fast track 12 January 2015).Google Scholar
- Zimmerman, J. (2002). Whose America? Culture wars in the public schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar