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How Does Parents Involved in Community Schools Matter? Legal and Political Influence in Education Politics and Policy


by Kathryn A. McDermott, Elizabeth DeBray & Erica Frankenberg — 2012

Background/Context: On June 28, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District #1 (PICS) that school districts not currently under court order for racial desegregation could not, under most circumstances, use race as a criterion for assigning students to schools.

Purpose: In this article, we analyze patterns of response to PICS within and outside the judicial system in order to determine where and how the decision has mattered. We examine post-PICS developments in Seattle and Jefferson County, Kentucky, the districts where the lawsuits began; post-PICS developments in the federal courts; and policy changes at the school district level, including both responses to court decisions and changes undertaken voluntarily by school boards, and in the federal government.

Research Design: This article is a secondary analysis of national and local media articles, legal filings, and policy documents.

Conclusion: The decision, interacting with other issues, has indeed affected school districts, both via the courts and via effects on politics and policy making. Four years later, although PICS has not had a sweeping national effect on which students attend which schools—making the situation not dissimilar to Brown’s initial effects—it has shaped the legal and political landscape in numerous school districts and has interacted with state and federal policy in ways that are still evolving.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 12, 2012, p. 1-39
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16722, Date Accessed: 10/1/2014 10:15:43 AM

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About the Author
  • Kathryn McDermott
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    E-mail Author
    KATHRYN A. MCDERMOTT is associate professor of education and public policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she holds a joint appointment in the School of Education and the Center for Public Policy and Administration. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1997. Dr. McDermott’s main research interest is educational equity and the various federal, state, and local policies intended to produce it. She is the author of High-Stakes Reform: The Politics of Educational Accountability (Georgetown University Press, 2011), an analysis of the politics behind enactment of state-level accountability policies based on test results, and of Controlling Public Education: Localism Versus Equity (University Press of Kansas, 1999), which highlights the ways in which local control of public education produces challenges for educational equity. With Elizabeth DeBray and Erica Frankenberg, she is the recipient of a grant from the Spencer Foundation to study the implementation of the federal Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) grants in 2011–2012.
  • Elizabeth DeBray
    University of Georgia
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH DEBRAY is an associate professor in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy in the College of Education, University of Georgia. She received her Ed.D. in administration, planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2001. Dr. DeBray’s major interests are the implementation and effects of federal and state elementary and secondary school policies, and the politics of education at the federal level. She is author of Politics, Ideology, and Education: Federal Policy during the Clinton and Bush Administrations (Teachers College Press, 2006), which analyzes the politics of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 106th and 107th Congresses. She was a 2005 recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, which supported her research on education interest groups, think tanks, and Congress. With Kathryn McDermott and Erica Frankenberg, she is the recipient of a grant from the Spencer Foundation to study the implementation of the federal Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) grants in 2011–2012.
  • Erica Frankenberg
    Pennsylvania State University
    E-mail Author
    ERICA FRANKENBERG is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ed.D. in administration, planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2008. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K–12 schools, and the connections between school segregation policies and other metropolitan policies. Her work has been published in several education policy and law journals, and she is a contributing coeditor of Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation. With Kathryn McDermott and Elizabeth DeBray, she is the recipient of a grant from the Spencer Foundation to study the implementation of the federal Technical Assistance for Student Assignment Plans (TASAP) grants in 2011–2012.
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