Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Environmental and Public Affairs
First Committee Member
Sonya Douglass Horsford
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Fifth Committee Member
Number of Pages
Locally-elected school boards in the United States may be the public’s closest democratic link to public education. Yet, little is known about how school boards balance their representational obligations with their responsibilities to address educational inequities. The purpose of this study is to examine how school boards address policies and practices for one of education’s most vulnerable populations, English learners (EL). Applying the conceptual framework of social construction theory for policy design, which assumes that policy is heavily influenced by the social construction of target groups, this multiple-case study includes data from 30 interviews, four years of school board meeting minutes, and other archival documents from three sites located in the understudied region of the U.S. Mountain West— Clark County School District, Salt Lake City School District, and Tucson Unified School District. Results found that although EL policies/practices are largely shaped by the social constructions of ELs which are mostly deficit-based, school boards often react to triggering mechanisms in addressing the needs of their growing EL populations in the context of federal and state policies, competing interests, and limited resources. These findings suggest that while school boards are a significant democratic link, they are often unwilling, and in some cases unable, to adequately address inequities faced by ELs until school boards are triggered.
Educational Policy; Goverance; Multiple Case Study; School District; Social Construction Theory; Triggering Mechanisms
Education | Educational Leadership | Education Policy | Political Science
Sampson, Carrie, "The Role of School Boards in Addressing Opportunity and Equity for English Learners in the U.S. Mountain West" (2016). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2729.