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What explains the explosive growth of school vouchers in the last two decades? In America's Voucher Politics, Ursula Hackett shows that the voucher movement is rooted in America's foundational struggles over religion, race, and the role of government versus the private sector. Drawing upon original datasets, archival materials, and more than one hundred interviews, Hackett shows that policymakers and political advocates use strategic policy design and rhetoric to hide the role of the state when their policy goals become legally controversial. For over sixty years of voucher litigation, white supremacists, accommodationists, and individualists have deployed this strategy of attenuated governance in court. By learning from previous mistakes and anticipating downstream effects, policymakers can avoid painful defeats, gain a secure legal footing, and entrench their policy commitments despite the surging power of rivals. An ideal case study, education policy reflects multiple axes of conflict in American politics and demonstrates how policy learning unfolds over time.Read more
- Articulates a new theoretical framework, deepening our understanding of the 'submerged state' by showing how deep-seated religious, racial, and civic controversies structure American politics
- Provides the most extensive analysis of voucher politics to date, including 101 interviews with policymakers across the United States
- Integrates analyses of public law and public policy
- Winner, 2021 Education Politics & Policy Best Book Award, American Political Science Association
Reviews & endorsements
'This theoretically rich, empirically compelling analysis shows how conservatives have used devilishly clever, evolving policy designs and obfuscating rhetorical strategies to achieve their goal of limiting the role of government and breaking unions. A seminal contribution to American political development, public policy, public law, and education policy which I read with awe.' Andrea Louise Campbell, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySee more reviews
'America’s Voucher Politics answers one of the most interesting policy puzzles of our time: how did school vouchers go from the fringes to the mainstream? As important as that question is, however, this book is about more than education policy. In telling the tale of school vouchers, Hackett illuminates policy-making more broadly, by shining a light on the many ways that policymakers make it hard for voters to see what government is doing. And, she does it effectively, as the book is a case study in how to write about public policy. The argument is compelling, the evidence convincing, and the prose engaging.' David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
'Hackett's brilliant and timely analysis transforms the way we understand state policy and politics. Weaving together racial, religious, and civic foundational orders in US history, policy design, legal cases, and political rhetoric, the book reveals the complex, long-term strategies that political elites use to obfuscate public policy goals when they face public opposition or potential legal challenge. The result is a set of state policies that are not merely hidden, but constitute a form of doubly distanced attenuated governance. It is hard to imagine that state politics and policy research will ever be the same.' Lisa L. Miller, Rutgers University
‘… Hackett’s book provides a roadmap for how to structure and carry out this type of work and encourages those of us who study the hidden welfare state to think more deeply about what it means that the state is hidden and why.’ Chloe N. Thurston, American Politics
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- Publication planned for: January 2022
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781108812054
- length: 290 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
- contains: 30 b/w illus. 17 tables
- availability: Not yet published - available from March 2023
Table of Contents
Introduction. Subtle forms of circumvention
1. America's foundational identity struggles
2. Two dimensions of attenuated governance
3. The racial struggle: segregation grants in the Brown era
4. The religious struggle: vouchers and the church-state question
5. The public-private struggle: union opposition and the educational establishment
6. Tax credit scholarships in an era of Republican dominance
7. Education savings accounts and controversies beyond
Conclusion. Attenuated governance and the state.
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