Greed, vested interests, and the big stick: Studying education policymaking in New York through charter schools

Robert Allen Hendrickson, Fordham University


This study examines the antecedent conditions, political forces, and critical decisions that led to the adoption of the New York State charter school in 1998. The study examines the political dynamics of this school choice proposal, highlighting the interaction of competing interest groups, lobbyists, legislators, and the governor as they battled over the future direction of education reform in New York. The study sheds light on how education policy is crafted at the state level, amidst the swirling interests of a highly charged environment. This qualitative study utilizes a case study methodology and is divided into 5 chapters. Chapter I discusses the context of the problem, the arguments for and against charter schools, the purpose of the study, and the significance of the study. Chapter II consists of a literature review of studies of educational policymaking and reform, with specific attention to studies of the politics of the charter school reform. The research design and methodology, including the description of the data sources, limitations of the study, and research questions, are discussed in Chapter III. A detailed analysis of the findings is presented in Chapter IV. Chapter V includes a discussion of the findings related to the literature as well as the implications of the study and suggestions for future research. This study found that (a) interest groups initially kept charter schools off the legislative agenda; (b) charter schools were kept off the agenda because the was little support for charter schools by Democrats or Republicans; (c) The governor used his authority to call the legislature back into session to leverage his charter school initiative; (d) the legislation was not a result of research or pedagogy but was motivated out of a desire to get a pay raise; (e) “three men in a room” negotiated the law as it was passed; (f) the structure of government and the committee structure prohibited open debate and legislators voted as they were told; and (g) The law eventually was a compromise between the leadership of the legislative branch and a very powerful governor.

Subject Area

Education history|School administration

Recommended Citation

Hendrickson, Robert Allen, "Greed, vested interests, and the big stick: Studying education policymaking in New York through charter schools" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3166571.