Research News

UW’s Turner probes ‘Districts’ Responses to Demographic Change’

January 28, 2015

An article by UW-Madison’s Erica Turner was recently published online by the American Educational Research Journal.

The paper is titled, “Districts’ Responses to Demographic Change: Making Sense of Race, Class and Immigration in Political and Organizational Context," and it also appears in the February 2015 print edition of the journal.

Erica Turner
The paper’s abstract notes that “many U.S. public school systems now face three large demographic shifts: rising poverty, the growing number of students from immigrant families, and increasing populations of students of color. Yet, we know little about how district policymakers react to these important changes or indeed the factors that consistently shape their policymaking.”

Turner’s research draws on interpretative policy analysis, the politics of education, and in-depth interviews with 37 school board members, superintendents and district administrators across two school districts.

The abstract notes how Turner argues that “racial meaning emerged as central in both districts’ policymaking processes as political and organizational contexts interacted to shape district leaders’ meaning-making and policy responses. Yet, leaders’ meaning-making and policy responses obscured systematic inequalities in students’ lives, including those stemming from race, immigration, and poverty.”

The paper concludes with “implications of this analysis for understanding school district policymaking and how to improve schooling for students of color, students in poverty, and immigrant students.”

Turner is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. She conducts research on education policy making and implementation in the contemporary social, economic, and political contexts of public school systems.