Policy Entrepreneurs and School Choice

Michael Mintrom

"This volume makes a real contribution to our thinking about the policy making process and the politics of school choice. It is a useful addition to the policy literature. "
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Rapid and controversial, the spread of school choice initiatives across the United States has radically changed political debate about public education. In this book, Michael Mintrom explores the complex world of open-enrollment policies, charter schools and voucher plans to reveal how and why school choice has become a major issue, and he draws important conclusions about how innovative individuals can spur significant change in the policy arena.

Policy entrepreneurs—individuals who take up a cause and make it part of the political agenda—have largely remained background figures without clear definition in the policymaking literature. This book is the first comprehensive and systematic treatment of the concept of policy entrepreneurship, providing an important foundation for explaining how policy proposals are initiated, considered, and adopted.

Mintrom uses the emergence of school choice in state politics to examine how policy change originates. He shows how policy entrepreneurs have been instrumental in placing school choice onto state legislative agendas, despite the lack of compelling evidence about its merits, and how they use social networks, reframe policy issues, and attempt to shift the sites of policy debate.

Blending innovative theory with both qualitative and quantitative investigation, Mintrom explains how energetic individuals made school choice a real choice. In doing so, he changes our broader understanding of how policy is formed.

Table of Contents


1. Policy Entrepreneurs and School Choice

2. Explanations of Policy Change

3. Entrepreneurs of Policy Change

4. Aspects of Entrepreneurship

5. Policy Entrepreneurs and the Policy Making Process

6. Empirical Studies of Policy Entrepreneurship

7. Policy Entrepreneurs and State Adoption of School Choice

8. Policy Networks and the Diffusion of School Choice

9. Policy Argumentation, Coalition Building, and School Choice

10. Policy Demonstration Projects and School Choice

11. Policy Entrepreneurs and Policy Change





"This volume makes a real contribution to our thinking about the policy making process and the politics of school choice. It is a useful addition to the policy literature."—Canadian Journal of Political Science

"Essential reading for all sides of the school choice debate, and anyone who wants to create new education policy. Combines theory and practice to provide a roadmap for the next generation of policy innovators."—Michael Kirst, professor of education, Stanford University

"Mintrom's excellent book adds substantially to two important areas of research: on policy diffusion and the role of political entrepreneurs in that process; and on educational choice and its rapid spread in the United States."—John Witte, director, Robert M. LaFollette Institute of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Michael Mintrom is the Monash Chair Professor of Public Sector Management and academic director of the Executive Master of Public Administrations at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

336 pp., 6 x 9

Apr 2000

336 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-0-87840-771-2
Apr 2000

336 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-388-9
Apr 2000

American Governance and Public Policy series
Gerard W. Boychuk, Karen Mossberger, and Mark C. Rom, Series Editors

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