As a response to the standard-setting Constitutional decision based on Brown vs. Board of Education, which made segregation in schools illegal, Seattle sought to develop a public program to integrate the city’s schools. The urban development of Seattle based on racial politics resulted in divided neighborhoods, which in turn affected school zoning, making it seem like the schools were intentionally segregated (Riley, 2016). The city decided to implement the busing program as a policy to force integration, an extremely controversial move that proved to have unexpected consequences and benefits for the students and families involved.
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The legal policy is an aspect that is developed in response to a socially perceived problem. It is meant to form solutions on a rational basis. However, this aspect is heavily based on how the problem is framed. It is often emphasized that policymakers are the ones responsible for analyzing an issue and framing it within the public policy. However, local actors can influence policy through their response that can effectively shape their success (Coburn, 2006). Seattle’s school integration is a clear example of policy formation. The problem of segregation was evident, and the city was desperate to protect itself from sanctions and lawsuits. The most enticing solution focused on integration, but it was difficult to find a viable solution. “Magnet programs” failed while various public and civil rights groups were divided about the necessary approach. It was critical to implement a policy that did not place the burden of integration on minorities or incited intercultural tensions (Tate, 2002).
A critical part of policy framing is assigning responsibility. The Seattle Plan did not have a clear responsible party. It was a well-intentioned by messy policy plan which failed to solve the underlying issue of the racial divide. There were noticeable consequences such as white families withdrawing to private schools and black families dissatisfied with the burden of travel and isolation that the kids experienced, dividing communities for both races. It was evident that many students chose to manipulate the system of racial assignment to their personal advantage (Mosley, 2013). The aspect of responsibility in policy creation is the reason behind the authorization of particular solutions over others.
Coburn, C. (2006). Framing the problem of reading instruction: Using frame analysis to uncover the microprocesses of policy implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 343-379.
Mosley, T. (2013). Busing blues: When Seattle sent black kids to white north end. Web.
Tate, C. (2002). Busing in Seattle: A well-intentioned failure. Web.