Ryane McAuliffe Straus

College of Saint Rose
History and Political Science

432 Western Avenue
Albany, NY

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I am interested in the social construction of policy, target groups, policy images, and how policy conveys meaning to citizens. I am particularly interested in how this process occurs through education policy.

Straus, Ryane McAuliffe. "Reconstructing Los Angeles Magnet Schools: Representations in Newspapers." Peabody Journal of Education 79 (2): 98-121.
Abstract: This article is a study of the social construction of school desegregation in Los Angeles, California. Particular emphasis is placed on how magnet schools were presented to area residents in the local press over a period of 3 decades. I use quantitative and qualitative techniques with 355 newspaper articles. I find that magnet schools were originally discussed as part of a larger desegregation program, but that references to desegregation declined steadily. Magnet schools are now discussed as providers of academic excellence, and desegregation issues are largely ignored. This follows the current trend in political and academic circles, in which the rhetoric surrounding education is increasingly focused on standards and accountability rather than equality and access.
Straus, Ryane McAuliffe. 2010. "Measuring Multi-Ethnic Desegregation." Education and Urban Society 42 (2): 223-242.
Abstract: This article proposes a new method for measuring school integration in multi-racial districts, and uses the new method to measure the integration effects of magnet schools in Los Angeles. Rather than measuring integration between only two groups at a time, I compute the index of interracial exposure for Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and Asians. Each of these figures is then combined to form a composite desegregation score. I find that magnet schools in Los Angeles are less segregated than non-magnet schools, but that Whites and Asians are the most segregated groups and have become more segregated over time.
DOI: 10.1177/001312450934976
Straus, Ryane McAuliffe. 2011. "Citizens' Use of Policy Symbols and Frames." Policy Sciences 44: 13-34.
Abstract: This paper argues that citizens are capable of developing and promoting complex policy symbols, and that these symbols include supporting frames that explain and justify them. Based on a long-term study of education policies in Los Angeles, California, the paper uses interpretive methods to reconstruct and analyze these frames. Citizens developed two specific policy symbols while the district was engulfed in a desegregation debate; citizens identified schools as places where students gained academic knowledge and as institutions that affected broader race relations. However, education policy in Los Angeles could not support these two symbols over a long period of time, and a political movement to end mandatory busing eventually caused the academic symbol (originally the weaker of the two symbols) to become dominant. This trend reflects broader national discussions, in which education is now discussed in terms of standards and accountability and is evidence of continuing racism in U.S. policy.
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-010-9115-1

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy History SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY