Politics of Passion

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Politics of Passion: Collective Action from. Pain and Loss ...... campaign to get detectable warning strips on metro platforms. Although its main strategy was ...
Politics of Passion: Collective Action from Pain and Loss TUNA I T K O N E N California State University, Channel Islands This study compares organized political action motivated by pain and loss with the activities of conventional interest groups by examining the goals and strategies of parent and professional groups involved in special education. The study shows that parent groups and conventional groups differ in their motivations and define policy problems using competing perspectives. Pain/loss groups, although formally organized, engage in expressive actions and use strategies outside the institutional structures. These differences among group types complicate the policy process and pose strategic choices for groups, as pain/loss organizations are less likely to bargain and compromise. I discuss the implications for agenda setting and policy formulation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all largely dismissed the notion that thimerosal causes or contributes to autism. Five major studies have found no link. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the number of parents who blame thimerosal for their children's autism has only increased. And in recent months, these parents have used their numbers, their passion, and their organizational skills to become a potent national force. The issue has become one of the most fractious and divisive in pediatric medicine. . . . Parents have filed more than 4,800 lawsuits . . . pushed for state and federal legislation banning thimerosal and taken out full page advertisements in major newspapers. [Harris and O'Connor 2005, 1] Political activism resulting from an emotionally vested personal experience is qualitatively different from political participation stimulated by other causes (Jennings 1999). The quotation above illustrates some of the properties that


characterize pain/loss activism: it is deeply personal to the participants—to the point that the parents' convictions about the harmful properties of thimerosal were so strong that they were willing to deny the authority of scientific research.1 A distinguishing feature in pain/loss activism, as compared to other political participation, involves the stakes, which are high for the individual involved because public policies have a direct impact on the person's and family's physical and emotional well-being (Jennings 1999; Jennings and Andersen 1996).2 Future policies may prevent, better diagnose, cure, or rehabilitate a particular harm-inflicted condition either by the allocation of research funds (e.g., investigating causes and treatments for a disease or a disability) or by legislation and regulation (e.g., limiting involuntary exposure to harmful stimuli and establishing standards for public behavior). A second unique aspect of pain/loss activism consists of the incentives, which differ from those of other political motivations (Jennings 1999; Lichterman 1995). While any collective action ultimately seeks to gain instrumental rewards—concrete policy outcomes that are consistent with constituents' interests—pain/loss activism is also motivated by other rewards. Participants in such movements become politically active, in part, because they value self-realization, emphasize personal fulfillment of needs, and develop a personalized sense of public commitment (Lichterman 1995). Pain/loss-induced activism is also motivated by the support from interactions with others who share a similar experience, and such movements often originate as local support networks (e.g., Altman 1996; Donovan 2001; Epstein 1996; Itkonen 2005; Jennings and Andersen 1996). Given that pain/loss activism brings distinctive personal motivations into the political arena, how does it play out in the participation of organizations and particularly in their strategies in the policy-making process? The interest group literature suggests that organizing is a move toward the strategic use of conventional structures to affect policy outcomes (e.g., Wright 1996). Thus, one might posit that pain/loss-induced participation would not differ from activism caused by other motivations, as the political context dictates certain roles and processes for mobilized interests and their targets. Alternatively, it also seems logical to suppose that the personal orientations of individual members might shape the evolution of the organization, and there is some evidence that collective learning, solidary rewards among members, and public expressions of moral values affect organizational development (Gitlin 1993;Jesper 1998; Lichterman 1995; Rothenberg 1992). This line of thinking suggests that pain/loss groups differ from conventional interest organizations as harm, pain, and loss differ from other political motives. These intuitive hypotheses


can be sharpened by a systematic comparison between pain/loss and conventional interest group behavior. For example, what is the relationship between group type and how the organization frames policy problems? How do strategies differ, for instance, regarding the deployment of expressive actions? In this study, I use national advocacy organizations for parents of children with disabilities and professional educator groups to make such comparisons. 3 Parent advocacy and professional educator groups provide an appropriate comparison for several reasons. First, although studies have not been concerned with organized interests as a unit of analysis, case studies of congressional reauthorization processes suggest that parent and professional organizations frame their policy interests differently in that parents often use a rights frame in presenting their issue positions (Egnor 2003; Melnick 1995; PriceEllingstad 2001; West 1988). These studies, anecdotal evidence such as the above New York Times article, and other news coverage (e.g., Katz 1996) further suggest that parent advocacy involves high stakes and the use of emotional symbols, common in pain/loss activism (Jennings 1999; Jennings and Andersen 1996). Building on the earlier case studies, the organizations representing these two constituencies revealed a suggestive pattern of differences (see the appendix for the development of the organizational universe). Professional education organizations were generally older and, thus, more established. The professional groups' founding year mean was 1919 in this sample (n = 72). Plotted on a time line, the founding years were skewed, clustering around 1850 and 1925. In contrast, of the 51 parent and disability organizations, the mean founding year was 1955. This group type's founding year was negatively skewed, clustering around 1975. Another organizational characteristic differentiating these group types was the larger sizes of professional groups' national staffs.4 For parent advocacy groups, the mean staff size was 21, with a range from zero to 120, whereas for professional organizations, it was 153, with a range from three to 600. A third difference involved the groups' political motivations. While some professional groups have local chapters (e.g., teacher unions), parent advocacy groups' grass roots are organized as support networks that hold regular meetings, including Internet support group sites and chat rooms. In sum, professional educator and parent disability advocacy organizations display differences in their organizational characteristics and, according to prior research, in their political behavior, which provide a sound foundation for comparison. In the next section, I present a theoretical framework for pain/loss-induced participation, discussing problem definition and strategies. The subsequent section briefly outlines the data and methods used in this research, followed by a presentation of the findings. I conclude with a policy implications discussion. 579

Framework Problem Definition At the core of any interest organization aiming to influence public policies is the group's ability to transform a private experience into a public issue (Stone 1997). Only when an issue becomes understood as a social problem as opposed to a private misfortune is government attention and intervention likely to increase. For example, in the case of Mothers against Drunk Driving, the loss of a child due to drunk driving was defined as a public social ill and reframed alcohol abuse from an individual problem to a societal concern (McCarthy 1994). Similarly, growing up with a disability was transformed from a private experience to one of public issue. As a result, national special education policy was enacted in 1975 and opened school doors for children, regardless of the type or degree of their disability. Education of children with disabilities—just like any children, including those from various ethnic and linguistic communities—was now the responsibility of society. The transformation from a private to a public matter involves framing— spelling out the essence of a problem and suggesting how it should be conceptualized (Nelson and Kinder 1996). Given the complexity of policy problems, simplified models—frames, images, and symbols—are required to represent them (Edelman 1988, 2001; Gusfield 1986). These frames shape thought and often carry diverse, conflicting meanings (Edelman 1988, 2001). For instance, welfare policy might be framed as a program to assist the less fortunate or as a "giveaway to undeserving slackers committed to living on the dole" (Edwards 2003, 159). Similarly, the employment of individuals with disabilities could be advocated on the basis of equal access (e.g., "individuals with disabilities should have the right to work and be included in society") or by appealing to values of efficiency (e.g., "productive, tax-paying citizens lessen society's welfare costs"). In the two main court cases preceding the enactment of the federal special education act, disability advocates framed special education as a civil right requiring federal intervention, whereas education professionals were concerned about fiscal burdens and sustaining local authority.5 Each of these frames defines the core issue and implies not only what the problem is about but what is at stake, who pays, and who benefits (Edelman 1988). Political discourse is about a competition of values; hence, frames are in essence expressions of some set of preferences. Apart from being anchored to a frame, policy problems often have a characteristic narrative structure, as stories are more readily recalled and believed (Hall Jamieson and Waldman 2003). Stone (1997) notes that problem definition relies heavily on symbolic devices she calls stories of decline and control. A decline story tells how conditions have gotten worse and tries


to persuade why a new or revised policy (or enforced regulation) is needed. Decline stories can be based on a time factor (e.g., "the cost of special education has dramatically increased in the past decades") or jurisdictions (e.g., "new regulations [regarding a particular provision in the act] are needed due to the unacceptable implementation variability across states"). In contrast, control stories are hopeful, implying that a policy change can move the situation from fate and destiny to discretion and autonomy, placing the control in the hands of those who suffered from the problem. Often, the two narratives can be woven together with a decline story serving as an impetus for the control story. In addition to framing and narrating policy problems, groups also strategically decide how to best portray those the policy affects. A social construction refers to the recognition of shared characteristics of a population and the attribution of values, symbols, and images to those characteristics. These constructions determine who has authority, who accepts it, and who is rewarded or penalized (Edelman 1988). Research on target populations shows that the public image of a group (Donovan 2001) and its social construction on the dimensions of image and power (Schneider and Ingram 1993) are critical variables in understanding how the policy problem is defined and how solutions are designed. The researchers argue that "all else being equal, target populations with a favorable public image are more likely to be the targets of policies with supportive or facilitative policy designs (benefits), whereas targets with unfavorable images are more likely to be the targets of policies with restrictive or punitive policy designs (burdens)" (Donovan 2001, 29). While policy problems are strategically defined (Edelman 2001; Nelson and Kinder 1996; Stone 1997), the political arena may also play a role in how they are defined. The legislature is forward looking in its search for sound public policy (Kelman 1987). This assumption is grounded in the notion that members of Congress are rational actors who are primarily motivated by a desire to be reelected or who wish to enact good public policy but need to be reelected in order to do so (Kelman 1987). Hence, hope stories have appeal in the legislature, as they move from fate to control and provide a positive view of future conditions (i.e., a promise of sound policy). Further, problems in the legislature would be anchored on a political frame because bargaining and compromise characterize lawmaking. In contrast, the role of the courts is to correct past grievances (Stone 1997). Problems, then, would be expected to focus on a decline narrative for those seeking relief, to justify the unjust conditions. However, the role of courts is also to establish an individual's right (Horowitz 1977; Youngblood and Folse 1981). This suggests that parents filing a lawsuit against a school district would use a civil rights frame and student construction to seek that 581

right. This study limits special education cases to those heard by the Supreme Court. Since the role of the high court is to affirm or overrule the circuit court's decision, the role of the parties would also be expected to influence problem definition. The petitioner would likely use a decline story to convince the court to overrule the previous decision. In contrast, the respondent would likely depict a hopeful view of the situation, to argue why the appellate court's decision should stand. Youngblood and Folse (1981) argue that courts produce social policy, although the institutional structure is such that decisions are not always "sound" public policy because attention is on individual matters rather than broader social conditions. This observation suggests that parent groups filing an amicus brief for the student in the case (i.e., an individual) would use a rights frame to seek a victory, whereas education professionals would consider broader systemic implications of the decision and therefore frame their argument politically. Finally, I assume that organizational characteristics influence problem definition. Larger and older groups would be expected to have more resources (staff and knowledge of the system) to adapt the way in which they communicate their interests to policy makers across issues and arenas. In summary, the hypotheses state the following: 1. a)

Problem definition is associated with Organizationtype:Parent groups use a hope story to gain discretion and autonomy in the school system, a civil rights issue frame, and student portrayal. Professional groups use a political or educational frame, educational student portrayal, and stories that focus on systemic policy impacts (Egnor 2003; Mills v. Board of Education; Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)

West 1988). b) Institutional arena: A legislative arena invites problem definitions that use a political frame, tell a hopeful story to convince policy makers that the interest would result in sound public policy, and portray students from an educational standpoint (since the act is an education law). The judiciary's role, in contrast, is to redress past grievances. Groups that seek to have the court overturn a previous decision use a decline story to urge the court to rule in their favor, whereas the respondents in the case use a hope story in an effort to convince the court to uphold the prior decision. Further, school groups would be expected to frame the problem from a perspective of the decision's impact on the school system (political frame), whereas parents focus on the child's rights. c)

Organizational characteristics (staff size and founding year): G r o u p s with large

staffs have more resources to adapt their frames across arenas to communicate their interests. 582

Strategies An interest group has many strategies from which to choose in pursuing its interests. Formal strategies include lobbying, participation in elections, litigation, fund raising, grassroots mobilization, coalescing, and conducting media campaigns (Petracca 1992). In the legislative arena, interest groups achieve influence through the acquisition and strategic transmission of information that legislators need to make public policy. Groups have multiple access points in the legislative process, from bill formulation, committee hearings, markup, and floor debate to the conference committee processes. Some scholars have suggested that the legislative process is not neatly linear but that interest groups factor in all the stages of the legislative process, using all available strategies, depending, for example, on the overall political climate and the group's resources (Martin 1994; Sinclair 1997). A second influence path runs to the executive branch, where the group might seek to place its interest on the presidential agenda or influence nominations. Third, the group can pursue its interest via the judiciary by initiating high-profile lawsuits or class action suits or by filing amicus curiae briefs. National-level organizations involved in special education use legislative, judicial, executive, and media tactics (Egnor 2003; Melnick 1995), as do nationally organized interest groups in other policy domains. However, special education parent groups also resemble expressive pain/ loss groups, as their strategies fall somewhere between social movement organizing and interest group activity (Itkonen 2004). These groups grew out of local networks of parents who sought emotional support for their families and who transformed grievances into demands by redefining the lack of services as unjust (Itkonen 2004). Solidary rewards continue to motivate parent groups' activism. Unlike interest groups that work within institutionally mandated structures and processes, social movement organizations also break the rules to achieve their end goals (Schwartz and Paul 1992). If the parent groups function on the social movement-interest group continuum, they would then be expected to revolt against institutional boundaries to further their interest (e.g., Gitlin 1993; Jennings and Andersen 1996; Jesper 1998; Schwartz and Paul 1992). Another distinguishing feature of pain/loss groups, apart from the employment of outside tactics, is their expressive tendencies. A group's political content can be depicted on a continuum ranging from instrumental to expressive. Instrumental political content seeks to bring about some concrete, material policy result such as passing an amendment onto a piece of legislation. As expected, such political content is characteristic of interest groups (Salisbury and Conklin 1998). Purely expressive political expression, however, gives the opportunity to inform the public about some value or point of view and is 583

often depicted with emotionally charged symbols (Brennan and Lomasky 1993; Edelman 1988; Jennings 1999; Salisbury and Gonklin 1998). At the core of expressive political action is the idea that political success is not a necessary outcome and that a moral duty and its declaration create their own reward (Gitlin 1993; Salisbury and Conklin 1998). These two types of political action reflect differences in the motives and values of participants and result in characteristic modes of action. Expressive groups, for instance, tend to use public forums and mobilize the grass roots (Libby 1998) and employ "outside" activities that challenge boundaries (Gitlin 1993; Tarrow 1994). In contrast, instrumental content leads to "inside" tactics (e.g., lobbying and campaign contributions). These types of organizations differ in the cross section, but the nature of the interest and its political manifestation can also change as a political issue evolves. For example, in the National Endowment for the Arts, interests shifted from the size and share of the fiscal pie divided among performing arts elites to a heated expressive political dispute framed around the question of artistic freedom versus morality (Salisbury and Gonklin 1998). The hypotheses I then consider are the following: 2. 3.

Parent organizations, as pain/loss groups, employ "outside" tactics to further their interests. The nature of political expression is associated with the organization type. Organization type determines the extent to which either instrumental or expressive political action dominates the group's approach. Professional organizations use instrumental political content, whereas parent advocates, as a pain/loss population, use expressive political delivery.

In summary, prior research on how groups communicate their interests to policy makers and the public has conceptualized the act as one of symbolic framing (e.g., Edelman 2001; Edwards 2003; Nelson and Kinder 1996), social construction (e.g., Donovan 2001; Schneider and Ingram 1993), or policy narratives (Hall Jamieson and Waldman 2003; Stone 1997). But an initial review of my data suggested that all of these elements were included in congressional testimony and amicus briefs. For example, in arguing for equal access to free appropriate public education for children with disabilities (civil rights issue frame), students with disabilities were talked about in a variety of ways, such as having the right to education (civil rights disability construction), needing to learn various skills (educational construction), becoming contributing members in society (social construction), or being able to obtain a diagnosis and appropriate interventions to ameliorate the disability (psychological construction). Each particular nuance of disability portrayal appeals to different values and thus gives the issue of "right to education" a slightly different twist and appeal. When a group decides to communicate its interests




Problem definition




Policy Outcomes

- Issue frame

-Nature of

- Target portrayal


- Policy story


FlG. 1.—Problem definition model

to policy makers, it must decide how to present the issue within the strategic context, portray those whom the policy affects, and narrate the problem. I separate the nature of political expression from problem definition and conceptualize it as the act of delivering the problem to policy makers or the public. For example, while the problem might state, "Too many students with disabilities do not have access to core curriculum taught by qualified teachers, due to lack of credentialed special educators," the delivery would vary depending on who is invited to testify at a congressional hearing. A personal story by a parent about his or her child who did not receive a high school diploma would be qualitatively different from a presentation by an organizational leader, who would report nationwide statistics on graduation rates. The former would more likely use expressive discourse, whereas the latter would more likely have an instrumental content. This explanatory model of problem definition is an extension of previous conceptualizations and is depicted in figure 1.

D a t a and M e t h o d Congressional Testimony and Amicus Briefs Given that much of politics occurs within informal processes that define political relations between interest groups and policy makers, it is essential to study organizations' political behavior from multiple perspectives. This study used a mixed-methods approach in which data from document sources were collected through systematic coding and analyzed quantitatively, while elite interviews and organizational archive information were analyzed qualitatively. The elite interviews examined the informal interactions between groups and policy makers and triangulated data from document sources. 585

The first data set consisted of national professional and advocacy groups' congressional testimonies in special education hearings leading to the initial passage and subsequent reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; n = 139; see appendix). The second compiled national organizations' amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in nine cases adjudicated under the special education act (n = 108).6 National organizations included those that represented only national interests and were not affiliated with government branches and government-funded initiatives. Each testimony and brief was coded on the following dimensions: (a) political expression, (b) policy story, (c) issue frame, and (d) disability construction. The following section describes the coding scheme. It is fair to assume that most testimonies and briefs in this study used instrumental political expression since the testifying organization aimed at gaining specific legislative language in a bill or achieving a judicial outcome. Within the broadly instrumental context, however, it is readily possible to distinguish between instrumental versus expressive discourse. An instrumental expression was coded when the main argument was grounded on a concrete outcome, such as funding or a specific legislative provision. Although the testimony may have stated a clear instrumental goal, I coded an expressive political expression when a large proportion of the testimony was devoted to personal stories (e.g., about one's child or about one's own experiences as a person with disabilities) or if it used emotional appeals (e.g., a slide show of battered children in a 1997 testimony that argued for abolishing corporal punishment of students with disabilities). To examine policy stories, I used Stone's (1997) conceptualization of the narrative of problem definition. An argument that was built around conditions becoming worse (e.g., lack of federal funding and limited service delivery) or nonuniform implementation across states was coded as a decline story. A story of hope and control focused on either empowering parents, children with disabilities, or teachers or talked about how matters can be better if certain changes are made to the law. If a testimony or brief started with a decline story but changed to a hope story, I coded it as a story of hope. A preliminary review of all testimonies and briefs was necessary to determine how issues were presented across the reauthorizations and cases. Based on this review, the following frame categories emerged: political, civil rights, constitutional, and educational. A longer testimony or brief may have contained several frames; however, I coded only the predominant frame that was used for the majority of the testimony. Table 1 summarizes the issue frame coding scheme. I coded the last dimension of problem definition, disability construction, separately from the general issue frame, using sections of the testimony or brief that talked about students with disabilities. Disability construction referred to the way in which students with disabilities were portrayed and how the disability 586

TABLE 1 Issue Frame Coding Scheme Category



Arguments are based on locus of decision-making control (federal state and state local), funding and distribution of funds (state vs. local district), and expansion of eligibility or services Arguments are based on rights of students with disabilities and their families, equal access, and discrimination Arguments are based on separation of powers and state sovereign immunity against damage suits Arguments are based on educational benefits of proposed legislative items/court decisions, educational outcomes, specific pedagogy recommended, and no civil rights or political frames

Civil rights Constitutional Educational

was understood vis-a-vis the policy issue. Building again on Stone's work (1984), I included an educational, a civil rights, a social, and a psychological construction. Table 2 summarizes the disability construction coding scheme. An independent person coded 8 percent of randomly selected testimonies. The intercoder reliability was calculated by dividing agreements by the sum of agreements and disagreements and yielded an agreement rate of 81.5 percent. I had hypothesized that problem definition was an overarching concept that consisted of issue frames, student portrayals, and policy stories (see fig. 1). Since empirical and theoretical literature has examined it by focusing on one of its components (e.g., Donovan 2001; Schneider and Ingram 1993; Stone 1997), I analyzed the associations among issue frames, disability construction, and policy stories first, to estimate relationships among the components. Chi-square tests on the characteristics of congressional testimonies and amicus briefs showed that issue frames, disability constructions, and policy narratives do occur together (see table 3). These relationships pointed to a general construct, which I labeled "problem definition." I used a factor analysis to parse the components of this global construct.

Elite Interviews and Organization Sample I conducted elite interviews with national parent advocacy groups' and education professional organizations' leaders, members of Congress and their staffs, and staff at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (n = 25). The interviewees were selected using stratified and snowball sampling 587


Disability Construction Coding Scheme Category Educational

Civil rights Social


Definition Students are talked about in the context of educational interventions; specific methods or learning outcomes are outlined Students are talked about in the context of rights, access, or discrimination Students are talked about as members of the school community and society; their contributions to friends, family, and the workforce or the stigma of a disability are emphasized Specific traits of a disability are emphasized; therefore, the students need specific diagnoses, treatments, and interventions

to capture major variations within each subgroup. The strata consisted of interest groups (n = 14), policy makers, and general information respondents. The interviewees' experience covered the life span of national special education policy. Three interviewees had been in their positions during the initial passage of the law, and three others had been in their positions since the mid-1980s. The remaining group leaders and policy makers had been involved in special education policy since the 1997 reauthorization and were involved in the reauthorization that was under way when the interviews took place.7 Finally, I selected 14 organizations from the universe for a more in-depth study. The sample was selected to maximize variation across the organizations' type, age, size, and, in the case of special education advocacy groups, scope of disability representation. Table 4 summarizes the organizations selected. I analyzed a variety of organizational documents, including mission statements, published histories, and newsletters to examine groups' origins, predominant frames, strategies, and the nature of their political expression. Findings Competing Problem Definitions I hypothesized that problem definition was associated with organization type, institutional arena, and organizational characteristics (staff size and founding year). To discern the effect of organizational characteristics and arenas on problem definition, I brought together the substantive components of problem 588



Test of Statistical Independence of Problem Definition Components in the Congressional and Supreme Court Distributions Association Issue frame construction Issue frame policy story Construction policy story

X2 Value


292.53 258.53 315.24

.000 .000 .000

NOTE.—To combine the data sets, I matched n for briefs and testimonies by having SPSS randomly select 108 testimonies from the original 139 (n = 216). I also added a dichotomous arena variable to the combined data set in which the value zero was assigned to the court, and the value one, to Congress.

definition with the characteristics of groups, examining patterns of statistical covariation by way of factor analysis. The factor analysis included 15 variables, including the components of problem definition and organizational properties of groups. 8 The factor analysis allowed a reduction in the data and a quantitatively precise means of summarizing patterns of shared variation among the items. The rotated component matrix yielded four dimensions, depicted in table 5. The first components clustered older organizations with large staffs with a political decline narrative. The second component mapped a dimension with two distinct organizational patterns. Running from instrumental framing at one pole to expressive stories at the other, the factor was anchored by high scores for civil rights organizations and low scores for family advocacy groups. The third component clustered together courts, coalitions, and a problem definition employing a civil rights frame and a hope narrative. Finally, the fourth component was dominated by professional educator organizations that were typified by their use of a politically framed issue, a decline story, and a psychological student portrayal (which emphasized the differences between these students and their nondisabled peers). Table 6 attaches names to each of the statistically validated clusters. In the paragraphs below, I draw on the findings of my qualitative research to flesh out the patterns of problem definition and political strategy.

Established Groups and Politicized Stories of Decline Established groups (older organizations with large staffs) were clustered with a decline narrative that was political in nature. In the study sample, established groups included professional educator and government organizations such as 589


Sample of Organizations Organization American Council of the Blind The Arc Bazelon Mental Health Law Center Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf Council of Exceptional Children Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund Learning Disabilities Association of America National Association of the Deaf National Association of State Directors of Special Education National Education Association National School Boards Association* TASH United Cerebral Palsy



Parent/disability advocacy Parent/disability advocacy Civil rights

1961 1950 1972

Parent/disability advocacy


Professional special education Professional special education

1850 1922

Civil rights


Parent/disability advocacy Parent/disability advocacy

1963 1880

Professional special education Professional education Professional education Parent/disability advocacy Parent/disability advocacy

1938 1857 1940 1973 1948

* Although the members of this group are publicly elected, I coded them as a professional education group in this study because they focus on public education.

the American Federation of Teachers, National Association for Secondary School Principals, National Governors Association, National Education Association, and National School Boards Association. Such organizations are involved in a myriad of policy issues (e.g., other education initiatives, labor laws, and taxation), and some are only tangentially interested in special education. Thus, they would be expected to consider special education from a political lens, as it fits into other policy areas of concern. A qualitative analysis of testimony and briefs further illustrate that for the established groups, special education is about politics, and groups consistently tell a decline story using a political frame, as I hypothesized (hypotheses \a and lb). For example, August Steinhilber, testifying for the National School Boards Association in 1975, vehemently opposed the contractual nature of the individualized education program, designed for each eligible student by the parents and school personnel. He argued for flexibility for local officials'. "State and local units should not be forced into a two party agreement, because, in addition to serving the parents involved, school officials also have a separate legal obligation to make decisions about children and the overall management of the school systems. Furthermore, to the extent that plans must be mutually 590


Rotated Component Matrix: Principal Components Analysis, Varimax Rotation Component

Staff size Political-educational decline Founding year Civil rights group Issue nature Family group Arena Coalition Civil rights-civil rights hope Political-psychological decline Professional educator group Civil rights-social hope Political-social hope Educational-political decline Civil rights-civil rights decline








.740 .702 -.659 -.350 .229 -.286 3.E-02 -9.E-02 5.E-02 -.113 .469 -.187 -.236 l.E-02 -.135

.109 5.E-02 l.E-02 .683 .679 -.675 -.190 -.229 8.E-02 6.E-02 .112 -.199 -.368 -3.E-02 -2.E-03

-4.E-02 -.103 -.118 .143 -5.E-02 6.E-02 -.781 .721 .602 5.E-02 -.207 l.E-02 -.241 -8.E-02 8.E-02

4.E-02 -.245 -.187 -.242 .185 -.250 -.109 -9.E-02 -9.E-02 .882 .626 -.119 -.158 -7.E-02 -4.E-02

-4.E-02 9.E-02 .131 -2.E-02 8.E-02 .229 -.255 5.E-02 -.259 -2.E-03 -5.E-02 .799 -.588 l.E-02 -.108

4.E-02 -.269 -.238 -.142 .230 .259 .106 -.121 .196 -2.E-02 -.121 -4.E-02 -.162 .872 4.E-02

-.121 .136 .198 -6.E-02 7.E-02 5.E-02 -9.E-02 .181 -.323 -6.E-02 7.E-02 -.255 -.273 3.E-02 .859

NOTE.—Rotation converged in 13 iterations. Bold values indicate components clustered on each factor.


Factor Analysis Dimension Variables' Effect on Problem Definition Component Established groups and politicized stories of decline Instrumental civil rights groups and expressive family disability groups Courts, civil rights, and stories of hope

Professional educator groups and diversity-based stories of decline

Description Large staffs, older groups, and political frame-educational construction decline story Civil right groups, instrumental expression, and not family-disability groups Courts, coalitions, and civil rights frame-civil rights construction hope story Professional educator groups and political frame-psychological construction decline story

agreed upon, both the planning process and the flexibility in its aftermath will be unnecessarily constrained" (Extension of Education of the Handicapped Act 1975, 71). These groups argued for local control over federal or judicial interventions in other policy items as well, most notably in school discipline matters. In Honig v. John Doe and Jack Smith, the National School Boards Association stated in its brief: "The need for [schools'] flexibility in imposing discipline is even more crucial now than at the time of the passage of the Act. . . . It is inconceivable that Congress intended to tie the hands of school officials in their attempt to protect the children under their care" (U.S. Briefs 86-728). The dispute involved whether expulsion of students with disabilities was a violation of free appropriate public education and to what extent a problem behavior was a manifestation of the disability. The issue of special education finance repeated itself across testimony as another consistent decline story. The National School Boards Association, which testified on finance and cost issues in each of its testimonies over the years, stated in 1997: "Cost increases in special education are placing a tremendous strain on local school districts at a time when offsetting local property tax increases are difficult to achieve, and the public demand to upgrade general education programming continues. The result is that school districts are being squeezed to make difficult tradeoffs" (Reauthorization of IDEA 1997, 86). The National Governors Association filed a brief in Florence County School District v. Carter, in coalition with six state, county, and municipal government organizations. The dispute was over a private school placement and whether the school district had to reimburse the parents, even though the school was not on the state's approved list of private schools. The brief urged the high 592

court to overturn the circuit court's decision on the basis of the financial impact of the decision: "Unless corrected, the court of appeals' holding will undermine [state educational] standards and seriously impair the ability of state and local governments to make effective use of their finite resources available for education" (U.S. Briefs 91-1523). Similarly, the National School Boards Association's brief in Rapids Community School District v. Garret F. defined the problem fiscally with a political frame and a decline story. The case involved a student who, due to an accident early in life, required someone at his side to attend to his physical needs. The dispute was over whether these services were medical in nature (and thus to be provided by a nonschool employee) or whether they fell under "related services" under the act, to be provided by the school. The brief argued that "if this ruling is allowed to stand, it will impose on school districts who have met their obligations under [the Act] a substantial financial burden not contemplated by Congress and one that they can ill afford given the already tremendous costs of special education" (U.S. Briefs 96-1793). These results indicate that the problem definition used by established groups was fairly consistent across arenas. This finding is perhaps a bit surprising and contrary to hypothesis \c. One would assume that established groups would use their resources and political experience to adapt the way in which they communicate interests to policy makers. However, elite interviewees explained that these groups are concerned about funding, maintaining and protecting authority over federal mandates, and operating the system efficiently: "[Professional groups] are set up to defend and protect the system. Children in special education can challenge that. These students cost a lot of time, staff, money . . . and they can be disruptive to the system. Not just in discipline, but in accommodations and costs. This is why [officials] get to the push and pull of 'we have 90 percent of kids here who need this and that, and we've got 10 percent here who are costing us. We do not want to throw them out but if we could just minimize cost'" (Itkonen 2004, 155).

Instrumental Civil Rights Groups, Expressive Family Disability Groups The second component mapped a dimension with two distinct organizational patterns, running from instrumental framing, at one pole, to expressive stories, at the other. The factor was anchored by high scores for civil rights organizations and low scores for family advocacy groups. In their testimony before Congress, civil rights groups consistently advocated for specific, concrete policy outcomes, centering on the preservation or expansion of due process protections. This dimension was also defined, however, by the negative loadings of 593

family disability groups, suggesting a "mirror image" relation between the strategies and issue presentations of the two group types. In contrast to civil rights groups' instrumental orientation, a careful reading of congressional testimony showed that family disability groups used testimony as a forum for expressive political assertion, as hypothesized (hypothesis 3). The majority of congressional testimonies coded with an expressive content (81 percent) were delivered by disability advocacy groups, parents of children with disabilities, or people with disabilities themselves, representing those organizations. Personal hardships and successes were elaborated in detail through an intricate narration, which was often depicted with emotion. Bonnie Fell, a parent and a past president of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, testified in 1995: Until recently, my three sons were failing in school. In those early years, they were unable to go out to recess or even sit in a classroom without getting into trouble. They were involved in numerous incidents that included name-calling and fighting. . . . I still recall sitting in my living room waiting for the phone to ring yet another time with another school problem. Due to their disabilities, communication is very difficult for them. They often choose a more physical and behavioral method of communicating their frustration and anger. . . . When Dan was going into 4th grade, we enrolled him in summer school. When I thought he was in summer school, he was really out in the neighborhood, vandalizing property. The school had never notified me of his absences. My husband and I were mortified that we would have a 9-year-old juvenile delinquent as a son. (Reauthorization of IDEA, Discipline 1995, 20-21) The testimony ended with a depiction of the children's successes in school and in extracurricular activities, achieved through individualized behavioral plans and accommodations at a new school. Similar personal, expressive testimonies were given in other hearings. The following testimony was given by the Arc, TASH, and United Cerebral Palsy organizations and advocated regular class placements for students with severe disabilities: Rafael [the son of the person testifying] is making great scholastic progress in this school where he has been included for two years, 100 [percent] included. Time and time again we observe [in] how many ways inclusion works. His reading and math continue to improve, we are impressed by what he picks up from science and social studies lessons presented to the class. He has been fully accepted as another student not only in his class but in the school as a whole. He is emotionally well balanced, sure of himself. He knows how to act in social situations, as you can see today; he has many friends who respect him—he has a best friend. (Hearing on the Reauthorization of IDEA 1994, 111) 594

This dimension of the factor analysis and the qualitative evidence from congressional testimonies are consistent with the hypothesis and indicate that parent advocacy groups use congressional hearings as an opportunity to express personal stories and values. This suggests that expressing a value in the public domain, in part, motivates their political participation. Courts, Civil Rights, and Stories of Hope The third component clustered together courts, coalitions, and a problem definition employing a civil rights frame and a hope narrative. I had hypothesized that parent groups would use a civil rights frame and anchor their narrative to a hope story (hypotheses \a and lb). The position of the parties in the lawsuits explains the emphasis on civil rights and stories of hope (hypothesis 1 b). In seven out of the eight cases where briefs were filed, the respondents were the parents of a child with disabilities. That is, the appeals court had ruled in favor of the parents, and the school district was petitioning for the ruling to be overturned. The parent advocacy groups' briefs told a story of hope to illustrate why the previous ruling was in the family's and the student's best interest. A brief filed in Garret by Family Voices illustrates such a story of hope: "Garret's presence in the classroom enables his classmates and teachers to learn of the needs of all children and to observe directly the equitable treatment of those with special needs. . . . Providing every child with special health needs the opportunity to interact and participate in school activities with peers is an important part of an appropriate education for all children" (U.S. briefs 96-1793). Similarly, a brief filed in Rowley by nine parent and disability advocacy groups framed the issue around civil rights (equal opportunity) and told a hope story by focusing on the student's potential: Contrary to the assertions of the Petitioners, defining appropriate education in part in relation to equal educational opportunity does not result in extraordinary or optimal programming for [students with disabilities]. Equal educational opportunity does not require the provision of all programs and services, which might prove beneficial. Instead, it limits the mandate only to those items, which are necessary to provide [a student with disabilities] with an educational opportunity commensurate with that available to the [nondisabled] peers. Total communication will give Amy an equal opportunity to have exposure to the same material, and to learn the same things, as children of comparable intelligence and initiative. (U.S. Briefs 80-1002) Although professional or established groups were not statistically clustered 595

in this factor, qualitative data from the briefs indicated that these organizations used a political frame and a decline narrative in courts, as evidenced in the Garret, Florence, and Honig briefs quoted earlier under the findings on the first component. Their position as petitioners in the majority of cases explains this problem definition, as their role was to convince the court to overrule the previous decision (hypothesis lb). Coalition formation among groups also contributed to the relative uniformity of judicial strategies. Eighty-three percent of all briefs were submitted by coalitions. Civil rights groups coalesced on 79 percent, and parent groups, on 87 percent, of the briefs, while all the briefs submitted by government and medical groups were in coalition. Resource constraints might explain why coalescing is a strategy used by all group types in the judiciary: litigation is lengthy, expensive, and requires resources such as staff and time.

Professional Educator Groups and Decline Stories of Differences Like the first dimension, this component was dominated by large, older groups; here, professional educator organizations were typified by their use of a politically framed issue, a decline story, and a psychological student portrayal. While the strategies clustered along the first dimension focused the established groups' political claims on the maintenance of institutional boundaries within the federal system, the group strategies loading highly on this fourth factor centered on recognizing student diversity. The focus on the students' unique traits and needs gave a slightly different twist to problem definition. Testimonies advocating adequate federal funding emphasized the unique challenges of students with disabilities and the multitude of services they required, arguing that schools could not serve those children without additional funding. The National Education Association, for example, argued in 1994 that the student clientele had changed and now included children who required health care and medical services at schools. The psychological construction was particularly evident in testimonies and briefs, which addressed certain related services and school discipline matters. Professional educator groups argued that someone other than a public school employee needed to provide the service (e.g., catheterization or counseling) or that the students' needs were such that they were best educated in places other than the public school (e.g., residential schools for students with behavioral challenges). In the discipline hearing, school officials and the American Federation of Teachers emphasized the students' problem behaviors and the subsequent need for specific treatments elsewhere. Public schools, according to them, could not deal with these challenging students and should have the authority to remove them. This view of the students led the school groups to ask for authority to impose sanctions 596

such as suspension and cessation of educational services. In summary, education professional groups defined special education policy items politically with a decline narrative, as hypothesized (hypotheses la and lb). However, a marked difference between education professionals and established groups was their portrayal of students with disabilities. Education professionals portrayed students by emphasizing their unique traits, to advocate for more resources and local decision-making authority.

Strategic Differences Parent and professional organizations employ different strategies, as evidenced by organizational documents and interviews. The first such difference lies in the predominance of research. I did not hypothesize about research as a strategy but presented the results because they provide a rich illustration of the nature of parent activism. For parent advocates, research is a core organizational strategy and function (e.g., the Learning Disabilities Association, United Cerebral Palsy, Arc, and TASH). Although groups representing various education professions conduct research (e.g., cost analyses and surveys of their constituents) and their members are in academia, research has a deeply personal importance to the parent advocacy groups. Many such groups' explicit mission is to find a cause and a cure for a particular medical condition or to further educational interventions and psychological treatment methods for that condition. For example, the Arc launched a measles campaign in 1966 and a hepatitis B prevention campaign in 1971 in an effort to prevent children from being born with mental retardation. Similarly, in the early 1970s, the United Cerebral Palsy organization was involved in developing a vaccine for the rubella virus, which had caused more than 20,000 births of children with cerebral palsy during its initial outbreak. More recently, groups representing parents of children with autism have successfully advocated for research centers to study the causes and cure for autism. The central role of research illustrates the high stakes involved in parent activism—scholarly findings may have a direct impact on the child or family's life. A second difference between group types' strategies is the parent groups' use of "outside" tactics (hypothesis 2). Earlier, I discussed the expressive congressional testimony of parent advocates as one indicator of strategic differences from professionals (hypothesis 3). But parent advocates provide other vivid representations of their cause using emotional symbols. Parent lobbyists sometimes bring their children with disabilities to Capitol Hill or share photo essays of their children with members of Congress to appeal to values of compassion. One former Republican policy maker recalled his reactions to seeing children with disabilities in a congressional hearing: "I remember in


some cases parents brought in special education children to the Hill—your heart bleeds for these folks and you just so want to do the right thing!" (Itkonen 2004, 222). Although many parent groups work within the institutional procedures (e.g., national parent organizations are registered as lobbyists), they also break away from those structures to achieve their end goal. Demonstrations by definition involve the use of emotional representations of the group's issue position (Johnson 1999; Tarrow 1994). At a public hearing held on the draft regulations of 1982, which would have deregulated special education, a group of disability advocates set fire to a wheelbarrow filled with copies of the regulations and dumped the ashes at the feet of the department's representatives (Weiner and Hume 1987). In the 1990s, the American Council of the Blind launched a campaign to get detectable warning strips on metro platforms. Although its main strategy was through litigation, demonstrations were organized in San Francisco and in Washington, DC, in 1993 to increase the issue visibility and to protest that blind individuals were literally dying at metro stations, falling off the platforms (Wheeler 1993). Demonstrations can occur from the convenience of one's home as well. Several interviewees reported that at one point during the 1997 reauthorization, which extended due to a bitter fight between parent and school administrator groups over who had authority in discipline matters, parent groups organized a massive call-in to Capitol Hill. The phone and fax lines were overwhelmed to the extent that they had to be shut down. A parent group leader further explained about their tactics: "You have to ask whether you are willing to negotiate. In discipline [in the 1997 reauthorization negotiations], we said bullshit, we cannot compromise, we cannot go against our values and our core. We are about civil rights, we believe in inclusion and full participation. So we walked out [of negotiations]" (Itkonen 2004, 242). When confronted with situations that would require compromising their values, parents can engage in protest behavior, as described above. Thus, parent groups behave as other pain/loss and expressive groups by engaging in demonstrations when their interest is at stake, conventional strategies have failed or are assumed ineffective, or the cause is perceived to warrant public expression as a value itself.

Discussion I set out to examine the problem definitions and strategies of interest and parent organizations, using groups as a unit of analysis. The findings indicated that these groups defined special education policy problems differently: parent 598

groups tended to use a civil rights frame and a hope story, whereas professional groups resorted to political frames with a decline narrative. These problem definitions are fundamentally different. For disability advocates, special education is a civil rights entitlement, protected by the federal government. School professionals, in contrast, view it as a set of procedural rules. The implications of the two competing conceptualizations—civil rights versus a grant-in-aid program—deeply influence how these actors approach the policy-making process, how policy problems are defined, and what solutions are generated. The professionals are concerned with the distribution of authority and benefits since, for them, special education is just one subsystem embedded in the larger context of education. This concern manifests itself with a consistent use of a political frame and a decline narrative, as evidenced in this study. Parents of children with disabilities, however, weigh items on the policy agenda based on how they may affect their own child, if enacted. Special education is a fundamental entitlement for them, not simply an educational rule or a political matter of distribution. Their deep personal commitment to the cause manifests itself in expressive politics, often depicted with emotional symbols. The data also indicated that parent groups resemble other pain/loss groups in that they use outside tactics to further their interests, including expressive politics. These findings suggest that the mobilization path of parent groups has policy implications. Their demands are anchored on students' individual rights versus the educational system as a whole. Because of the high stakes involved and the deeply personal nature of their activism, parent groups are not likely to bargain and compromise. This can cause competing policy solutions and result in lengthy, adversarial legislative processes. Examples can be found throughout the law's history. The 1986 Handicapped Children's Protection Act stretched over two congresses, as parent advocates and school groups vehemently disagreed on the circumstances under which attorneys' fees could be awarded. Similarly, the 1997 reauthorization extended over three congresses because of the discipline controversy that stalled the early efforts to reauthorize the act. School professionals, with the exception of the National Education Association, supported cessation of services for disruptive students when the behavior was not a manifestation of the disability. Their argument was constructed around rules (local school control on education and discipline matters). In contrast, disability advocacy groups portrayed cessation of services as a violation of the right to free appropriate public education. At the height of the disagreements, parent groups engaged in demonstrations and walkouts. There are many examples of how these two different assumptions—rules versus rights—play out in implementation. For instance, school officials perceive IDEA's many requirements (e.g., an annual individualized education program) as burdensome, excessive paperwork, whereas parents view such 599

documents as their ability to monitor the schools' compliance under the act. Unlike rules, which are monitored by the government, the enforcement of entitlements tends to fall into the hands of the rights holder (Stone 1997). Hence, parents are not willing to let go of the procedural steps and processes, as they claim that it is their only way to hold schools accountable for their child's special education. With special education moving under the umbrella of general education with IDEA 2004 and the No Child Left Behind Act, the pressure is certainly on to reconstruct special education as an education law. Items in IDEA such as the reduced paperwork requirements and more flexibility for school officials in discipline matters—previous sources of friction between parent and school groups—are likely to push conflict from national policy-making processes down to the implementation level between parents and schools. Finally, there are some limitations in this study. First, only limited generalizations about how groups define problems in courts can be made from these data because the position of the party influences problem definition. Research on groups' problem definition at the district court and appellate court levels would provide further insights into problem definition in the judiciary. Another limitation of this study rests with its focus on special education groups. The study provided systematic comparisons of problem definitions and strategies between pain/loss and interest groups in special education. But further research is needed on these group types in other policy domains to fully understand how pain/loss activism operates within the political structures and how interactions among group types affect policy formulation and outcomes. As for the literature on problem definition, the implication of these findings points toward a more complex and nuanced picture of group strategies regarding problem definition. This research contributes to the conceptualization of problem definition by providing an empirical test of one aspect of the critique of traditional policy analysis. Stone (1997) argues that traditional policy analysis neglects the strategic aspects of policy processes and factors that cannot be quantified. By operationalizing stories of hope and decline, issue frames, and social constructions of targets, this research illustrates one way to systematically analyze problem definition as a political strategy. In summary, rather than showing that issue frames and constructions of targets provide an adequate understanding of problem definition, this study suggests that the components of problem definition are more strategically malleable. When communicating their interests to policy makers, organizations have a variety of ways to anchor their claim. Problem definition, in short, is a strategic activity that allows organizations to engage in sophisticated political


Appendix Organizational Universe To create the universe of national-level organizations, which had testified before Congress, I used the Congressional Universe on LexisNexis and the Congressional Index to determine the legislative histories and hearings leading to Public Laws 94-142 (1975), 98-199 (1983), 191-476 (1990), and 105-17 (1997). Each hearing's witness list in the Congressional Index and in the Congressional Universe was coded to determine whether national organizations had testified in those hearings. The unit of analysis was a testimony. Hence, prepared statements provided for the record without a witness delivering them and supplementary articles and materials were not included in the universe, even if filed by a national organization. The accuracy of this selection was confirmed using the index page in the published hearings. I excluded testimonies given by individuals (e.g., parents and teachers), unless it was stated that they represented a national group. I further excluded testimonies by state departments of education, state chapters of national organizations, local organizations (e.g., persons representing school districts), universities, federally funded projects, government representatives, and government organizations, unless it was stated that a national organization was represented in the testimony. Once I had a list of organizations, I used the Encyclopedia of Associations and Associations Unlimited on the Web to check the accuracy of my organizational universe. LexisNexis Academic was used to locate Supreme Court briefs. T h e case history was read to determine the submitting party of each brief. And as with the congressional testimonies, briefs that were submitted by states, local school districts, or state chapters of national organizations were also excluded from the organizational universe, as well as briefs by the parties' counsels. The accuracy of the list of amicus curiae briefs in Academic Universe was confirmed with the published decisions.

Notes This research was partially funded by the Gevirzt Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. I thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful advice, Scott Frisch and Kent Jennings for their comments on earlier versions of this article, and Lorraine McDonnell and Stephen Weatherford for their insightful feedback. 1. I use the term pain and loss motivated activism for conceptual consistency and clarity and by no means imply that raising a child with disabilities is characterized by actual pain or loss. 2. Previous studies emphasize how commitments in pain and loss activism differ from conventional political participation, including collective action motivated by an accident (McCarthy 1994; McCarthy and Wolfson 1996), AIDS (Donovan 2001; Epstein 1996; Jennings and Andersen 1996), breast cancer (Airman 1996), child abuse (Nelson 1984), disability (Berkowitz 1987; Burke 1997;Johnson 1999; Stone 1984), or bodily harm due to intentional human action or a natural disaster (Sprungen 1998). 3. Students with disabilities constitute a relatively small percentage of all schoolaged children (approximately 12 percent nationally), but advocacy by special education


parents has had a larger impact on policy outcomes than numbers would indicate (e.g., Itkonen 2005; Melnick 1994, 1995). 4. Encyclopedia of Associations (9th, 17th, 24th, and 33rd eds.). 5. Mills v. Board of Education, 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972); Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 343 F. Supp. 279 (E.D. Pa. 1972). 6. Dellmuth v. Muth, 491 U.S. 223, 109 S. Ct. 2397 (1989); Florence County School District v. Carter, 510 U.S. 7, 114 S. Ct. 361 (1993); Hendrick Hudson Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 102 S. Ct. 3034 (1982); Honig v. John Doe and Jack Smith, 484 U.S. 305, 108 S. Ct. 592 (1988); Irving Independent School District v. Tatro, 468 U.S. 883, 104 S. Ct. 3371 (1984); Rapids Community School District v. GarretF.,526 U.S. 66, 199 S. Ct. 992 (1999); School Committee of the Town ofBurlington v. Department ofEducation of the Commonw of Massachusetts, John Doe, 471 U.S. 359, 105 S. Ct. 1996 (1985); Smith v. Robinson, 468 U.S. 992, 104 S. Ct. 3457 (1984); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School, 509 U.S. 1, 113 S. Ct. 2462 (1993). 7. Separate interview protocols were developed for interviewing individuals in the different strata. The protocols followed an elite interview guide approach (Patton 1990; Richards 1996). Interviews ranged from 45 minutes to two hours and were taperecorded. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative methods (Coffey and Atkinson 1996; Kvale 1996; Miles and Huberman 1994). 8. Variables were staff size, founding year, issue nature (expressive or instrumental), group type (family, professional educator, or civil rights), arena (Congress or court), coalition, and seven dummy coded problem-definition or frame-construction-story combinations (political-educational decline, political-psychological decline, political-social hope, civil rights-civil rights hope, civil rights-social hope, civil rights-civil rights decline, and educational-political decline).


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