Panel Paper: Secondary Education Policy in Germany - Parents' Attempts to Influence Local Policy Processes

Friday, July 14, 2017 : 11:50 AM
Evasion (Crowne Plaza Brussels - Le Palace)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Meike Zimmermann, Maastricht University
Even though there is no common definition of public policy in existing literature, there are a few characteristics: firstly, it is a process. Within this process, proposals and intentions are formulated resulting in decisions made by the government and finally in policy outputs. Multiple actors are involved in the process and their degree of influence differs. To shed more light on the complex process of the policy cycle, this research conducts an in-depth analysis of the agenda setting stage. This stage is evaluated along the lines of a particular problem in education policy.

The paper critically problematizes and unpacks secondary education policy in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany. Special focus is drawn to the policy changes made in 2004 that have had an impact on how long a student has to attend a high school in order to receive a diploma. The case is of particular interest because this policy area has been subject to change for many decades. Therefore, there is a need for constant evaluation and observation. The public is rather active in criticizing the last changes that have been undertaken by the Ministry of Education (MoE) of NRW. Nevertheless, the research shows that the impact of especially the parents is only limited. An assessment about (un-)successfully influencing the policy process is made along the lines of whether the parents’ intentions have actually been fulfilled or satisfied (following for example Hill, 2013, on Lindbloom). In contrast, the so-called political actors are the more so powerful in suggesting and implementing their own ideas. This leads to questioning whether a bottom-up approach in influencing even early stage policy changes and the policy process in more general terms is possible.

Full Paper: