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From Policy Networks to Policy Preferences: Organizational Networks in the Opt-Out Movement

Pizmony-Levy, Oren; Green Saraisky, Nancy

Organizational networks shape education policy by influencing power holders and elites, but do they have similar effects on grassroots activists? We use data from the National Survey on Opting Out (2016 and 2018; n = 2,909) to examine the role of organizational networks in mobilizing activists in the opt-out movement (a movement in which parents and caregivers refuse to have their children sit for standardized tests). Despite characterizations of the opt-out movement as a bunch of “soccer moms” disappointed with their children’s tests scores, our findings show that opt-out is in fact a structured movement reliant on social movement organizations (SMOs) with agendas that go beyond standardized tests. Further, we demonstrate a small but significant correlation between contact with SMOs and individual policy preferences. These patterns suggest that organizational networks may inform education policy by creating a social space for activists to learn about different policy ideas in education. We discuss implications for research and practice.

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