The case of the failed diversity rule: A multiple streams analysis

Karen Evans Stout, Byron Stevens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Scopus citations


    In 1988 Minnesota passed a Multicultural and Gender Fair Curriculum Rule ("diversity" rule) that held districts accountable through submitting a local inclusive education plan to the state department of education. Compliance was slow; thus, between 1991-1997 the State Board of Education added more "teeth" to the rule. When the revised diversity rule entered the policy arena, it precipitated a contentious battle about multicultural curriculum. Using a multiple streams framework (Kingdon, 1995) and a case study methodology, we sought to understand the events and to test the explanatory power of the framework. Results show that the diversity rule became pitted against a less controversial, resource-rich graduation standards approach in the solution stream. Ultimately, a vitriolic commentary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune resulted in power politics primarily from the governor. The rule was tabled, and in the fallout from the conflict, the legislature eliminated the State Board of Education as part of an omnibus education bill. The framework was helpful in understanding the events of the case but less explanatory about the role of media and power and in determining the "window of opportunity." The outcome of the case raises questions about progress toward multicultural curriculum and the ability to write nonpartisan education policy in an increasingly politicized policymaking environment.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)341-355
    Number of pages15
    JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 2000


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