Senate Bill 6: A Study of Texas' Instructional Materials Allotment and Issues of Local Control
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Senate Bill 6 was passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature in the summer of 2011. This bill shifted the procedure for distribution of textbooks from an adoption-based distribution system to an allotment system. The purpose of this study was to document the rapid change in policy, establishing the legislative intent of the bill and analyzing the bill’s implementation at the local level. Four research questions guided the investigation and included: (1) What was the legislative intent of Senate Bill 6?; (2) How were decisions made within three local school districts regarding implementation of Senate Bill 6?; (3) How was Senate Bill 6’s intent addressed at the local level?; and (4) How has the Instructional Materials Allotment changed the political climate in schools and communities? A qualitative case study was conducted using the constant comparative method as first developed by Glaser and Strauss and recently adapted by Boeije. The investigation included a main case study, which represented the intent of Senate Bill 6, and an embedded case study, which represented the bill’s implementation in three local school districts. Theoretical foundations for this study included Wirt, Mitchell and Marshall’s theory of political values, which include efficiency, equity, quality, and choice; implementation theory as described by Goggin; and issues of local control from a variety of perspectives. Four overall themes were established which include: (1) content versus delivery of content; (2) the locals know best; (3) the rapid pace of technology advancement in education; and (4) this is our money. Analysis of these themes indicates that the Texas Legislature chose to surrender control of the textbook selection process to local school district personnel in exchange for efficiency, and left quality and equity to be determined largely by local decision makers. The closing discussion identifies the nascent struggles associated with the allocation of power, authority and fiduciary responsibility that are an intricate part of implementing Senate Bill 6. The increased politicization of education has made the apportionment of these resources even more poignant, as it simultaneously raises the stakes for both legislators and school district administrators. This study identifies specific implications for both policy makers and local school district leaders as they navigate issues of local control.