Typically, studies of educational policy focus on measuring the effects of a policy. However, I am interested in the process of a policy: how does a legislation, a piece of writing, or a program become something? I gather that important, but often missed, factors are the ultimate “users” of a policy: teachers, parents, and students, for example. I typically use “neo-institutional” (Powell & Colyvas, 2008) and interpretive/sense-making (Spillane, 2004; Yanow, 2000) theories to frame this work, as such perspectives highlight the central role of “cultural scripts”—meta-narratives, discourses, or major “storylines” (Hamann, 2011)—in developing policies/organizations.
My research questions in this area include: How does public discourse shape the implementation of new bilingual education policies? How do federal accountability policies shape schooling at the local level? How do elementary-aged children understand their schools’ classroom policies?
- Dorner, L., Crawford, E., Jennings, J., Sandoval O. & Hager, E. (2017). I think immigrants “kind of fall into two camps:” Boundary work by U.S.-born community members in St. Louis, Missouri. Educational Policy.
- Dorner, L. (2015). From global jobs to safe spaces: The diverse discourses that sell multilingual schooling in the U.S. Current Issues in Language Planning, 16(1&2), 114-131.
- Dorner, L. (2015.) From relating to (re)presenting: Challenges and lessons learned from an ethnographic study with young children. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(4), 354–365.
- Dorner, L. & Layton, A. (2013). What makes a “good” school? Data and competing discourses in a multilingual charter network. In D. Anagnostopoulos, S. Rutledge, & R. Jacobsen (Eds.), The infrastructure of accountability: Mapping data use and its consequences across the American education system, pp. 145-162. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Press.
- Dorner, L. (2012). The life course and sense-making: Immigrant families’ journeys toward understanding educational policies and choosing bilingual programs. American Educational Research Journal, 49(3), 461-486.
- Dorner, L. (2011). US immigrants and two-way immersion policies: The mismatch between district designs and family experiences. In D. Tedick, D. Christian, and T. Fortune (Eds.), Immersion education: Practices, policies, possibilities, pp. 231-250. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
- Dorner, L. (2011). Contested communities in a debate over dual language education: The import of ‘public’ values on public policies. Educational Policy, 25(4), 577-613.
- Dorner, L., Spillane, J., & Pustejovsky, J. (2011). Organizing for instruction: A comparative study of public, charter, and Catholic schools. Journal of Educational Change, 12, 71-98.
- Dorner, L. (2010). English and Spanish “para un futuro” or just English? Immigrant family perspectives on two-way immersion. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 13(3), 303-323.