Interest group goal formation: The response to charter schools by NCLR and LULAC

Deirdre Martinez, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation explains policy goal formation in two national Hispanic interest groups, National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens (NCLR and LULAC). Among the major Hispanic groups, there are two which are in many ways comparable; LULAC and NCLR have significant grassroots memberships, a strong presence in Washington, and are decades old. While it has been assumed by some that these groups are monolithic, in the arena of education reform, their agendas are considerably different. In the case of charter schools, National Council of La Raza launched an aggressive campaign to support charter schools but the historically more ideologically conservative and pro-Republican League of United Latin American Citizens maintains a neutral if not hostile stance. Political scientists know how interest groups form, attract and retain members on the one hand, and how they influence the policy process on the other. Less well understood is the process in between: how they choose among various possible policy goals. Using multiple case study method and charter schools as a case of policy goal formation, I revise John Kindgon's model of agenda setting to describe goal formation at the organization level. I focus on four questions; first, how does the goal formation process within two leading Hispanic interest groups, NCLR and LULAC, work? Second, what are the primary influences on policy goal formation in these two interest groups? Third, how applicable are existing theories of interest group behavior to the goal formation process? Finally, is Kingdon's public policy model applicable to interest groups? This dissertation finds that policy decisions are not based on one variable, such as funder preferences or the desires of members, but are the result of a complicated interaction between several groups of actors responding to changes in their environment. In particular, internal politics and the presence of policy entrepreneurs lead to variation between the organizations in this case, and the revised Kingdon model highlights the role of multiple actors in multiple streams of policy making.

Subject Area

Political science|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Education

Recommended Citation

Martinez, Deirdre, "Interest group goal formation: The response to charter schools by NCLR and LULAC" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3211109.