Political Environments and the Community College Baccalaureate: An Event History Analysis
Simon, Michael J.
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Community colleges operate in political environments, and lawmakers increasingly include them in political rhetoric as solutions to economic, workforce, and social issues. A salient aspect of a community college president’s practice is to interpret state political environments, and to advocate for beneficial, and against harmful, public policies. The purpose of this study was to examine how variables in states’ political environments contributed to the adoption of higher education public policies by state governments. A public policy trend beginning in the early 1990s among state governments is to authorize community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. Using secondary data from 1990 to 2008 from 46 states, a non-experimental quantitative methodology featuring an event history analysis analyzed the effects of political factors on the authorization of community college bachelor’s degrees. Event history analysis is a longitudinal proportional hazards regression technique that allows for examining the occurrence and timing of governmental actions. The analysis supports that Republican Party control of the lower house of the state’s legislature increases the odds of a state government authorizing a community college bachelor’s degree, and that Republican Party control of the executive and legislative branches of the state’s government and higher levels of gubernatorial power decrease the odds of a state government authorizing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees.