The decentralization of public policy from the federal government to state and local governments offers increased opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate directly in public policymaking. Yet these opportunities may not be equally shared. Due to a variety of factors, low-income citizens have long been denied a meaningful role in the public life and governance of our country.
By contrast, the essays in this volume explore how low-income citizens have successfully affected public policy. The book is built around six case studies, all from Texas, that cover education finance and reform, local infrastructure provision, environmental protection, and indigent health care.
This research illuminates several issues of national importance, including how communities gain standing and recognition for themselves and their issues, how policy agendas are defined, how communities mobilize technical and institutional resources, and how they form coalitions and alliances to accomplish their goals.
1. Community Participation in State and Local Policymaking: Overview of Issues and Methods (Robert H. Wilson)
2. The Place of Community in Public Policy (Robert H. Wilson, Pat Wong, and Heywood T. Sanders)
3. Communities Organized for Public Service and Neighborhood Revitalization in San Antonio (Heywood T. Sanders)
4. The East Austin Tank Farm Controversy (Susan G. Hadden)
5. The Indigent Health Care Package (Pat Wong)
6. School Finance Reform in Texas, 1983-1995 (Richard Lavine)
7. Community Organizing for Parental Engagement: The Educational Collaboratives of the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation (Dennis Shirley)
8. The Colonias Water Bill: Communities Demanding Change (Robert H. Wilson and Peter Menzies)
9. The Changing Role of Communities in Policymaking (Robert H. Wilson and Susan G. Hadden)
"This is a valuable collection of essays.... Policy experts dip down to the organized grassroots...[to show] that ordinary people, organized in groups like the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation, can make public policy happen."
—Robert Fisher, author of Let the People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America