Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Heather MacIndoe

Second Advisor

Christian E. Weller

Third Advisor

Ray Franke


This dissertation examines the understudied strategy of regional P20 council development in addressing educational pipeline and other policy concerns. A student moving from early education into K12 and, subsequently, into higher education, faces unnecessary obstacles due to the separate evolution of these three distinct education sectors. Accordingly, communities struggle to support students across misaligned sectors and our nation’s need for an educated workforce remains unmet. Into this mix emerge efforts that are “P20” in scope, referring to preschool through graduate school education. One particular P20 strategy is the development of councils – at local, regional, and state levels – that convene stakeholders from diverse sectors, including: early childhood learning, K12 education, universities and community colleges, government, communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. This is the first study of the landscape of regional P20 councils, which includes 83 councils nationally. The mixed methods approach encompasses a new database of council characteristics, coupled with key informant interviews representing 40 councils, and 217 pieces of state P20 legislation.

Nationally, regional P20 councils emerge to address clearly identified regional needs that include low educational attainment, high poverty rates, and concerns of rural school districts. These councils do not appear to be ideologically founded. Instead, they are a response to pressing regional needs that stakeholders view as fixable through unifying educational systems. For example, often these councils operate with an economic development goal that is regional in scope. When regional P20 councils seek to influence state policy, the most common strategies are indirect: utilizing existing partner networks and sharing regional data. Because regional needs are the real drivers for this work and come with built-in constituencies, these councils can flag regional problems and inform state policy agendas, particularly regarding disjointed educational systems. In this way, regional P20 councils may be able to contribute to the growth of learning regions and economic development through cross-sector regional collaboration.


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