Publication Date

5-2017

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-2-2017

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in Political Science

Department

Political Science

Major Advisor

Justin S. Vaughn, Ph.D.

Advisor

Jaclyn J. Kettler, Ph.D.

Advisor

David Gabbard, Ed.D.

Abstract

This thesis compares two contending political science theories about why presidents use their unilateral authority as I investigate whether President Obama acted as an entrepreneurial president or a particularistic president when awarding grants to states through the Race to the Top competition. To do so, I evaluate the 12 winning states in two areas. First, I analyze how each of the states ranked nationally in the Editorial Projects in Education Quality Counts Report 2009 and then determine whether each of the winning states needed education reform policies. If so, then it is likely the Obama Administration was acting in a manner consistent with the entrepreneurial presidency model to advance their education policy agenda. Then I examine how each of the winning states voted in the 2008 election to determine which of those states would be the most competitive in the 2012 election. If I found that the winning state was also a swing state, then it is likely the Obama Administration was acting in a manner consistent with the particularistic presidency model to gain electoral support through grant allocation. My results indicate that the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top grant decisions are most consistent with the entrepreneurial presidency model, thereby advancing his education policy agenda outside of legislative action.

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