[Cross-posted at LeaderTalk]
I’ll admit that when I registered for my classes for this term I was not looking forward to “Educational Policy Analysis” – a required “core” course for my graduate work. But if I’ve learned anything in the three classes I’ve attended it’s that I know next to nothing about the way policy gets put into place above the district level.
Combined with the fact that we’re in the midst of what looks to be a very interesting presidential election, and my lack of understanding of policy at the highest level is inexcusable. Policy, you see, affects us all even if we don’t see how or why. As public managers, we make policy on a daily basis through our actions or inactions in our buildings.
Even more apparent is the culture of distrust between policy makers at the highest levels and practitioners on the ground in the schools. At the top level is a lack of belief that educators are doing an adequate job of focusing resources on the “right” students. And at the grassroots level we are often content using rhetoric that makes us feel more comfortable that those at the top level could never understand what we do at the building level.
So if I’ve learned anything about policy, it’s that I don’t know enough and that there’s no excuse for not knowing. Policy making is not done in isolation — it’s a wide-open process that is accessible to anyone who wants to know more or to be more involved. Bridging the gap between practitioners and policy makers is one of the responsibilities that district- and building-level administrators must make a priority if we are to truly improve education. Becoming involved in the process will go a long way toward making us feel less like “victims” of policies that are “handed down” to us.
[Image by BoutrosBoutros]