Education Policy is an Instrument for Social-Cultural Change
"How do education policymakers make their decisions, and how might educational psychologists best engage with education policymakers to influence their decision-making process?"
Originally posted in PsychologyToday.com and written by Benjamin Brock, MSW, Ph.D. Student at Temple University on April 9th, 2018.
Charged with immense responsibility and tasked with countless duties, education policymakers are at the helm of the social-cultural experiment we call public education. Despite their influence—education policymakers steward approximately 51 million public school students nationwide (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016) - these vanguards of societal change are often overlooked and misunderstood by research and the public.
How, in fact, do education policymakers make their decisions, and what might be the most fruitful means for educational psychologists to engage them? What follows is a brief history as to how I became interested in, and involved with, educational policymaking, and how I am pursuing research on education policymakers’ decision-making. Finally, I offer suggestions as to how educational psychologists may get involved in the policymaking process.
While working at Philadelphia’s largest family homeless shelter, I realized how the lives of the children at the shelter were bound by lack of educational opportunities. With each school I visited, non-profit organization I interacted with, and school district meeting I attended, it became clearer to me that the lives of “my kids” were embedded in a complex network of social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics, and that the best way I could advocate on behalf of these children was through policy; specifically, education policy.
Reluctantly, I left my role at the shelter and began my academic study of policy. During my MSW program at Temple University I read Dr. Bruce Jansson’s (2008), The Reluctant Welfare State: Engaging History to Advance Social Work Practice in Contemporary Society, and nearly everything Dr. David Berliner produced; I believe I referenced Dr. Berliner’s (2006), Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform, in nearly all of my coursework. Their ideas regarding social policy, social welfare, and social justice convinced me to pursue work in the government sector.
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