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Policy-What It Is And Where It Comes From Chapter 1.

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1 Policy-What It Is And Where It Comes From Chapter 1

2 Focus Questions Why do changes in the political and economic environment make understanding the policy process essential for today’s school leaders? How can one determine what policy a government is actually pursuing? What roles can school leaders play in shaping and influencing education policy?

3 Policy-What It Is And Where It Comes From Why Study Policy? Defining Policy. The Policy Process. Policy Analysis. The School Leader And Policy Studies. Think And Learn.

4 Why Study Policy? The transformation of the education policy environment · Economic Changes · Reallocation of Authority · Demographic Trends · District Leadership · Ideological Shift · Building Leadership · Changed Roles · Public Leadership of School Leaders return

5 Defining Policy: A brief definition Public policy is the dynamic and value laden process through which a political system handles a public problem. It includes a government’s expressed intentions and official enactments as well as its consistent patterns of activity and inactivity.

6 In this definition, government includes elected and appointed public officials at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the bodies or agencies within which these officials work. Thus, school board members, school administrators, and classroom teachers in public schools are all part of government as are such individuals and groups as governors, judges, and Congress. return

7 The policy process The policy process is the sequence of events that occurs when a political system considers different approaches to public problems, adopts one of them, tries it out, and evaluates it. Political scientists often use game metaphors to describe it.

8 Like a game, the policy process has rules and players. Like a game, it is complex and often disorderly. Like a game, it is played in many arenas and involves the use of power. And like a game, it can have winners and losers.

9 Applying the Stage Model to Standard-Based Reform Issue Definition. Agenda Setting. Policy Formulation. Policy Adoption. Implementation. Evaluation

10 Policy Issues The process is driven by policy issues. Controversial Elements. A policy issue is, by definition, controversial. An issue exists only if social groups disagree about how government should approach a given problem. Public Element. Many disagreements about how children should be socialized are not policy issues, either. Policy issues are problems that the government can legitimately address.

11 Examples of Education Policy Issues 1 In these early years of the twenty-first century, a large number of education policy issues are under debate. One especially controversial issue is school choice. Traditionally, school districts have had the authority to assign children to schools, usually on the basis of geographic attendance zones.

12 Since the early 1980s, however, this practice has become an issue. Many people and interest groups argue that parents should be free to choose their child’s school. They have therefore proposed such new policies as voucher plans, intradistrict and interdistrict open enrollment, and charter schools.

13 Such policies have been adopted in many states. School choice has many opponents also. They have argue that choice will weaken public education and increase the segregation of schools along race and class lines.

14 Examples of Education Policy Issues 2 Another education policy issue relates to establishing national curriculum standards. Advocates of national curriculum standards assert that they would provide clear criteria for excellence throughout the country and reduce the negative impact of mobility on children's schooling. They also argue that most other advanced industrial countries have national curricula and that because of global economic competition the United State should follow suit.

15 Opponents of such a policy believe that it would weaken local control of education and lead to an undesirable standardization of education throughout the country. They also argue that the federal government lacks constitutional authority to establish national curriculum standards or develop national tests to evaluate it.

16 Policy Issues At any given time, every society has numerous social problems, but only a few are ever identified as public policy problems. For many reasons, government never addresses most problems. Sufficient political support may not exist, for example, or the potential costs of addressing certain problems may be too high. return

17 Types of Policy Analysis: 1. monitoring When researchers monitor, they systematically collect data relevant to a policy domain and to the ongoing policy process. For example, during the 1980s many states established systems for gathering education information from school districts. These data are entered in computers and allow state officials to track such phenomena as student attendance, test scores, and the percentage of children enrolled in the free lunch program.

18 Types of Policy Analysis: 2. forecasting Drawing on large data banks, policy researchers try to predict what policy issues will be important in five to ten years. For example, they may notice from their monitoring that increasing numbers of children are involved in free lunch programs and predict that child nutrition will probably be an important issue for schools in 2010.

19 Types of Policy Analysis: 3. evaluations When researchers evaluate a policy or program, their objective is to provide information about how well the policy is achieving the purposes for which it was designed. Remedial and experimental education programs are often evaluated to determine if they do, indeed, help children learn better.

20 Types of Policy Analysis: 4. recommend Finally, policy analysts may offer prescriptions. Prescriptive policy analysis outlines the options open to policy makers and may recommend which would be most desirable. return

21 The School Leader And Policy Makers Administrators as Policy Makers Administrators as Implementors of Policy Administrators as Followers of Policy Issues Administrators as Influencers of Policy return

22 Think and Learn 1. Questions and Activities for discussion 1.1 Develop a list of current policy issues in your state, district, or building. Situate each in a stage of the policy process. 1.2 What mayor education policy initiatives has your state government made during the last decade? How have the initiatives affected your school and district?

23 1.3 Select one of the following policy issues and describe the current status of your state’s policy regarding this issue: school finance equity, school choice, the level of student achievement, or accountability for teachers and administrators. Be sure to consider not only formal laws but also funding levels and patterns of government inaction.

24 1.4 Identify and describe an instance in which school administrators you know have acted as public leaders to influence the policy process.

25 2. Pro-Con Debate: SHOULD POLITICS BE KEPT OUT OF EDUCATION? YES: The education of our children is much too important to permit it to become entangled with politics. Of course, because public money funds public schools some form of government oversight must exist. Ideally this oversight should be provided by a governance body chosen through nonpartisan elections. It should have the authority to provide general policy guidelines for the schools.

26 However, those policies should be carried out by professional educators who have considerable freedom to act without interference. After all, professionals are knowledgeable about children, curriculum, and teaching methods. They may make mistakes, but they are more likely to make decisions in the best interests of children than are politicians. Politics and education do not mix.

27 NO: Public schools are funded by tax money and are under the authority of state legislatures, school boards, and the courts. This means that politics cannot be kept out of public education. Even when education is governed by “non- partisan” boards, political activity continues. However, it is relatively quiet and hidden, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to understand and influence it.

28 Openness about the political nature of education is more democratic and can encourage leaders to develop governance structure and laws that facilitate healthy political activity. The idea that politics and education do not mix is an illusion.

29 3.NEWS STORY FOR ANALYSIS: PROPOSAL FOR MORE TESTING DRAWS CRITICISM BALTIMORE, MD-The proposal that Maryland could expand its school testing program to more grades is drawing criticism from parents and teachers, who contend that instruction already is too focused on preparing for exams. “Teachers are up to their eyeballs in testing,” said Patricia Forester, president of the Maryland State Teacher Association.

30 The recommendation this week for Maryland to add a new batch of testing for grades four, six, and seven was one of many suggestions from Achieve, Inc., a national nonprofit group that supports standards-based education. The group—which was commissioned by the state to study its reform efforts—is expected to influence the work of a task force appointed by the state superintendent to draw up a 10-year blueprint for public education in Maryland.

31 Both groups recommended that M1ryland develop a statewide curriculum—a proposal supported by local superintendents as well as by the state superintendent. But for parents and teachers who contend that schools spend too much time getting third, fifth, and eighth graders ready for the spring exams, the proposal to test more grades prompted a sharp reaction.

32 “All the schools seem to be doing is processing kids for the exams,” said Chuck La Porte, parent of a middle-school child. In recommending that Maryland expand testing, Achieve officials said such a move would dovetail with President Bush’s education plan calling for states to begin annual testing in grades three trough eight.

33 Although the House and Senate are still negotiating a final education reform bill, both chambers have passed legislation requiring annual school-wide testing. Most educators believe it will be part of the final federal plan, forcing states such as Maryland to expand their programs.

34 But if the state were to expand its testing program, it could become a political issue. “I’ve been hearing that my constituents have a lot of concerns,” said Audrey Scott, potential candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

35 “If we end up with more testing, it could very, very well become part of the next election.” (Adapted by permission of the publisher from H. Libit, “Proposal for More Testing Draws Criticism,” Baltimore Sun, October 3, 2001, p.1B. Copyright 2001 by the Baltimore Sun.)

36 Questions: 1. What policy issues are mentioned in the article? For each, justify your opinion that it is a policy issue. 2. Situate each policy issue in a stage of the policy process. 3. Describe the policy which the State of Maryland is following. 4. List the political figures and groups mentioned in the article.

37 The End


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