Core 5:    Educational Policy

Course Outline

I. The Policy Process in Education

A. Overview of the Policy Process:

The complexity and importance of educational policy and politics

Layers of government and policy development: Federal, State, Local

Policy perception and impact at the school level

Financial interests, stakeholder commitments

Analyzing intersecting and interdependent issues


B. Systemic Educational Policy: Conceptual Frameworks

Historical Perspectives

Sociological Perspectives

Economic Perspectives

Political Science Perspectives

Legal Perspectives

Educational Perspectives

International Perspectives


II. Designing Coherent Educational Policy in the United States

  1. Governmental Policy-making:

    Official educational policy-making

    Policy implementation, evaluation, and change

    Relations among federal, state, and local policy-making processes

  2. Interest Groups:

    Unofficial policy-making

    Role in implementation

    Policy influence

  3. The Role of Research and "The Research Community" 

    Relationships between research and policy

    Research and policy analysis

  4. Issues of Equity in the Policy Process


Education for Students with Special Needs
Education for Language-minority Students


III. Policy Analysis

  1. What is Policy Analysis?

    Relationships between policy analysis and social science

    Relationships among policy analysis and policy, politics, decision making and professional practice

    Example:  Policy analysis of the merits of the "Systemic Reform Movement". 

  2. Policy Language and Policy Documents

The registers and genres of policy documents

Critical reading of policy documents

Legislative and legal documents

Examples from US Department of Education, NY State Department of Education


C. A Contemporary Policy Theme: Restructuring Schools

New Standards

Teaching Concepts and Organizational Reform

Rethinking School Governance

Restructuring in Process: Districts on the Cutting Edge

Integration of Special Education


D. Key Issues Confronting Policymakers Today

Financing the Schools: Under-funding vs. Over-taxing

Post Industrialism and Institutional Change in Education

Privatization & Competition

The Academy in the Marketplace


IV. Exploring Policy Analysis through Case Studies    [Sample listing]

Note that the Case Studies will be used throughout the course. Listed here are only some current and classic examples; others will be selected each term by the course instructor.

Literacy: California Reading Controversy and the New York City case

New York City School Decentralization and comparable cases elsewhere in the U.S.

Kentucky School Reform  —  a political systemic reform "success"?

Special Education  —  New York State's effort to include special education in all aspects of school reform

Evaluation of alternative policy paradigms for public education in the U.S. and other countries


V. Field work & Internships in Core 5:

As an integral part of Core 5, students will be involved in (a) field work (usually focused on a particular issue, e.g. one arising in faculty-initiated research), and (b) internships (where a variety of policy issues will be relevant). 

Fieldwork Study Focal Issues:

1998 Teacher Education reform policies in New York State; responses by LEAs and institutions of higher education

1996 NYC school governance law and its implementation; Chancellor Crew's plan for School Leadership Teams and evaluation of principals

NYS and LEA efforts to include Special Education concerns in systemic reform policies

New High School Graduation Standards:  interviews and surveys to identify perceptions, fears, hopes, assumptions, and political dynamics in enacting and implementing the new standards

Bilingual education — Study of current efforts to roll back, defend, or reform: interviews, surveys, policy analysis.

Choice in Education - studying the movement for vouchers, charter schools, and choice policies, in New York and the U.S.

Internships will be in city, state, national, public and private agencies, institutes, boards, foundations, legislatures, etc. Interns will be placed in the offices and with the staffs of policymakers and policy leaders where possible.