Why Public Policy Education is Extension's Long-Standing Approach for Working with Policymakers

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Why Public Policy Education is Extension's Long-Standing Approach for Working with Policymakers

  1. 1. Why Public Policy Education is Extension’s Long-Standing Approach for Working With Policymakers Karen Bogenschneider Extension Family Policy Specialist Michael Collins Extension Family Finance Specialist Edie Felts Podoll Former Adams County Family Living Educator
  2. 2. What Is Our Purpose Today? The focus of this discussion is not WHAT to do, But rather HOW to do it.
  3. 3. Age-Old Conversation  For 100 years, experts have tried to figure out how to bring good ideas to bear on policymaking  Public policy education has been the long-standing approach that Extension has used for dealing with public issues.
  4. 4. One Question Fundamental to Working with Policymakers (1) Can research inform policy decisions?
  5. 5. Connecting Research & Policymaking is a Two-Pronged Process  Encouraging policymakers to become more research-minded, and  Encouraging researchers and professionals to become more policy- minded
  6. 6. What We Will Cover Today  What are the advocacy and education approaches?  What evidence and experience supports the education approach?  Why is public policy education the approach that is used in Extension?  How can you apply the public policy education approach to your work?
  7. 7. What is Policy?  The development, enactment, and implementation of a plan or course of action carried out through a law, rule, code, or other mechanism in the public or private sector  A definite course or method of action selected from alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions 12
  8. 8. Public Policy Advocacy To campaign for a specific group or a particular policy alternative that may potentially enhance individual, family, or community well-being
  9. 9. The Intent of the Public Policy Advocate is to Persuade The aim is self-consciously to shape and influence the debate in line with a preconceived set of ideas or principles rather than simply to pursue research questions in whatever direction they may lead. (Smith, 1991, p. 206)
  10. 10. Two Types of Advocacy  “advocacy” with a small “a” is working on behalf of all youth or families or farmers or communities, a role that each of us assume as part of our job as Cooperative Extension educators.  “Advocacy” with a capital “A” is lobbying for a specific bill or a particular policy option.
  11. 11. Public Policy Alternatives Education Informs policy discourse by presenting a range of policy options and the potential consequences of each. The value judgments and ultimate decisions are entrusted to the people and to a number of policymakers elected to make these decisions rather than to a single person. (Barrows, 1994)
  12. 12. The Intent of the Public Policy Educator is to Inform …by presenting research findings objectively without relaying personal preferences. (Barrows, 1994)
  13. 13. Who Uses the Public Policy Education Approach  UW-Extension Cooperative Extension  The Congressional Budget Office  The Congressional Research Service  The General Accounting Office  Legislative Service Agencies in State Legislatures
  14. 14. Most Roles Can Be Approached as an Advocate or Educator  Meeting with Policymakers  Preparing Handouts  Writing Press Releases  Teaching Workshops or Classes  Conducting Seminars or Conferences  Working with Coalitions
  15. 15. From Theory to Practice A Real Life Example that a State Extension Specialist Faced in Her Work
  16. 16. Relevant to needs and interests Useful in current role Objective How Useful, Objective, and Relevant was the Seminar on Health Care Quality Poor Excellent 1 2 3 4 5
  17. 17. Relevant to needs and interests Useful in current role Objective How Useful, Objective, and Relevant was the Seminar on Health Care Quality Poor Excellent 1 2 3 4 5 4.3 4.2 4.2 N = 81; response rate = 84%
  18. 18. What Evidence and Experience Supports the Public Policy Education Approach?
  19. 19. The Evolution of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance  In 1932, this Alliance formed as an advocacy organization.  In 1934, the Alliance reorganized under an education umbrella.  This education approach has better positioned the organization to achieve its goal of efficient, responsible government.
  20. 20. Evidence Regarding Policymakers’ Valuing of Objective Information  In Rich’s study (2001) of think tanks, Congressional staff and journalists rated think tanks as more credible when they had no identifiable ideology.
  21. 21. What percent of legislators preferred facts and objective analysis with the political decisions left to them?
  22. 22. Evidence Regarding Policymakers’ Valuing of Objective Information  In Rich’s study (2001) of think tanks, Congressional staff and journalists rated think tanks as more credible when they had no identifiable ideology.  In Hird’s (2005) study of 773 legislators in 19 states, 88% preferred facts and objective analysis with political decisions left to them.
  23. 23. Reflection by Edward Zigler on Working with Policymakers I believe that officials have listened to me over the years because they see me as a scholar, not as an advocate who has some other agenda. My only agenda . . . is to serve the best interests of children and families. (Zigler & Styfco, 2002, p. 14)
  24. 24. Why is Public Policy Education the Approach that is used in Extension?
  25. 25. The Public Policy Education Approach is Used in Extension Because it is:  Fundamental to a long-term commitment to working with policymakers.
  26. 26. The Public Policy Education Approach is Used in Extension Because it is:  Fundamental to a long-term commitment to working with policymakers.  Responsive to what policymakers say they need.
  27. 27. The Public Policy Education Approach is Used in Extension Because it is:  Fundamental to a long-term commitment to working with policymakers.  Responsive to what policymakers say they need.  Consistent with the role of research in policy decisions.
  28. 28. The Educator Does Not Assume that the Expert Has  Indisputable facts  The only correct interpretations, and  Ideal values.
  29. 29. The Public Policy Education Approach is Used in Extension Because it is:  Fundamental to a long-term commitment to working with policymakers.  Responsive to what policymakers say they need.  Consistent with the role of research in policy decisions.  Central to our role as a public institution.
  30. 30. The Public Policy Education Approach is Used in Extension Because it is:  Fundamental to a long-term commitment to working with policymakers.  Responsive to what policymakers say they need.  Consistent with the role of research in policy decisions.  Central to our role as a public institution  Representative of a personal commitment to democracy.
  31. 31. Resources (1) Dick Barrows classic publication, Public Policy Education (1994): http://www.familyimpactseminar.org (Enter through professional portal and click on skill building) (2) Copies of chapter from my forthcoming book on evidence-based policymaking, Approaching Policymakers: Moving Beyond “What” to “How”

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