I am a policy wonk. It is simply intrinsic to who I am. And right now the policy issue foremost in my mind is inequity in education.
I believe that the COVID19 crisis has offered us an incredible opportunity to rethink how we educate kids. This is an almost incomprehensible rare opportunity to start from scratch. We could build equity right into the design. This is an opportunity for the type of change that chipping away at current practice never could afford.
I have absolutely nothing to offer when it comes to what this new model should be. I lack both the knowledge and the experience to weigh in on those conversations. Where I come in as a policy wonk is that I know how to help bring great ideas to fruition.
A long time ago I claimed my familial legacy and owned up to the fact that budgets and public policy are completely and inextricably intertwined. My fellow policy wonk, Barack Obama said the said as much in his latest book, “A Promised Land.” He shifted away from community organising because he wanted to focus on public policy, which is really all about budgets.
This far, everything I have written has all been in service to a second point. In my efforts to learn what I can about public education and equity, I have wandering around the interwebs looking for lectures, presentations and papers on the topic. Previously, when researching a policy area, I would set my initial search parameters to within the previous 10-15 years. Public policy is a slow moving field and it can take that long for an idea to build enough momentum before the policy wonks get involved.
But times have changed. The conversations about education and equity started long before this century and have only been building in momentum, so I had lots to peruse. But what I came to realise is that, at least for my purposes, pretty much any policy discussion prior to November, 2016 is now obsolete. There are just too many assumptions about how change is made that no longer apply. And in watching the impeachment hearing yesterday I am very clear that regardless of which party is in control, it is still the Wild West out there.
And starting with the 2016 election, the conversation started shifting away from those assumptions and separating the how of public policy from the policy discussions themselves. And that just makes more sense to my 2021 brain.