Education Policy Research And Analysis
Policy research and analysis help you make informed decisions and create policy priorities that are aligned to your mission, develop your advocacy strategy, and create informed thought leadership.
An up-to-date understanding of the current policy landscape is essential for effectively engaging in the education policy discourse and creating impactful advocacy campaigns.
The United States’ decentralized education system makes it particularly challenging to understand which laws and regulations sit at which level of government, and how these different policies interact.
Legislative databases rarely give the full picture, as so much of policy has to do with what isn’t in the law, rather than what is, and varying terminology across different states and branches of government can make it easy to miss something.
So much of education policy is made through regulations, local and state boards of education, and budgets, and legislative databases don’t pick these policies up, either.
Due to the varying accessibility of different government websites, and the ways that many policies in development are written and negotiated long before they are formally introduced, stakeholder interviews are usually necessary to get the full picture.
Knowing who to talk to, and what questions to ask, can take additional research, relationships, and trust.
Our Approach To Education Policy Research And Analysis
We have years of experience conducting policy scans and analyses at the federal and state levels. The trusting relationships that we have built up over decades enable us to track down the most up-to-date information.
When we work with you, the process generally starts with building a rubric to guide a comprehensive scan of current law, including statute, regulation, and funding status depending on your needs.
We can also conduct literature reviews and stakeholder interviews if necessary.
The goal is to understand the current law, its impact on the issues you care about, and the challenges and opportunities it presents for your strategy.
How We Help
When our process is complete, we’ll typically deliver a memorandum or presentation describing the policy landscape, the potential barriers and opportunities, potential funding sources, areas to focus on when building a strategy, and recommended next steps.
Policy Priority Development & Alignment
Impactful policy agendas are specific, take into account current law, and have both the short and long term in mind.
Lawmaker education and advocacy are most effective when they are a natural extension of your mission. When you live and breathe the values and actions you promote, the need for change will be clear to any policymaker you speak with.
For your advocacy strategy or thought leadership position to be sustainable, it must align with your mission and the work that you do.
Getting your policy priorities and organizational strategy aligned will allow you to do two things:
- Position your organization as an authoritative voice in the policy space with clear, focused messaging
- Be ready to engage and make an impact when opportunities for policy change present themselves
When you are focused on your core mission, you may lack the time or background knowledge to identify your specific policy priorities. If you already have policy priorities, they may no longer align with your work and the current political context.
Without clear policy priorities, your voice, along with the valuable lessons learned and insights about what you do, are missing from the conversation.
Policymakers need to learn from a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, but too often only hear from the best-funded, most organized organizations with dedicated policy staff or lobbyists.
Organizations can compromise their effectiveness when they take on issues or commit to actions that are not in harmony with their core mission, budget, and capacity. This can result in mission creep, mixed messages, undermining their own cause, and burnout.
The good news is, just because you don’t have a full-time policy director or government relations firm on retainer, doesn’t mean you can’t make a significant impact on policy.
Our Approach To Policy Priority Development & Alignment
Education Policy Strategies provides Policy Priority Development & Alignment consulting services so that you can engage in the policy space confident that your priorities and messaging align to your organization’s mission, and that the priorities, in turn, are strategically aligned to the current political context.
In this highly collaborative process, we will listen carefully, taking a look at your mission, strategic plan, and examples of your work and impact, and asking questions about the context that you operate in.
From this process, we will provide a written report with policy priorities and recommendations for your organization’s strategy for engaging in policy.
We can also provide coaching, guidance, tools, and resources to develop your internal capacity to carry out this strategy and integrate your policy priorities into everything you do.
This sets you up for success by ensuring you’re fully equipped to do the work you’re doing.
How We Help
We will work with you to develop or refine your policy priorities and frameworks to both align with your mission and goals, and be relevant to the current political context.
You will receive a written report, tailored to your needs, with our recommendations. We can produce content, briefs, and reports to communicate your priorities to a broader audience.
We can assist you with strategic and resource planning, and also offer coaching and training to develop the capacity of your leadership and staff to incorporate policy and advocacy work into your operations.
Advocacy Strategy Design and Implementation
With a thoughtful and well-researched policy strategy that aligns to your organization’s mission and goals, Education Policy Strategies can help you put it into motion through Advocacy Strategy Design and Implementation.
Even the most incisive and actionable policy priorities are just words if they never get in front of the right decision-makers. Education advocates can miss important opportunities to share their insights and recommendations with policymakers due to a lack of background knowledge and experience. While some government officials take the time and effort to engage a broad array of underrepresented stakeholders, too often, the process can be opaque, difficult to navigate, and discouraging.
An effective advocacy strategy needs to be informed by an understanding of:
- timing of the policy-making process (when to weigh in)
- who the key decision-makers are (who to talk to and what they can do to help or hinder your cause)
- other stakeholders (who potential allies and threats are)
- powerful and effective messaging (how to communicate and disseminate a message that adds value to the conversation, and most importantly, your ask)
- How to leverage strategic relationships (how to multiply your impact through key relationships and being able to mobilize other voices for the cause)
Another capacity challenge many would-be advocates face is garnering sufficient resources, funding, and time to engage in policy advocacy.
Our Approach to Advocacy Strategy Design and Implementation
Our approach to Advocacy Strategy Design and Implementation comes from the belief that those closest to the work are the most powerful advocates for change. We seek to empower you and your stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to confidently engage in policy advocacy. If you require additional capacity, we can help you to fill in the gaps.
Founder Maria Worthen has over two decades’ experience making policy, implementing policy, and advocating for policy change on behalf of thousands of practitioners and leaders at the state and federal levels. She is well-connected in the national education policy space and understands how to multiply your impact through strong strategy and relationships. She draws on keen instincts shaped by experience and a deep understanding of process and law, and a knack for systems-level thinking, ideation, and creativity.
Education Policy Strategies helps you genuinely and effectively express your organization’s identity in the policy and advocacy space. We can help you develop and share your own voice and assist you as you navigate the situations and challenges that arise when you do this vital work in the world.
How We Help
We help you develop and implement effective education policy advocacy strategies. This process involves identifying which policy levers to prioritize– and when, articulating opportunities and threats, and identifying strategic allies and collaborators.
We also support you by advising you on messaging and timing, identifying key individuals with whom to speak, and providing guidance for meetings and testimony. We can work with you on the implementation of the strategy, including coaching and mentoring staff in your organization.
Education Policy Thought Leadership
Education Policy Strategies offers deep expertise in K-12 education policy through thought-partnering, facilitation, training, public speaking, and the written word.
Engaging in one’s own advocacy can be a challenge. Ideally, there will be time to build your internal capacity for advocacy skills, professional testimony, and understanding the policy landscape. However, there may be situations that require a specific body of knowledge and practical experience in order to be most effective.
The right partner can help you to move forward to create real, lasting education policy change.
Our Approach To Education Policy Thought Leadership
Nothing can replace the experience, relationships, and insights gained through working in the highest levels of government, delivering testimony before state legislatures and boards of education, and writing and negotiating legislation and regulations in bipartisan settings. Founder Maria Worthen is passionate about sharing her experiences and insights for the benefit of policy change. Her background in social work, her ability to see the interconnectedness of people and systems, and her strong skill in ideation make her a valued thought partner, presenter, facilitator and writer in the education policy sector.
How We Help
We offer you an array of tools, information, and collaborative support so that you can be advocates and feel empowered as they make real, lasting change.
We support you as a strategic and creative thought partner and help and provide writing assistance with key assets including testimony, fact sheets, op-eds, white papers, and blogs.
In addition, we help you and your team prepare for delivering legislative testimony and can facilitate policy-related planning sessions.
We can help you to scaffold meetings and workshops around a variety of education policy topics, present or identify speakers, and customize presentations in our areas of expertise to suit your needs and goals.
Finally, we can be your thought partner. Sometimes you just need someone on call to privately talk through a challenge, provide context, or think through the right approach. We work with organization leaders, staff, boards, and coalitions as an advisor and mentor.