Dean Milem at the White House

Alumni News Archive: Gevirtz + Policy

Gevirtz School Dean Jeff Milem admits the post-election mood was a bit subdued as he got settled at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for the White House Convening on Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education held on November 18. But he also realized, “There’s a good chance I’m not getting invited back for the next four years,” so he was sure to present a summary of research that helps provide an empirically supported framework to examine a campus’s racial climate.

“This meeting organized by President Obama’s domestic policy advisors and the Secretary and Undersecretary of Education brought together policy makers, campus leaders, and scholars to ensure that discussions of campus diversity and inclusion consider how we admit and enroll diverse student bodies as well as to understand what we need to do to have all students feel safe, supported, and valued on our campuses so that they can thrive,” Milem says. “As an educational scholar who has spent my entire career studying these issues, I was deeply honored to have the opportunity to share my insights.”

Of course while a visit to the White House might be the most dramatic way the School is attempting to forge sound educational policy, Milem asserts, “It is just one of many ways in which members of the GGSE community are actively involved in work that informs and improves educational and social policy at the local, national, and international levels.” (Watch Milem's comments here.)

This fall the School, supported by the UCSB Committee on Education Policy, kicked off the 2016-17 “Policy Goes to School” Lecture Series. The three talks – all free and open to the public – examine areas where current academic research sheds light on policy dilemmas in education, concerning topics such as special education, history, and cost-benefit analyses.

“Academic research often operates in silos, limited to providing empirical information to small audiences. ‘Policy Goes to School’ is an effort to expand the scope and reach of our research endeavors,” says Department of Sociology Professor Victor Rios, a member of UCSB Committee on Education Policy. “The goal is to translate solid evidence into applicable, practical, and sound solutions for the most pressing issues in education today.”

The GGSE’s own Michael Gottfried gave the first lecture, “Children with Disabilities in Full-Day Kindergarten: Effects & Policy Implications” in October 12.

The second lecture on January 30 will by Ethan Hutt, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership in the School of Education at the University of Maryland College Park. And the third lecture in May 2017 will be by Brooks Bowden, an Assistant Professor of Methods and Policy in the School of Education at North Carolina State University.

“Education policy research has great potential to identify significant policy problems, to provide the scientific knowledge to help formulate policy solutions, and to evaluate their effectiveness in solving those problems,” Gottfried says. “To be placed on the policy agenda, a problem needs to be framed in such a way as to capture the attention of policymakers, often by linking it to larger social and economic issues of importance to them. And that is the purpose of ‘Policy Goes to School’ – to place key research issues being studied at UCSB to the foreground.”