On March 15th 2022, Temple's Master of Public Policy program and the College of Education and Human Development hosted panelists and students for a discussion on education policy and advocacy. The forum allowed students to ask esteemed panelists about their career paths and the state of the American education system. Temple University was delighted to welcome Keshema Davidson, Ben Herold, Catie Wolfgang, Tara Woody, Dr. Sarah Cordes, and Kasey Meehan as panelists to discuss their work related to education policy and advocacy. You can view a recording of the discussion here.

Continue reading for key takeaway from Clare Maus, a current MPP student, who attended the discussion. 

You must take care of yourself to avoid burnout. 

Working in education policy can be emotionally draining. It requires an extraordinary amount of care for others. It also can put stress on the people carrying out the work, who often feel a large responsibility to help fix the education system. Panelists urged us to remember to take care of ourselves. If we run ourselves too thin, we are sure to burn out and be unable to continue our work. They stressed the need for boundaries to protect your well-being before you experience burnout. Self-care strategies, such as setting healthy boundaries, can help to ensure the longevity of your work and safeguard your mental health. 

It is important to ground your policy work in the lived experiences of people impacted by the policy. 

Multiple panelists expressed the importance of grounding their work in the lived experience of people impacted by their education policy research and advocacy. They argued that you must listen to those who know best - the students, teachers, and school faculty, when doing education policy work. In fact, some panelists even suggested that researchers need to immerse themselves within the school to fully understand the education system. Overall, they emphasized the need to connect your research and advocacy to what is actually going on in schools, rather than what you think schools need.

It is critical that you be realistic about what you can (and cannot) change. 

Panel members underscored the importance of determining what you can and cannot change. It is understandable to feel pressured to work on every aspect of an issue. However, this approach is not realistic - it will likely lead to both burnout and ineffective action. Instead, the panelists emphasized the need to focus on moving the needle on smaller issues as a way of getting at the larger problem. When you take the time to identify a specific aspect to target, you are more likely to create change than when you focus on an issue at large. 

Temple's Public Policy programs are dedicated to training the next generation of public leadership in the Philadelphia region and beyond. Contact Samantha Apgar, Associate Director, to learn more about the Master of Public Policy, Online Master of Public Policy or Nonprofit Management Certificate.