Happy New Year, my dear friends and colleagues:
The holidays are always a good time to catch up on readings, social media, news, and videos earmarked for viewing. As a university professor, I am always thinking of my students and my classroom.
For my master's-level, Policy Analysis class this semester—that conveniently coincides with the 88th Session of the Texas State Legislature—I have my students develop policy briefs and portfolios on the bill (or bills) of their choice that they'll be following throughout the semester. Though not required, invariably, there is always a subset of students that ends up testifying on legislation in House or Senate hearings. All students do a mock presentation based on their policy briefs at the end of the semester so that they can at least simulate the act of giving testimony before a legislative body.
To be specific, my master's students this semester are in the Education Policy and Planning (EPP) program within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP). From here, many of them go on to careers in policy think tanks, to work in policy-focused non-profits, external relations for school districts, including assuming positions in the Texas State Legislature, the Texas Education Agency, Washington, D.C. and the like.
A number have even become heads and leaders of coalitions or legislators themselves. So what our graduate students really appreciate is the opportunity to experience the Texas Legislative Session that meets biennially, or every other year.
This course doesn't always line up with the legislative session so when it does, that's a bonus. We also have a parallel Policy Analysis course for our EPP doctoral students taught by EPP faculty member and colleague, Dr. Christopher Brown whose approach will similarly have his unique signature.
Selecting required readings is never an easy or simply task, yet happy to share these below in case any of this interests you and you'd like to follow along.
Lopez, F. & Sleeter, C. (2022). Critical Race Theory and its critics: Implications for research and teaching. NY: Teachers College Press.*
*This book will be available for purchase soon.
In combination with articles that I am also assigning, these are recently-published texts that speak both to the art of policy making together with policy agendas and movements themselves, including, as you might infer from the readings, on today's "culture wars." By the way, for what it's worth, not a single "pinko-Marxist" text in the bunch!
The act of choosing some texts is inescapably the act of not choosing others. That said, the fact that I have had all of these students previously, I can pretty well anticipate what will be the pulse of the classroom and what will serve them well both for the class, but also for their chosen careers in policy. And they, of course, are taking other classes with other faculty in our program, department, college, and university who are making similar judgements like mine.
I'm excited about the semester and feel honored to cap off the entering EPP 2021 master's cohort with what I trust will be a very engaging experience this Spring. I've already informed them that session begins next Tuesday and so it's time to "buckle up" for the ride.
As a personal aside, I always say that those of us in policy have the most fun!
Happy New Year to all. Feliz año nuevo!