“Why don’t policymakers read educational research?”
This is a question I hear a lot in academic circles. In fact, bemoaning this fact on Twitter led me to a fabulous conversation with Shree Chauhan—who told me that, in her experience working with policymakers, they do read educational research and want to read more, and that we in academia could make that much easier to do.
Chauhan (see full bio below) is an education entrepreneur who also manages education and health policy for a national civil rights organization. She has worked in the federal education policy arena for nearly a decade and was kind enough to answer some questions for me based on her experiences. Our conversation, summarized below, highlighted the need to bridge gaps between the worlds of academia, policy, and advocacy organizations.
1. How do we get policymakers to read academic research?
Chauhan points out that, as well all know, policymakers are busy, busy, busy, so the more concisely we can sum up our work, the better.
“In a congressional office, any staff member is dealing with 7 or 8 issues, with education being one of 10 big things that are weedy and difficult. Research is usually written using jargon-filled language that many people don’t understand. If you bring in a 40 to 50 page paper, most may not be able to consume it. So go deep with your research and know exactly what you’re doing, but be able to break it down in a page… even find a good graphic designer to actually make it visually appealing and easy to understand.”
2. What kind of research do policymakers find most convincing and useful?
I’d assumed folks on Capitol Hill would prefer something with lots of of numbers, graphs, and data. While Chauhan affirms that numbers are important, she urges us not to forget the human side of politics as well: Continue reading “Why Don’t Policymakers Read Research? Actually, They Do: An Interview”