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Adding Muscle to the Mission: TC's New Office of Policy and Research

To help close the nation's educational achievement gap, Teachers College must influence school-related laws and policies. To that end, the College's new Office of Policy and Research has a simple but unequivocal goal: To make TC America's education policy mecca.

It shouldn't be too big a stretch. The school is already home to many of the nation's top policy scholars-people like Henry Levin, Amy Stuart Wells, Sharon Lynn Kagan, Thomas Sobol, Jay Heubert, Jeanne Brooks Gunn, Jeffrey Henig and others-working across a range of areas relevant to children, students, schools, families, communities and society as a whole. And because of TC's unique and diverse approach to offering policy-related courses, students can explore policy as either an introduction, a concentration, or through intensive policy programs linked with a specific domain of inquiry, such as early childhood or international studies.

So what needs to change? The focus, in the short-term, is to do a better job of broadcasting TC's capacity in educational policy, more forcefully communicate research findings to those who might implement them (legislators, school leaders, the media and other key players), and provide stronger guidance to other TC faculty who want to make an impact with their research. Tactically, that means that the Office of Policy and Research will bring a new aggressiveness to pursuing grants, encourage more policy-relevant research, seek to attract more students to TC who are interested in doing policy work, provide stronger mentoring to faculty, forge ties with other institutions, and help all students navigate the school's rich policy options. Down the road, TC might also establish a presence in Washington, D.C., Albany and other state and local seats of government.

It's an ambitious agenda, but if it succeeds, the beneficiaries will include not only TC and its students and faculty, but schoolchildren all across America.

Now, that's sound policy.

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