By Joe Levine
Last spring, when Teachers College created the new position of Associate Dean for Policy/Director of the Office of Policy and Research, the only real question was whether Lynn Kagan would agree to take the job.
Kagan-the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, and co-director with Jeanne Brooks-Gunn of the National Center for Children and Families-is a presence in both the front ranks of scholarship and the world's major policy arenas. Her academic publications include Reinventing Early Care and Education: A Vision for a Quality System; Putting Families First: America's Family Support Movement and the Challenge of Change; and Integrating Services for Children and Families. She also recently guest-edited a special issue on international education for Phi Delta Kappan, the nation's leading educational magazine.
Moreover, Kagan has helped design countless pieces of legislation, chaired numerous national commissions, developed the National Education Goals Panel's position on school readiness, and developed and help implement early childhood education standards for many U.S. states and other nations. During 2004, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the Council of Chief State School Officers, for which past honorees include former President Bill Clinton, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and TC trustee and Yale University school development pioneer James Comer.
"When you to talk to governors or visit people in Washington," says Darlyne Bailey, TC's Vice President and Dean, "they say, ‘Oh, you're at Teachers College-how is Lynn?'"
Kagan, whose first job was teaching in the federal Head Start program, describes herself as "the child of social activists" who has devoted her career to "improving the life and learning conditions for low-income children and families."
Among her insights about how to get policy implemented: