"If you're not at the table, you are probably on the menu!"
Do you want your opinions to count in education policy making?
Are you frustrated that Washington too often just doesn't get it?
Do you want to change education policy so it works for students?
Do you want education policy that empowers the professionalization of educators?
Janewestconsulting is dedicated to connecting professionals and other stakeholders to policy makers. As a former teacher with a doctorate in special education and thirty years of policy experience in the nation's capital, I connect education organizations and professionals to the policy making process. Professionals and organizations interact directly with policy makers and inform deliberations with knowledge, expertise and experience from the real world of teaching and learning. Professional development for doctoral students and practicing educators results in policy-savvy professionals who understand the policy process and how to engage with it.
I got my start in the policy world through my doctoral program. My internship placement was with the US Senate Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. I went on to serve as a by working senior education staff member on that Committee. From there, I worked for several national organizations to assist them in shaping their message and ensuring that it was heard. I have led the policy work for several higher education organizations, including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children. I work in multiple coalitions with other national organizations to amplify the voice and the message of the organization and connect them directly into the policy dialogue. We have developed legislation that has been enacted to create new programs, increased funding for key programs and modified proposals so that they would best serve students and professionals.
Educator Preparation — As Sr. Vice President for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education for 8 years, I led the organization's policy and government relations work during times of fundamental change in educator preparation policy. Measuring the effectiveness of programs in terms of their impact on student learning continues to be at the heart of the dialogue about shifting roles in state and federal educator preparation policy. New professional accreditation requirements and rating systems are significant developments that are shaping policy and practice and ensure that this will continue to be a turbulent area of policy development.
Teacher Quality — With Race to the Top and waivers to No Child Left Behind, issues of teacher quality are paramount. Most states are actively reinventing their teacher evaluation systems with mixed results. Equitable distribution of teachers to ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to an excellent teacher is a goal yet to be realized. The strengthening of the profession of teaching stands as a critical challenge.
Special Education — While our nation has made significant strides in educating students with disabilities, much remains to be done. Ensuring that all students with disabilities receive the education that will equip them for postsecondary participation and/or employment has been an elusive goal. Students with disabilities must not be an afterthought in policy making; consideration of the impact of policy on their needs is essential.
Government Relations — Janewestconsulting works with professionals and organizations to develop their message and communicate it to policy makers and other important stakeholders at critical times during the policy making process. We analyze policy proposals and assists clients in developing materials that will effectively communicate their message. We support clients in developing collaborative relationships with other national stakeholders who serve as key allies in moving forward a proactive policy agenda. Our extensive experience working with Capitol Hill, the Administration and multiple national education organizations facilitates our ability to make key connections for clients.
Professional Development, Internships and Seminars — Education students, practitioners and other stakeholders are often unprepared to engage in the policy making process. In this day and age, knowledge about policy issues -- and the process and strategies for engaging in policy development and analysis -- are critical, as policy decisions have significant impact on the work of everyone involved in public education, no matter what their role or setting. Policy makers are informed about education by many strong voices and sometimes those with the most experience and expertise are not heard. The result can be policy that does not deliver the intended outcome. Courses, seminars and internships in Washington provide opportunities for doctoral students, teachers and others to learn why policy matters, what the issues are and how to make their voices heard.
Strategic Planning — Informing policy making is as strategic as it is substantive. Who the messenger is may be as important as what the message is. In policy making, timing is everything. Understanding key windows of opportunity and utilizing them to amplify a message can affect policy. Strategic planning services facilitate effective engagement in policy development for professionals and other stakeholders.