Learning is one of the most important things we do as humans. We start learning right from the very beginning and crave new knowledge throughout our lives.
Unfortunately, our education system is not perfect, and many people do not have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.
We acknowledge that there are weaknesses in American education policy, from preschool all the way up to postgraduate programs.
That’s why some people devote their lives to understanding these weaknesses and working on solutions to improve them.
A career in education policy is challenging and frustrating at times, but can also be extremely fulfilling and satisfying.
If you’re unhappy with the deficiencies you see in American education structures and you want to truly make a difference in the lives of children and young adults, then you might want to consider getting into education policy.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to build a successful career that truly helps students learn and grow:
1. Understand How Education Policy Works
Before you jump into the world of education policy, you need to know how changes happen within the system.
The Department of Education is tasked with establishing federal policies and collecting data for distribution to anyone with an interest in education, including Congress and the general public.
Data is then used to identify problems within the educational system.
This is where education policy experts come in—they use data to determine which issues are most pressing, and make recommendations for new policies. They help to prepare legislative proposals and are instrumental in helping to bring about positive educational policy changes.
2. Make it a Priority to Develop Knowledge and Experience in Education Policy
If you want to make a difference in education policy, then you have to be willing to develop a deep knowledge of the subject.
The education system is complex, and creating recommendations and new policies requires taking many different factors into account in order to create effective solutions.
You can’t expect to make lasting change without earning an advanced degree, such as a Master’s in education policy.
Developing knowledge in education policy is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience, perseverance, and the willingness to learn and understand complex material is essential for success.
3. Find a Cause You Are Passionate About
Unfortunately, there are lots of problems plaguing the field of education, and it’s impossible for one person to focus on them all. If you try to spread yourself too thin, you’re unlikely to make any meaningful changes.
Instead, it’s better to choose a cause you are passionate about and pursue changes in just that area.
For instance, if you got interested in education policy because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many people have not had the opportunity to gain the health literacy they need to protect themselves, then you might put your effort behind changing that.
You could focus your energy on ensuring that policies are put into place to improve health education in schools, leading to improved lifelong health for all, especially vulnerable populations.
4. Understand There Are Multiple Ways To Make an Impact
We all want to see positive changes in education at all levels. While education policy is key in making that happen, it’s also not the only way to make an impact.
If you’re daunted by the idea of studying education policy or you just don’t see yourself building a career in the field, don’t be discouraged. You can still make a difference.
Education is just begging for innovation and rapid change. Everyone from educational administrators to entrepreneurs can help.
Creating new curriculum materials and resources designed to be used by students directly, helping to develop leadership skills for educational administrators, and even selling schools new products that help students to succeed are all ideas for pushing educational reform forward.
Radical change takes creative problem-solving combined with persistence. It isn’t easy to change broken systems, and you may need to be willing to develop new skills if you want to make a difference.
But even if it seems impossible, know that you can make a difference—and if we want to improve access to a quality, well-rounded education in the United States, we need people who are willing to step up, innovate, and fight for students.