Earley Joins GSE as Director of New Education Policy Center

Posted: October 29, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

Penelope (Penny) Earley joined the Graduate School of Education (GSE) last month from her post as vice president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education to direct the school’s new Center for Education Policy.

The center’s focus will be different than that of a typical education policy center, says Earley, in that it will translate existing faculty research into policy briefs rather than solely concentrate on studying new issues and making new policy.

“George Mason is uniquely located to serve as a policy conduit,” she says. “Rather than seeing the center as a research unit, I want to draw on the outstanding research that’s already being done and take it to the next step.”

Her goal is to take the knowledge that faculty are generating through research on hot-button issues such as the No Child Left Behind Act and the retention of special education teachers and get it into the hands of those who can use it to make a difference. And she is open to the other side of the equation as well, which means encouraging faculty members to “listen to conversations to determine what kinds of policy problems are out there, decide if they can provide answers, and get grants to test the answers out.”

Unlike centers that add steady streams of policy documents to the overflowing piles on legislators’ desks, the audience for policy briefs from GSE’s center will depend on the topic. Plans are underway for a series of policy lectures by experts in the field that will help build that audience base. And not only will GSE faculty be generating policy differently, but they will be sending it out differently–in CD or online format rather than in print.

“Outreach is an important component of policymaking,” says Earley. “We’ll be successful when people see the university as a place to come for answers.”

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