Earlier today I was asked some questions by a Brazilian journalist named Beatriz Bergamin. Among those questions were these three--
"1- How do public policies work in the USA? 2 - What is the importance of public policies in your opinion? 3 - Do you believe that public policies work and actually help people?" No matter which political perspectives we bring to bear, I don't think many Americans are satisfied with the way public policies are formed at local, state, and national levels, though I did cite the public policy improvements we've made over the past 50 years regarding air and water pollution. I wonder how many US teachers might answer question #3 in the negative. Any thoughts about that?
What a great question. I loved working with Project Citizen (a program from the Center for Civic Education- check it out on www.civiced.org) when I taught high school. Students were able to identify a issue or problem in their local community or school. They researched and created solutions in a presentation format. The best part of the project was leading students to identify leaders in the community they could present their findings and solutions to. Over the years, many of our projects did get implemented at the local/school level and students were able to see the inner workings of public policy making. These students are more likely to get involved when they get older. Call me an optimist, but when we can teach the young that anyone can influence government and be a part of public policy making, then we are on the right track. Public policy does not just start with elected officials. Anyone can influence if they persistent enough.