Negotiation: The Key to a Successful Policy

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: May 09, 2019 - 12:00pm

Bowman in Policy Seminar

The MPP students were happy to welcome guest speaker, Dr. Richard Bowman to the Policy Seminar on May 1. Bowman brings his perspective as a former high school teacher to his policy work as the Albuquerque Public Schools’ Chief Information and Strategy Officer. He hopes to one day bring Education into the information age, but acknowledges that this is difficult because “at its heart, teaching is an emotional endeavor and emotions and data don’t go together.” Even if the research and data are solid, educators have to be willing to implement it in their classrooms and schools. Bowman admits that the decision makers do not always have a very good line of communication to the community they are working for, but in order to come up with a successful policy, especially in education, you have to ask the teachers and the parents what they care about.

Bowman and his team did just that this spring, with a survey that went out to 87,000 people in the Albuquerque Public School community (parents, teachers, and care takers), to find out  what recommendations to make for a new policy that will impact the school year. A survey on this scale is necessary for Bowman and his team to make a policy recommendation that will benefit the most people, and as Bowman points out, it is vital in policy to get as many people involved from the very beginning; from the decision makers to the general community.  A policy need to be informed about what the community cares about, and Bowman reminds the students, that it is impossible for one person to know everything about the community and the possible outcomes. Therefore, having a variety of voices involved from the start is imperative in order to create a resilient and effective policy.

Bowman shared that in his experience, so much of policy is a negotiation, and as the policy analyst you have to be willing to yield in order to reach your goal. From the research stage, to being written up, to being implemented, it should be expected that the policy is going to change a little, but as long as the goal is kept in mind the policy can still be successful. The community needs to support it and the decision makers have to agree with it, so as the MPP students look toward policy careers, Bowman advises that, “it is worthwhile to negotiate, because the more people that are behind the policy, the stronger it is.”