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NEPC Talks Education: Using Research to Engage in Education Policy

BOULDER, CO (November 17, 2022) – In this month’s episode of NEPC Talks Education, Christopher Saldaña interviews Arizona State University education policy professor David Garcia about his book, Teach Truth to Power: How to Engage in Education Policy.

Garcia explains that the motivation for the book was his experiences as a candidate for state superintendent and for governor. On the campaign trail the issue of school segregation was only brought up once by voters. Yet, the term “school segregation” yields 1.28 million hits on Google Scholar. Based on his experiences as a political staffer and candidate, he has a unique perspective of the disconnect between the issues studied by academics and the issues dealt with by politicians. As a result, he recognized the need to provide researchers guidance about how to go beyond problematizing issues to concretely helping to shape policy.

Garcia notes that academics often approach politicians with the goal of helping politicians to understand or to grasp the complexity of problems. He explains that while politicians are, in fact, often aware of the problems addressed by researchers, they filter knowledge selectively in order to consider what if any action to take to address those problems. He believes that researchers can best contribute to policy creation by using their expertise to predict policy outcomes and forecast solutions.

Garcia offers several tips for researchers interested in contributing to the policymaking process. For example, he encourages researchers to write one-page “action releases” that lead with a practical problem (a real-world condition that is worsening or could be improved), and conclude with an “ask” (a direct and specific request made to the policymaker).

A new NEPC Talks Education podcast episode, hosted by Christopher Saldaña, will be released each month from September through May. 

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All episodes are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

NEPC podcast episodes are also available on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, under the title NEPC Talks Education. Subscribe and follow!

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation about education policy. We publish original research, policy briefs, and expert third-party reviews of think tank reports. NEPC publications are written in accessible language and are intended for a broad audience that includes academic experts, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Visit us at: