Category: Policy (Page 1 of 2)

Color of Education 2018

On Tuesday, October 2nd, Duke Policy Bridge at Sanford, Duke Cook Center on Social Equity, and the Public School Forum of NC welcomed NY Times Magazine investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones to open our Color of Education partnership.  We were excited to have Hannah-Jones deliver an awesome keynote address to a North Carolina crowd of roughly 500 educators, school board members, researchers, and community members.

As we’ve highlighted in our prior communications, in 2019 and beyond, “Color of Education” will evolve into an annual summit as well as other statewide and regional gatherings, bringing together educators, policymakers, experts and other key stakeholders focused on achieving racial equity and eliminating racial disparities in education. For more information about October 2nd and future Color of Education events, please contact Policy Bridge.

To watch the footage from October 2nd’s kickoff, please use the link below.

Color of Education: Racial Equity in NC Schools

Nikole Hannah-Jones to kick-off “Color of Education” in North Carolina



Raleigh-Durham, NC (August 2, 2018) – The Public School Forum of North Carolina, in partnership with Duke Policy Bridge and the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, announced today the first in a series of annual summits and convenings focused on race, equity and education in North Carolina under the banner “Color of Education.” (Twitter: #ColorOfEducation). The kick-off event will feature award-winning New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Color of Education: An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones”, will be held on Tuesday, October 2nd at 6:00 PM on the campus of Duke University at Penn Pavilion. Tickets for the event are $25 and will be on sale August 8th at 11:00AM EST via the Duke University Box Office website. The event is sponsored in part by the Grable Foundation.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate school alumnus and former (Raleigh) News & Observer reporter. She was named a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow (one of only 24 people chosen, globally) for “reshaping national conversations around education reform” and for her reporting on racial resegregation in our schools. This is the latest honor in a growing list: she’s won a Peabody, a Polk, and, in 2017, a National Magazine Award for her story on choosing a school for her daughter in a segregated city.

Nikole’s brilliant talks explore the important roles schools play in their communities, how they’re affected by their surrounding neighborhoods, and how seeing race from the lens of education tells a whole new story of inequality in America.

In 2019 and beyond, “Color of Education” will evolve into an annual summit as well as other statewide and regional gatherings, bringing together educators, policymakers, experts and other key stakeholders focused on achieving racial equity and eliminating racial disparities in education.

“Nikole Hannah-Jones is one of the country’s most respected and influential voices on issues of race and education and we’re thrilled to have her kick-off this new phase of our work to address the systemic inequities and barriers facing students of color in North Carolina,” said Keith Poston, President and Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina.

“Nikole Hannah-Jones’ visit to campus is an exciting prelude to the conversations we hope to continue in our Color of Education partnership,” said Frederick Mayer, Director of Duke Policy Bridge at the Sanford School. “We are looking forward to this unique opportunity to engage the Sanford School and broader Duke community around this important issue in our state.”

“We are excited to have Nikole Hannah-Jones kick off the Color of Education convening,” said Professor William A. Darity, Jr, founding director of the Cook Center. “Her work on historical and contemporary barriers to educational equity set the stage for critical conversations about race in North Carolina schools.”

“Through her investigative reporting, Nikole Hannah-Jones delves in to the context of racial disparities in education – particularly through frank examinations of who has access and who is denied access to resources and opportunities,” said Professor Keisha Bentley-Edwards, associate director of research for the Cook Center.

The impact of race in education was a central focus of the Public School Forum’s Study Group XVI: Expanding Education Opportunity in North Carolina. The Committee on Racial Equity’s findings and recommendations were published in October 2016. The committee covered issues such as resegregation, teacher diversity, discipline disparity and lack of access to advanced, more rigorous coursework for students of color.

About Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity.  She has written extensively on the history of racism, school resegregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, as well as the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With, to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House.

Her piece “Worlds Apart” in The New York Times Magazine won the 2017 National Magazine Award for “journalism that illuminates issues of national importance” as well as the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. In 2016, she was awarded a Peabody Award and George Polk Award for radio reporting for her This American Life story, “The Problem We All Live With.” She was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and was also named to The Root 100. Her reporting has also won Deadline Club Awards, Online Journalism Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, the Emerson College President’s Award for Civic Leadership, and was a previous finalist for the National Magazine Award.

Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting with the goal of increasing the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame. For the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies, she investigated social changes under Raul Castro and the impact of universal healthcare on Cuba’s educational system. She was also selected by the University of Pennsylvania to report on the impact of the Watts Riots for a study marking the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report, 2007. Along with The New York Times, her reporting has been featured in ProPublicaThe Atlantic MagazineHuffington PostEssence MagazineThe Week MagazineGristPolitico Magazine, and on Face the NationThis American Life, NPR, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now, and radio stations across the country.



About Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow the Forum on Twitter @theNCForum

About Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity

The Duke Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity is a scholarly collaborative engaged in the study of the causes and consequences of inequality and in the assessment and redesign of remedies for inequality and its adverse effects. Concerned with the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of uneven and inequitable access to resources, opportunity and capabilities, Cook Center researchers take a cross-national comparative approach to the study of human difference and disparity. Ranging from the global to the local, Cook Center scholars not only address the overarching social problem of general inequality, but they also explore social problems associated with gender, race, ethnicity and religious affiliation. Follow the Cook Center on Twitter @DUSocialEquity

Bridging in the Opioid Crisis

2018 APPAM regional forum at Penn Pavilion at Duke University
Duke Policy Bridge at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) hosted a 2018 topical forum on how to build research and policy partnerships around the prevailing national issue of opioid misuse

Researchers, policymakers and practitioners gathered at Duke May 1 to discuss how to strengthen working relationships and share evidence-based programs addressing the U.S. opioid crisis. The event, “State and Research University Partnerships in the Opioid Crisis,” was organized by Duke Policy Bridge, part of the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM).

Frederick Mayer, professor of Public Policy at Sanford and Policy Bridge director, welcomed the group of more than 150. “Today’s program brings together all the elements of what we teach in Public Policy,” he said. Dr. Susan Kansagra, section chief of chronic disease and injury for the N.C. Division of Public Health, described the event as, “a great opportunity to get people in a room who wouldn’t ordinarily meet.”

One of the day’s themes was how best to connect researchers with policymakers to ensure timely information gets to those who need it. Jenni Owen, senior policy adviser to N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, noted policymakers are often inundated with “let me know if I can help” emails. A more useful approach, she told attendees, is to reach out and, “provide timely, targeted, relevant information.” Owen understands well the potential value of links between researchers and policymakers: She is on leave from her role as senior lecturer at the Sanford School.

Attendees split up into break-out sessions addressing support services for children in households with substance abuse; assisting state officials with data science inquiries; embedding networks for treatment after overdose; and providing a system of care in underserved and rural communities.

Speakers shared their experiences with successful programs. Deputy Sheriff Donnie Varnell, from Dare County, described how his county’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is working: “If we go on a call and it turns out to be someone using drugs, we now ask, ‘Do you want to go to treatment?’ You don’t have to be arrested to get into the program.” That can mean significant cost savings, he added, citing $78 per person, per day “for someone sitting in jail,” versus “$24 for treatment and other services.”

Another common theme was the importance of tailoring a program to a community—and that ALL stakeholders from that community need to be at the table to discuss the program. That includes the drug users who will benefit from the program and the law enforcement officers and others who will implement it. The LEAD program began to work, Varnell said, “when we all sat down at a table and broke bread” and realized they shared a common goal. “We knew we wanted to help individuals get to a better place.”

The final panel of the day was moderated by Erich Senin Huang, co-director of Duke Forge and assistant dean for Biomedical Informatics at the Duke School of Medicine. Dana Bernson, assistant director for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, talked about how her office has been able to link data from various state and community sources, improving accuracy in reporting of opioid deaths and overdoses. Understanding the scope of the problem, panelists agreed, is vital to solving it; research universities, with their wealth of knowledge and resources, can be valuable partners.

Many found the day’s discussions valuable, and attendees could be seen chatting and exchanging business cards throughout the day. Among them was Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, PhD, chief operating officer of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS), one of the event sponsors. She is actively involved in addiction research. “Tackling the opiate epidemic requires collaboration across academic disciplines, and between the academy and the community, along with an understanding of the brain science of addiction, and ultimately, behavior change. DIBS was proud to play a part in sponsoring this incredibly engaging event!”

Other sponsors were the N.C. Scholars Strategy Network and the ncIMPACT program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government.

View the entire May 1st Opioid forum using the YouTube Link below. Breakout Group materials and key takeaways can be found here.

Save the Date: APPAM Forum

State and Research University Partnerships in the Opioid Crisis

Continuing the dialogue around evidence-based policymaking discussed at last spring’s APPAM Institutional Member Forum, Duke Policy Bridge at the Sanford School of Public Policy will host a 2018 topical forum on how to build research and policy partnerships around the prevailing national issue of opioid misuse.

Opioid misuse is a major epidemic across the nation. Local and state officials bear the burden of responses to the epidemic and need assistance coordinating research and resources. As observed through Duke’s and other institution’s collaborations with state government on this issue, research universities can provide valuable resources and expertise to government leaders.

This Institutional Forum, held at Duke University, will connect the worlds of research and policy across this escalating public health epidemic, and will be a valuable opportunity for academics, researchers, and policy officials to exchange best practices for research and policy support in the face of this crisis.

Break out topics will focus on the key areas of:

  • Providing support services for children in households with substance use
  • Assisting state officials with data science inquiries
  • Embedding networks for treatment after overdose
  • Providing a system of care in underserved and rural communities

Speaker details and registration are located here

Policy Engagement Training

Organized by the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN), in partnership with the William T. Grant Foundation, this interactive workshop provides researchers and data scientists the opportunity to learn best practices for developing reciprocal relationships with civic intermediaries and policymakers. In the pursuit of its mission to bridge the gap between universities and the policy process, the network has identified the knowledge and skills that researchers need to use their expertise more effectively in the policy realm. The centerpiece is an approach that emphasizes relationships and research-practice partnerships between academics and practitioners, rather than the traditional model of one-way information dissemination.

This workshop aims to provide concrete tools to empower researchers to foster long-term, reciprocal relationships with policymakers. These relationships — which are most formally organized as research-practice partnerships, but can take many other forms — have the potential to address policy crises and opportunities when they arise, as well as to promote policy improvement over the long-run. Skills taught in the training include: how to develop ongoing, reciprocal, trusting relationships with policymakers and civic intermediaries; how to assess policymakers’ resources, needs, and opportunities; the timing of the policy-making process; how to make effective use of intermediary groups; how interaction with policymakers can help researchers determine better research questions; and how ongoing policy engagement can be a part of researchers’ academic success.

Co-hosted by Duke Policy Bridge


Date: Friday, March 30th

Time: 8am-3pm


Open to doctoral students, post-docs, research associates, and faculty.

Applications will be accepted until 8:00am EST Tuesday, February 13th. We will notify applicants of their admission status by Monday, February 19th.

Children’s Law Clinic- School Voucher Policy Brief

Last March, the Duke Children’s Law Clinic released their report on the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program entitled ” School Vouchers in North Carolina: The First Three Years.” The report provides an academic and financial analysis of the program from its commencement.

As part of Policy Bridge’s new policy brief template project, our team connected with Jane Wettach, Director of the Children’s Law Clinic, to collaborate on compiling key points from the report into a policy brief.

A Few Key Takeaways from the Policy Brief: 

  1. Accountability measures for North Carolina private schools receiving vouchers are limited and among the weakest in the country.
  2. Based on limited and early data, the majority of the students using vouchers are performing below average on nationally-standardized reading, language, and math tests.
  3. The North Carolina voucher program is well designed to promote parental choice, especially for parents who prefer religious education. It is poorly designed, however, to promote better academic outcomes for children and is unlikely to do so.
  4. Because private schools receiving vouchers are not required to administer state tests nor publish detailed achievement data, the public will be unable to develop valid conclusions about the success of the program.
  5. The state should consider amendments to the program that will improve both its accountability to the public and its potential for providing better education.

Policy Recommendations from the Law Clinic: 

  • Require all participating schools to offer a curriculum that is at least equivalent to the curriculum used in the North Carolina public schools: providing instruction in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, physical education, arts education, foreign languages, and technology skills. Alternatively, the state should design an accreditation system that holds schools to strong academic standards.
  • Require all participating schools to set reasonable qualifications for teachers.
  • Require that students receiving vouchers participate in the state End-of-Grade testing program, and that the schools receiving voucher support publicly report data in the same manner as is required of public schools.
  • Require all participating schools to offer at least the same number of hours and days of education as are offered by the public schools.
  • Require limited financial reviews of all schools, with more extensive reviews for schools receiving more than $50,000 in voucher support.
  • Prohibit all forms of discrimination in schools accepting voucher support.
  • Strengthen the oversight role of the SEAA and/or the Division of Non-Public Education such that schools that consistently fail to provide an adequate education are denied continued voucher payments.

The policy brief can be accessed below. To read the full report, please visit the Children’s Law Clinic website.

Download the PDF file .



Jonathan Wiener’s Climate Policy Essay

The Chaire Economie du Climat in Paris invited Duke Law Professor Jonathan Wiener to write an essay for a European audience on the current status and possible future of US climate policies. Weiner is a member of the CEC and has done scholarly and professional work with other environmental organizations.

His essay is available online under the CEC’s web uploads. A later revised version of this essay will appear in the journal Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment .

Here’s an excerpt from a CEC interview with Wiener on US Climate Policy.

  • Do we know when the American withdrawal of the Paris agreement will take place?On June 1st, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement.  But the Paris Agreement itself requires 3 years after it entered into force (on 4 November 2016), plus another year of notice, before a country may withdraw.  So a US withdrawal would not be legally effective until 4 November 2020 at the earliest.  (Under US law, withdrawal from this type of international agreement is largely up to the President, so it is unlikely that Congress or the courts could change the decision to withdraw.)  Meanwhile, the announced withdrawal is a signal that the Trump administration is also seeking to change US domestic policy, by relaxing regulations on sources of greenhouse gases such as coal-fired electric power plants and gasoline (petrol) burning vehicles.
  • Can the role of the EPA in the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions evolve under Trump administration?The policies of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can change under a new presidential administration, as they have after past elections.  The President appoints the EPA Administrator, and the White House oversees EPA’s budget and regulatory policies.   But such policy changes may be limited by legal rules.   Rescinding or revising a past agency rule requires going through the administrative process again, which can take several years and can be challenged in court.  Generally, under US administrative law, a federal agency cannot simply change a past regulation, but must give good reasons for a significant change.   Moreover, the US Supreme Court held in 2007 that the Clean Air Act does cover greenhouse gases, so even if EPA now rescinds its Clean Power Plan (issued in 2015, but currently tied up in litigation), EPA will still be obligated to address greenhouse gases under some other provision of the Clean Air Act (this too could take several years) — unless Congress amends the Clean Air Act to prevent such regulation.
  • Is the question of a federal carbon tax definitively buried?A US carbon tax may be gaining some support, but its success is still a large challenge.  In 2010, the Waxman-Markey bill (proposing a cap-and-trade system) passed the US House, but failed to reach a vote in the US Senate.  After that, and following a 2007 Supreme Court decision, the Obama administration used executive action by federal agencies notably EPA (acting under the Clean Air Act and other laws) to try to reduce emissions.  Now, some Republican former officials are proposing a swap, in which Congress would enact a federal carbon tax while also undoing EPA’s climate regulations.  But it’s difficult to say how likely the enactment of such a law might be.




Shelia Patek’s Hill Visit Makes Science Podcast

Undiscovered: a Podcast about the Backstories of Science featured the work of Shelia Patek last week. Patek is an Associate Professor in Biology who studies the dynamics of physics and evoluntionary processes. Part of this research is done on mantis shrimp. Most people may recall Patek’s shrimp research being featured in the news this past year as part of the federally funded projects listed in Senator Jeff Flake’s Wastebook. Her Capitol Hill presentation was precipitated by that media incident. She speaks about her journey to DC on the podcast episode entitled “Wastebook.”

Professor Patek’s science engagement story is framed by the question of “what are you doing for the world?” Her mantis shrimp research may hold significant revelations on how to improve our human engineering capabilities. In December 2015, this insight was absent from Senator Flake’s team when they constructed their Wastebook describing Patek’s research as a shrimp fight club and waste of government money. The wastebook portrayed her National Science Foundation funded study as a waste of 707,000 tax payer dollars. The actual cost of her study is only a couple thousands of dollars after research overhead and facility management is taken away.


The fight club description was in reference a study led by one of Sheila’s grad students. Mantis shrimp use their hammer claw to crack snail shells and defend their territory from other mantis shrimp. The strike from their claw has been compared to a strike from a lethal weapon,  the equivalent (if not more so) than a bullet coming out of a gun. The sea creatures also sport a strong armored tail plate that endures many of these strikes. Considering the force of these offense mechanisms, there are many questions concerning how the tail plate endures that many hits without being compromised. These questions were the inspiration for the study.


Patek knew that her placement in the Wastebook represented a misunderstanding of science and the purpose of her research. She quickly posted an article refuting Flake’s placement of her study in his wastebook. Subsequently, next spring, she was invited to present her research with other scientists whose work had been placed in various wastebooks made by other senators.

She accepted and defended her research communicating why her mantis shrimp research matters with broader goal of communicating why science is important to the world. The shrimp’s hammer acceleration out paces missiles and race cars. The fact that they are able to achieve this in water may also signify great advancements from the research findings generated on these anthropods. These developments could hold critical implications for military and aviation engineering advancements .

Patek believes the knowledge that scientists generate in the lab is important and from that we’ve been able to say new things about the world. Patek’s story has also been featured in Duke Magazine, PBS, and TEDx presenations.

Listen to the full June 13th Undiscovered podcast here:

DGHI’s Diana Harvey Took Part in Capitol Hill Briefing

On June 7th, Diana Harvey, Director of Communications at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI), took part in a round table discussion with Washington D.C officials, staff, and global health practitioners.

The roundtable discussion was influenced by DGHI’s recent project with the Triangle Global Health Consortium. DGHI along with several other global health institutions partnered with the consortium on composing a report on global health’s vital importance to North Carolina’s economy. The report highlights the $1.2 billion per year health research funding brings to the state and the 26,000 jobs supported by the global health industry. Effectively, according to the report, “global health work in North Carolina contributed about $3.7 billion in gross state product” in 2015 alone.

Two days before the D.C. round table, Duke Professor and US Representative David Price led a panel of the report’s experts discussing global health’s role in North Carolina’s economy.

The full report can accessed at the link below.

The Global Health Sector’s Contributions to the Economy of North Carolina 

Graduate Student Presents at General Assembly

Duke graduate student Emily Pechar took part in the NC Legislature’s Graduate Student Education Day on May 16th.  Pechar was one of three Duke graduate students selected to present their research to the General Assembly.

Pechar’s research centers on climate change and how we can use political ideology to depolarize the issue. Her early findings show that climate change politics becomes less polarized once the issue is dissociated from partisan identities. This dissociation can be initiated by  priming someone with a salient, non-partisan identity before approaching an usually polarized issue.

“Hearing about the issue activates their partisan identity,” says Pechar, “so it’s getting folks to think about their nonpartisan identity before talking about these topics.” The hope is that attitudes can be changed to align them with the science.

Pechar’s plans to graduate from Duke next year and hopes to continue her research on “testing identity salience” before leaving Duke. Her climate change politics work has not been published yet. She hopes to give her work more time and review before formally sharing her findings with practitioners.




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