North Carolina Institute for Educational Policymakers

In school year 1997-98, a large North Carolina-based foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, noted that elected and appointed policymakers were being asked to make critical decisions about some of the most complicated educational issues the state has ever confronted. Yet, the Fund found, there were few opportunities for policymakers to have the time and the resources to study the issues and gather information that would enable them to make research-based decisions on proven strategies that have been tested and proven not only in the United States but around the world.

The Foundation asked the Public School Forum to work with it to design a vehicle that would have a singular goal – to give policymakers more tools and more information to deal effectively with the host of complex questions that will shape schools and schooling in North Carolina. The result of that work led to the creation of the Institute for Educational Policymakers, the nation’s first devoted solely to equipping elected and appointed policymakers with the tools and knowledge that will enable them to shape a comprehensive, cohesive plan to build a system of schools that is second to none.

The focus of the Institute’s work is on three audiences: members of the North Carolina House and Senate, with a special emphasis on members of the House and Senate Education Committees; members of the State Board of Education, and locally elected officials.

During non-election years, the Institute, working with legislative leaders in both houses, isolates topical issues that are of importance and organizes briefings for members of the House and Senate Education Committees. The issues have ranged from school finance to testing and accountability, from data management to charter schools.

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