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What Can We Expect from Government? Educational Goals and the Real World of Politics

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What Can We Expect from Government? Educational Goals and the Real World of Politics Ben Levin Ontario Ministry of Education/ OISE-University of Toronto – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What Can We Expect from Government? Educational Goals and the Real World of Politics


1
What Can We Expect from Government?Educational
Goals and the Real World of Politics
  • Ben Levin
  • Ontario Ministry of Education/
  • OISE-University of Toronto

2
My Background
  • Four time civil servant including CEO
  • Academic with interest in policy and politics
  • International experience including UK

3
Disappointment with Politics
  • Expectations rising and diversifying
  • Public sector no longer enjoys automatic support
  • Political performance inevitably inadequate
  • Hopes of supporters frequently not met

4
Dangers of Cynicism
  • Lack of confidence feeds itself
  • Negative role of media
  • Faith in auditors, controls
  • Declining voter turnout
  • Declining citizen engagement

5
Why Government Is At It Is
  • The central task
  • The constraints
  • Policy
  • Implementation

6
The Central Task
  • Getting and Staying Elected

7
This Is Not A Bad Thing
  • Getting elected is required to move an agenda
    forward
  • Requires developing public support
  • What is the alternative?

8
Challenges in Getting Elected
  • Diverse and conflicting expectations
  • Public is
  • Not necessarily knowledgeable
  • Not necessarily reasonable
  • Not necessarily consistent
  • Proposals need to be simple

9
If I cant explain it in 25 words or less,
people stop listening.
10
That may be true, but its not what people
believe.
  • Citizens matter more than experts.

11
Constraints Once Elected
  • Policy
  • Implementation

12
Policy
  • Too many issues, not enough time
  • Often no good solution
  • Working in a fishbowl
  • Constant opposition
  • Internal as well as external
  • Mistakes very costly
  • Surprises

13
Surprises
  • At any given moment there is a high probability
    of very low probability events occurring.
  • In other words, surprise dominates.
  • Yehezkel Dror, Policymaking Under Adversity (1986)

14
Implementation
  • Will people do not want to
  • Skill people do not know how
  • Capacity wherewithall is lacking
  • Diversity responding to different contexts
  • Short timeline for results

15
Particular Challenges in Education
  • People care deeply, see as important
  • Goals are diverse, long-term
  • Interests are well organized and divergent
  • People see themselves as knowledgeable
  • Lots of conventional wisdom, inadequate evidence
  • Less tradition of using evidence

16
An Ontario Example
  • Reduction in primary class size
  • Max of 20 students K-3
  • Fully funded
  • Uneven implementation
  • Why?
  • Opposition
  • Lack of attention
  • Poor systems
  • Local challenges

17
What Can We Expect?
  • Good convictions
  • Two steps forward for one back
  • Genuine attempts to engage public
  • Paying attention to evidence where possible

18
Political Will
  • Doing something we like that many other people
    do not support.

19
Doing something that we dont like but many other
people do.
  • Ideology

20
Role of Academics
  • Couple criticism with positive messages
  • Support deeper public understanding
  • Focus on evidence in the political debate
  • Challenge conventional wisdom
  • Support democratic engagement

21
Role of Practitioners
  • Build public engagement
  • Understand political realities
  • See the longer term and bigger picture
  • Look for positive potential in the situation

22
Thank You!
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