Advocating for the Common Good: People, Politics, Process, and Policy on Capitol Hill offers a rich and accessible guide to policy making in the nation’s capital, beckoning us to get to the table, make our voices heard, and reinvigorate our policy making institutions. Jane E. West parts the curtains and brings us behind the scenes with a simple framework that enables both the novice and the experienced to deftly navigate the Washington maze. The four Ps—people, politics, process, and policy—are each examined with an eye toward what a successful advocate needs to know. Informed by her forty years of experience as part of the policy making apparatus in education and disability, expert interviews with those in the room where it happens, a deep dive into congressional procedures, and the scholarship on public policy, Dr. West delivers a powerful call to action. This jargon-free guide provides students, professionals, and the public with practical tools and a proven step-by-step process to both analyze existing policies and plan advocacy strategies to change policies moving forward.
Jane West is an independent education policy consultant based in Washington, DC. She began her policy work as an intern in the U.S. Senate for Sen. Lowell P. Weicker (R-CT) in 1983, where she went on to serve as staff director for the Subcommittee on Disability Policy of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). She has been active in policy making for over forty years, working for a range of federal government agencies as well as national organizations, including the Presidential Task Force on the HIV Epidemic, the National Council on Disability, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Education, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children.
She has written and spoken extensively on policy and advocacy in education and disability and served on the faculties of the University of San Francisco, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and Virginia Commonwealth University, designing and teaching public policy courses.
For more information, see https://www.janewestconsulting.com/
List of Tables, Textboxes, and Figures
The Iron Triangle
Beyond the Iron Triangle
The Culture of Policy Making vs. the Cultures of Other Sectors
Majorities and Minorities in Congress
The White House
Participating in Election Campaigns
Transition to Office after Winning an Election
Part I: Summary of the Literature on Public Policy Making Processes
Part II: Congressional Procedures
Part III: Executive Branch Processes
Which Comes First: The Problem or the Solution?
What is Good Policy?
Advocating with Congressional Offices
Advocating with the Executive Branch
Artifacts for Advocacy
Connecting Research, Practice, and Policy
Participating in a Committee Hearing or a Town Hall Meeting
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Advocacy Activities
Impact of the January 6, 2021, Events at the Capitol on Security Measures
About the Interviewees
About the Author
I have worked in the Washington, DC, policy space since 1995. Watching Dr. Jane E. West in action, and now reading her book, solidifies for me that Dr. West is one of the most exceptional policy experts I have worked with and witnessed in action. This book, Advocating for the Common Good, is a must-read for anyone who seeks to engage in advocacy and understand the who, what, where, when, and whys of policy making. Dr. West’s four 'P's provide an excellent framework for the reader. I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to make a difference through policy and advocacy.
Despite some of the agonizing news about fractious American politics and policy making, author Jane E. West reminds us to organize and advocate for the common good. Her book, Advocating for the Common Good, provides accessible and revealing details about how policymaking and politics work. West’s deep tissue knowledge and Capitol Hill experiences will keep you reading as she makes transparent and understandable what is often opaque and confusing. I’ve been teaching education policy to PhD and EdD students since 1993, and West’s book is one of the most informative, useful, and engaging that I’ve read!
Jane West is a legend. Her advocacy work for persons with disabilities began in Washington, DC, working for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In this thorough, practical, and eminently readable book, Jane shares her experiences in advocating for the common good. This is absolutely indispensable reading for anyone seeking to make positive changes in the world of policy. Jane West's book is an instant classic!
Jane West has written an extraordinarily comprehensive treatise on the legislative process in the US Congress and how advocacy can be translated into effective policy that can influence the creation and enactment of legislation. Through a combination of insights gained from experience as a highly regarded Hill staffer and significant roles representing major educational and policy organizations, she has created a comprehensive primer on the formal process of how legislation is created, providing insights into how to be a most resourceful and effective advocate.
Jane West's Advocating for the Common Good is at once theoretical and practical. Based on her four decades of experience across the various levers of power in Washington, West provides valuable insights into how our federal government works in comprehensible terms for a wide audience at a critical time in our nation's history.
An engaging and inspiring read. Dr. West presents a complicated and layered process through a clear and digestible framework, extending readers' appreciation of the complex relationships among people, policies, process, and politics. I believe that this book will be read, appreciated, and applied by multiple audiences, including those who approach policy making from an academic or research background, those who are advocates 'in the making,' and those who simply want to learn more about the process. There are many of us who think we understand what's going on in our nation's capital, but few of us possess the depth of understanding and experience that Dr. West has acquired and conveys so clearly through this book.
This text is a call to action for anyone interested in serving the common good through policy work. Dr. West's framework, the four P's—the people, the politics, the processes, and the policy—provides a structure to understand what is seen, heard, and learned in policy making. Advocating for the Common Good lays a foundation for the essential aspects of policy making by integrating theory with practical action steps to begin and sustain advocacy work. The timing of this text feels strikingly pointed.
Dr. Jane West has done something remarkable: she has made policy and the political process accessible and relatable. Her expertise, combined with her lived experiences, results in a book that should serve as a primary resource for anyone interested in learning the keys to advocacy, policy, and politics.
West seamlessly translates an examination of the American political institutions, the policy process and the factors at play, and the practical experience of policy experts into an action plan for developing an advocacy campaign to shape public policy. This text serves as a wonderful introduction for students looking to take their theoretical understanding of policy making beyond their classroom learning to real-world, practical use.
How can a regular citizen advocate for the common good? In this hopeful call to action, West walks her readers though the different participants and processes involved in governmental decision making. Blending theory with practice, she then details the historical context and current strategies used in policy creation, approval, implementation, and evaluation. She finishes with suggestions on how to influence policy in your own areas of passion and encourages all of us to engage in the political process.
This book empowers experts with the understanding of the process to impact policy and provides a bridge to collaborative partnerships between experts and policy makers.
The author builds on the extant body of work on this critical topic, while also incorporating their deep experience in practice. This book thus in essence presents a practice-informed theory, which is much needed in the field of education and public policy.
I think Jane West is the perfect individual to write this type of book. She directs the reader from the start of a concept through the fruition of the campaign/law. This is a step-by-step approach to how the system works to develop a law and to meet with elected representatives. West takes the mystery out of a process that to many of us is mysterious and untouchable.
Jane West's approach is meticulous and rooted in her experience and knowledge, while also leveraging existing work. A very practical book that can be useful to folks who are fresh on the policy scene and also to academics as part of their syllabi.
Jane West uses her extensive experience in the policy realm to provide a text appropriate for anyone interested in public policy. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to know how government works and how public policies are made.
Advocating for the Common Good moves beyond the standard description of the policy process by providing invaluable advice on the actual interactions with the people developing policy. Jane West includes stories from her experiences and experiences of several US policy insiders in collaboratively building policy for positive change.
A key component of becoming a special educator and a school administrator is advocacy, and Dr. West makes a valid point that many educators, constituents, and other entities are novices when it comes to visits and discussions with congressional representatives and senators. The process can often be intimating and daunting. This text provides that practical guide and assistance from the experts on not only how to speak to congressional leaders, but also how to get involved in policy making procedures. Whether you are a beginner or an adroit advocate, Dr. West brings her political wisdom and experience to the forefront of politics and policy so the readers can formulate their own foundation and adequately establish an advocacy plan for their sector. More than just a 'car manual' on policy making, this book encompasses the application of effective advocacy and cohesive problem solving at a national level.
While most books focus on the policy analysis and evaluation process, I have not come across a good explanation of how to put this into action, which this book presents. The practical knowledge shared in this book is invaluable for those wanting to use their analysis to affect change.
The world in which we live mandates that educational leaders understand and can function in the world of federal policy making. This book, written by a veteran of federal political processes in Washington, DC, provides a roadmap to help train aspiring leaders and advocates on how to make their voices heard and allow the policy making process work for them.
West very clearly explains how various players interact to develop federal policy with timely and pertinent examples. Having been involved in various aspects of the policy development process, West provides insights on being a policy advocate at the national or state levels that will encourage readers to become more engaged and to advocate for policies for the common good.
Advocating for the Common Good is a tangible and pragmatic overview of the public policy process in the United States. In covering the four P's (people, politics, processes, and policy), Jane West provides the reader with a fundamental democratic lesson. Citizens should expect their elected and unelected government officials, with their input and counsel, to create policies that improve the status quo and help the republic move toward a more perfect union.
Advocating for the Common Good: People, Politics, Process, and Policy on Capitol Hill offers a cursory glance at the systems and strategies that shape how public policy is made in the United States. As a practical tool, this is a great read for those beginning their journey to understand and engage in effective policy and advocacy work.
In Advocating for the Common Good, Dr. West draws on her extensive practical experience in federal policy to provide a useful organization of the landscape of policy making. This theoretically grounded practical manual illustrates how to understand and leverage the four p's—people, politics, process, and policy—to be an effective advocate.
6/23/2023, LWV of New Rochelle: The Ballot Box:
Practical hands-on tools
Process maps for planning and doing