Interconnected Policy Agendas

Interconnected Policy Agendas

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay about public policy in education. Written for EDU 108: Introduction to Policy & Education.


Interconnected Policy Agendas

December 3, 2009


Figure 7.8 (Fowler, 2009, p. 182) shows how policy agendas relate to one another.  At the center of the figure is the stage at which problems are defined.  No matter what the policy issue may be, it must begin as a problem that needs to be defined.  Problems may be defined by any number of stakeholders, including special interest groups and think tanks, but they are usually defined by research groups.  "In the United States, almost all education policy issues are defined within a loosely linked set of institutions that some call the education policy planning and research community (EPPRC)" (Fowler, 2009, p. 170).

Once problems are defined, some move to the professional agenda, which "consists of those issues under discussion within various interest groups, education policy networks, and education associations as well as among informed professional educators" (Fowler, 2009, pp. 180-181).  Although Figure 7.8 (Fowler, 2009, p. 182) shows professional agendas as a smaller circle than the other agendas, the reality is that "far more education policy issues are on the professional agenda than the other agendas can accommodate" (Fowler, 2009, p. 182).

Issues on the professional agenda may move directly to the governmental agenda, but some make a concurrent or an interim move to the media agenda or the public agenda, which can include social interest groups or nongovernmental organizations.  Because of the nature of the mass media, policy issues that make it to the media agenda are disseminated to the public through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and over the internet.  As the arrows in the figure indicate, when the public becomes aware of policy issues on the media agenda, the issues can become part of a public agenda, which can put pressure on government agencies to move issues to the governmental agenda.  Also, when an issue moves from the professional agenda to the public agenda, it is not unusual for special interest groups and private individuals to bring the issue to the media, which also puts pressure on the government to move issues to the governmental agenda.



Fowler, F.C. (2009). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction (3rd ed). Boston:    Allyn & Bacon.

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Initial reactions and constructive criticism appreciated.

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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, education, policy, public policy, policy agendas

A Journey through My College Papers


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..