Education Policy Think Tank Models and Mission

  • Callie McLean
  • Lily Robin
Keywords: think tanks, education, CAP, Heritage,


This paper explores how two advocacy think tanks—the Heritage Foundation (Heritage) and Center for American Progress (CAP)—engage in research on K-12 education and attempt to influence education policymaking. Through our research, we discovered both expected and surprising differences and similarities between the think tanks. Differences included topic choice, particularly around school choice and disadvantaged students, the use of data analyses to underpin positions, and the volume of publication. Similarities included the mix of output type. Our most notable finding was that the model and mission of each think tank drove topic choices and how each conducted research and interacted with the policy world and media.

Author Biographies

Callie McLean
CALLIE MCLEAN is a second-year Master of Public Administration candidate at the Trachtenberg School, with a focus on public budgeting and fnance. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007, majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She currently works as a Pathways Intern in Management Analysis at the Ofce of Chief Counsel to the IRS. Callie enjoys costuming, sci-f and fantasy, and UNC basketball. Once a project manager for history museum exhibits, Callie values the stories of our past and preserving cultural resources representing all people for future generations.
Lily Robin
LILY ROBIN is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University, where she is focusing on social policy analysis. She graduated from the Gallatin School at New York University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Arts in individualized studies focused on the school-to-prison pipeline, and a minor in law and society. Lily worked in juvenile justice at the Legal Aid Society and civil law at the New York City law department afer graduating. She currently works at the Partnership for Public Service, doing research and evaluation.