Contributing Editors

Jerome Lyle Rappaport

Jerome Lyle Rappaport
Founder and Board Member
Read Bio

Edward Glaeser

Edward Glaeser
Professor of Economics at Harvard University
Read Bio

Stephen P. Johnson

Stephen P. Johnson
Executive Director of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation
Read Bio

Greg Massing

Greg Massing
Executive Director for the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service
Read Bio

Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Roberts
Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School
Read Bio

Joseph Curtatone

Joseph Curtatone
Mayor, City of Somerville
Read Bio

Tim H. Davis

Tim H. Davis
Independent Research Consultant
Read Bio

Scott Harshbarger

Scott Harshbarger
Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose LLP
Read Bio

Vivien Li

Vivien Li
Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association
Read Bio

Guest contributors

Monika Bandyopadhyay
Suffolk University Law Student

David Barron
Harvard Law School and former Deputy Counsel for the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice

Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Assistant Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration.

Brandy H.M. Brooks
Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

Felicia Cote
Rappaport Fellow, Harvard Law School/Harvard Kennedy School.

Amanda Eden
Suffolk University Law School student

Sara Farnum
Student, Suffolk Univ. Law School

Kristin Faucette
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Benjamin Forman
Research Director, MassINC

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday
JD/MBA student at Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer School of Business

Theodore Kalivas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

David Linhart
Student, Boston University School of Law

Antoniya Owens
Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Susan Prosnitz
Senior Advisor, TSA, Washington, DC

Ben Thomas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

Matthew Todaro
Student at Boston College Law School

Alexander von Hoffman
Senior Researcher, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Brett Walker
Student, Boston College Law School

Margarita Warren
Student at Suffolk University Law School

An Insider’s View of Higher Ed in Massachusetts

Monday, August 26th, 2013
By Bob Dion for the Author

By Mirza Ramic, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy Candidate, 2014, The Fletcher School, Tufts University


This summer, I have been working at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) as a 2013 Rappaport Public Policy Fellow.  I came into the department without any prior public sector experience, having spent my formative professional years in the world of the private and non-profit sectors. The placement thus far has been a great learning experience, and has significantly changed my understanding of the scope and complexity of the work performed at the government agency level. I have come to truly appreciate the imperative of responsibility and accountability, the backdrop against which the diligent research, analysis, and formulation of policy recommendations takes place. To be sure, I have witnessed aspects of the department’s work that could certainly benefit from some operational changes, but the underlying commitment to producing work that advances the public good in Massachusetts’ higher education arena has been an important professional and personal takeaway from my summer as a Rappaport Fellow.

 

The public often perceives government employees as mired in bureaucracy and politics. Nevertheless, what I have discovered working at DHE is that it is full of truly smart, forward-thinking and passionate individuals. While the layer of bureaucracy is apparent and the weight of politics inescapable, the people working behind the scenes and producing work that matters—data-driven and responsible strategies for improving the public higher education system in the state—are the real tour de force of this government branch. It is easy to forget the individual within the sheer vastness of a government complex, but it is individual integrity that ultimately drives results. On numerous occasions, while attending meetings and assisting with projects, I was struck by my co-workers’ unwillingness to settle for less-than-perfect work and their critical but constructive questioning of every facet of the task at hand. Interning alongside many dedicated individuals at DHE this summer has given me the appreciation for the careful and calculated approach to solving serious issues and advancing meaningful ideas in the field of education.
 

Such attitude was palpable throughout much of my work this summer.  One example that illustrates this best has been the process of examining the policy and regulatory implications of for-profit institutions and the distance learning medium. As many for-profit learning institutions have pushed online education as a way of attracting students across state borders, the question of which regulatory body should oversee such institutions and how their academic programs should be approved has become a tricky matter. I’ve been astonished by the multilayered complexity that the department has needed to navigate in order to formulate a balanced approach to regulating this industry. There is a fine line between embracing innovation and promulgating diversity in higher learning, and at the same time protecting students from predatory corporate behavior to ensure they are receiving a quality education. Too much of either attracts criticism for failing to provide enough of the other. And while opinions are shaped around evidence-based results, the picture is never simply black and white. In tackling this regulatory paradox, my DHE co-workers have exhibited an extraordinary amount of thorough analysis and case-by-case examination to identify potential solutions that ultimately, and above all, benefit Massachusetts’ students and citizens. While reaching the right balance can be a frustrating process—particularly as the pressure to embrace innovation in higher education rises concurrently with the risk of consumer protection violations—the commitment among DHE staff to shaping a careful approach that avoids reaching premature conclusions has made clear to me the high level of regulatory responsibility with which this government agency strives to operate.

 

All this is to say: I have acquired a much deeper understanding of the work that takes place in the public sector.  The Rappaport Institute has helped me foster an appreciation for the strength of this key pillar of our society, and the commitment of the individuals that drive it. Whether we, the summer fellows, find ourselves working in the public or private sector in the years ahead, the opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the complexity of Boston and Massachusetts’ governance processes has given all of us an invaluable professional and personal perspective. These 10 weeks of meaningful government work will play an important role in shaping our commitment to helping advance the public good in whatever capacity we can going forward.



Comments

No comments have been added.

(required, but never shown publicly)

» Show all posts

U.S. Representative Barney Frank speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School, cosponsored by the Rappaport Institute.
 MA Attorney General Martha Coakley Hearing on Sexual Exploitation Online
Triumph of the City: Ed Glaeser talks about his new book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Former Lt. Governor Kerry Healey speaks about political parity at the Rappaport Center
Statnet panel of current and former heads of local performance management programs including Stephanie Hirsch (far right), former head of SomerStat and Devin Lyons-Quirk, third from right.
Arianna Huffington and Alan Khazei speaking at the Rappaport Center
Mayor Menino attends Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Course for high school students
HKS Professor Jeffrey Liebman (left) spoke about new ways to spur policy innovation at a State House briefing sponsored by State Representative (and former Rappaport Urban Scholar) Charles Murphy (right).
Gov. Deval Patrick speaking at the Rappaport Center's Gubernatorial Speakers Series

News and Events


Add your Event

Word Cloud