Skip to main content
Policy Outsider

Policy Outsider

By Rockefeller Institute
Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government takes you outside the halls of power to understand how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.
Listen on
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Breaker Logo

Breaker

Castbox Logo

Castbox

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo

Overcast

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Stitcher Logo

Stitcher

Ep. 29. Epidemic in a Pandemic
In this episode of Policy Outsider, Rockefeller Institute Fellows and members of the Institute's award winning Stories from Sullivan research team Patricia Strach, Katie Zuber, and Elizabeth Pérez-Chiqués discuss what has happened to substance-use treatment access and effectiveness during COVID-19. The episode presents audio clips from interviews conducted by the researchers with treatment providers and workers on the frontline followed by discussions of the researchers' impressions and findings. The episode also features an introduction by State University of New York Chancellor and former Rockefeller Institute President Jim Malatras who provides background on the Institute’s opioid crisis research which began during his time as president.
45:35
September 23, 2020
Ep. 28. Restorative Justice
The traditional model of criminal justice in the US isolates those who commit criminal acts from both survivors and society and the social support networks that could support their healing and re-integration. At the same time, those who suffer harm are often left without closure and understanding about the harm that took place. On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, fellow at the Rockefeller Institute and associate professor of criminology at Mount Saint Mary's College, discusses the restorative model of criminal justice. Restorative justice approaches harm as an opportunity to engage in inclusive healing for those who experienced harm and those who caused it through mediation, honest dialogue, and accountability. The episode also examines restorative justice as policy at various levels of government and how the tools could be used to address broader societal ills, such as persistent racial injustice.
51:38
September 16, 2020
Ep. 27. Back to School
As students return to school amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, school districts are using different models to balance instructional and safety needs ranging from fully in-person to fully remote with a spectrum of hybrid approaches in between. On this episode of Policy Outsider, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Rockefeller Institute, and Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute, highlight various instructional models and discuss how parents and caregivers can prepare for a school year of uncertainty. The discussion of parent strategies will focus on access to and effective use of technology, communicating with teachers and administrators, helping students develop socio-emotional and social skills in a non-standard environment, and highlighting resources for parents who have children who are at home full- or part-time
25:10
September 8, 2020
Ep. 26. Gun Policy & Politics in a Pandemic
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Robert J. Spitzer, a distinguished service professor at SUNY Cortland and member of the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, speaks with Consortium Executive Director Joe Popcun about recent developments in firearm policy and politics. Over the past five months, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely and suddenly upended the lives and livelihoods of many Americans, generating fear, anxiety, and uncertainty across the country. In the midst of this crisis, there has been a record increase in gun sales and a reported increase in shootings and firearm-involved deaths. At the same time, the police-involved death of George Floyd ignited civil unrest and hundreds of protests calling for police reform and social justice. Spitzer discusses New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the NRA and how that affects the battle between gun safety/control advocates and guns rights advocates. In recent years, several large, national not-for-profit advocacy organizations pushing for stricter gun regulations have refined their strategies and built up larger money pools.
41:50
August 25, 2020
Ep. 25. What It Takes To Research Gun Violence
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guests Joseph Popcun, Rockefeller Institute director of policy and practice, and Nicholas Simons, project coordinator at the Institute, discuss the role of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium in finding and developing effective policy to reduce gun violence. A recent surge in shooting incidents following months of coronavirus lockdown in metropolitan areas around New York State. As a cause of death, gun violence receives far less research funding than other leading causes. Lack of federal funding for firearm fatality research over the last twenty years has made it difficult for policymakers to develop targeted, effective policy for reducing gun violence. Popcun and Simons share how the Consortium aims to fill that void by orienting gun violence researchers toward the evidence and data needs of practitioners and policymakers. By focusing attention on gun violence as a policy problem, the Consortium helps state and local governments pursue and execute effective solutions to reduce and prevent firearm-involved homicides, suicides, and injuries.
43:17
July 23, 2020
Ep. 24. COVID-19: Calculating the Balance of Payments
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Laura Schultz, executive director of research at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, discusses the methods used in the Institute’s Balance of Payments report and how federal economic relief for COVID-19 is likely to impact state balance of payments and rankings. States throughout the nation are grappling with massive budget deficits caused by the economic downturn associated with COVID-19. While states plan for major cutbacks to critical areas like education and infrastructure, relief in the form of an additional federal stimulus bill is being negotiated in Congress. Several of the states hardest hit by the pandemic, such as New York and New Jersey, are Democrat-controlled and the debate over relief funding has become politicized, with relief funding being characterized by some as a “blue state bailout.” But, as policymakers in these states have pointed out, taxpayers in these states give more to the federal government in taxes than their states get back in federal spending—a negative balance of payments—while many “red” states get more in federal spending than they give to the federal government in taxes. Understanding how funding flows among states and the federal government provides important context for evaluating these claims and understanding the potential effects of federal stimulus spending.
14:37
June 15, 2020
Ep. 23. COVID-19: Achieving a Complete Count during a Pandemic
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Nicholas Simons, project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting the 2020 Census and how the U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting its operations to account for disruptions from the pandemic. In mid-March, as governments in the US began responding to the emerging threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, households received detailed information from the Census Bureau on how to respond to the 2020 Census. Shortly thereafter, the Census Bureau temporarily suspended its field operations though collection of responses continues online, by mail, and by phone. Approximately 60% of households, nationally, have completed the Census. In this episode, Simons shares information on the Census Bureau’s adjusted operations, including new deadlines for self-response and nonresponse followup (NRFU) and how extending the timeline for collection efforts will delay the sharing of congressional apportionment counts with states.
20:02
June 1, 2020
Ep. 22. COVID19: In the Weeds III
On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting the marijuana industry and efforts to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana at the state level. Trela discusses how prohibition of marijuana at the federal level means marijuana businesses throughout the nation are ineligible to apply for federal economic small business relief. For businesses in most states that were able to comply with social distancing requirements this may not be an issue. For smaller businesses in Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana dispensaries were closed to prevent an influx of out-of-state customers, the lack of relief may mean closing.
15:45
May 26, 2020
Ep. 21. COVID-19: School Districts Sharing Resources & Supporting Students
In a new episode of Policy Outsider, guest Anita Murphy, district superintendent at Capital Region BOCES, discusses how school districts and BOCES are sharing resources and working together to continue supporting students through new challenges imposed by the COVID-19 crisis and planning for a variety of budget and instructional uncertainties in the coming academic year. New York State is anticipating a $13.3 billion loss in tax revenue in the economic wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a new round of federal aid for state and local governments is being negotiated in Congress, much uncertainty still remains, and school administrators are preparing for a wide range of budget cuts. School districts that are more reliant on state aid, such as rural districts and poorer urban districts, are preparing for particularly challenging budgets.
17:55
May 19, 2020
Ep. 20. COVID-19: Learning from Home
On this episode of Policy Outsider, guest Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Institute, outlines existing and future challenges imposed by COVID-19 on students and the education system. Millions of Americans are adjusting to education going suddenly and fully online. The school year will likely finish online and, without a vaccine, schooling will likely be partially or fully online next fall. In this episode, Wedenoja explores how students at all ages will be affected by the disruption to their schooling and how the disruptions of COVID-19 make it difficult to plan for the challenges students are likely to face.
22:22
May 11, 2020
Ep. 19. COVID-19: Working From Home
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guest Liz Farmer, a fellow at the Future of Labor Research Center, discusses how work-from-home arrangements put in place as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to increase work-from-home trends and alter business operations.
18:26
April 20, 2020
Ep. 18. COVID-19: Government Economic Relief
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, the podcast of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, guest Laura Schultz, director of fiscal analysis and senior economist at the Institute, discusses the outlook of the economy and steps federal, state, and local governments are taking to support businesses and individuals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schultz discusses how some state governments are providing assistance to businesses by delaying tax deadlines and placing moratoriums on evictions and utility shutdowns. Local governments and organizations, like economic development councils and chambers of commerce, are supporting small businesses as they work through guidance from the federal government to receive loans through the CARES Act.
14:40
April 13, 2020
Ep. 17. Using Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides
In episode 17, “Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides," Dr. Rhianna Rogers, associate professor at SUNY Empire State College and Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow at the Institute, calls in via video conferencing software to illustrate how online learning can be structured to improve student engagement. Rogers explains the importance of breaking down barriers to higher education access, such as the cost of textbooks and computer programs. Rogers, who is leading the Spring 2020 Center for Law and Policy Solutions (CLPS) Internship Program, identifies her background—living abroad in multiple countries and a lifelong learner—as an influence on her teaching methods, which are focused on bridging cultural divides through active learning and engagement.
48:27
February 3, 2020
Ep. 16. Assignments for Teachers
The latest episode of Policy Outsider features Dr. Leigh Wedenoja, senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute. Wedenoja shares research presented at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) 2019 Fall Research Conference on the effects of teacher looping on student outcomes. Wedenoja explains the practice of teacher looping, or pairing a student with the same teacher for more than one year, and its effects on students at different grade levels and backgrounds. The research examines all students in grades three through 11 in the state of Tennessee and found significant improvements to test scores when students were paired with a repeat teacher. They also found that, across all grade levels, having a repeat teacher reduces absences and suspensions. Wedenoja also discusses how teacher looping often occurs by accident in schools but could actually be used as an intentional classroom assignment strategy by school administrators.
17:02
January 6, 2020
Ep. 15. Vaping in Real Time
On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guests Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, and Trevor Craft, graduate research assistant, share insights from their research on the national vaping crisis. Trela and Craft discuss how the growth of vaping tobacco products in teens and the emergence of a vaping-related lung injury created what we now call the vaping crisis. The episode explores what actions local, state, and federal governments are taking to address the crisis and how their responses are complicated by unusual regulations surrounding vaping and marijuana. Guests: Heather Trela, director of operations & fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government Trevor Craft, graduate research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute of Government 
19:47
December 3, 2019
Ep. 14. Detecting Dysleixa
On the latest episode, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies, shares insights from a recent Rockefeller Institute forum on effective early intervention in dyslexia. Backstrom discusses what dyslexia is, the needs of students with dyslexia and of teachers who teach them, what impacts could be in store for New York if a universal dyslexia screening program is enacted, and the experiences of other states implementing this approach. The episode also features audio from the Institute-hosted forum that brought together dyslexia research experts Dr. Bennett Shaywitz and Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-founders and co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, Dr. Jay Russell, former head of The Windward School, Tim Castanza, co-founder and executive director of Bridge Prep Charter School, and Amanda McCaleb, the literacy intervention specialist for Springfield (MO) Public Schools. Video from the forum can be found by visiting the Rockefeller Institute's Facebook page. 
21:40
November 5, 2019
Ep. 13. Gun Policy 101
This special edition of "Policy Outsider" was recorded live at a forum hosted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and features distinguished scholar Robert J. Spitzer's presentation on gun policy. Spitzer notes that gun ownership continues to decline, and that the gun safety movement is newly invigorated, motivated, and financed. He also points out that there is substantial public support for most of the more common gun policy proposals, even among gun owners. At the same time, federal courts are proving more conservative in their rulings and agitating for broad interpretation of gun rights under the Second Amendment. Spitzer's discussion included a PowerPoint that provides an overview of the history of guns in the United States, how the nation's relationship with guns and gun policy has evolved, current gun laws and statistics, and projections for future trends concerning firearm ownership and policy. The PowerPoint is posted on The Institute's website and can be found on the Rockefeller Institute website by visiting www.rockinst.org/outsider
59:20
October 3, 2019
Ep. 12. Power to the People
On this episode of "Policy Outsider," we have Rockefeller Institute fellow Dr. Lisa Parshall to discuss the New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act and the effect it has had on village dissolutions. The episode highlights the Institute's recent report on village dissolutions, which detailed the motivation behind New York State's push to dissolve village governments. Parshall discusses the effect the 2010 law has had on the rate of village dissolutions and what dissolution means for village residents and neighboring communities. Parshall identifies the noneconomic reasons residents are often reluctant to dissolve their villages. Their concerns include community identity and pride, the importance of municipal buildings and symbols, festivals and community celebrations, as well as the role of local emergency services.
19:42
September 3, 2019
Ep. 11. Failing Schools: Makeover or Takeover?
On the latest episode of “Policy Outsider,” we explain why so many turnaround efforts have failed and identifying the keys for future success. The episode highlights a recent report from the Institute on school turnaround efforts and features an interview with the report's author, Brian Backstrom, director of education policy studies at the Institute. Backstrom lays out the ineffectual fixes policymakers often use. These include keeping current school leadership intact; only providing additional resources; and choosing smaller one-time changes, such as a new curriculum versus an overhaul of the entire school's academic culture. The episode also introduces our new host, Alex Morse, a researcher with the Rockefeller Institute, who succeeds Kyle Adams, former Institute communications director. In the first segment of the episode, both Morse and Adams discuss their takeaways from creating and producing the podcast over the past several months.
1:07:54
July 26, 2019
Ep. 10. And Yet I'm Here
We return to Sullivan County, New York, with our Stories from Sullivan researchers to hear directly from a group of people in recovery at Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties  — people who have lost friends to the epidemic, been to jail, and been brought back from the brink of overdose. They share their pathways to addiction, their struggles to begin recovery, and what kinds of support they would like to see from policymakers.  Rockefeller Institute researchers have been studying the opioid crisis on the ground in rural Sullivan County for more than 18 months, conducting more than 100 interviews with people on the frontlines of the epidemic. Read their findings here:  https://rockinst.org/stories-from-sullivan/  WARNING: This episode contains candid descriptions of addiction and the conditions surrounding addiction, and may be triggering to some people.
37:09
June 25, 2019
Ep. 9. How to Reduce Gun Homicides
The debate about gun violence in the U.S. seems to be dominated by division and policy paralysis. But it doesn't have to be. Some of the most effective policies in reducing gun homicides are also the most popular — among gun owners and proponents of gun control alike. We talk with the author of the most recent report from the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, a multistate initiative coordinated by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, about which policies have the best chances of making a difference. Guests:  Michael Siegel is a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Nicholas Simons is a project coordinator at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Read the report: "What Are the Most Effective Policies in Reducing Gun Homicides?" Learn more about the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
45:08
May 31, 2019
Ep. 8. A Gateway Drug for Federalism
What happened to legalized adult-use marijuana in New York and New Jersey? We sit down with Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff and Fellow Heather Trela to understand why legalization efforts seem to have stalled in both states, and where we can expect things to go from here. Learn more: In the Weeds   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
23:29
April 26, 2019
Ep. 7. Learning to Research Like a Pro
The Rockefeller Institute's Center for Law & Policy Solutions partners undergraduate research interns from the University at Albany with policy experts at the Institute to investigate a single issue of pressing state or national importance each semester. We sat down with three former interns to discuss what it was like to be thrown into the deep end of policy research -- and how they learned to swim.   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
22:36
April 1, 2019
Ep. 6. Digging into Student Debt in New York
Forty-two percent of college graduates in New York State carry some amount student debt, with an average debt load of about $30,000. We sit down with Rockefeller Institute Director of Education Policy Studies Brian Backstrom to break down those numbers and learn what states are doing -- and can do -- to ease the burden of student debt. Learn more: A Deeper Look at Student Loan Debt in New York State   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
23:02
February 22, 2019
Ep. 5. Who Gives and Who Gets
In the balance of payments between states and the federal government, some states "win" and some states "lose." We speak with the authors of our new report, "Giving or Getting? New York's Balance of Payments with the Federal Government," about the factors that shape these funding flows. Read the full report here. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
16:39
January 18, 2019
Ep. 4. Mankind v. Machines
Artificial intelligence and automation technologies are bringing massive change to labor, the economy, ethics, and society. The question now is how to harness those technologies rather than being overwhelmed by them -- or overwhelmed by those who embrace them sooner. We break down the 20-year outlook with Laura Schultz, director of fiscal analysis and chief economist at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Learn more: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Labor Force in New York State *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
28:24
January 10, 2019
Ep. 3. Dynamite Youth
We take a trip to Sullivan County, New York, with the researchers behind the Rockefeller Institute's long-term study of the opioid epidemic to hear from the people on the front lines of the crisis. Follow their research in real time with the Stories from Sullivan series.   *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
35:17
November 21, 2018
Ep. 2. From the Glass Ceiling to the Sticky Floor: Closing the Pay Equity Gap from the Bottom Up
Whereas the "glass ceiling" refers to the last barriers a woman faces on the corporate ladder, the "sticky floor" refers to the first barriers that women and people color face when entering the workforce -- barriers that often keep them in low-paying, low-prestige, but highly necessary jobs. This special edition of "Policy Outsider" was recorded live at a forum hosted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the New York State Council on Women and Girls. The guests and panelists include: Catherine White Berheide, professor of sociology at Skidmore College and principal investigator for the National Science Foundation ADVANCE PAID Grant Roberta Reardon, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Sarah Brafman, staff attorney at A Better Balance Janice Brown, president of the American Association of University Women - New York State Jill Robbins-Jabine, CEO of YWCA Western New York Beverly Cooper Neufeld, founder of PowHer New York and president of BCN Consulting Group, LLC Visit www.rockinst.org/blog to learn more. *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
1:40:55
October 30, 2018
Ep. 1. In the Weeds with Heather Trela
How can states legalize something that is illegal under federal law? Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff and Fellow Heather Trela explains the growing tension between states and the federal government over marijuana policy, and where it may lead.  Learn more: Clash of Laws: The Growing Dissonance between State and Federal Marijuana Policies  *** Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government explores and explains how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.  Created in 1981, the Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. It conducts cutting-edge, nonpartisan research and policy analysis. 
21:23
October 19, 2018