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More Than a Feeling

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By Joseph Maugeri, on May 29, 2015

During our first year in the MPA program, public service motivation is a topic that is brought up often. The idea behind public service motivation is that some people choose government and non-profit work because they have an innate desire to serve the public. I hadn’t thought much about this concept prior to starting my graduate studies, but it helped put in to context how I was feeling on my way to work this morning.

Working at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as a research intern has made me feel some feelings that I haven’t felt since I was teaching high school in Detroit almost a year ago. When I was teaching, I always took pride in the fact that I was serving the public and working towards making the city I lived in a better place. Since coming back to school, I have missed this feeling. It’s one thing to talk about public service motivation in class, but it is an entirely different thing to feel it first hand. Driving to work this morning, I had that feeling again; the feeling that I was going in to work today and the work that I did would produce positive outcomes for the public school students and teachers of North Carolina. It feels good.

I’ve been working at DPI for almost two weeks now and the experience has already provided more than I could hope for. DPI typically hires a small group of interns each summer to conduct research for the department on topics relevant to current public education issues in the state. I have the privilege of getting to work with three extremely talented and intelligent graduate students from UNC, NC State, and Duke to research charter school closures, educator effectiveness measurements, and school report cards (i.e., the report cards that grade the overall quality of schools). Our research will last all summer and we will have the opportunity to present our findings to the State Board of Education at the end of the summer.

The intern experience at DPI has been a whirlwind so far. We started by developing the topics we are going to research this summer and then jumped right into conducting research and meeting with a number of people throughout the department to learn more about DPI and education on the state level. Because the North Carolina State Legislative Building is right next door to the DPI offices, we also had the opportunity to observe some of the house debate preceding their approval of the state budget, which was incredibly informative considering that the budget includes over $8 billion for public K-12 education.

To say that I am excited about this summer is an understatement. I can’t wait to see where our research takes us and I look forward to keeping y’all updated. Stay tuned and if you have any questions or comments feel free to shout out!

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2 Responses to “More Than a Feeling”

  1. Maureen Berner

    Look at some of the past capstones, Joe (found via the MPA website) – there was one a few years back that was a very in-depth quant study on measuring teacher effectiveness. It might be helpful.

    • Joseph Maugeri

      Thanks, Professor Berner! I just found the paper and it is very helpful. Hope your summer is going well!

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