Teaching Students About Today's Public Policy Issues
Steve Adubato sits down with Ginger Gold Schnitzer, Executive Director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership, Saint Peter’s University, to talk about her role as the new Executive Director, the mission of the Guarini Institute and the importance of teaching students about current public policy issues.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. I'm very proud to be coming to you, we are coming from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Brick City, Newark, New Jersey. It's our pleasure to introduce Ginger Gold Schnitzer, who is Executive Director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter's University. Good to see you. Good to see you Steve. I knew you when you were a kid. [laughter] Oh, it feels like that right? Okay. So you've been with a couple of not-for-profits, advocacy organizations, right? 22 years at the NJEA? 22 years at the NJEA. The New Jersey Education Association? Absolutely. So let me ask you this. I'm curious about this. You make the transition from lobbying and advocacy work... Yeah. ...for the New Jersey Education Association, to a university setting? Ivory tower or grounded in reality? Grounded in reality. Break it down. Absolutely grounded in reality. Look, as I see it, our mission is to inspire the next generation of public servants, of policymakers, and... or just informed citizens, right? Our democracy is counting on it I have spent the last 25 years in Trenton working in legislative advocacy. Education issues? Education issues. And before that, a whole bunch of other issues. Right. But the point being, Steve, is that what I've come to realize is that, you know, when I graduated, I thought that if you read the bill you knew what to do, and then I thought if you build the relationships you'll impact public policy, and then I thought if you organize, you'll impact public policy. And then I thought if we elect our own members, or you elect your own people, you'll impact public policy. But at the end of the day, we need to better prepare humans to impact public policy. Where do you go to prepare humans? A university. So let's play Devil's Advocate here. You know politics well, you know policy well, it took you a few years to start understanding how... I hate saying this expression, "how the sausage is made" but that is part of it? But at the Guarini Institute, named after, by the way, former United States Congressman Frank Guarini, he represented the Hudson County, Jersey City area... That's right. Just a class act. And he was very much a part of the Saint Peter's University... That's right. ...community. I'm gonna ask you this. You have said something that I like to say a lot... excuse me, democracy is not a spectator sport. What do you mean by that? I know what I mean. What do you mean more importantly? I mean..."