Heath Brown
Associate Professor of Public Policy
Phone number
Room number
Haaren Hall 53342

Doctorate of Philosophy, Public Policy, The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University, 2005
Master of International Affairs, The Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, 1999


Heath Brown is an associate professor of public policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. He has worked at the US Congressional Budget Office as a Research Fellow, at the American Bus Association as a Policy Assistant, and at the Council of Graduate Schools as Research and Policy Director.

In addition to his research, Brown is Reviews Editor for Interest Groups & Advocacy and hosts a podcast called New Books in Political Science, www.newbooksinpoliticalscience.com, where he interviews new authors about their political science publications. He is also an expert contributor to The Hill as well as to The Atlantic magazine and American Prospect magazine.

Brown currently a co-leader of the New York City Chapter of the Scholar Strategy Network.

Recent activity:

Was interviewed about the presidential transitions by Ronnie Eldridge for CUNY TV's Eldrige and Company

The 74 posts on homeschooling and Department of Educdation

NBC Think post on Biden transition

The Hill post on saving DACA (2017)

The Hill post on Charlottesville and organizing (2017)

Comments in Metro NY on White House and journalism (2017)

Washington Post/Monkey Cage blog post on Immigrants and Electoral Politics (2016)

Michigan radio program on immigrants and 2016 election (2016)

The Hill op-ed on risks to peaceful presidential transition (2016)

Professional Memberships

APSA Political Organizations and Parties Executive Committee, elected member, 2017-2019
Scholars Strategy Network, New York City Chapter, Co-Lead, 2015-present

Scholarly Work


Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State (2021) Columbia University Press. 

In Homeschooling the Right, the political scientist Heath Brown provides a novel analysis of the homeschooling movement and its central role in conservative efforts to shrink the public sector. He traces the aftereffects of the passage of state homeschool policies in the 1980s and the results of ongoing conservative education activism on the broader political landscape, including the campaigns of George W. Bush and the rise of the Tea Party. Brown finds that by opting out of public education services in favor of at-home provision, homeschoolers have furthered conservative goals of reducing the size and influence of government. He applies the theory of policy feedback—how public-policy choices determine subsequent politics—to demonstrate the effects of educational activism for other conservative goals such as gun rights, which are similarly framed as matters of liberty and freedom. Drawing on decades of county data, dozens of original interviews, and original archives of formal and informal homeschool organizations, this book is a groundbreaking investigation of the politics of the conservative homeschooling movement.

In this fascinating and informative book, Heath Brown examines how the homeschooling movement has produced far-reaching and powerful political effects. By permitting people to opt out of public life, homeschooling has contributed to social sorting and polarization, and its supporters have constructed a formidable parallel set of institutions and civic organizations. Brown’s insightful analysis illuminates how conservative policy achievements yield enduring feedback effects that are transforming the public sphere.Suzanne Mettler, coauthor of Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy
How do groups frame issues to their own members, and separately to policy makers and the broader public? How did the word ‘freedom’ come to mean separating oneself from public education, public neighborhoods, and public services? What is the nature of the broad right-wing parallel network of social and political institutions? Brown’s comprehensive analysis of the development of the homeschooling movement addresses these questions and many more. It is a model of policy history. And it is alarming.Frank R. Baumgartner, author of Agendas and Instability in American Politics
In detailing the political, institutional, and social apparatus that has grown up around homeschooling, Brown shows how a parallel politics emerged that simultaneously withdraws from and undermines the public sphere. The significance of this study provides crucial insights into the deep political fault lines of our current moment.Adam Sheingate, author of Building a Business of Politics: The Rise of Political Consulting and the Transformation of American Democracy
In this exciting book, Heath Brown enlarges our understanding of conservative public policies and their relation to American political development, helps situate the homeschooling movement within the larger ‘New Right’ enterprise, and offers a novel theory of conservative freedom policies as they operate through and outside of the state.Kristin Goss, author of The Paradox of Gender Equality: How American Women’s Groups Gained and Lost Their Public Voice
Homeschooling the Right has implications that go well beyond education politics and policy, shedding light on the interplay between organized interests, social movements, party coalitions, and public policy. It is also essential reading for anyone interested in the development of the modern conservative movement.Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, author of Politics At Work: How Companies Turn Their Workers Into Lobbyists

Immigrants and Electoral Politics: Nonprofit Organizing in a Time of Demographic Change (2016) Cornell University Press.

In Immigrants and Electoral Politics, Heath Brown shows why nonprofit electoral participation has emerged in relationship to new threats to immigrants, on one hand, and immigrant integration into U.S. society during a time of demographic change, on the other. Immigrants across the United States tend to register and vote at low rates, thereby limiting the political power of many of their communities. In an attempt to boost electoral participation through mobilization, some nonprofits adopt multifaceted political strategies including registering new voters, holding candidate forums, and phone banking to increase immigrant voter turnout. Other nonprofits opt to barely participate at all in electoral politics, preferring to advance the immigrant community by providing exclusively social services.

"In Immigrants and Electoral Politics, Heath Brown addresses an important set of questions about the current state and future trajectory of U.S. politics in the midst of increasing racial and ethnic diversity. Brown's analysis of voting behavior among the newest segment of the American electorate is especially timely. This book captures one’s attention not only for the importance of the questions at stake but because of the originality of Brown’s perspective in considering in detail immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations and their role in electoral politics."—Jane Junn, University of Southern California, coauthor of Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities

"Heath Brown explores the important political roles of immigrant-serving nonprofits, focusing in particular on their decisions about whether to participate in electoral politics. Immigrants and Electoral Politics illuminates both key opportunities for and challenges to immigrant political power at a time when immigrants constitute an important constituency even while many immigrant communities are increasingly under attack."—Dara Strolovitch, Princeton University, author of Affirmative Advocacy 

"But Southern states haven't made it easier for these groups to become more active. In a forthcoming book, "Immigrants and Electoral Politics," author Heath Brown finds that many immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations don't register voters or get involved in electoral politics in part, Brown says, because of new state voter registration laws that create stringent regulations and penalties." - Allie Yee, Facing South

He spoke about the book on CUNY TV's Independent Voices

Pay-to-Play Politics: How Money Defines the American Democracy (2016) Praeger.

Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz complains about the corrupting role of money and politics, but money is the lifeblood of their political survival. The public, too, deplores big money politics, despite regularly reelecting the richest candidates for office. The purpose of this book is to reconcile how—against many people's wishes—the connection between money and politics has come to define American democracy.

Examining the issue from the perspective of the public, the courts, big business, Congress, and the presidency, Heath Brown argues that money can often be harmful to the political process, but not always in ways we expect or in ways we can directly observe. More money does not necessarily guarantee electoral, legislative, or executive victories, but money does greatly change political access, opportunity, and trust. Without a nuanced understanding of the nature of the problem, future reforms will be misguided and fruitless. Pay-to-Play Politics concludes by making concrete recommendations for reform, including feasible ways to reach bipartisan consensus.

Tea Pary Divided: The Hidden Diversity of a Maturing Movement (2015) Praeger.

Since the Tea Party exploded onto the American political scene, it has matured and changed, but the differences that now exist within the movement are largely unacknowledged. A more nuanced understanding is called for. Previous treatises have sought explanations for the rise of the movement and focused primarily on its early days. This book, in contrast, focuses on understanding the diversity within the party, challenging the notion that the Tea Party is a homogeneous political movement defined mainly by its ultra-conservatism, regionalism, and rigid political orthodoxy.

To accurately depict the Tea Party as it exists today, the book explores how the party evolved from its first phase to its second, examining important distinctions in terms of who has joined and who has served in Congress and other offices. Differences in Tea Party organizations around the country are examined and their funding sources considered. The book also explores the political positions taken by Tea Party members, looking at the voting records of party legislators to see if they've adhered to stated movement objectives. Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, the author speculates on what this all means and suggests possible futures for the diverse Tea Party strands.

You can hear a discussion of the book here: Governmentality and No Jargon

Lobbying the New President: Interests in Transition (2012) Routledge.

Presidential transitions offer the chance for new ideas, policies, and people to inhabit the White House. Transitions have triggered policy change for decades and eager interest groups have sought ways to capitalize on this often chaotic phase of US politics. President-Elect Barack Obama declared that lobbyists would be forbidden from serving his transition and issued stiff regulations and rules to limit their access to the planning for his White House. Yet even though Obama’s efforts mirror previous Presidents anti-lobbyist efforts, all Presidential transitions provide certain channels of influence, and Obama himself chose the head of a powerful and politically oriented think tank, the Center for American Progress, to run his transition. New Presidents need the information, ideas, and political capital that groups possess. Thus a curious paradox.

He was interviewed about the 2016 presidential transition on France 24. He also was invited to deliver a lecture about presidential transitions in 2016, at Roanoke College:

Scholarly Articles

“Does Congress Still Care about Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: Yes, A Descriptive Analysis of Bills and Hearings, 1993–2016.” (2020) Public Integrity, X(x): x-x.

"What Matters More? Police or the Community for Body Worn Camera Policies.” (2020) Public Administration Quarterly. (with James Wright) 44(3): 462-482.

“How Do Policy Organizations Frame Issues and Shape Identity? Exploring the Case of School Choice.” Administration & Society, 52(7): 1038-1068. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095399719884735

“The Personal is Political: Podcasting Political Science.” PS: Political Science & Politics (with Lilly Goren), 53(2): 322-323. doi:10.1017/S1049096519001653

“After the Punctuation: Competition, Uncertainty, and Convergent State Policy Change.” (2019) State Politics and Policy Quarterly (with Tom Holyoke), 19(1): 3-28.

"Measuring the Drapes: Why New Approaches to Money and Politics Can Address Biased Access and Influence During Presidential Transitions" Election Law Journal, 16(1) (2017).

"Immigrant-Serving Non-profit Voter Mobilization in Off-Cycle Elections: An Institutional Explanation of Differential Political Participation Patterns" Journal of Civil Society Vol 11 (4) (2015).

"Does Globalization Drive Interest Group Strategy: A Cross-national Study of Outside Lobbying and Social Media" Journal of Public Affairs (2015). DOI: 10.1002/pa.1590.

“Can Lobbying be Taught?” Interest Groups & Advocacy. (with Holyoke Tom and Tim LaPira) (2015).  4 (1): 7-24. 

The Institutional Digital Divide: Immigrant-Serving Nonprofit Organization Adoption of Social Media.” Social Science Computer Review. (2015).  33 (2): 1-16.

"Interest Groups and Presidential Transitions" Congress and the Presidency, no.  2 (2012):  152-170.

"Shopping in the Political Arena: Strategic State and Local Venue Selection by Advocates" (with Tom Holyoke and Jeffrey Henig). State and Local Government Review44, no. 1(2012): 1-13.

 “Policy Dynamics and the Evolution of State Charter School Laws.”  (with Holyoke, Tom, Jeffrey Henig, and Natalie Lacireno-Paquet) (2009) Policy Sciences, 42: 33-50. 

 “Institutional Advocacy and Political Behavior of Charter Schools.” ( with Tom Holyoke, Jeffrey Henig,  and Natalie Lacireno-Paquet) (2007).Political Research Quarterly, 60(2): 202-214.

Personnel Practices in U.S. Charter Schools: Extrinsic Incentives and Teacher Motivation.” Journal of School Choice, (2008) 2(4):415-439.

"Scale of Operations and Locus of Control in Market Versus Mission-Oriented Charter Schools" (with Jeffrey Henig, Tom Holyoke, and Natalie Lacireno-Paquet). Social Science Quarterly 8, no. 5 (2004): 1034-1051.

Research Summary

Brown conducts research on public policy, nonprofit organizations, and elections. He has studied education policy, criminal justice and gun policy, as well as the politics of the nonprofit sector.

He spoke about think tanks on KQED's Public Radio program Forum as well as at the City University of New York Post-Election Forum.

He participated in a state-wide debate about redistricting in Virginia in 2010. 

His first book, Lobbying the New President, examined the relationship between interest groups and the presidential transition period. He is completing a book project on immigrants and politics. Portions of that project have been published in Nonprofit Policy ForumSocial Science Computer Review, and forthcoming in the Journal of Civil Society.

His second book, Tea Party Divided: The Hidden Diversity of Maturity Movement, explores money, media, and mobilization in the second phase of the tea party movement.