Kate Destler

Associate Professor, Director of the Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education


Professor Destler joined the faculty of the Political Science Department in Fall 2016; she is an Associate Professor of Political Science in American Politics and Public Policy at Western Washington University and assumed the role of Director of the Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education in 2021. She specializes in public policy and American politics, with a focus on education policy, civic participation, and policy implementation.  She comes to Western from George Mason University, where she served as a faculty member in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs. 

A former K-12 English and social studies teacher, she graduated from the Evans School of Public Affairs with a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management. She also holds an AB in Comparative Literature from Brown University and a Masters in English Teaching from the University of Virginia.

Destler has published research on performance management policy, organizational climate, teacher pay, and charter school policy in a range of peer-reviewed journals. She is currently at work on a project that examines how race, class and diversity affect citizen involvement in schools. Professor Destler is committed to applied policy work. In the past, she has worked with both school districts and non-profit organizations, helping them not only design new policies but also manage the politics of enactment and implementation. 

As a recipient of a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Spencer Foundation and National Academy of Education, she will spend the next two years examining how the expansion of school choice has affected the racial and economic segregation of students.  She is also at work on a book project entitled Performance Management Hits the Streets: Organizational Culture and Education Reform.

At Western, Destler teaches courses on American politics, public policy, and bureaucratic politics. 

Research Interests

  • American Politics, Public Policy, Civic Engagement, Bureaucratic Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Urban Politics

Current Courses

Winter 2024

  • PLSC 330 – American Democracy and the Politics of Education


Spring 2024

  • PLSC 250 – American Political System

Selected Publications

“A Matter of Trust: Organizational Climate, Street Level Bureaucrats and Performance Management Reform.” Forthcoming at Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

Destler, K and Page, S. “Moving toward Mixed Service Delivery: The Growth in Schools Run by Non-governmental Providers in Ten Cities. International Public Management Journal. (available on-line May 2016)

“Creating a Performance Culture: Incentives, Climate and Organizational Change.” American Review of Public Administration. (available on-line October 2014).

Goldhaber, D., Destler, K. and Player, D. “Teacher Labor Markets and The Perils of Using Hedonics to Estimate Compensating Differentials in the Public Sector.” Economics of Education Review (February 2010), 1-17.


Destler%20CV%20Fall%202016.docx (32.83 KB)