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Policy knowledge derived from data, information, and evidence is a powerful tool for contributing to policy discussions and debates, and for understanding and improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of government action. For decades, politicians, advocates, reformers, and researchers have simultaneously espoused this value, while also paradoxically lamenting the lack of impact of policy knowledge on decision making, and the failure of related reforms. This text explores this paradox, identifying the reliance on a proverb of using policy knowledge to supplant politics as a primary culprit for these perceived failures. It explores major policy decisions for federal K-12 education and student loans for higher education from their creation in 1965, examining how federal education policy has been defined, advanced, and reformed through a complex interplay of politics and policy knowledge. This unique approach allows for repeated investigation of policy knowledge as it is created and diffused throughout a policy area while also incorporating the importance of the political environment and the impact of changes therein. The evidence in this book suggests that any consideration of the role of policy knowledge in decision making must be considered alongside, rather than in place of, considerations of the ideologies, interests, and institutional factors that shape political decisions. This contextually rich approach offers practical insights to understand the role of policy knowledge, and to better leverage it to support good governance decisions.