About

2019-03-01 Laura McKennaAs a freelance education writer, I have written dozens of articles and hundreds of blog posts for several news outlets and websites over the past six years. I’ve covered a wide range of topics, including the opt-out movement, the closing of a small girl’s college, a supreme court case over special education, the impact of parents on schools, college affordability, the application process to elite college, the high cost of textbooks, the impact of vouchers on Catholic education, the move towards competency-based learning, how technology is changing education, and the impact of adjuncts on college education. I have discussed my work on NPR and Sirius Radio. My work has been cited in peer review journals, law review journals, and even a television show.

I wrote over 55 articles, notes, and blog posts as a regular contributor for the Atlantic over the past six years, and several articles for The 74 and Edutopia this year. My work has also been published in Pacific-Standard, Discovery Education, ParentMap, and GOOD; I’ve been reprinted in City Lab, Business Insider, and Yahoo! News.

From Senator Cory Booker to a principal of a public school for emotionally disturbed children in the South Bronx, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a diverse cast of people about schools.

My writing is heavily influenced by my experiences in higher education. For twenty-two years, I was a graduate student, an education policy researcher, and a college professor. I have a MA in political science from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in political science with a specialization in education policy from the Graduate Center of New York. My dissertation examined the politics of school vouchers.

While working on my doctoral studies, I worked closely with Marilyn Gittell, one of the architects of the decentralization of New York City’s schools during the 1960s, at her research center, The Howard Samuels State Politics and Management Center. During my seven years there, we worked on several projects for the Ford Foundation, CUNY administration, and the City of New York including a multi-state study of charter school and school finance reform. I led and trained many research assistants in qualitative and quantitative methodology and conducted hundreds of interviews, focus groups, and surveys with key participants in education reform. Gittell was also my dissertation adviser.

After completing my Ph.D. I taught at Hunter College, Teachers College at Columbia, and Ramapo College. My courses included Introduction to Political Science, Introduction to American Government, State and Local Government, Public Policy, the Politics of Education, Mass Media, and Political Theory. My academic research, peer-reviewed journal articles, monographs, and conference presentations includes work on Republican governors and education, new media, college retention, and school vouchers.  

My academic background enables me to easily converse with fellow academics about their research; academic research always serves to inform my work. It also gives me unique insights into university life, a frequent subject of my articles. Prior to beginning my graduate studies, I taught students with severe cognitive and physical disabilities in District 75 in the South Bronx, so I also have an insider perspective into K-12 education.  

I’m a parent of two teenage boys. One is currently studying at Rutgers University. The other is a high school student with autism. I always volunteer time to help the special education community locally. I regularly attend town school board meetings and PTA meetings. Several articles, including one on the opt-out movement, were informed by those experiences.

Twitter — @Laura11D

E-Mail – LMcKenna11 at gmail.com

Rare posts, random links, and family pictures on the former blog, Apt. 11D.

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