by Claire Miller
Kristen Buras was in college when author Jonathan Kozol came to campus to speak about his book, Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, which detailed Kozol’s trips to urban and suburban schools in neighborhoods across the country and the socioeconomic disparities he witnessed.
His discussion about his experiences struck a chord with Buras, who was very active in her hometown of New Orleans and saw firsthand the kind of disparities Kozol wrote about in his book.
“For me, a lot of those experiences really sparked a critical consciousness around race and class inequality in the public school system,” said Buras, who has been appointed a visiting assistant professor of urban educational policy and reform in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Loyola University-New Orleans in 1993 and received both her master’s degree and her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and 2006, respectively. Her research interests include critical race theory, cultural studies, educational policy in urban contexts, and education in the U.S. South and global South.
Buras has spent the past five years researching school reform in New Orleans, including charter schools and alternative teacher recruitment. One of her books, entitled Pedagogy, Policy, and the Privatized City: Stories of Dispossession and Defiance from New Orleans, was coauthored with veteran teachers and students and recognized for its outstanding contributions by the Curriculum Studies Division of the American Educational Research Association. It explores the troubling effects of current reforms on working-class African American communities. Buras is currently writing another book, Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance, which documents how elite policymakers and grassroots activists have struggled to shape public education and racial-spatial distribution of resources across neighborhoods.
In the COE, Buras currently teaches a politics and policy in education class and will teach a multicultural education class and a critical race theory in urban education course in the spring. She hopes to mentor doctoral students in the future and to continue her research on urban education and policy.
“Many universities across the country study urban education at a distance, but Georgia State is intimately connected to the public school system in the heart of Atlanta,” she said. “I want to continue looking at race and class and how these dynamics shape curriculum and policy in public schools, and I believe I’m at a university that values this kind of research.”
This story is one in a series designed to highlight the College of Education’s newest faculty members and their contributions to the field of education.