Associate Professor
Contact Info

Associate Professor
Early, Elementary & Reading Education

Dr. Kara M. Kavanagh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education at JMU. Her research is focused on the micropolitical contexts of urban schools, urban/critical multicultural education, policies and reforms that harm urban schools, and educating teachers for social justice. She has extensive experience working alongside families, communities, and educators as they work for more equitable education for marginalized students.

Fellow, Ethical Reasoning in Action

President, Virginia Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education 

Co-Founder, The CARE (Creativity and Reading Education) Program


Academic Degrees:
Ph.D. Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Cognate: Teacher Development and Urban/Multicultural Education, Georgia State University
M.Ed. Early Childhood Education, Armstrong Atlantic State University
B.A. Psychology, George Mason University

Research and Teaching Interests:
Teacher Education and Development, Urban/Critical Multicultural Education and Policy P-20+, New teachers navigating the micropolitical contexts of urban schools (ie. testing, scripted programs, reforms), Social Justice

Professional involvement

American Education Research Association, National Association for Multicultural Education

President-Virginia Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education

Professional Experience
Taught 3rd-5th grades
Coached/supervised/mentored beginning teachers, interns, and student teachers since 2007
Taught various undergraduate and graduate courses since 2007

Courses taught at JMU:

ELED 310 Diversity in Elementary Education

ELED 641 Families, Schools, and Communities

ELED 501 Teaching Culturally, Linguistically, and Socioeconomically Diverse Students Using Community, Creativity, and Literacy

ELED 510 Creativity in Elementary Education

Courses taught at GSU:
ECE 3255 Cultural Foundations of Early Childhood Education
ECE 3255 ESOL Cultural Foundations of Early Childhood Education
ECE 8400 Teacher Development
ECE 6360 Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
ECE 6361 Responsive and Student Centered Pedagogy
ECE 7576 Teacher Inquiry for Critical Change
ECE 7575 Induction Teachers as Change Agents I
ECE 7585 Induction Teachers as Change Agents II
ECE 6586 Advocating for Students through the Descriptive Review of the Child
ECE 6575 Beginning Teachers of Record as Reflective Practitioners I
ECE 6585 Beginning Teachers of Record as Reflective Practitioners Practicum II
ECE 8680 Internship in Early Childhood Education

Selected publications

Kavanagh, K. & McCartney, H. (2018). James Madison University sowing the seeds of C.A.R.E. (Creativity and Reading Education) within the Harrisonburg refugee community. Refugee Education: Integration and Acceptance of Refugees in Mainstream Society  

Kavanagh, K.M. & Fisher-Ari, T.R. (2018) Curricular and pedagogical oppression: Contradictions of the juggernaut accountability trap. Educational Policy, p.1-29. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0895904818755471. 

Kavanagh, K., & Fisher-Ari, T. (2017). Constraints and negotiations: TFA, accountability, and scripted programs in urban schools. Perspectives in Urban Education, 14(1), p. 1-17.

Fisher-Ari, T., Kavanagh, K. & Martin, A. (2017). Sisyphean neoliberal reforms: The intractable mythology of student growth and achievement master narratives within the testing and TFA era. Journal of Education Policy, 32(3), p. 255-280. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2016.1247466

Fisher-Ari, T., Kavanagh, K. and Martin, A. (2016) Urban teachers struggling within and against neoliberal, accountability-era policies. Perspectives in Urban Education, 13(2), p. 1-13. 

Kavanagh, K. & Dunn, A.H.  (2013). The political spectacle of recruiting the best and the brightest. Critical Education, 4(11), 48-66. 4. Retrieved from http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/criticaled/article/view/183941


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