Lauren Saenz

Assistant Visiting Professor of Education

Teaching this semester

EDUC 1101. Contemporary American Education

What are the purposes of public education and what makes it public? Do schools serve an individual good or a collective good? Is Americas system of public education organized to serve these purposes? What is the public’s responsibility towards public education? How do current school reforms affect various stakeholders? The primary objective is to examine the cultural, social, economic, and institutional dilemmas confronting public schooling in the United States today. By approaching these dilemmas as unsolved puzzles instead of systematic failures, important insights are gained into the challenges confronting a democratic society historically committed to the public provision of education. Considers which theories and purposes of education motivate current reform efforts. Likewise, examines who shapes public discourse about public education and by what strategies. Employs a mixed approach of reading, discussion, and class-based activities to explore important educational issues including school reform and finance, charter schools, busing, vouchers, unequal educational opportunities and outcomes; and accountability, standardization, and testing.

EDUC 2247. Gatekeepers and Barriers in Education

Examines the various ways that educational policies and practices enact borders and gatekeeping in schools. We will pay particular attention to the lines drawn by race, class, nationality, ability, language, and gender to explore the effect of these policies on students, schools, and society more broadly. Accordingly, we will look at schools inclusive of public, private, K-12, and higher education. Areas of focus include tracking, financial aid, admissions, high-stakes testing, school lunch, dress codes, and gender norms.

Professor Saenz is interested in transformative theories of program evaluation, and the use of evaluation as a tool to improve students’ educational experiences and imagine meaningful social change.  Her research centers on democratic theory, evaluation, and policy, particularly in school and community-based organizations.  Her teaching focuses on critical methodology, the philosophical foundations and practice of program evaluation, and mixed methods educational research.


  • B.A., Princeton University
  • Ph.D., University of Colorado