APPAM’s new Five Minutes with… series is being introduced today to illuminate the work of individual APPAM members, and promote connections between members based on their shared interests. The opportunity to be profiled on our website and social media through these interviews is an exclusive APPAM member benefit!
Enjoy this first interview in the series with Matthew Kraft, a Brown professor and father of two with aspirations to photograph Petra.
Matthew A. Kraft
Place of Employ and Position:
Brown University, Associate Professor of Education and Economics
Degrees, including Institutions:
B.A. in International Relations; Stanford University
M.A. in International Comparative Education; Stanford Graduate School of Education
Ed.D. in Quantitative Policy Analysis; Harvard Graduate School of Education
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn or Professional Website: https://scholar.harvard.edu/mkraft/home
1. What attracted you to the field?
My experiences as a public school teacher in Berkeley, California, motivated me to go back to school and study education policy. Teaching raised so many questions for me about why our public education system is designed the way it is – and whether our current approach is the best for students and their teachers.
2. What would you say has been the pinnacle of your career to date?
The most rewarding part of my career continues to be teaching and mentoring students, now at the undergraduate and graduate level. It is also extremely meaningful when you get an e-mail from an educator or policymaker saying that your research helped to inform their work.
3. What are you working on this year that excites you most?
I’m currently working on a line of research about the amount of time students spend in school and how that time is used. There is considerable variability in the total number of hours public schools are in session across districts and states. Some kids are in school over 200 hours longer than others simple because of where they live. Equally important is how this time in school is used. Preliminary evidence from our work shows that the frequency of both teacher absences and outside interruptions to class (e.g. intercom announcements and administrators knocking on the door) vary considerably across schools.
4. Describe the role that mentorship plays in professional development at your organization.
Being an academic means you are always learning. I’ve benefited greatly from the mentorship I’ve received from John Tyler and my interdisciplinary colleagues in the Education and Economics Departments at Brown.
5. Explain what, besides mentorship opportunities, makes your organization an attractive place to work from a values perspective.
Brown is a university that places a high value on the importance of teaching – all professors teach at least one class every semester. It is also a place where the application of research into practice is highly valued. We are all striving to leverage research to make our local community and the world a better place.
Matt Kraft in his element at Brown.
6. In what ways does your work help promote diversity in the profession?
Schools that serve predominantly students of color and students from low-income families struggle, on average, to retain their teachers. My research has helped to show that poor working conditions in schools, not student characteristics, largely explain this phenomenon. My work points to ways in which districts and schools might leverage data from school climate surveys to inform efforts to improve the support teachers receive in these schools in order to reduce turnover.
7. What opportunities do you think technological advances will create for public policy professionals over the next decade?
Information and communication technologies are constantly creating new opportunities for innovating around education practice.
8. Outside of work, what do you do for respite?
I spend most of my time outside of work with my family – although I’m not sure wrangling our two-year-old and four-year-old counts as respite. We like to get outside for bike rides, hikes, soccer, or sledding. A little physical activity goes a long way after a day of staring at my computer screen.
9. Is there someone you admire who you’ve never met but would love to meet, or something you’ve never done but would love to do? If so, we’d love to hear about this bucket list item.
There are three places where I’d love to go and take photographs – Petra, Jordan; Antelope Canyon, Arizona; and Havasu Falls, Arizona.
Matt Kraft with his two children, studying dinosaurs before heading out to teach Economics and Education policy!