Carla O’Connor is the Director of University of Michigan Wolverine Pathways, a free year-round program that partners with the families, schools, and communities of Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Southfield to support academic success, college admission, and career exploration. She is also Professor of Education and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University. A sociologist of education, Carla O’Connor has expertise in the areas of African American achievement, cultural studies, urban education, and ethnographic methods.
Her work includes examinations of how Black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and influences educational outcomes; how Black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within and across social space and shape academic orientation; how Black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional, and historical forces; and how the organization and culture of schools influence students’ social and academic identities and outcomes. She is currently conducting a study on race and the co-construction of family-school relations in one demographically diverse elementary school. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Ethnic and Racial Studies. She co-edited (with Erin McNamara Horvat) the book, Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement and has contributed to multiple handbooks and edited volumes that contend with issues of educational inequality and access. She is a founding member of the NSF sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context.