Andrea Kayne is both a lawyer and educator by training, and her experiences continue to influence her work, passions, and outreach today. Kayne first attended Vassar College where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Developmental Psychology. Afterwards, she obtained a Master’s degree in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in Administration Planning and Social Policy. While at Harvard, Kayne interned with a university-partnered legal nonprofit organization that analyzed state Department of Education plans for homeless students. It was this opportunity where she first developed her interest in the intersection between law and education.
Kayne effectuated this interest by pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She reflects on her time at Penn Law School with nostalgia and admiration because of the types of courses she was able to take like, “Race and American Legal History;” and the notable figures she had as instructors like, A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., a friend of former Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. After law school, Kayne worked for a nonprofit legal agency that represented children with disabilities, whose families were at or below the poverty line. She recollects that this work helped her realize the need for better educational policy and law, “It was disheartening to win a case because it would be years later after the issue was brought forth. I always wondered what these students could have done or who they could have been if they had gotten the proper services [in school] early on.”
This experience pushed Kayne to look at teaching as a way to effect change in the education system. Following a faculty position in DePaul University’s law school, Kayne transitioned to her current post in the College of Education. She describes that she loves teaching future educators because it is “the preventive side,” juxtaposed against law, “the reaction side.” She explains why law is reactive: “Harm occurs and people get involved, but to enforce law you need money, power, race, and more, and you often see schools being protected at the expense of students.” In response, Kayne tries to emphasize to her students a difference between ethics and law so that the educators she teaches understand a “responsibility to keep kids safe in learning environments,” and the importance of “constructive working relationships that enable stakeholders to feel heard, seen and valued so that educational organizations can function better.”
Kayne states that she loves teaching in-person more because of the energy, dialogue, and collectivity that can be created. She pairs DePaul’s mantle for social justice with an interest in issues about gender and race equality, special education, free speech, and changing adversarial discourse in policy-making to cultivate her students into change agents who can navigate social institutions. Kayne employs her training as an attorney in her role as an educator by advocating for and with faculty and students, understanding the different sides of issues, and by being litigious in situations that “aren’t right,” joking that her argumentative side has “mellowed over time.”
Kayne dedicates her free time to her two children, but she has also developed a passion for writing. She currently has two screen plays and two television treatments that are in progress, and her novel, Oxford Messed Up has been widely circulated and praised.