Desiree O'Neal

  • 2021

Research Concentration

  • K-12 Education Policy

Research Interest

Politics of Education, Critical Policy Analysis, Racial Justice and Education, Equity and Access, School Governance, School Improvement, Curriculum, and Community Engagement
Desiree  O'Neal

Contact Information

Websites and Social Media


  • Julie Marsh

Research Center


Desiree O'Neal is a Ph.D. student in the Urban Education Policy program at the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, and research assistant at the National Center Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) and the USC Rossier Center for Education Policy, Equity, and Governance (CEPEG). She is advised by Dr. Julie Marsh. Desiree is a critical race and policy scholar who is deeply committed to challenging and deconstructing the harmful and oppressive structures within our education system and society at large. As a result, her research critically interrogates the ways in which the racial politics of public education and other social contexts shape local, state, and federal K-12 education policy and decision-making.

Desiree's work is interdisciplinary and employs diverse methods to help examine the effectiveness of education policies and their impact on historically marginalized and racially minoritized communities. Through her work, she strives to advance racial justice and equity-oriented policymaking within K-12 education and to enhance access and opportunities for communities that have been and continue to be neglected and abjected. Her current research focus involves examining school choice policies and the various ways that they impact Black students' lives and educational experiences. 

Prior to attending the University of Southern California, Desiree worked as a Research and Policy Intern for the Learning Policy Institute and as a Community Coordinator/ Consultant for the New York City Department of Education. She is also a former middle school reading and social studies teacher. Desiree received an M.A. in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College.