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Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity


reviewed by Sonya Douglass Horsford & Kofi Lomotey - June 20, 2014

coverTitle: Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity
Author(s): Linda C. Tillman & James Joseph Scheurich (Eds.)
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0415657466, Pages: 776, Year: 2013
Search for book at Amazon.com


The mounting demands onand expectations oftodays school and district leaders working in progressively complex social contexts require a reframing of educational leadership research, as well as a reconsideration of the way that this research is used. This is the case the editors, Linda C. Tillman and James Jim Scheurich, cogently arrange and put forth in their 29 chapter Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity. Both a critique of continuing bias and discrimination (p. xiv) and a celebration of diversity and equity (p. xiv) in education, the authors offer discussions surrounding:

 

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a timely review and critique of the traditional educational leadership research base (Section I),

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successful practices for leading diverse schools and districts (Section II and Section III),

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lessons for equitable and excellent school leadership practice (Section IV),

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critical issues in school leadership (Section V), and

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leadership preparation for equitable and diverse schools (Section VI).


The contributors to this unique Handbook appraise the lack of analysis in educational leadership regarding issues of bias and discrimination along multiple dimensions of difference in schools. Unlike more conventional school leadership research focused on (a) closing achievement gaps, (b) raising student test scores among children in poverty who may or may not speak English at home and (c) evaluating teachers according to said test scores, the scholars whose work appears in this volume dig deeper by revealing how uncritical assessments of difference in theory have constrained leadership for equity and diversity in practice.


In Section One, Chapter One, Blounts historical dialectic of leadership for social justice and leadership for the privilege imperative provides a solid foundation upon which the rest of the volume builds. These underlying forces, she explains, are not mutually exclusive, but have been tightly intertwined throughout the history of education (p. 8). Leadership for social justice represents the work of those who seek to mitigate oppression and provide social, political, and economic opportunities for those with less (p. 8) whereas leadership for the privilege imperative demands that leaders systematically privilege some students on account of their status (p. 8), a trap that can be difficult for school and district leaders to avoid. Blount goes on to discuss a view to the future, again setting the stage for the contributions that follow.


In one way or another, the authors in each section and chapter touch on this dialectic. Authors of the remaining chapters in Section One review the history of the politics of education and the increasing significance of advocacy leadership in schools, as well as global entrepreneurships impact on U.S. economic and education policy. In looking at the politics of education, Lerma, Linick, Warren-Grice and Parker (a) delineate several relevant conceptual frameworks, (b) discuss public policyincluding legislative initiatives and (c) consider the significance of critical race theory. Anderson, Mungal, Pini, Scott and Thomson look at the impact of the recent roll back of welfare state policies on the working class and the elderly. They argue for a global remedy to address this critical situation. Capper and Green expose the fields limited focus on structural functionalism, as does Diamond, and in both chapters the authors present compelling cases for critically-oriented and methodologically diverse research approaches to inform leadership for social justice.


The authors of the chapters in Section Two present research-based strategies for the effective education of African American, Latina/o, Native American, Asian American and multiracial studentsall of which decenter white privilege and challenge problem-centered or deficit-laden approaches to working with racially minoritized students. They underscore how critical it is for educational leaders to deepen their understanding of the context, culture, and complexities of students with diverse backgroundseven when the interests of managerial efficiency may suggest otherwise. Framing such leadership practice within the daily demands and incentive structure of educational administration should make this scholarship particularly appealing to practicing and future school leaders charged with improving learning and achievement within these student populations. Wilson, Douglas, and Nganga call for a strength-based approach to educational leadership in addressing the needs of African Americans. Murakami, Valle and Mendez-Morse offer a framework for examining and explaining the relationship between instructional policies and the numerous forms of capital that Latinas/o learners bring to the classroom. Yazzi-Mintz argues for Native American control of schools serving students from these backgrounds. Nguyen and Lee stress the importance of understanding the diverse cultures that make up the Asian populations in the U.S. and worldwide.


The authors in Section Three highlight areas of difference that tend to receive less attention.  In their chapters on bilingual students; students labeled with disabilities; gay/lesbian/bisexual or transgender families, youth, and staff; women of all sexualities and races; and students from low income families, they stress the importance of school leaders who recognize that diversity is more than skin deep.  The authors in this section break new ground in their foci on research and practice, highlighting:

 

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the fundamental theories of second language acquisition (Lopez, Harvey and Chestnut),

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consequences of income inequality in schools (Brantlinger and Brantlinger),

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constructions of disability, ability, normalcy, and difference (McKinney and Lowenhaupt),

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intersectionality of gender, race, and sexual identities (Jackson, Chiu, Lopez, Simmons, Skrla and Warner),

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resiliency strategies of LGBTIQ youth, staff, and families (OMalley), and

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promoting the sociocultural integration of all students (Scanlan and Lopez)


Although all of the contributors to this volume address the connection between theory, research, and practice, the writers in Section IV focus most explicitly on how educational leaders advance equity and excellence in increasingly complex and diverse educational organizations. Promising practices within the context of high-stakes accountability include:


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multiple measures of assessment (Heilig and Nichols),

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culturally responsive teaching (Johnson and Willis),

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advocacy leadership (Evans),

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school-based and school-linked service integration (Sanders and Hambrick-Roberts), and

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pre-college preparation and summer bridge programs that support the transition of children of color to higher education settings (Strayhorn and Devita)


These scholars emphasize the importance of communication, nurturing and more.


The authors in Section Five highlight the moral, economic, political and legal dimensions of leadership for equity. These scholars focus on (a) schools as sites of cultural reproduction of inequality and inequity (Dancy and Brown), (b) school violence and safety (Gastic and Davis), the politics of race and school funding for communities of color (Alemán), and the perennial legal issues that continue to determine who gets what in the allocation of funding and resources in the nations schools (McNeal and Gooden). The contributors to Section Five provide powerful illustrations of the tensions inherent in the dialectic of leadership for social justice and leadership for the privilege imperative.  


The scholars whose work is included in Section Six focus their attention on the future of the field through the culturally relevant preparation of successful leaders for diverse, equitable schools. They explore:


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principles of social justice leadership (Hesbol),

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culture-based conceptions of leadership (Agosto, Dias, Kaiza, McHatton, and Elam),

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six steps of culturally competent leadership (Reis and Smith), and

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evaluation of leadership preparation programs according to an explicit framework for social justice leadership (Byrne-Jimenez and Orr)


This final section makes clear the need for leaders with different knowledge, skills and dispositions to lead in a socially just fashion in the increasingly diverse schools in the U.S.


Tillman and Scheurich and their diverse set of contributors to this Handbook accomplish a weighty task. In light of the cumulative pressures of high-stakes accountability and framing of growing racial, socioeconomic and linguistic diversity as problems to be solved by school leaders, these scholars call on a field grounded in traditional, narrow conceptions of leadership to rethink and reframe its conceptualizations of what it means to lead schools in a way that values diversity and difference. They establish a strong research base on which educational leaders, broadly defined, should take suggestions to heart as they seek to address legacies of exclusion, segregation, bias and discrimination. Through their bold critique of leadership as usual and recommendations for inclusive leadership practice in the future, they not only expand our knowledge of what it means to lead for social justice, but demonstrate how socially conscious research on educational leadership can work to resist the privilege imperative.


In Chapter Four, Capper and Green call for a more comprehensive assessment of critically oriented theory in educational leadership programs. Relatedly, Agosto, Dias, Kaiza, McHatton, and Elar call for cultural, effective, and socially just leadership. These and other ideas put forth in this volume take us much closer to developing critical research that informs leadership for social justice in todays diverse schools.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 20, 2014
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17571, Date Accessed: 2/16/2022 1:29:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Sonya Douglass Horsford
    George Mason University
    E-mail Author
    SONYA D. HORSFORD is an associate professor of education in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University where she focuses on educational leadership, opportunity and reform. Her research areas include school desegregation and resegregation, culturally relevant leadership and critical race theory in education. She is the author of the book, Learning in a Burning House: Education Inequality, Ideology, and (Dis)Integration (Teachers College Press, 2011).
  • Kofi Lomotey
    Western Carolina University
    E-mail Author
    KOFI LOMOTEY is the John Bardo and Deborah Bardo Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education & Allied Professions at Western Carolina University. His primary research interests are urban schools and Black principals. He is the co-editor—with H. Richard Milner IV—of the Handbook of Urban Education (Routledge, 2014). Lomotey’s current work focuses on reviewing research on Black principals conducted over the past 25 years.
 
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