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Justice in Search of Leaders

A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership


Gloria Graves Holmes

Justice in Search of Leaders: A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership is a guide for educators who are committed to equity-driven teaching, leading, and policy-making, and would like to operationalize socially just school practices for all children. Moving beyond a heroes and holidays approach to addressing racism, bias, injustice, and a cluster of isms, it provides a deeper understanding of the causes of structural inequities in schools, and suggests approaches for deconstructing them. The book includes a frank discussion of race, racism, social dominance, and implicit bias, and encourages both objective and subjective analyses of how they infect school practice.

America’s ambivalent response to race, racial identity development, the nature of prejudice, and how humans form values and develop belief systems is explored in some depth. There is also a critique of Whiteness as a socio-political concept as it relates to power and privilege, and as a demographic reality as it relates to institutional discrimination in schools. The book is not a critique of white people, and it is important that readers make that distinction. This leads to a discussion of the tricky and challenging process of changing beliefs, values, and attitudes as they relate to school leadership and teaching, and how all of this is connected to the power dynamics in schools.

Justice in Search of Leaders: A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership encourages educators to acknowledge that we all have racial identities and biases that inform professional practice, and to reflect on the significance of this. It means thinking deeply about socially abhorrent subjects which make us uncomfortable and cause us to retreat to the safety of our comfort zones. This is necessary because for most under-served students, there is no retreat and no safety; there are only discomfort zones.

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Chapter 4: Implicit Bias and the Bias Awareness Gap: Implications for Equity-Driven Teaching and School Leadership


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Implications for Equity-Driven Teaching and School Leadership

This chapter looks beneath some of the typical factors used to explain racialized educational disparity. Typically, the data addresses academic gaps, funding gaps, opportunity gaps, college admission gaps, etc., which focus on tangible things that can be counted and tabulated. There are, however, important factors that cannot be counted and assessed through typical data collection methods, and the chapter focuses on two intangible factors implicated in the failure of American schools to equitably serve all of its children. They are: implicit (unconscious) bias and personal beliefs about social dominance. The chapter argues that there is a significant cause and effect relationship between racialized underachievement and latent biases in educators that can be connected to their attitudes toward social dominance. Using research on social dominance, the chapter examines how beliefs or predispositions toward social dominance and social equality or inequality can be translated into oppressive behaviors and oppressive school policies even when these beliefs or predispositions are unintentional, and individuals are unaware of them. This chapter encourages practitioners and policymakers to look at themselves and their own attitudes and beliefs, and consider if, and how, they are accomplices helping to sustain and reinforce inequitable outcomes for some children.

Keywords: social dominance, achievement gap, equity, explicit bias, implicit (unconscious) bias, school-to-prison pipeline, diversity, culture, minority, majority, race, privilege ← 83 | 84 →

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