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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 7: The Paradox of Power, Justice, and School Leadership: Facing Diversity—Leading Change


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Facing Diversity—Leading Change

We take the students who have less to begin with and then systematically give them less in school. In fact, we give these students less of everything that we believe makes a difference.

We do this in hundreds of different ways.

—Katie Haycock

In America, we presume to know what justice is and is not. And, we presume to be a just nation. Words like equality, equity, and justice are key values embedded in the cherished American Dream, and for most Americans, these ideas are neither ambiguous nor elusive, because they are cloaked over us like heavy garments, and have always been part of the country’s DNA. Justice and its companions, freedom and liberty, are ingrained in our children as soon as they enter our public education systems. And yet, we’ve always had to use qualifiers when we refer to ‘justice’ because too often, justice, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder, and under the control of the privileged and the powerful who dispensed it if, and when, it served their best interests to do so. And, in many ways, it seems paradoxical to speak of justice, power, and privilege in the same sentence because too often in American society, justice, power, and privilege are non sequiturs. ← 185 | 186 →

Even a superficial look at American history shows that...

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