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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 8: Teacher Leadership for Equity and Social Justice


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Teachers’ lives are enriched and energized in many ways when they actively pursue leadership opportunities. Rather than remain passive recipients—even victims—of what their institutions deal to them, teachers who lead help to shape their own schools and thereby, their own destinies as educators.

—Roland Barth

“The teacher who leads: gets to sit at the table with grownups as a first-class citizen in the schoolhouse rather than remain the subordinate in a world full of superordinates …”

—Roland Barth

“Not too long ago, I heard a teacher describe his world as ‘rushed, crunched, and isolated’. I’m tempted to add two other adjectives, ‘distrusted,’ and ‘undervalued.’”


“I’m just a teacher. If you want to talk with a leader, he’s down the hall in the principal’s office.”

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