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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 9: All Teachers Can Lead—All Leaders Can Learn: Making the Case for Social Justice in Teacher and Leader Preparation


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Making the Case for Social Justice in Teacher and Leader Preparation

The chapter examines the evolution of the image of ‘teacher’ as a powerless female underling in the educative process, which is being replaced by a more progressive view of teachers as empowered, efficacious actors who affect policy and school governance. Complementing this change is the evolving image of school principal as ‘monarch.’ The chapter shows how these role changes have been spurred by school reform initiatives, changing demographics, and the complex social challenges that face schools. The evolving roles and expectations for teachers and school leaders are promising because this can create a climate that embraces constructive change in terms of teacher and leader preparation. Using a teacher preparation program as a case study, the chapter concludes with a consideration of how teacher and leader preparation programs can integrate equity and social justice into the programs of study for preservice professionals.

Keywords: teachers, school leaders, teacher preparation, NCATE, social justice pedagogy, equity, social justice, in-service teaching, teacher leadership

“The idea that you have to advocate teaching for social justice is a sad statement about the moral sensibility in our schools and society.”

—Herbert Kohl

“We teach who we are.”

—P. J. Palmer ← 251 | 252 →

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