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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 10: Conclusion: An Empowering Vision: Harnessing Bias and the Possibility for Change


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An Empowering Vision: Harnessing Bias and the Possibility for Change

This chapter provides an overview of several themes that connect social justice to teaching and school leadership. It argues that courageous conversations about diversity and race, and prejudice, and bias, focused on social justice and school leadership, are a necessary part of personal transformation and school reform. Building on the premise that talking about racism and bias is a first step toward eliminating them, the chapter provides a number of methodologies including multicultural education, culturally responsive education, and anti-bias education which help undermine personal biases. Although the chapter underscores the importance of confronting biases, it also acknowledges the difficulty of assessing and deconstructing them. This is because racial identity development, and the way humans are socialized to believe what they believe and do what they do, is inherently imprecise, and cannot easily be captured by statistics. Finally, the chapter invites a reconsideration of the intersection of social justice, ethical behavior, and moral transformative teaching, and school leadership, and it argues that transformation is possible when confronting bias is the first step.

Keywords: implicit bias, prejudice, double-consciousness, diversity, culturally responsive education, social justice, dysconsciousness, privilege, (de)biasing, multicultural education ← 295 | 296 →

“Our continuing existence depends on a diversity of life that surrounds and quite literally inhabits us. And still we have an innate distrust of diversity. It is fear that makes talking about diversity so difficult....

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