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Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership

Christine Cunningham

Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership documents the author’s research as a K-12 principal in an elite American International School in Bolivia. During those years she kept a daily journal of her work that revealed exactly how the school fabricated college transcripts and passed failing students and examines why the school remained unaccountable for its corrupt actions.
Against a backdrop of national crisis when Bolivia’s indigenous majority struggled to gain executive political power and invoke inclusive and pluralistic education reforms, this book details how the school’s plutocratic processes helped to guarantee that its wealthy young graduates would retain their privileged place in society.
As the title suggests, Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership reveals the author’s professional Dilemma to remain true to her education ideals while leading a corrupt school. How she resolved this ethical predicament is the crux of this study and illuminates the challenges and inspiration of doing Critically Reflective Leadership.


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CHAPTER 6 Confronting Local Power 125


CHAPTER 6 Confronting Local Power One way to think about theory building, which is really what this stage is about, is to see it as a process of reframing your [practice] in more appropriate ways… It is a process of seeing the situation differently … [and asking] what is going on here? (Smyth et al., 1999a: 34-5) To [confront is to] understand how considerations of power undergird, frame and distort educational processes and interactions (Brookfield, 1995: 8). The Story So Far My critical reflection process began with describing the scene – in this case a small, K-12 American International School, which I refer to with the pseudonym Colegio Americano, located in a small city in Bolivia. In the chapter dedicated to the description process I described Colegio Americano’s community as a microcosm of the city’s elite: rich, local families whose wealth was underpinned by massive land holdings (lati- fundios), politics and the corrupt benefits that flow from government employment and businesses supported by oligarch connections. Expen- sive tuition fees made up the lion’s share of funding for the for-profit 126 school so only those who could afford to pay the fees could enrol their children at Colegio Americano. This financial gate-keeping mechanism ensured only the wealthy and privileged attended the school. This in- cluded a small group of children from the privileged expatriate commu- nity whose mainly American parents resided in Bolivia for aide, mis- sionary or military reasons. Enrolment at Colegio Americano was sought after because the school offered intensive English...

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