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The Social Construction of Educational Leadership

Southern Appalachian Ceilings


Anna Hicks McFadden and Penny Smith

Most historical and theoretical work on school administration choice has focused on the importance of race and class, with increased attention to gender during the past two decades. Rarely has geography been a consideration and, when it appears at all, it is used only to distinguish the unique conditions of urban school settings. The Social Construction of Educational Leadership: Southern Appalachian Ceilings addresses decisions about who is chosen to lead public schools, and how they do it. Using their research on senior-level public school leaders in the southern mountains of North Carolina as a representative case study, the authors construct an argument for a reconsideration of the role of place – both in decisions about who becomes a school leader, and in how those leaders behave professionally. The authors describe the changes in a leadership system grounded in race, class, geographic, and gender preferences that dating back to colonial systems of deference, describing the pattern of those changes, and exploring their implications for school leadership, and the preparation of prospective leaders in the region and elsewhere.