What Works?: Research on Educational Leadership, Policy and Literacy in Black & Brown Communities

I pinged a few professors to answer a few questions with lesser known research on educational leadership, policy and literacy in black & brown communities. Works were submitted by:

  • Noelle Witherspoon Arnold, Ohio State University
  •  Julian Vasquez Heilig, California State University Sacramento
  • Lorri J. Santamaría The University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, University of Missouri. Columbia

Here are the questions and crowd sourced research.


  1. Addressing the need for strong leadership in addressing teaching gaps for urban and rural learners.

Santamaría, L. J., & Santamaría, A. P. (2015). Counteracting racism with applied critical leadership: Culturally responsive practices promoting sustainable change. In Special Issue on Educational leadership against racism: Challenging policy, pedagogy and practice. International Journal Multicultural Education (IJME), 17(1), 1-22. Available at: http://ijme-journal.org/ijme/index.php/ijme/article/viewArticle/1013

ABSTRACT: This contribution considers educational leadership practice to promote and sustain diversity. Comparative case studies are presented featuring educational leaders in the United States and New Zealand who counter injustice in their practice.  The leaders’ leadership practices, responsive to the diversity presented in their schools, offer reconceptualizations of educational leadership for a changing society. Applied critical leaders are defined through similarities and differences, followed by suggestions for critical leadership promoting social justice and educational equity and culturally responsive practices to inform policy and practice for sustainable future-focused educational leadership. They find (a) educational leadership is an interdisciplinary, complex, and multi-pronged process, wherein (b) educational   partners   need   to   develop   participatory alterNative leadership practices that  adhere  to  critical  democracy  (e.g.,  from individual, to local, to national, to global). We also acknowledge that educational leadership, as a discipline, (c) needs to deliberately delink from notions of leadership as management.  Finally, educational leaders need to (d) use known, new, and developing tools  to  foster  communication  addressing  educational issues for marginalized and all learners toward increased global intelligence.

School Leaders’ Roles in Shaping School Climate for Undocumented Immigrants

Emily R. Crawford, University of Missouri, Columbia

Noelle W. Arnold, Ohio State University

ABSTRACT: Educational scholars have slow to investigate the linkages among school space, “talk,” culture and climate—and their relation to the climate of reception for undocumented immigrant students. This article uses conversation/talk analysis (CTA), specifically and discursively examining talk structures (Boden 1994) to examine how school leaders discuss aspects of immigrant reception and the unique intersection with space and place in the school climate. The intent is to better understand, through leaders’ talk, the realities of the contexts in which they practice and how school leaders make sense of social constructions of undocumented immigrant students. The findings come from a CTA of eight interviews with school leaders in K-12 schools in two urban Texas districts that share a border with Mexico.

  1. Addressing the need to improve campus cultures that disproportionately expel children of color from the classroom. 

Santamaría, L. J., & Jean-Marie, G. (2014). Cross-cultural dimensions of applied, critical, and transformational leadership: Women principals advancing social justice and educational equity. Cambridge Educational Journal, 44(3), 333-360. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0305764X.2014.904276

ABSTRACT: This study, based on the qualitatively rendered experiences and perceptions of educational leaders from historically underserved backgrounds in the US, argues that identity impacts leadership practice. To make this point, researchers build upon an emergent theoretical framework for applied critical leadership from the theories and traditions of transformational leadership, personal leadership, critical pedagogy, and critical race theory. With regard to methodology, a two-subject case study was validated by adding three additional participants for points of verification to the findings and discussion. Interview, field notes, and relevant documents were analyzed using phenomenology and constant comparative methods. Major findings indicate participants’ practice reveal characteristics of cross-cultural applied, critical, and transformational leadership. These scholarly findings are significant because they can inform mainstream leadership practices contributing to educational equity, authentic multiculturalism, improved intercultural relations, innovation, increased academic achievement, and sustainable educational change.

Cole, H. & Vasquez Heilig, J. (2011). Developing a school-based youth court: A potential alternative to the school to prison pipeline. Journal of Law and Education4(2), 1-17.

ABSTRACT: When students feel disconnected, they lose interest and often leave school prematurely.64 What school-based Youth Courts hope to do is assist in creating a more positive school climate for all students. This begins with students, teachers, and administrators, taking responsibility for anti-social behavior by creating an alternative to traditional disci- pline, and being empowered by a school community in which they feel they are not just a part but are a valued member. It is the great hope that Youth Courts will keep students in the classroom and potentially open the way for real equity of opportunity in our schools, tightening the spig- ot of the school to prison pipeline.

  1. Addressing the need to support and improve college readiness standards for urban and rural learners.

Santamaría, L. J. (2012). Applied critical leadership in action: Re-visioning an equity agenda to address the community college achievement gap. Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies, 2(1), 15-21. Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30859625/jtlps2.1.santamaria.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1480673727&Signature=4vVDxaGAL8vPFrGijSz7Jwt9coE%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DTransformative_Critical_Leadership_in_Ac.pdf

ABSTRACT: This conceptual article summarizes the call for transformative critical leadership in education and provides an overview of the equity agenda in response to the identi ed academic achievement gap in community colleges nationwide. It o ers educational leaders in higher education applied and feasible strategies for increasing critical communication with educators, community members, and stakeholders interested in re-visioning core tenants of equity agendas at the community college level. The chapter also suggests the consideration of critical leadership as an emergent type of transformative leadership practice involving the facilitation of crucial conversations to incite change as well as policy implications.

  1. Addressing strong guiding leadership principles that improve building a leaders’ skill set in becoming knowledgeable in effective curricular practices and leadership practices.

Santamaría, L. J. & Santamaría, A. P. (2016). Toward culturally sustaining leadership: Innovation beyond ‘school improvement’ promoting equity in diverse contexts. Education Sciences 6(4), 33; doi:10.3390/educsci6040033 Available at: http://www.mdpi.com/2227-7102/6/4/33

ABSTRACT: Whilst school principals and educational leaders are increasingly constrained by standardized assessment results and student achievement, persistent achievement gaps continue to separate poor and historically underserved students from their wealthier mainstream peers in the United States (US) and similar countries. Unprecedented levels of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, racial, and gender school diversity underscore these phenomena. As a result, leadership for ‘school improvement’ has become the norm and as evidenced by chronic academic disparities, ineffective. This review article considers culturally sustaining leadership as an innovative practice to promote and advance equity in schools.

Santamaría, L. J., Santamaría, A. P., Dam, L. I. (2014). Applied critical leadership through Latino/a lenses: An alternative approach to educational leadership. Revista Internacional de Educación para la Justicia Social/ The International Journal of Education for Social Justice, 3(2), 161-180. Available at:https://repositorio.uam.es/handle/10486/666742

ABSTRACT: The aims and objectives of this research were to investigate and better understand ways in which race and gender play out as differences of significant consequence in applied leadership practice. Utilizing qualitative case study methodology coupled with counter-story, a critical race theory approach, the authors analyze data on two Mexican descent educational leaders in the US: one Latino K-6 principal and one Chicana university Dean. Findings indicate evidence supporting positive identity leadership traits as practiced through raced and gender lenses, resulting in effective socially just and equitable leadership outcomes for the participants in the study. These findings are new and particularly relevant as demographic shifts in the US and the world include high numbers of Latino/a and Mexican descent individuals. The strategies employed by participants suggest subaltern ways of educational leadership not previously considered in research and literature. The authors discuss evidence of characteristics supporting applied critical leadership (ACL), an emerging leadership theory, in the leadership practices of the participants. Finally, mainstream implications and guidelines are provided for application in multiple educational leadership contexts

Santamaría, L. J. (2013/2014) Critical change for the greater good: Multicultural dimensions of educational leadership toward social justice and educational equity. Education Administration Quarterly (EAQ), 50(3), 347-391. Available at: http://eaq.sagepub.com/content/50/3/347.short

ABSTRACT: Educational leadership for social justice and equity is the primary leadership response to inclusive and equitable education. This inquiry builds on multicultural education and educational leadership to explore an alternative approach to mainstream leadership practice. To examine ways in which educational leaders of color in K-12 schools and higher education settings, tap into positive attributes of their identities to address issues germane to social justice and educational equity. Qualitative data were examined to determine connections among participants with regard to literature reviewed and research questions. Analyses checked for evidence of culturally responsive leadership practice and the use of critical race theory. Nine common leadership characteristics were identified. Any leader can choose to use a critical race theory lens when practicing leadership for social justice and equity in diverse settings. These findings suggest the need for alternative models of leadership as a response to diversity in schools and universities, and value in exploring connections between multicultural education and educational leadership.

  1. Addressing the importance of leadership that integrates school learning communities in improving student progression.

From preservice leaders to advocacy leaders: exploring intersections in standards for advocacy in educational leadership and school counseling

Emily R. Crawford, Noelle Witherspoon Arnold, and Andre Brown

ABSTRACT: In this empirically based paper, we discuss educational leadership preparation as it relates to social justice, the concept of advocacy and the standards that guide leadership and counselling, respectively. To reveal how preservice leaders conceptualize advocacy as understood in professional standards, we draw on our research with 11 preservice students about the current US Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium standards and its relationship to what educational leaders should be able to know and do. Based on the insights students shared, we looked to the school counselling field to see how explicitly advocacy and social justice are defined for preservice counselors in standards and compe- tencies for practice. We suggest that leadership programmes can look to school counselling and other disciplines to further inform them in preparing leaders for advocacy. We discuss why including more definitive advocacy and social justice language in leadership standards carries implications for future educational reforms. With more explicit and intentional def- initions and examples of advocacy and social justice in education leadership standards, the better the likelihood that once students step into a school leadership role, they are pre- pared and willing to use their skills and knowledge in action.

Developing School Leaders through the Arts: New Directions for Teaching and Research

Jen Katz-Buonincontro, Joy C. Phillips, Noelle Witherspoon Arnold

ABSTRACT: Three independently developed educational leadership courses used the arts to depart from lecture and passive learning, prime students to solve school problems creatively, and build social justice awareness. Photo captioning was used to promote intrapersonal leadership development around professional identity formation and social justice awareness (Case 1). Arts-based activities, such as sculpture making from found objects, were used to illustrate school vi- sions and hone interpersonal skills (Case 2). Lastly, improvisational theater role- playing was used to develop organizational goals around effective teamwork, collaboration and a positive school culture (Case 3). The cases are compared, and students’ dispositional responses are discussed with implications for arts- based leadership research.

Recasting Border Crossing Politics and Pedagogies to Combat Educational Inequity: Experiences, Identities, and Perceptions of Latino/a Immigrant Youth

Camille M. Wilson Lucila D. Ek • Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas

ABSTRACT: Educational borderlands are the physical and/or conceptual landscapes where one must negotiate notions of cultural difference as she or he lives and learns—landscapes that envelop an array of pedagogical and cultural spaces, yet are typically guarded by exclusionary tactics. In this article, we examine how US immigrant youth navigate three educational borderlands: the geopolitical, institu- tional, and home community. We also discuss how educators’ biased ideologies and actions towards these youth solidify borders and increase inequity. Data from studies of California and North Carolina school communities allow us to extend border crossing theories and address how many immigrant youth confront and resist inequities, negotiate their cultural identities, and enact agency. While emphasizing that borderlands are sites of risk and transformation, we also suggest how educators can draw upon their relative power and privilege to cross borders too, advocate for immigrant youth, and ultimately improve education.

“What Works”: Recommendations on Improving Academic Experiences and Outcomes for Black Males

Tyrone C. Howard, University of California, Los Angeles

Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, University of Missouri. Columbia

Chezare A. Warren, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: The works in this special issue have demonstrated the complexity of Black male lives. To that end, there must be thoughtful and intentional efforts to recognize the unique challenges Black males encounter, and most im- portantly, relevant strategies to minimize adverse consequences associated with those challenges. This special issue has been primarily concerned about what works in supporting Black male academic experiences and outcomes. The work featured in this volume have spotlighted the mul- tiple variables shaping more positive, effective schooling experiences for Black males from the elementary years through college. Operating from an anti-de cit paradigm (Harper & Associates, 2014; Howard, 2014), the scholars in this issue have offered a number of ways to proactively support the academic success of Black males. The following recommendations are derived from the ndings of the studies featured in this volume. This brief is intended to offer a simple reference guide to researchers, practitioners, and policy makers concerned with enhancing the quality of schooling for Black males.

Exposure In and Out of School: A Black Bermudian Male’s Successful Educational Journey

Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, University of Missouri-Columbia

Noelle Witherspoon Arnold, University of Missouri-Columbia

ABSTRACT: Drawing on an oral history project, this paper reports the secondary narrative analysis of a Black Bermudian male to provide an in-depth understanding of his in-school and out-of-school educational experiences, identity construction and success. The authors seek to answer the following research question: How does a Black Bermudian male describe the impact of his ethnic community for shaping his successful educational journey?

Digital Youth in Brick and Mortar Schools: Examining the Complex Interplay of Students, Technology, Education, and Change

Craig Peck, University Of North Carolina At Greensboro

Kimberly Kappler Hewitt, University Of North Carolina At Greensboro

Carol A. Mullen, Virginia Tech

Carl Lashley, University Of North Carolina At Greensboro

John Eldridge, Chatham Charter School

Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, University Of Missouri

ABSTRACT: The past decade has witnessed a sustained emphasis on information and communication technologies (ICT) in education, coupled with the rise of online social media and increasing pervasiveness of personal media devices. Our research question asked: How has this changing context affected the educational experiences of American high school students?

The exploratory, qualitative study took place at two high schools in a large metropolitan district in the southeastern United States. One high school was in a downtown area, and the other was in a suburban setting.

  1. Do School Vouchers improve literacy and student achievement for Black and Brown students?

Are Vouchers a Panacea?: Data from International Implementation

Austin, TX: The Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, University ofTexas at Austin. Vasquez Heilig, J. & Portales – 2012

Summary: When vouchers are applied universally, the predominance of the international research literature demonstrates that vouchers exacerbate educational inequity.

Vouchers, an old idea, are once again gaining prominence in Texas and, more broadly, the U.S.’s educational policy discourse. Numerous countries have extensively experimented with vouchers and a market based system, and a multitude of approaches have emerged (McEwan, 2000). As a result, other countries’ implementation of vouchers can help inform U.S. educational policymakers regarding outcomes for students. Research on the implementation of vouchers worldwide demonstrates, they are not a solution for the long-standing educational dilemmas facing the U.S. school system such as school effectiveness or educational opportunity inequity. In fact, when vouchers are applied universally, the predominance of the research literature demonstrates that these issues are actually exacerbated.

Remarkable or Poppycock?: Lessons from School Voucher Research and Data

Austin, TX: Texas Center for Education Policy, University of Texas at Austin.

Vasquez Heilig, J., LeClair, A.V., Lemke, M., & McMurrey, A. – 2014 

Summary: The predominance of independent peer-reviewed research on small-scale U.S. voucher implementations has indicated that they are not a viable solution to remedy longstanding opportunity and achievement gaps or improving student success.

ABSTRACT:: Voucher proponents often utilize fairly simplistic arguments about markets, competition, and educational opportunity as justification for vouchers. Another common tactic of voucher proponents is to portray their interests as a civil right issue by showcasing persuasive student stories— especially those of African American children. However, ALEC and many other powerful proponents of vouchers appear to support the policies because they are seeking a fundamental neoliberal shift in the funding of education that voucher present and empower. The implementation of vouchers is cheaper and more “efficient” for policymakers because they shift the cost of educating students to families, corporations, and parochial schools— ultimately reducing state funding and starving public schools (Vasquez Heilig & Portales, 2012). Clearly scaling-up vouchers would introduce a new paradigm for the funding of education. However, the predominance of independent peer-reviewed research on small-scale U.S. voucher implementations has indicated that they are not a viable solution to remedy longstanding opportunity and achievement gaps or improving student success.

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