Medium 9781475811353

Jsl Vol 12-N3

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Social Justice and the Importance of Rebellious, Oppositional Imaginations

ePub

DANA RAPP

ABSTRACT: In this article I hope to add convictional fuel, fodder, and possibility to the fires of those educational administrators and professors of leadership who have dedicated their lives to deeper forms of social justice, as well as to professionals who are beginning to admit that they have been too generous in trusting and conceding power to political and economic elites. I will lay bare the incommensurability between proscribed roles of educational leadership and social justice while, at the same time, discussing unconventional sources for inspiration, broader mediums and languages for naming our work, and the importance of forging alliances with groups outside our institutions. My intention has as much to do with provoking broader social action as it does to contributing to an academic discourse.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

—Thomas Jefferson

Historically, the most terrible things—war, genocide, and slavery—have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.

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The Complexity of Poverty: A Missing Component of Educational Leadership Programs

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LINDA L. LYMAN
CHRISTINE J. VILLANI

ABSTRACT: National survey results indicate that understanding the complexity of poverty and its effects is not a major social justice component of educational leadership programs. Authors present and discuss survey respondents' perceptions of: importance of understanding poverty, evidence of program emphasis, areas of program emphasis, attitudes toward causes of poverty, and program themes. Embedded in the discussion is a description of a learning activity that has enhanced students' understanding of the complexity of poverty. The widely recognized learning and achievement gap for poor and minority students creates a need and an opportunity for increased attention to poverty and other social justice issues in educational leadership programs.

School leaders need to have an in-depth understanding of poverty, its complex interrelated causes, typical American attitudes toward causes of poverty, and poverty's effects on families, children, and learning. The urgency of that claim is clear: overwhelming poverty looms large in the lives of too many students and their families. In the United States one in every six children lives in poverty (Cohn & Cohen, 2001). Learning, academic achievement, and social development of students who are economically poor can be affected positively or negatively by the behaviors and attitudes of teachers and administrators. Without an understanding of the complexity of poverty, both empathy and effort may be limited. If educators hold typical American attitudes toward the causes of poverty (Ryan, 1971; Wilson, 1996), they may be less inclined to treat all students with respect and dignity, and less able to provide effective instructional leadership. On the other hand, schools that are succeeding with high numbers of children living in poverty are schools in which informed, compassionate, and committed leaders have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make a difference (Carlson, Shagle-Shah, & Ramirez, 1999; Haberman, 1999; Lyman, 2000; Maeroff, 1998; Pool, 1997; Quint, 1994; Scheurich, 1998).

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Principals for Social Justice: Leaders of School Success for Children from Low-Income Homes

ePub

ANTOINETTE F. RIESTER
VICTORIA PURSCH
LINDA SKRLA

ABSTRACT: This study examines the role of principals in highly successful elementary schools serving primarily students from low-income homes in influencing two factors viewed as foundational for a school in which social justice is more than simply an abstract ideal: (1) development of early literacy for every child, and (2) avoidance of overidentification and inappropriate placement in special education. Findings discussed include three areas of common beliefs and concomitant practices among the principals of schools in the study: (1) promoting a democratic culture; (2) adopting a prescriptive approach to literacy and academic success; and (3) demonstrating a stubborn persistence in “getting there.”

A lot of what we do has to do with the actual belief that it is going to happen here. I mean, it-is-going-to-happen-in-this-building; if it doesn’t happen here, you can’t expect for it to happen anywhere else. You have to truly, truly believe that our charge is to teach every single child in this building. You know, you have these little statements that “all children can learn,” and we believe that, but even more so, we believe that every child will learn in this building.

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Differentially Weighting High School Grades: A Critique From the Perspective of Social Justice

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SUZANNE RICE
HOWARD H. EBMEIER

ABSTRACT: This article calls into question the key assumptions underlying weighted grading and inquires into the likely consequences of this approach for different groups of students. Among the conclusions reached is that grade weighting tends to benefit students who are relatively advantaged educationally, while further disadvantaging students who face educational challenges.

Over the past decade, it is estimated that between 50 and 70% of high schools have adopted some method of differentially weighting course grades (NASSP, 1994). The practice of weighting grades entails giving extra grade points for certain courses, typically those included in the College Board’s advanced placement (AP) program. (Other types of courses that are frequently weighted are international baccalaureate courses and “honors” courses.) AP courses are considered to be college preparatory and are deemed the most rigorous offered in such traditional subjects as English, history, mathematics, the sciences, and languages. Courses that fail to make the College Board’s list and that therefore do not typically carry extra weight are typically in the areas of applied and performing arts, vocational education, and business.

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School Reform: Equal Expectations on an Uneven Playing Field

ePub

GENNIVER C. BELL
ENID B. JONES
JOSEPH F. JOHNSON

ABSTRACT: Educational reform efforts in the United States have produced little sustainable results. Reformers are quick to impose standards and to label schools and the students they serve. Yet, they rarely acknowledge the serious inequities and inequalities found throughout the educational process. This article seeks to present a more comprehensive view of the collective disparities found in the American educational system, with the idea that “leaving no child behind” requires a serious attempt at leveling the playing field. Inherent in this presentation is the notion that reform efforts that produce real change must begin with public policy that acknowledges and removes the faults and errors of the system.

We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; we already know more than we need to do that; and whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.

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