Medium 9781475811599

Jsl Vol 16-N3

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The Journal of School Leadership is broadening the conversation about schools and leadership and is currently accepting manuscripts. We welcome manuscripts based on cutting-edge research from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological orientations. The editorial team is particularly interested in working with international authors, authors from traditionally marginalized populations, and in work that is relevant to practitioners around the world. Growing numbers of educators and professors look to the six bimonthly issues to: deal with problems directly related to contemporary school leadership practice teach courses on school leadership and policy use as a quality reference in writing articles about school leadership and improvement.

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Beyond Relativism to Ethical Decision Making

ePub

KEITH D. WALKER
J. KENT DONLEVY

ABSTRACT: This article examines the ethical conundrum of educational decision makers when faced with a plethora of conflicting value-based decisions. It offers an analysis of a well-known fable as the foil to demonstrate the problematic nature of ethical relativism and postmodern ethics in resolving that conundrum, while advocating the use of five core commitments that enable reasonable, consistent, and justifiable warrants for ethical choices.

In North American postmodern society, schools are increasingly called on to respond to meet the needs and demands of the multiple voices in their communities, not just to listen to those of the powerful and the ordinary classes but to listen and empower those who have been muted by time and circumstances beyond their control. That response is to seek social justice, equity in its various forms, and fundamental fairness for all. Yet, at the same time, educational funding issues are inevitably tied to local, provincial, or state politics, which seem to demand that administrative decision making be based on pragmatism, financial expedience, and the political spin of the day. The issue for educational administrators is how to adjudicate among the various desires of constituents and how to defend that adjudication in the public forum. We assume that all administrators would hope to be referred to as having acted ethically in deciding priorities and subsequent courses of action, but is there sufficient consensus about what constitutes ethical conduct in today's social world?

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Tinkering Toward Utopia or Stuck in a Rut? School Reform Implementation at Wintervalley High

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JEFFREY S. BROOKS

ABSTRACT: This article1 presents findings from a 2-year qualitative study that examined teacher and administrator involvement with implementation of school reform initiatives in a public secondary school. Findings suggest that implementation had both positive and negative consequences. Although reforms advanced the school's ongoing discussion about continuous improvement and promoted some useful procedural change, the reform negatively changed some work conditions for teachers. This study prompts educators to consider the importance of context and perspective, both historically and in situ, during educational reform implementation.

In many schools across the country, educators are leading the charge for educational change and reform with exuberance, innovation, and acumen (Barth, 1990; David, 1989). Broadly speaking, nearly all reforms at the school level share the central aim of improving the educational situations of students. However, each reform initiative typically advocates change in different aspects of the school and measures the relative success or failure of the work using dissimilar indicators. Research-based recommendations regarding changes in instruction and curriculum (Gardner, 2000; McCombs & Quiat, 2002; Swanson & Stevenson, 2002), leadership, (Fullan, 1997; Murphy, Beck, Crawford, Hodges, & McGauphy, 2001; Sergiovanni, 1996), and the use of data to guide teachers and administrators in educational decision making (Johnson, 2002; Scheurich & Skrla, 2003) abound. Furthermore, as they differ in academic or organizational focus, school reforms also differ in scope, from whole-school comprehensive initiatives to subtle instructional shifts in classroom instruction. Among strategies that reformers promote are systemic reforms (Goertz, Floden, & O'Day, 1995); restructuring, retiming, and reculturing (Hannay & Ross, 1997); instructional or curricular alignment (English & Steffy, 2001); and comprehensive schoolwide reforms (Murphy & Datnow, 2003).

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Segregation, Desegregation, and Resegregation in Cincinnati: The Perspective of an African American Principal

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LIONEL H. BROWN
GULBAHAR H. BECKETT
KELVIN S. BECKETT

ABSTRACT: Recent research on Brown v. Board of Education has emphasized continuing disparities in the education of White and African American students. This research has used the failure of desegregation to account for persisting gaps in White and Black school funding, teacher qualifications, and student achievement. But the current focus on the failure of desegregation has overshadowed an equally significant but underreported success in the area of improving education for African American students. According to the most recent findings on student achievement, for example, the gaps between African American and White students are again narrowing, in some cases approaching zero. The present article shows that the failure of desegregation is not the only, nor is it likely to prove to be the most enduring, legacy of Brown. At the same time that desegregation was being resisted and ultimately reversed in Cincinnati, as elsewhere, Brown was inspiring an emphasis on quality education that resulted in two of the city's worst-performing Black schools’ being transformed into schools of excellence.

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“He's a Nice Man, but It Doesn't Help”: Principal Leadership, School Culture, and the Status of Deaf Children

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JEAN T. SLOBODZIAN
CATHERINE A. LUGG

ABSTRACT: Building principals are confronted with a host of challenges, particularly when serving children who live outside of the stereotypical mainstream. This article, drawn from a larger ethnographic study, examines the leadership behavior of one building principal who was the administrator for a program serving deaf and nondeaf children. Although students and teachers saw the principal as a caring and highly skilled administrator who made verbal commitments to building an integrated and caring school community, the school culture was ultimately exclusive. The norms of the dominant nondeaf culture went largely unquestioned, and the deaf students were reminded daily of their diminished status. This article concludes with a discussion of deaf education, educational administration, oppressive niceness, and how leadership practices can be moved toward a social justice ethic for students with special needs in general and for deaf students in particular.

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Identity-Based Othering and Collaborative Leadership: Implications of Contradictory Messages for New Administrators

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ELLEN RETELLE
WENDY POOLE

ABSTRACT: A study of beginning administrators in a school district reveals that they receive contradictory messages about school leadership. Although the school district emphasizes collaborative, facilitative leadership through documents and orientation of new administrators, bureaucratic, political, and identity-based messages reinforce traditional hierarchical structure and the othering of teachers. The contradictions make it difficult for new administrators to develop strong, coherent identities. Those who possess a strong sense of leadership identity at the beginning of their 1st year as administrators may have a better chance of resisting the pull of traditional leadership models. Although the findings are not generalizable, they raise important contemporary issues in the identity development of new administrators.

This article examines the teacher-administrator relationship, particularly the “we-they” construction that tends to underlie the relationship. The norm of othering tends to exist whether parties perceive the teacher-administrator relationship in their particular settings to be generally positive or adversarial. The focus of this article is how vice principals in one school district, while making the transition from teaching to administration, make sense (or not) of the teacher-administrator relationship.

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