Medium 9781475811865

Jsl Vol 20-N6

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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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Parents, Principals, and Power: A Historical Case Study of “Managing” Parental Involvement

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ABSTRACT: Scholarship on parent–principal relationships often ignores how some parental involvement can create challenges for school leaders. We analyze parent–principal relationships at an urban public K–8 school over a 30-year period, exploring how three different principals “managed” parental involvement. Our analysis reveals how these principals negotiated relationships with parents across the shifting race and class terrains of different eras. We argue that future investigations of parent–principal relationships should focus on the tensions and challenges inherent in these relationships, as well as the effort expended and the skill required by principals to effectively manage relations with parents in diverse school communities.

Whereas much of the research on family school relationships clearly indicates that increased levels of parental involvement in schools are connected to better outcomes for students, the relationship between parents and school personnel is a complicated one owing to the different structural positions occupied by parents and school agents (Crozier, 2001; Cutler, 2000; Epstein, 2005, 2007, 2008; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997; Lareau & Munoz, 2010; Sheldon, 2002; Waller, 1932). Although parents are most often driven by a desire to secure the best possible education for their children, school officials must be concerned about the welfare of all the children in the school. And although parents are often called their children’s first teacher, most school officials view the academic realm to be solely under their purview once the children enter school, despite the fact that parents are often held accountable when children do not succeed in school. Indeed, Cutler (2000) has documented the struggle for control and authority in schools over time, illustrating how the balance of power has shifted between parents and educators. Willard Waller (1932) called parents and school agents “natural enemies,” underlining the power struggles that are often at the core of this relationship.

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Beyond Coffee With the Principal: Toward Leadership for Authentic School–Family Partnerships

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ABSTRACT: This article problematizes conventional school–family partnerships, as geared toward narrow school agendas or mandates for collaboration, and documents efforts to lead more authentic partnerships as part of socially just urban schools. Just as meaningful parent involvement needs to go “beyond the bake sale,” so, too, must leadership for authentic partnerships go beyond symbolic activities such as coffee with the principal. Based on qualitative data from two studies of Los Angeles administrators in predominantly Latino immigrant schools, this article proposes a continuum for understanding varying approaches to leadership for partnerships and composes portraits of three school leaders dedicated to dialogue, parent advocacy, and community revitalization.

I see parent involvement as that parents have a voice in everything, that they bring something to the table that I [as principal] need to learn about, and that it’s about sharing and co-constructing the school together. And I think that’s very, very hard to do, because once they know they have a voice, they have a voice, and you have to listen to it. And it might not be something that you [as principal] agree with. And that’s the struggle. But I think that’s the promise of public schools.

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Leading and Learning With Diverse Families in Schools: Critical Epistemology Amid Communities of Practice

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ABSTRACT: In this article, we draw on critical philosophies and theories related to diversity, leadership, and learning to suggest that successful school–family partnerships not only encompass collaborative structures but involve educators who reject deficit-based views of diverse families. We marshal data from our studies of school–family relations in two states to explain the benefits of educational leaders developing a critical epistemological stance that compels them to learn and lead with diverse families. We assert that educators must revisit, rethink, and extend what they know about families’ strengths and limitations and reconsider the nature of leadership and learning to build partnerships amid communities of practice.

Many educational leaders and researchers consider how to involve diverse families in schools so that they can enhance their children’s learning and help increase their achievement (e.g., Comer, 2005; Crew, 2007; Epstein, 1995; Warren, Hong, Rubin, & Uy, 2009). Following years in which parents were blamed for having low involvement in their children’s education (or what was perceived as low involvement), more educators now understand that parents help their children in a variety of ways and that when parent involvement is low, the cause often lies within the schools in making parents feel unwelcome or underappreciated or as though they cannot trust educators (e.g., Diamond & Gomez, 2004; Fine, 1993; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005; Lareau & Horvat, 1999). Educational leaders have become more sensitive to the fact that traditional parental involvement norms and structures, such as volunteering in classrooms, holding bake sales, and midafternoon parent association meetings, are not very effective when it comes to engaging working families of color (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2009; Tutwiler, 2005). Consequently, it has become common for educational leaders to guide their staffs in developing new organizational structures and communication methods that better engage parents in schools, such as holding parent–teacher conferences later in the evening, hosting parent education workshops, and sending home school newsletters in more than one language (Lopez, Scribner, & Mahitivanichcha, 2001; Sheldon, Epstein, & Galindo, 2010). Although these attempts to be more responsive to diverse families are important, they still prove ineffective if the information being delivered reflects educators’ deficit-based perceptions of poor families and families of color and when such families are regarded as subjects who need to be taught how to educationally uplift their children, rather than as allies from whom educators can learn.

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The Invisible Crisis: Connecting Schools With Homeless Families

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ABSTRACT: Children and youth represent a growing proportion of the homeless population. Using the lens of transformative leadership, this multifamily case study explores the realities of homeless children, the challenges their families face, and the role of school leaders in ensuring that they receive a quality education. It recommends that leaders (1) recognize that homelessness is not a homogeneous experience, (2) ensure that all teachers understand the rights of the homeless according to the terms of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and (3) have the moral courage to develop strong relationships that help teachers address the unique needs of each child and family.

Billy’s mom has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. His father is in jail for trying to rob a bank in a desperate attempt to pay medical bills. He and his three sisters and two brothers live with their mother, Sandra, in an apartment paid for by a community organization.

*  *  *

Georgia, her mother, and her older brother Q are living temporarily with relatives because they have lost their home. They have moved from family to family, now are estranged from some, but still welcomed by others.1

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Crossing Cultural Borders: La Clase Mágica as a University–School Partnership

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ABSTRACT: As informed by scholarship on transformative leadership, cultural work in educational leadership, and preK–20 collaborations, this article draws from a qualitative research project between a university that is a Hispanic-serving institution and an elementary school located in a Latino/a area. We examine the perspectives of a Latino principal and a Latina assistant superintendent who are key in the project’s implementation. Our findings include the following: Leaders work to legitimate their culture and their students’ culture; leaders engage in cultural crossings in school–university partnerships; and leaders serve as cultural change agents for technological equity. Recommendations for leaders working with diverse populations are included.

Scholars in educational administration are increasingly concerned with improving academic achievement for working-class students of color, who have traditionally been underserved in public schools (Marshall & Oliva, 2010). To counter deficit ideologies that blame students and their families for the achievement gap (Valenzuela, 1999), research is increasingly focusing on systemic organizational practices and policies and the leaders who enact them. Marshall and Oliva’s work (2010) reflects this trend; they stated, “Ongoing inequities in schools can be remedied through sustained, systemic, and evidence-based intervention” (p. 7). This study investigates the experiences, ideologies, and practices of Latino/a leaders who work in Latino/a-serving districts and schools. This research is significant given the limited number of Latino/a leaders. For example, only 7% of elementary principals in 2008 were Latino/a, 11% were Black, and 2% were other, in comparison to the 81% of Whites who were public school principals (Battle & Gruber, 2009).

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