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JSL Vol 24-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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7 Articles

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Perceptions of Principal Attributes in an Era of Accountability

ePub

Jahmal I. Mosley

Mary Lynn Boscardin

Craig S. Wells

Perceptions of Principal Attributes in an Era of Accountability

ABSTRACT: This study investigated the perceptions of leadership attributes held by 35 principals who performed a Q-sort on 45 transactional, transformational, and laissez-faire leadership statements from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The factor and qualitative data analysis revealed two distinct groups of participants who sorted their cards similarly. Factor A members preferred attributes that were collective in mission, purpose, and goals to achieve organization objectives. Factor B members preferred attributes that expressed collegiality, collaboration, and a synergy for meeting the needs of the individuals. The study concludes with the introduction of a transformational mission-oriented collaborative leadership model based on a synthesis of the results. The strength of this study rests in the fact that it can be replicated in different environments and can accommodate the examination of multiple leadership attributes and thought processes supporting choices with regard to leadership styles.

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Stewardship as a Sense-Making Model of Leadership: Illuminating the Behaviors and Practices of Effective School Principals in Challenging Public School Contexts

ePub

Sophia Marsh Masewicz

Linda Vogel

Stewardship as a Sense-Making Model of Leadership: Illuminating the Behaviors and Practices of Effective School Principals in Challenging Public School Contexts

ABSTRACT: This mixed methods study explored the behaviors and practices of effective school principals in challenging public school contexts. Participating in the study were principals and teachers from four schools serving high-minority and high-poverty students in an urban district that demonstrated high student growth as designated by the Colorado Growth Model (Colorado Department of Education, 2007). Findings of the nature, values, and beliefs of effective principals in challenging public school contexts around actions as a tenacious leader, collective efficacy, personal mastery, and critical theorist led to the development of a grounded theory of stewardship as a sense-making model of school leadership.

Public schools have played a major role in our democracy as institutions for the common good (Fullan, 2003). The nation has turned to public schools to address the social or economic crises of our nation. Confidence in the ability of public schools to provide a world-class education to all students has significantly declined (DuFour & Eaker, 1998). The excellence movement of the 1980s, the restructuring movement of the 1990s, and the current reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) have failed to produce the results that citizens demand. We are at another crossroad in public education. The success of public schools will have a direct effect on the social cohesion of our country, the distribution of wealth, and the nation’s ability to compete in a global economy. Economic, social, and global conditions demand new skills of all students.

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Where’s Houdini When You Need Him? Breaking Out of the U.S. Educational Reform Straightjacket to Reclaim Our Democracy

ePub

Steven Jay Gross

Where’s Houdini When You Need Him? Breaking Out of the U.S. Educational Reform Straightjacket to Reclaim Our Democracy

ABSTRACT: Currently, educational reform has been narrowly defined to mean a combination of essentialism and market forces, thereby removing from our national dialogue other philosophical traditions, each having its own rich tradition and potential for guiding policy and practice. The purpose of this article is to problematize the concept of a monolithic definition of reform by providing multiple perspectives and thereby creating the basis for a robust debate among those holding opposing ways of seeking what they call educational reform. Specifically, I propose to accomplish in three ways. First, I briefly describe four philosophical traditions that have shaped education reform debates for the past century along with a newer force that has energized the debate. Second, I demonstrate the marriage between two of these traditions and how their ascendency now threatens to eclipse all other perspectives, thereby precluding a robust democratic debate about the future of education in America. Third, I conclude with suggestions to bring other reform philosophies back into our national debate so that we can return to a democratic national dialogue.

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Measuring Leadership of Math Instruction: Investigating the Validity of a Survey Scale for Principals’ Leadership of Middle School Mathematics

ePub

Karin Katterfeld

Measuring Leadership of Math Instruction: Investigating the Validity of a Survey Scale for Principals’ Leadership of Middle School Mathematics

ABSTRACT: This analysis investigates a survey scale for principal leadership of middle school mathematics instruction. It assesses scale validity by comparing results from an item response theory analysis with a hypothesized two-level structure for the construct developed from prior research. Contrary to expectation, results show that patterns of math-specific leadership are similar to patterns of principal leadership more generally across subject areas. However, differences appear in the task of setting instructional vision. The task of setting vision for mathematics appears to be relatively more difficult, compared with other tasks, than the task of setting schoolwide vision. Additional items may be needed to optimally measure all levels of principal leadership for mathematics, and the higher level of the construct may require reconceptualization.

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Social Control for Democratic Community

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Teresa A. Wasonga

Social Control for Democratic Community

ABSTRACT: This study investigated the tensions between democratic community and social control through qualitative data (focus group discussions) and inductive reasoning. Data indicated that school leaders struggle to balance authority and the required accountability while engendering a socially just democratic community. This struggle is largely attributed to external pressures that are not always aligned with internal circumstances.

Background

In this article, I seek to explore the role of social control in realizing school goals and enhancing democratic community. As principals perform their roles, they face challenges or conflicts that originate from internal or external locus, including self-interest, values, authority and power, stakeholder engagement, or public interest (Firestone & Shipps, 2005; Larson & Ovando, 2001; Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2008). In addition, they often find themselves in complex situations because of the variance in power held by other stakeholders, such as teachers. While principals do not have absolute control over what teachers and students do in the classroom, the authority invested in them implies that they are responsible for what happens in all sectors of the school. They are expected to interpret policy, determine processes (how the job is done), define classroom outcomes (objectives), and supervise both professional and other staff. Principals have powers to evaluate, reward, and punish, and this is where they find themselves in a conundrum as they endeavor to exercise power in ways that keep them in control while enabling others, such as teachers, to exercise their power. The intensity or levels of control depend on how power is negotiated among stakeholders and demonstrated by their interactions and actions (Marshall & Gerstl-Pepin, 2005). Even though such negotiations should occur within a framework of agreed-to rules—explicit or implicit (Gilligan, 1990)—motivations should be taken into consideration (Marshall & Gerstl-Pepin, 2005). As we know, schools are politically contested spaces, where stakes may be high, tyranny may be ignored, rules may be broken, and coalitions may be formed to avert attention and to resist or exert power. Despite this knowledge, as noted by Larson and Ovando (2001), there are “notably few empirical studies of political struggles between principals and teachers and the communities they serve” (p. 34).

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Technology-Savvy School Superintendents: Successes and Challenges

ePub

Nicholas J. Sauers

Jayson W. Richardson

Scott McLeod

Technology-Savvy School Superintendents: Successes and Challenges

ABSTRACT: This study focuses on the successes and challenges faced by superintendents identified as “technology-savvy” by a prominent monthly educational technology newspaper published for practicing educators. The superintendents in this study described their experiences overcoming common issues that many school leaders face when attempting to integrate technology into their districts. The themes that emerged were related to shared vision, infrastructure, communication, and professional development. The findings related to these major themes communicate the common ways that superintendents address these areas.

An extensive body of literature emphasizes the influence that superintendents have on school system success. Meta-analyses (e.g., Marzano & Waters, 2009) and book-length research compilations (e.g., Björk & Kowalski, 2005; Glass, Björk, & Brunner, 2000) all point in the same direction: School districts survive and thrive because of the decisions that their leaders make. Whether it is analyzing student data (Togneri & Anderson, 2003), formulating policy (Murphy & Hallinger, 1986), observing and evaluating instruction (City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2009), or facilitating student achievement (Hart & Ogawa, 1987), the evidence continues to support the assertion that leadership at the top matters (see also Cuban, 1998; Daresh, 2007; Fullan, 2001, 2005; McREL, 2010).

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Imperial Hubris: The Dark Heart of Leadership

ePub

Duncan Waite

Imperial Hubris: The Dark Heart of Leadership

ABSTRACT: Technical fixes are likely not going to address what ails our schools. This article takes up a more elemental dysfunctional dynamic at the heart of many of our schools and other organizations and institutions: imperial hubris. Imperial hubris, as discussed here, is basically the arrogance and sense of entitlement exhibited by some leaders. But as imperial hubris is socially constructed, it is a much more complex phenomenon than that. The characteristics, processes, and effects of imperial hubris are discussed, along with some of the historical antecedents and present-day influences—including managerialism, corporatism, and corporativism—that have contributed to the current state of affairs.

Leadership is, above all else, relational. And relationships in schools—from classroom relationships between students and teachers to teacher–administrator relationships to school–community relationships—influence everything else that teachers and other school leaders seek to accomplish through schooling. But until and unless we recognize the true nature of in-school relationships, with an eye to improving them, school improvement will be forever hobbled and student academic achievement a mere fraction of what it could be.

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