Social Justice School Leadership: Perceptions, Practices, and Influences

Griffith-Cochran, Nancy, Administration and Supervision - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Dexter, Sara, Education Leadership, Foundations, and Public Policy, University of Virginia

As public schools continue to grow in diversity, school leaders find themselves in the position of leading schools with an ever-growing range of educational needs. They must continue to strive to foster a culturally responsive school environment while also working to service the academic, behavioral, and social emotional needs of all learners (Dotger & Theoharis, 2008). As they endeavor to build an equitable and inclusive school environment, it is incumbent upon the leader to balance a variety of school related tasks with maintaining a consistent social justice vision and focus (Kowalchuk, 2019). The purpose of this study was to explore social justice school leadership in Goose Creek Public Schools by examining leaders’ social justice perceptions, practices, and external influences. In keeping with qualitative methods, data collection included an interview protocol with a semi-structured interview and a document protocol to review school or department documents (Hancock & Algozzine, 2017).
Several significant findings emerged from this study. These included:
1. Perceptions of social justice school leaders are formed either in their pre-professional lives or were leadership beliefs constructed from their professional experiences.
2. Five key social justice practices were valued by the participants in my study: a demonstration of cultural responsiveness and social justice, a willingness to challenge the status quo, the use of data to drive critical instructional leadership, a propensity to shape and preserve respectful professional relationships, and the honoring of student voice.
3. Some external forces enhanced leaders’ social justice practices, while other influences constrained them.
Four major recommendations resulted from review of the data and findings.
1. Improve availability of resources, specifically budget and staffing.
2. Provide enhanced professional learning for school leaders.
3. To create social justice alignment across the district, consider a mandatory school improvement plan goal related to social justice.
4. Further studies are recommended.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
context, culturally responsive school environment, equity, inclusive, leadership beliefs, social justice, social justice school leadership, vision
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: