Voices From the Field: Stories of Social Justice Leaders
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This study examines the experiences of two social justice school superintendents who are known for rejecting deficit views of traditionally marginalized groups, questioning and resisting oppressive and exploitative social relations, and critically articulating, conceptualizing, and creating more equitable educational arrangements. The study was carried out in the Lakeside School District, a suburban district adjacent to a large mid-western city. This phenomenolgical study shares the stories of Paula and Marsha, the current and former superintendents of Lakeside School District. Marsha and Paula served as leaders in the district during a period of rapid demographic change. A state level policy know as Schools of Choice was passed in the late 1990s allowed parents to send their children to school districts other than those in which they resided. Over time one result of this was that significant numbers of African American students from the neighboring city began transferring into the district. Marsha and Paula's efforts to deal proactively with these changes met with a great deal of resistance from both staff and community members. Themes that emerged included Deficit Thinking, Policy Effects, Resistance to Change, Cultural Disconnects, Networks of Support, Working Through Campus Administrators, Identity Conflicts, Evolving Leadership, and Personal Costs. The study also shares three critical incidents that illustrate these themes and offer a glimpse into the life and work of these leaders. In the final chapter of the study Valencia's (1997) Deficit Thinking Model, Bourdieu's (1992) concept of doxa, and Mezirow's (1990, 2000) Transformative Learning Theory are used as lenses for interpreting selected data from the study.