Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Christopher N Thomas

Second Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Third Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Abstract

While by and large urban public schools continue to not serve the needs of all of the students in their communities, there are some school principals who are creating educational equity for all of their students and deserve to be called social justice leaders. This study aimed to expand the field of school leadership studies and focus on social justice leaders in charter schools using a phenomenological interview methodology. Each of four participants was interviewed in three 90-minute sessions. The first interview focused on the person's life history before becoming school leaders, the second was on their leadership practices, and the third was on their own reflections on leadership. The study revealed that leaders felt they needed to spend most of their time developing relationships with their staff and students. The ability to share decision-making and the ability to communicate the school's vision with teachers were important skills for these leaders. Their work with students entailed creating opportunities for authentic student input into the running of the school and creating empowering curriculums. Using a three part conceptual framework to analyze the work of social justice leaders, not all of the leaders in the study were found to met the criteria for a social justice leader, although they all had fairly strong social justice practices in their work. Future studies on social justice leadership need to include additional areas of school leadership such as educational programming, parent involvement and budgeting.

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