Date of Graduation

4-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department

Leadership Studies

Program

Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Ursula Aldana

Third Advisor

Michael Duffy

Abstract

Justice in school is central to both the Catholic church and the government of Singapore. Both institutions have expectations of principals as justice agents to serve the needs of every student by means of equality and equity in educational provision to all students. There is limited research on how principals of Catholic and government primary schools in Singapore perceive their role as justice agents and how they fulfill this expectation.

This qualitative research examined the experiences of primary school principals in Singapore in their enactment of educational leadership for justice. Of the 10 principals interviewed, 4 were principals of Catholic schools and 6 were principals of government schools. Interviews were conducted according to guided questions focused on participants’ perceptions of leadership for justice, the origins of their beliefs about justice, how their beliefs about justice shaped school culture, and ways educational policies, programs, and practices in these schools promoted justice.

The results indicated that participants embraced their responsibilities as citizens and public servants and subscribed to the role of education as a social leveler. As public servants, participants recognized the significance of the mission of the Singapore education service to mold the future of the nation and articulated their commitment to it. Leadership for justice in Singapore entailed serving the holistic development of every student including socioemotional development and character formation. Principals as justice agents strived to provide equal opportunities for all students and intentionally pursued equity to equalize students with higher needs. Enactment of leadership for justice necessitates questioning the status quo of structures and leading structural change to promote just practices. Justice for teachers is essential to leadership for justice and encompasses respect for teachers as individuals with personal and professional needs. Principals built trusting relationships with teachers to create a culture of care and advanced the professional development and career growth of teachers.

Because the values and beliefs of principals determine their leadership practice, it is essential that the selection process of educators for the principalship is able to provide insights into potential candidates’ moral compass, self-awareness, and understanding of their own impact and influence.

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