Equity-Based Leadership: Leveraging Complexity to Transform School Systems

Equity-Based Leadership: Leveraging Complexity to Transform School Systems (Harvard Education Press) offers a practical overview of how superintendents and other system leaders can “rewrite the rules” to provide all students access to a quality education. Author Joshua P. Starr, the CEO of PDK International, draws on his experiences as a former superintendent and highlights the work of other education leaders to reiterate that there are no simple solutions for bringing about systemic change. Starr proposes that leaders approach their work with an equity lens and a social justice stance—meaning that they acknowledge that inequities do, in fact, exist—and then act to address them. Starr offers pragmatic guidance with a focus on six entry points toward equity-based transformation: teaching and learning, values, decision-making, resources, talent management, and culture. Although complex, this approach is framed in a manner that is digestible for any leader at any stage in their professional journey. With an emphasis on the six entry points and a call for supporting those closest to the work (teachers), Starr contends that we can collectively challenge the status quo to ensure that all learners benefit from the systems designed to support them.

—Alicia Johnson
Assistant Principal, J.E. Harrison Education Center, Pittsburgh, PA

“Reimagine Schools” Podcast

With nearly 100 episodes to choose from, “Reimagine Schools” features interviews with authors, educators, consultants, and school leaders from across the country. Hosted by Dr. Greg Goins, the director of educational leadership at Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY, each episode opens with some background information on the guest, including key points that Goins finds interesting from their books or other writings. Guests have included Michael Fullan, an internationally renowned education author and speaker; Jessica Cabeen, the principal of Ellis Middle School in Austin, MN; and Tom Guskey, professor emeritus in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. In keeping with its name, “Reimagine Schools” features episodes on developing better assessments, leading and coaching teachers, empowering student learning, and redefining student success. While each episode covers the ideas and ideals behind these topics, the practical implementation of them is also meaningfully explained, providing the “how” behind the “why” that so many school leaders need for themselves, their staff, their schools, and their students.

—Brendy Siev
Assistant Principal, Kosloff Torah Academy, Bala Cynwyd, PA

What Educators Need to Know About Immigration Law: Supporting Immigrant, Undocumented, and Refugee Students

The title What Educators Need to Know About Immigration Law: Supporting Immigrant, Undocumented, and Refugee Students (Teachers College Press) aptly describes this practical guide. Written by Greg Cunningham, a former middle school teacher who holds a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and currently works in immigration law, the book can help educators at all levels better understand the complex topic of immigration law in our country. It’s a straightforward read that defines practical terms such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Designated School Official (DSO), while addressing the big picture of what educators and school leaders need to know when teaching immigrant, undocumented, and refugee students. Given that many such students and families have unique challenges that can hinder academic progress, each section of the book helpfully begins with practical scenarios of students who benefit from the support of teachers, counselors, and school leaders. A wealth of resources, such as information about the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, as well as Mutual Assistance Associations, is included for educators to use as they advocate for students and their families. The book also features “Teacher Takeaway” sections that school leaders will find useful as well.

—Carol Clemmons
School Improvement Coach, Alabama State Department of Education, Montgomery, AL

“Leaders Coaching Leaders” Podcast

School leadership coach and author Peter DeWitt hosts “Leaders Coaching Leaders,” a podcast for current and aspiring school leaders. With more than 30 episodes, the podcast covers a range of education topics, including professional development, social and emotional learning, and assessment, among others. In “Do You Really Understand Equity?” (Episode 22), DeWitt discusses what equity-focused leadership looks like in action with Dr. Chaunté Garrett, the superintendent of Rocky Mount Preparatory School, a K–12 campus in North Carolina, and Dr. Tammy Campbell, the former superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools in Washington state. In “A Smarter Way to Discuss the Reading Wars” (Episode 28), DeWitt interviews literacy advocate Kareem Weaver, a member of the Oakland NAACP Education Committee and a leader of Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate (FULCRUM). “Courageous Leadership” (Episode 21) explores the need to keep everyone’s eye on what is best for students and how school leaders, through equity-focused leadership, can cultivate a sense of belonging among students and staff. This podcast reminds us that a combination of factors—not just one thing—ultimately leads to student and school success.

—Sham Bacchus
Principal, New Roberto Clemente Middle School, Paterson, NJ