Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality

Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality

Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality

Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality

Excerpt

The role of urban superintendent has changed over time, and has become one of great complexity and stress. The role now sometimes involves needing to do the impossible and to do it quickly, as the tenure of urban superintendents has shortened to an average of about three years. Jonathan Kozol, who has written eloquently on the plight of poor children, once commented that the urban superintendent’s role was one of “mediating injustice.” In essence it became a job of educational triage in a volatile and pressured environment. It is no wonder it has become increasingly difficult to find adequate numbers of highly qualified leaders for this position. By the late 1980s most city systems were made up of primarily poor and minority students, yet most urban superintendents were still white males. There was a need for more minority leaders and better leaders of any ethnicity to take the helm of urban schools.

It was under this set of conditions that the Harvard Graduate School of Education began the Urban Superintendents Program (USP) in 1990. This program was designed to prepare leaders who could survive and thrive in these difficult settings. USP placed particular emphasis on finding more women and minority leaders who would receive the benefits of a Harvard doctoral program and the credentials of such an experience so they could step into the void.

I have served as an advisor to the program for its entire twenty-year existence. I was an urban superintendent myself at the beginning of the program, as were the other members of the advisory committee. Much . . .

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