Social Justice Leaders

Social justice leaders come from many different backgrounds with a variety of experiences.. Many of the principals in the book “the School Leaders Our Children Deserve” by George Theoharis show passionate leaders with a growth mindset for students, teachers and staff. School staff must believe that all students are able to learn. Working with many different teachers over the last eight years has shown me that there are teachers who are jaded and do not believe in every child having the growth mindset. Many educators believe that some students have a fixed mindset and that those students can not learn as well as others.These students are then marginalized. Typically these “other” students are minorities.  All teachers must be available to teach all students. Teachers must have leaders who will believe in students and empower the teachers to teach to all students.

There are seven “keys” to accomplishing being a social justice leader: acquire broad, reconceptualized consciousness/knowledge/skill base; possess core leadership traits; advance inclusion, access, and opportunity for all; improve the core learning context – both the teaching and curriculum; create a climate of belonging; raise student achievement; and sustain oneself professionally and personally. Not all of the leaders in the book accomplished these keys in the same way, but they all found that these changes needed to be accomplished in their schools. Social justice leaders also always use data to understand how to create equal and equity learning in their schools.

At the beginning of my introduction to Senator Michael Johnston, he seemed to be a pushy young principal turned politician. I questioned whether he taught long enough in the classroom to understand the successes and failures of a school, let alone a classroom. Not knowing the whole story was not fair for my vision of Senator Johnston. Sometimes the philosophy behind legislature will enable you to understand the legislature better.  After reviewing the videos by Senator Johnston, my opinion of him and Senate Bill 191 has changed. Although Senate Bill 191 was never in my opinion the worst thing for education, Senator Johnston’s desire is that as teachers we do what is best for students. Knowing that many teachers feel that some students are unteachable, many politicians are not hopeful in what our education system can presently do for our students. Senator Johnston is trying to assist administrators and teachers with how to move forward with the philosophy of education for all. In this regard he is trying to be a social justice leader. I do not think he is one yet, because his focus is not broad enough of all the seven “keys” listed above.

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