Socially Conscious Leadership: Equity Themes

Socially Conscious Leadership

Socially conscious leaders serve, inspire, and empower through their own examples. They explore their own intersecting identities, analyze their mindsets, and hone their skills. They seek to create equity-centered, asset-based systems by implementing and sustaining positive changes that benefit those they serve. They focus their efforts on creating equitable access with consistently strong outcomes for all students, paying special attention to the needs of historically marginalized populations.

In order to honor the concerns addressed and to lead through the action points listed in the four themes, we believe that socially conscious leadership development is an important marker for this work. Leadership roles are not limited to a few hierarchical positions in the system. We believe that every adult in the educational system has the ability to be a socially conscious leader within their own situatedness and sphere of influence. It is our responsibility to do so. Likewise, leadership encompasses the need to organize structures across a school system with an asset-based support system in place. It is important to engage site-based leadership teams to fully design and implement a strong multi-tiered system of support for students that is asset-based and data-driven. This system must be co-designed and routinely monitored and evaluated. Stakeholders must be kept informed.

One of the findings from our two-year equity grant from the California Department of Education was the importance of school leaders truly engaging in the work of equity. SDCOE's final report states our year two findings include, "Stable leadership creates a focus and drives the staff’s passion for equity work. When staff passions ignite and the work launches, it leads to an upsurge in equity work, iterating between periods of action, feedback, and empowerment. While adults in the system must learn how to create more equitable schools, they need to be able to apply this learning in focused environments that motivate them to do the work. Schools and districts must consider policies and practices that lead to leadership turnover, especially as it applies to equity work occurring in low-performing schools. Nationally, more than half of the school leaders in schools today have led schools for less than a year or leave in less than three years. The constant churn of leadership prevents schools from sustaining a focus on equity and may contribute to persistent achievement and opportunity gaps between students (Finnigan and Daly, 2017). These issues have human and fiscal costs for low-performing schools that cannot be ignored."

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