Critical Case Studies of District-Level Equity Leaders in Public Schools Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Maier, Meredith
    • Affiliation: School of Education, Educational Leadership Graduate Program
  • A collection of three case studies on District-level Equity Leaders (DELs), this study aims to fill the current void in the research on DELs and equity work at the district level in public schools, using a Critical Race Theory (CRT) lens. The study’s primary focus is to document the lived experiences of individuals in this work and how they understand and fulfill their roles - especially in the context of current educational, social, and political spheres. This includes 1) how they define their positions and implement their vision for their positions, 2) how they respond to barriers and/or setbacks they encounter, 3) how their experiences are similar or different across districts, and 4) how the CRT tenets most commonly found in education –permanence of racism, interest convergence, Whiteness as property, counternarratives versus majoritarian narratives, critique of liberalism, and intersectionality (Capper, 2015) – manifest in and/or impact district level equity leadership roles. This study concludes that DELs featured in the research all operationalize a CRT framework that manifests both implicitly and explicitly in the work they do each day to further their visions for their districts and to mobilize a response to the barriers and setbacks they encounter. The participants all bring passion, personal motivation, and a strong connection to equity related work in their districts. Their job descriptions, daily responsibilities, and duties are impactful only because each of these men is tied deeply to the importance of equity, grounded in their foundations in academic research, their own lived experiences, and their desire to end inequity in schools. Despite differences in district, years of experience, personality, and personal approach to the work, these DELs are remarkably similar in the implementation of their vision for their roles, the barriers and challenges they experience, and regarding the impacts of CRT within their district-level equity work. The design of professional development, specialized programming, policy creation and reform, and emphasis on engaging their district communities are cornerstones of their work, but these efforts do not always mitigate the pervasive nature of bias, politics and power dynamics, changes in leadership, and the emotional toll these leaders experience.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Thompson Dorsey, Dana
  • Campbell, Johnavae
  • Marshall, Catherine
  • Morton, Denise
  • Gibbs, Brian
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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