When Treating All the Kids the SAME Is the REAL Problem: Educational Leadership and the 21st Century Dilemma of Difference

Books

Kendra Johnson & Lisa Williams

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    Acknowledgments

    There have been many who have been gracious enough to gift us with experiences that frame the ideas in this book. To all who have crossed our paths and influenced our work, we carry your insights with us every day. We are thankful to our mentors, fellow educators, undergraduate and graduate professors, and numerous voices we encounter in our daily walk that challenge our thinking, ideas, and understanding of what is needed for each student to be academically and emotionally successful.

    All students enter school full of potential and with dreams about who they will become. If we are willing to notice, listen, and learn, they will teach us so much about who we are and what they need to thrive … to become. It is the voices, hopes, and dreams of these young people that led us to this work. We honor the young people who have taught us to honor how they show up to school daily. By acknowledging these lessons learned from students, we know more about how to understand, how we should engage, how we relate, and how we use students’ talents as strategic entry points to ensure that each student has a rigorous educational experience every day.

    We want to thank our families for their support and encouragement. We hold our grandparents and parents, in particular, in the highest regard: Andrew Jefferson, Doris Jefferson, Lynell Miliam, Andrea Miliam, Jerry Brinkley, Charles Madison, Elijah Lott, Vernelle Lott, Terry Pearson, and Mary Pearson. Of course, there is nothing like a great group of friends who serve as a cheering squad. And we certainly are the beneficiaries of such a team. We want to thank our editor, Dan Alpert, who supported us tirelessly through every phase of this project. He has celebrated our work, while challenging us to refine and reflect to ensure that our work is accessible to all. For this championing of our work, we are indebted.

    The Authors’ Voices

    Dr. Kendra Johnson, Esq. I recently assumed the role of chief academic officer for Trenton Public Schools in New Jersey (July 2014). While I am also a licensed attorney in the states of Maryland and New Jersey, I consider myself a career educator, having served as classroom teacher, department chairperson, assistant principal, principal, director of Title I, instructional director, chief academic and innovation officer, and adjunct college professor over my seventeen-year career in public education. I have expertise in the areas of school reform and transformation and school improvement. Furthermore, I provided legal advocacy for the parents of students with disabilities and those facing inequitable disciplinary consequences. To that end, I see myself as a visionary leader in urban education because I am convinced that education is the vehicle by which many underserved student groups will realize social mobility. I also believe that education will enable those same students to claim a productive and influential role in making their future—and their children's future—a better one.

    My personal journey growing up in a small, racially divided, and socioeconomically challenged midwestern town where there were seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school significantly shapes my outlook today. The idea that daily high-quality instruction is the pathway out of poverty only for urban school students is an idea I challenge. Instead, I contend that daily high-quality instruction is the pathway out of poverty for any rural, suburban, and/or urban student.

    Dr. Lisa Williams I am the director of equity and cultural proficiency for the Baltimore County Public Schools. Like Kendra, I, too, am a career educator, having served as classroom teacher, teacher mentor, Title I director, adjunct college professor, and educational consultant. I have expertise in culturally responsive instruction, creating equitable schools and school districts, and school transformation. Furthermore, I support schools in implementing innovative initiatives that are designed to accelerate the achievement of underserved students. I believe that a quality educational experience is the linchpin to social and economic mobility. It doesn't matter what vocation our students aspire to, there is no getting around the ongoing progress of becoming educated. I believe in and am committed to helping educators make this journey a meaningful one for young people. I am committed because I know that when education works, teachers and principals don't see generation after generation of the same family in depressed communities. I know that when public education works, teachers and principals do see mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers come back to depressed communities to serve as partners in the struggle to improve lives. I was born in Baltimore and attended Baltimore City Public Schools. My own journey is a testament to what can happen when just one child is educated. Education continues to help me evolve into my own humanity and into the humanity of others. It is from this personal and professional space that the ideas in this book resonate for me.

    Dr. Kendra Johnson, Esq., and Dr. Lisa Williams We began our careers together at a Title I school in Baltimore City Public Schools. It was there that we met and began to forge a long-lasting commitment to doing more for marginalized students. We realized even then that, in many instances, diverse students relied exclusively on us as educators to create bridges to better life options by providing a quality instructional program every day. After some years, we both left this Title I school; however, our walks remained focused on equity and access to a quality instructional program. Professionally, our walks crossed again in the early 2000s in Baltimore County Public Schools. In our respective roles, we worked jointly on several school transformation initiatives within public schools through grant programs like Race to the Top and School Improvement, as well as on older improvement initiatives like the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Grant program. It is through these experiences that we developed the experiential base undergirding this book.

  • List of Figures

    References: Introduction

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    References: Chapter 1

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    References: Chapter 3

    Bambrick-SantoyoP. (2010). Driven by data: A practical guide to improve instruction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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    References: Chapter 4

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    References: Chapter 5

    Bambrick-SantoyoP. (2010). Driven by data: A practical guide to improve instruction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    BellancaJ., & RodriguezE. R. (2007). What is it about me you can't teach? An instructional guide for the urban educator. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
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    References: Chapter 6

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    References: Chapter 7

    CarterP., & WeinerG. (2013). Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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