26 SES 01 B, Educational Leadership In The Context Of Migration, Social Justice And Vulnerable Populations
The literature on social justice educational leadership (SJEL) has increased considerably in the past few years as part of an overall ‘ethical-turn’ in leadership studies (Furman, 2004). The turn to ethics has been said to be the result of a certain disillusionment with scientific-managerial types of leadership (English, 2002, Oplatka, 2014; Tolofari, 2005), which are predominantly focused on operational knowledge for promoting greater efficiency and calculable outcomes. Furthermore, contextual issues and pressures arising from changing school demographics, increasing achievement gaps between ‘privileged’ and ‘marginalized’ individuals and groups as well as greater diversity and multiculturalism in classrooms partly due to increasing migration, especially in the European context (OECD 2010, Ogay and Edelmann 2016), thrust educational leaders into tackling head-on social justice issues so as to guarantee greater equity and equal opportunity (Bogotch, 2002; Jean-Marie, 2008; Jean-Marie, Normore & Brooks, 2009). These realities of the risk-society have direct implications on the kind of knowledge, attitudes and skills that educational leaders need in order to properly address variety of issues they are faced with in educational contexts (Brown, 2004; Furman, 2012; Jean-Marie, Normore & Brooks, 2009; Theoharis, 2007).
Naturally, scholars and practitioners in the field do not share the same ideas about the meaning and application of social justice. Not only are there abundant formulations and definitions of social justice leadership (Theoharis, 2007), but it is also claimed that social justice ‘has no fixed and predictable meaning’ (Bogotch, 2002, p. 153) and that it remains an ‘under-theorized’ concept in educational contexts (Furman, 2012). However, it seems that a consensus is emerging in the literature with regard the principal focus of social justice educational leadership, namely, that of addressing the experiences of marginalized groups and inequities in educational opportunities and outcomes (Dantley & Tillman, 2010; DeMatthews & Mawhinney, 2014; Furman, 2012). Thus, the theme of (addressing) marginalization constitutes one of the key tenets of SJEL; social justice is perceived to be primarily about confronting and possibly eradicating the discrimination and oppression of marginalized individuals or groups based on color, race, disability, gender, ethnic background, and so forth. This is why scholars call for schools to become more inclusive and attend to the needs of individuals and groups who have been marginalized (Capper and Young, 2014; Ryan, 2006). Given the complexities of addressing current social justice issues, the ability of educational leaders to address the complexity of various and at times conflicting demands is seriously impaired in many current applications of the notion. This begs the following question: Are the prevailing understandings of social justice educational leadership doing ‘justice’ to the notion of social justice and are they sufficient to address the current challenges facing leaders in educational contexts?
Based on previous frameworks (Cochran-Smith, 2010; Gerwitz and Cribb, 2002; North, 2006), the paper presents a multidimensional framework of social justice leadership that accommodates within a single framework two central social justice orientations or traditions, i.e., social equality and individual self-determination, which are rarely discussed in tandem. Whereas the former orientation represents a social-welfare redistributive approach that centers on promoting top-down, ‘affirmative action’ and recognition-based policies targeting social injustices and inequities, the latter represents a liberal-deliberative paradigm that promotes social justice through the encouragement of self-determining individuals and groups to collectively participate and engage in the formation of a just social order. The framework presented here offers a methodological tool that accounts for the various forms of dilemmas that educational leaders face when employing social justice policies and actions. These dilemmas are viewed as inherent to a multidimensional perception of SJEL. While the incorporation of the two traditions within a single social justice framework presents intricate leadership dilemmas, heightened awareness and understanding of these dilemmas (and of their various forms), provides educational leaders needed knowledge to develop coherent and effective social justice strategies and actions, based on their own personal worldview and on the needs of the given educational institution.
The paper presents a theoretical framework that contributes to the growing discourse on social justice educational leadership by enhancing the understanding of the various and at times conflicting demands (dimensions) of applying social justice in educational contexts. Furthermore, the paper offers a methodological tool that can be employed by educational practitioners and leaders to form their own views and application of social justice leadership as well as a basis for developing leadership preparation programs and ongoing leadership professional development dedicated to promoting more socially just organizations of educational institutions. Concerning educational research, the framework provides a theoretical platform for developing empirical research tools to evaluate and assess SJEL profiles, attitudes and application of social justice policies in practice. To this end, the framework consists of five generic dimensions. The social equality orientation consists of the dimensions of ‘inclusion’ and ‘equal opportunity’; the individual self-determination orientation consists of the two dimensions of ‘communicative competences’ and ‘active participation’. Additionally, social justice consists of the dimension of environmental justice, which can be associated with either social justice orientation, depending on the particular approach to and application of environmental justice. As noted by various leadership scholars, environmental-ecological justice concerns are inherently embedded within the social justice leadership discourse (Furman, 2012; Furman & Gruenewald, 2004; Kose & Shields, 2010). From the standpoint of the present framework, proper reconciliation of the various demands of social justice entails a process in which all dimensions are acknowledged and taken into account and requires reaching a balance (or tradeoff) between them on the basis of the leader’s (organization’s) own educational vision and the particular needs of the specific school context.
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