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The New "Eyes on the Prize": School Leaders' Pursuit of Equity

Flores, Osly (2017) The New "Eyes on the Prize": School Leaders' Pursuit of Equity. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study uses narrative inquiry to collect the lived experiences of eight school leaders who are guiding their schools under equitable practices. The value of narrative inquiry is that human experience is told and relived through those narrative stories of the past, of the present, and which will influence the future. In the field of education and school leadership, equity is hard to define, understand, and demonstrate. Consequently, there is a need to further study school leaders and their views, practices, and implementation of equity. This study captures school leaders’ conceptions of equity and the processes towards its realization and/or attainment. I present several significant findings using analysis of “resonant threads” and critical race theory.

The findings of this study reveal distinct (and overlapping) perspectives and actions that participants took in their driven commitment toward equity. I (re)position the actions of equitable leadership by identifying two qualities that an equity leader IS NOT: one to withdraw from a challenge or stand down and (when challenging inequalities) one to favor adults over students. Also, I identified these school leaders as being equity leadership-straddlers who through their own positionalities, experiences, and desire to engage with different cultures have gained skills to successfully navigate the school environment and engage with diverse communities.

In revealing their commitment towards equity the participants shared five standpoints: (1) the blending and/or crossing of boundaries between self and students, (2) heartwork, (3) role modeling, (4) as a life imperative, and (5) their principles. Moreover, in the processes of capturing how the participants understand their commitment, they reveal six methods in how they promote equity in their schools: (1) placing race at the forefront of what they deliberate on and what they do, (2) providing access to opportunities for students, (3) bringing in and/or fighting for resources, (4) believing in holistic approaches, (5) having relationships with a network of like-minded colleagues, and (6) modeling equitable practices. Lastly, through the collection of their stories participants reveal one’s drive in the direction of equity is supported with ethical and/or moral principles.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Flores, Oslyojf2@pitt.eduojf2
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser,
Committee MemberTrovato,
Committee MemberPerry,
Committee MemberMendez,
Date: 28 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 May 2017
Approval Date: 28 September 2017
Submission Date: 23 June 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 257
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: school leadership, equity, principal, critical race theory, narrative inquiry, social justice
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 19:52
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 19:52


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