In 2014, I was hired to lead the design phase at a turnaround effort at a school of nearly 900: 760+ students Pre-K to 5th grade and approximately 100 adults. At the end of my interview for the job, I used my one question to find out how a district that wanted to be "the most improved urban school district in the country" might empower the school to turn itself around. I asked, "Will this reform be done by us, with us, for us, or to us?" This blog applies what I learned in that effort. You can also find samples of the work I did to build a democratic turnaround plan.
Presently, I am teaching the Educational Leadership program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Our program makes social justice an explicit part of this training. I have posted samples of my syllabi, assignments, and student work.
My research focuses on leadership that can disrupt systemic oppression in schools, especially by the twin systems of systemic racism and ableism. I have come to see that schools justify systemic racism by enforcing normalcy. They privilege normal academic and social behaviors. Schools then define different as deviant and deficient, and further, as disabled. All become the rationales for exclusion through discipline or special education. When “normal” is synonymous with White, then discipline and special education are central structures through which schools produce racist outcomes.