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Leadership Preparation, social justice, candidate selection


We conducted a content analysis of 34 statements of interest submitted by applicants applying to an education leadership preparation program. The purpose of the analysis was to understand the applicants’ orientations toward social justice. Using Kumashiro’s (2000) and Apple’s discussions of anti-oppressive education, we identified three practices in the candidates’ treatment of the writing prompt concerning leadership related to Othering: ignoring, marginalizing, and mentioning. The fourth practice, embodying (evidencing through practice) a social justice orientation, was a practice we identified in statements submitted by a few applicants (n=7). This article centers on the analysis of the applications of these seven candidates through the metaphor Needle in a Haystack. Through conducting a secondary level analysis in order to extrapolate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of critical literacy and elicit our collective perceptions of what constitutes social justice leadership, we found the social justice orientations - “or needles” - for which we searched. This self-reflexive approach to research reflects the model of program evaluation we are developing called Self-Assessment for Equity (SAFE). We provide recommendations for faculty interested in improving their program’s capacity to identify, prepare, and sustain social justice leadership.

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Journal of School Leadership, v. 22, p. 819-854.