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Social justice and educational administration: mutually exclusive?

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this article is to explore some of the current tensions within educational administration in the USA and conclude with a few cautions for educators who engage in social justice projects. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Using a selective case, this historical essay examines the issues of social justice and equity as they have related to educational administration in the USA. Findings ‐ The article finds that while educational administrative practice has been characterized as maintaining the social and political status quo, there are historic examples of leaders promoting social justice. One exemplar is J. Rupert Picott, who provides an example of how one educational leader navigated through a hostile environment to achieve equity. Practical implications ‐ In a society where accountability is narrowly defined and economic concerns continue to perpetuate a managerial model for educational administrators, those who embrace a social justice perspective will do so at their own peril. However, those who wish to act for the educational welfare and life outcomes of all children will likely adopt and adapt a social justice perspective suited to their own priorities and needs. In so doing they may incur professional and personal tolls. Originality/value ‐ This article provides an example of a leader for social justice who worked and lived under the racial apartheid of the Jim Crow US South.
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Keywords: Educational administration; Historical research; Leadership; Social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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