Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What’s in a Name? The Confluence of Confederate Symbolism and the Disparate Experiences of African American Students in a Central Virginia High School

Over the past several years, and especially recently, the presence of Confederate names, symbols, and statues in Virginia public institutions and spaces, including public schools, has been discussed, debated, and protested.

Based on several of these events, some colleagues and I published a composite case study on the topic this past spring in the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership. It was also the occasion of my first first-author publication. I hope that others in our field might find it useful.

For the full piece, go here (warning, a) it is behind a paywall and b) it is an academic piece). Here is the abstract:

In 2015-2016, news stories from Charleston, South Carolina, and the University of Missouri, among others, motivated and inspired many people to organize against assaults on the Black community generally and Black students in particular. Similarly, Black students at Robert E. Lee High School in Virginia have come together around what they perceive as racist symbolism and inequitable educational policies and practices. The Black student leaders at Robert E. Lee High School have presented their school principal with a list of demands. Meanwhile, the school’s football and basketball teams, The Rebels, are threatening to go on strike until students’ demands are addressed.

This case study could be used in educational leadership graduate programs as well as curriculum and instruction coursework, especially in courses that emphasize social justice and ethical decision making. Particularly relevant courses might include School-Community Relations, Organizational Culture, Politics of Education, Contemporary Issues in Education, Visionary Planning and Strategies, and Schools as Learning Communities. In addition, this case study aligns with Standards 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards and can be integrated in leadership preparation programs accordingly. This case might also be used in school district–sponsored professional development workshops for current and/or aspiring administrators.

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