A Protocol for Anti-Racist Policy Decision-Making in Educational Leadership

Each color-evasive and market-driven policy problem we presented in Chapters 2 through 7 is indeed systemic in nature. Hence, the solutions designed to remedy the racial wrongs that are a consequence of these policies can by no means be piecemeal, simplistic, band-aid approaches that address only one element of policy problems that are quite complex. Because the racism that results from these neoliberal policies manifests systemically, leaders then need to combat these same policy problems in a systemic manner. So, in order to confront neoliberal, racist policies systemically educational leaders need to be willing to dismantle the racist ideologies, structures, and processes linked to these policies. Although shifting to a race-conscious ideological outlook at the individual level is important, anti-racism also requires a commitment to action-orientated change at the systemic level (Dei, 1996; Welton, Owens, & Zamani-Gallaher, 2018). Thus, we envision anti-racist educational leadership as the best approach to combatting neoliberal, racist policies systemically.

In this chapter we introduce an anti-racist policy decision-making protocol to help educational leaders confront color-evasive and market-driven educational policies systemically. We liken our protocol to an equity audit, where educators systematically engage in a cycle of inquiry to unmask inequities deeply entrenched within the district and/or school norms, policies, structures, and practices (Capper & Young, 2015; Frattura & Capper, 2007; View et al., 2016). Typically, educational leaders use equity audits to systematically collect and examine data to identify equity gaps, and this process is accomplished in a series of phases (Capper & Young, 2015). For example, Capper and Young’s (2015) framework for an equity audit includes the following six phases: (1) identify integrated/inclusive practices as measured by proportional representation as the foundational philosophy of the equity audit, (2) establish the team to conduct the audit, (3) design the audit, (4) collect and analyze the data, (5) set and prioritize goals based on the data, and (6) develop an implementation plan to reach the goals that includes review of the goals and plan (p. 190). Similarly, Green (2017) extended beyond just the school as the unit of analysis for an equity audit and developed a community-based equity audit for educational leaders that includes the following four phases: (1) disrupt deficit views of the community, (2) conduct initial community inquiry and shared community experiences, (3) establish a Community Leadership Team (CLT), and (4) collect equity, asset-based community data for action (p. 17).

In addition to equity audit frameworks, a few equity-centered policy analysis models informed the development of our anti-racist policy decision-making protocol for educational leaders. For example, a series of policy analysis tools designed on behalf of the Great Lakes Equity Assistance Center consider how a diverse set of stakeholders can come together to critique systemic policies significant to the school community (Kyser, Skelton, Warren, & Whiteman, 2016; Macey, Thorius, & Skelton, 2012). Kyser et al. (2016) suggest that when school and community stakeholders come together to engage in a policy analysis process that it be rooted in critical reflection that reveals the intended and unintended consequences of the policy. Therefore, critical reflection on policy

requires us to examine both written and unwritten policies. We must question our intentions, assumptions, and the distribution of resources and opportunities.

(Kyser et al., 2016, p. 6)

Similarly, Rallis et al. (2008) designed a policy analysis framework that drives educational leaders to consider whether the policy under consideration and its subsequent implementation are just and ethical. Adopting a similar premise to these equity-centered policy analysis models, our policy decision-making protocol exposes the systemic racism that is a result of market-driven policies per the following six phases (see Figure 8.1): (1) assemble the appropriate team, (2) set expectations for the team, (3) understand the sociopolitical and racial

Anti-racist policy decision-making protocol for educational leaders

Figure 8.1 Anti-racist policy decision-making protocol for educational leaders

context of the district and community, (4) conduct a critical policy review, (5) conduct a critical leadership review, and (6) summarize, (re) assess, and take action. Subsequently, in this chapter we outline in detail the six phases of our anti-racist policy decision-making protocol for educational leaders.

Anti-Racist Policy Decision-Making Protocol for Educational Leaders

Step 1 – Assemble the Appropriate Team

School leaders alone cannot address racial inequities in their school communities. They need colleagues who can also take leadership roles throughout their schools to ensure policies are implemented with an anti-racist mindset and understanding of the neoliberal context in which education operates, which in turn can lead to more just and equitable school environments (see Green, 2017). So, prior to deciding how a policy will be implemented and the racial implications for said policy, school leaders need to assemble an appropriate team who can best address the policy issue. We recommend school leaders consider a number of questions when putting together a team.

Guiding Questions

  • 1. What is the constitution of the team? Have you weighed the pros and cons of a small vs. large team?
  • 2. Have you ensured the team has diverse representation (e.g., in terms of diversity and expertise)?
  • 3. Are there enough team members with knowledge about the policy issue? If not, how will you make sure to include such experts/key stakeholders?
  • 4. Are there enough team members with experience engaging in race-related work? If not, how will you work with the community to include such experts/key stakeholders?
  • 5. What will each team member be responsible for and how will decisions about such duties be made, and by whom?

Key Recommendations

  • • It is critical to consider what key stakeholders—internal and external to the school setting—are integral to the policy analysis process and how they can be included in the conversation. It is important to take the time to determine who these individuals are and what their potential roles can be as members of the team.
  • • Similarly, it is important to include members of the team with experience centering anti-racist practices in their work. If such individuals do not exist in the school district, it is imperative to reach out to professionals working in the community who can contribute to this important piece of the team. Consider nonprofit organizations or other community-based organizations (CBOs) whose mission specifically addresses racial justice and bring them to the table.
  • • Ensuring diverse representation is present should be intentional and reflect the demographics of the school community. Diverse perspectives are critical to bring to the conversation and help to provide a more nuanced and holistic understanding of policies and their racial implications for schools.
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