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Leaping From Criticality: Self-Determination and Educational Leadership

Tue, April 17, 12:25 to 1:55pm, Park Central Hotel New York, Mezzanine Level, Manhattan B Room


The field of educational leadership has seen a number of publications that utilize critical theories that push for reform in education (Aleman, 2007; Horsford, 2009; Lopez, 2003; Gooden, 2012). This is true because of historical systems of oppression that persistently block a myriad of educational opportunities, and push minoritized students out of school. This body of work has pushed the field forward (Capper, 2015). In this paper, though, I question the approach of only critiquing structures of oppression, and approaches that do not offer an affirmative/alternative community-based or Indigenous framework for education and community engagement. I argue educational leaders must consider community-based goals that imbue what is known as self-determination, and that this must be a centerpiece in leadership preparation and practice. Early Pan-African and liberation leaders such as W. E. B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and Elijah Muhammad, and current Black and Latino thinkers (for example, see Navarro, 2015) center self-determination in their approach to reform, community development, and education. Though community investment, land ownership, agricultural development, and economic self-sustainability were all key aspects of self-determination, immigration to Latin America or Africa and separation from oppressive Westernness and Whiteness was often central to self-determination approaches. Given that immigration is not a reality (or desire) for most minoritized students, I look at five models of schools in the U.S. that were developed on the premise of self-determination. I highlight trends, and end with recommendations for policy and practice. I suggest this as a way to prioritize indigenous and minoritized epistemologies in school.


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