Ethical Goal of Education Research Paper

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principals who are equity-oriented, marginalized dynamics may crop up in schools that are changing demographically at a rapid pace (Cooper, 2009). This essay reflects upon how educators may play the role of transformative leaders by way of carrying out cultural work that tackles inequity, addresses and/or attempts to remove socio-cultural limits, and promotes inclusion. The theories of Cornel West on 'the new cultural politics of difference' appraise the topic, as do literary works on transformative leadership to promote social justice.

Highlighting the ever-changing policy responses in the history of educational leadership, along with their contextual settings, explains the necessity for another glimpse at the manner in which educational leadership should be considered in recent times. Gale & Densmore (2003) found that educational leaders are now faced with contradictory pressures -- on the one hand, to favor some student groups over others, yet, on the other hand, to ensure that disadvantaged students have a voice with regards to educational decision-making. Recent, as well as, past concerns about professional autonomy for the teacher/educator/administrator clash with the demand for greater participation in educational decision-making. Moreover, highlighting the history of educational leadership is also a way to engage with political resolutions concerning the manner in which these leaders are able to react to changed and changing conditions. It is intended here to further expand the debate on leadership, as distinct from the sometimes-obsessive interest this topic usually places upon individual/personal qualities of leader. While special responsibilities are clearly held by official leaders, the possibilities of exercising those responsibilities in collective forums for supporting and developing public interest are also considered (Gale & Densmore, 2003).

At the outset of this work, it is important to distinguish between the two concepts of 'equity' and 'equality' with respect to the educational milieu. Perhaps most important is to realize that 'equity' is an achievable goal; equality is not. Using the terms with regards to something as simple as a chocolate cake -- equality would mean each of 8 people received the identical sized slice, with the same amount of frosting. Equity would instead fix a smaller piece for the 2-yr-old child, another small piece for the elderly gentleman who doesn't want a large piece, and a special piece with the frosting 'rose' for the birthday girl. In terms of education then, equity provides opportunities for all concerned. There are perhaps advanced classes in all topics, with these opportunities being 'open for all', but not necessarily required, or even achievable. Equity allows the student to reach his/her full potential -- with special classes in art for the talented, as well as special math and/or music classes. However, not everyone is 'required' to enroll in advanced math or in advanced art; nor required to take the advanced placement tests, though the opportunity is present if the student wishes. Not everyone wants to enroll in the music class or play in the band; not everyone is interested in the after-hours chemistry lab-course.

There are data, derived from several studies, indicating that principals (speaking of K-12 education, not university/college) are leaders who are equity-oriented (Larson & Ovando, 2001; Shields & Sayani, 2005; Zhou, 2003). They wish to offer equity in educational opportunities as well as education of high-quality to each and every student irrespective of his/her cultural and socio-economic background. However, there may be instances where separatist politics and cultural tensions that ostracize linguistic- and ethnic-minority students, as well as their families, have not been properly addressed by these principals. The public educational system advocates first-rate schooling and equitable educational prospects for all students, yet social and academic inequalities continue to permeate public schools. Without strong leaders intervening and striving to counter these marginalizing factors, inequities will continue to exist (Larson & Ovando, 2001; Shields & Sayani, 2005; Zhou, 2003).

Transformative leadership in the field of education requires numerous factors. These include: engagement in self-reflection, systematic analysis of a school's actualities as opposed to ideals, and confrontation of observed inequities based on class, language, race, gender, physical and mental abilities, and sexual orientation. In so doing, progressive steps towards a social revolution in education can be made (Marshall & Oliva, 2006; Theoharis, 2007a). Though critical educationalists recognize the difficulty of employing a transformative leadership policy for ensuring social justice, they point out that it can be done, especially if handled with a cooperative ethos. For example, transformative leaders typically are bridge builders; they endeavor to build caring and emancipative spaces for children, teachers, parents and other constituting members of their school's organization (Lopez et al., 2006, p. 67; Riehl, 2000; Shields, 2000; Shields & Sayani, 2005).

Because of the risks and difficulties involved with respect to transformative leadership, the educational leaders, activists, and scholars of today would likely benefit from referring to a collection of relevant practical and philosophical sources to add to their understanding. Additional narratives, empirical research studies, and theories are useful, particularly with respect to the use of transformative leadership in attainment of social justice. Relevant frameworks have been developed by several scholars that contribute to this arena (Brown, 2004; Lopez et al., 2006; Riehl, 2000; Shields & Sayani, 2005; Theoharis, 2007b).

Transformative Leadership

Regarded simply as 'shared leadership', the transformative approach to leadership is distinct from the heroic leadership model. This approach to leadership is one that potentially reveals individuals' talents and capabilities (Darren, 2010). Further, it may describe a team or a group of people who collectively work towards an established objective. Thus, there is an element of collaboration, and strength through shared visions, that exists in cases of shared leadership. In terms of teamwork, this means the assembling of a professional work group of individuals having a defined purpose, clear communication, collective decision-making, and having the requisite ability and knowledge enabling them to plan and work together to accomplish specific goals (Medwell, 2009). This statement emphasizes that the approach of shared leadership might involve establishment of teams that each focus on particular objectives.

Cultural divide

The fundamental moral purpose of education, and of transformative leadership, includes an ever-improving student achievement while ensuring that gaps in achievement between the lower and higher performing pupils and/or schools are reduced where possible and appropriate. This portrayal of the moral purpose of education highlights that its chief objective is a transformation of the learning of every student, with a concomitant increase in their achievement levels (Ramalepe, 2014). Darren (2010) stated that the moral purpose of education includes showing commanding respect to individuals. This signifies that to achieve the central goal of moral purpose, an atmosphere should be created by school management teams that allows students, teachers, administrators, and parents treat one another respectfully. Treating individuals with respect consists of controlling all those impulses that may adversely affect others in school. The 'respect' factor points towards the significance of moral leadership in cultivating moral purpose (Ramalepe, 2014).

Public schools in the U.S. have played an influential part for quite some time in attempting to assimilate students from differing linguistic and cultural backgrounds through educational policies, practices and structures. In the process, these school systems generally have valued male Anglo-centric middle class standards, albeit unconsciously. This trend has brought about a failure of schools to recognize and affirm the assets, knowledge bases, and experiences of individuals and populations that differ from the perceived 'norm' (Larson & Ovando, 2001). This has led to the disengagement and marginalization of families and students based on gender and color in American schools, despite the fact that gender-wise, women are already the dominant population; as well ethnic and racial minorities are on the verge of turning into the majority population of the nation. However, honest evaluation would also reveal that some 'minority' cultural groups (such as Asians) have succeeded despite all of the inherent disadvantages. Numerous studies indicate that this is often due to familial involvement and commitment to the educational process -- something still missing from other cultures. Indeed, Asians have been called 'the model minority', and there are now studies about the inherent disadvantages of being Asian and not being interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Therefore, education of families, and communities, has become a necessity in order to educate the students, as the value of education and the work involved must be communicated across generations and environments for success to occur. While families perceive education, particularly of females, as a 'waste of time', as is still typical for some minorities, all of the educational effort directed at the school environment alone cannot succeed. Similarly, there are many outspoken individuals in African-American communities who relate the difficulties they have faced when they attempted to 'better themselves' through education -- clearly a change is needed in family, community, and even societal perspectives.

An earlier study found that the Caucasian population of the nation has decreased from 76% in 1990 to 69% in 2000; Latino-Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans have been projected as collectively composing more than half of USA's population by the year 2044. Most statistical studies predict that Hispanic-Americans will…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Appiah, K.A. (2006). The politics of identity. Daedulus, 135(4), 15-22.

Barrett, A. (2012). Transformative leadership and the purpose of schooling. Unpublished dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.

Bell, D.A. (1987). Neither separate schools nor mixed schools: The chronicle of the sacrificed Black schoolchildren. In D. Bell (Ed.); And we are not saved: The elusive quest for racial justice (pp. 102 -- 122). New York: Basic Books.

Brown, K.M. (2004). Leadership for social justice and equity: Weaving a transformative framework and pedagogy. Education Administration Quarterly, 40(1), 77-108.

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