As we head (almost) into the third decade of this century, the
educational leadership professoriate faces great opportunity
and challenge. Our opportunities lie in our communal ability to
positively affect students in this nation and beyond. Our challenges
lie in doing so. If I were to propose a vision for our field, I would
urge us to focus our attentions toward justness and parity. I
suggest we look to doing so in three arenas—the ways in
which we recruit people, the context in which we practice and study,
and the positionality our work takes.
Educational leadership is work of and for people and our classrooms and publications must increasingly reflect the diversity of our regional and national contexts. I am hardly alone in calling for the recruitment of a broad and inclusive professoriate. Yet my call suggests that as we work to broaden who included in our work, we consider how doing so changes the work and the ways in which we read and interact with new ideas and ways of thinking. Inclusivity is not authentic or genuine if it asks that everyone act according to our old ways of doing and being.
Along with broadening who we include in our ranks, I suggest we also take on context as a contributing factor in our thinking. Increasingly, the challenges of our profession are urban and rural, national and international, and as a professional community we need to do more to learn with and from each other. Our silos need to come down.
Finally, the professoriate needs to intentionally surface and acknowledge our own positionality. When we fail to recognize the ways in which our own lived experiences, research methodologies, epistemological stances, and lenses of and toward our work shape our responses, we limit who is considered a legitimate participant in the conversation. In turn, our understanding is constrained in unproductive and damaging ways.
Clearly, there are challenges to a vision of justness and parity. Some of those lie within the academy—a discussion of the tenure process alone could animate our meetings for the next decade. Some lie outside of our campuses—clearly, the US has yet to fully engage in an honest discussion about equity. Yet, if we are to lead, it is incumbent upon us to lead in ways that are reflective of new directions. I suggest that we all share responsibility for thinking of ways to address the challenges we face. Division A can take a leading role in doing so by creating a venue within our meeting structures for civil and informed dialogue concerning these matters. More AERA sessions that ignite our thinking are needed. Increased funding so that new voices can establish themselves as strong contributors to the field might be a priority. Finally, as educational leaders we must continue to raise the questions, even when we don’t fully understand what the answer might be.