Preparing and Supporting Diverse Culturally Competent Leaders

Institute for Educational Leadership
January 1, 2005
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Institute for Educational Leadership
People · Knowledge · Action · Networks
Practice and Policy Considerations
In the fall of 2004, the Institute for Educational
Leadership (IEL) convened members of the
School Leadership Learning Community (SLLC)
and invited guests for three invitational, issue-focused
meetings. Th e meetings were supported by the
Laboratory for Student Success (LSS), the mid-Atlantic
regional educational laboratory at Temple University,
through a contract with the U.S. Department
of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
Each of the meetings was conducted as a modi ed Select
Seminar (www.casdany. and
explored an issue speci c to preparing and supporting
school leaders.
Th e SLLC, a professional development and support
network among the grantees in the U.S. Department
of Education’s School Leadership Program, is
managed and supported by IEL. Barbara McCloud,
Senior Leadership Associate with IEL, provided the
primary project direction and coordination for the
network. Th e network brings together, keeps together,
and informs members across the country working to
promote e ective school leadership and increased student
achievement for all students. All SLLC member
programs are school leadership programs that are active
partnerships among school districts, colleges and
universities, and/or professional associations.
Th e IEL version of a Select Seminar rested on two
principles: the participants were the experts and each
voice was of equal importance. Th e discussions were
held in an environment conducive to open and honest
dialogue and participants were encouraged to “dig
deeper” into the issues being discussed. Th e conversations
captured busy professionals’ knowledge and
insights about preparing school leaders and identi-
ed promising practices being implemented across
the country. A list of the diverse participants, which
included SLLC members as well as invited guests with
expertise in the issue area being discussed, is located at
the end of the publication.
Th is report, Preparing and Supporting Diverse,
Culturally Competent Leaders: Implications for Policy
and Practice, provides eld-based insights—not silver
bullets, not research ndings, and not nal solutions
—collected from people working in, and familiar
with, leadership-development programs for school
leaders in urban, suburban, and rural districts across
the country. It shares and distills authentic conversations,
anchored by participants’ direct experiences.
Th ese conversations acknowledged challenges, but
focused more intently on promising practices and
policy and program strategies that make a di erence in
programs and initiatives for preparing school leaders,
who are themselves diverse and have the skills, knowledge,
and attributes necessary for cultural competence.
Selected examples from participants are indicated by
the diamond symbol. n
Practice and Policy Considerations
As school leaders work to ensure that no child
is left behind, it is important that they understand
and value the demographic realities
of our nation and of the children they serve.
Today, we live in an increasingly diverse nation. Th e
make-up of America’s population continues to change
at a rapid pace and for a variety of reasons. Th e America
we see in 2005 is far removed from the “Ozzie and
Harriet” America of the 1950s. Demographer Harold
“Bud” Hodgkinson ampli es the point, that the
nation’s diversity will continue to increase, as he discusses
our nation’s youngest children—the individuals
who comprise America’s future. (Harold Hodgkinson,
Leaving Too Many Children Behind. Washington, DC:
Institute for Educational Leadership, 2002). He notes
that “…our preschool population total is 15.4 million
and that one-third of these youngsters live in only four
states; California (2.5 million), Florida (0.9 million),
New York (1.2 million), and Texas (1.6 million).”
Hodgkinson adds that these same four states also
represent the future in terms of ethnic diversity, stating
that the total population of California is 32.4 percent
Hispanic (not a race, an ethnic group), 10.9 percent
Asian, 6.7 percent Black, 1 percent American Indian,
16.8 percent “other,” and 4.7 percent mixed—for a
total non-white population of 72.5 percent. He states
that our youngest children are the most diverse group
in the United States, and that they will make the na-
tion more diverse as they age. In addition, almost
9 million young people ages ve to seventeen speak a
language other than English in their home, and
2.6 million of them have di culty speaking English.
…we could estimate that almost one-half million are
being raised in families that speak no English at home,
and that at least 125,000 will need special attention in
preschool and kindergarten to learn to speak and learn
English.” In addition, Th e National Center for Cultural
Competence (Georgetown University Center for
Child and Human Development) notes that immigration
patterns, as well as increases among linguistically
diverse groups who already reside in the country, also
contribute to America’s ever-growing diversity.
In a recent Corwin Press publication, “Becoming
A Culturally Pro cient Leader,” authors Laraine
Roberts and Randall Lindsey ask, “What if we were to
envision education as a means of enlarging one’s own
culture through meaningful interactions with people
from other cultures? What then would we see in our
schools and classrooms? Quite possibly we would see
school leaders searching for ways to work more successfully
with students who represent the many di erent
cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and economic
subcultures within our diverse society.”
Participants in the seminar “Preparing and Supporting
Diverse and Culturally Competent School
Leaders: Practice and Policy Implications,” engaged
in candid conversations about what America’s everchanging
demographics mean for current and future
school leaders. Th ey considered the knowledge, skills,
and attributes that culturally competent leaders need;
discussed where and how these are best developed;
and made recommendations for practice and policy.
In short, they talked about numerous competencies
and strategies required of school leaders whose visions
of education encompass America’s diverse population,
and they talked about how to prepare and support
such leaders.
Th e two-day session re ected the kind of courageous
conversations that are required if our nation is
to prepare school leaders who are equipped to serve all
of the children enrolled in our schools. An initial list
of what seminar participants noted as the knowledge,
skills, and attributes of a culturally competent school
leader was developed during brainstorming sessions.
Th e list is but a beginning, but it re ects the ideas
that surfaced during participants’ discussions. Th is
list is shown in the box on page three. In addition,
ve themes emerged from the conversations and are
o ered below as important factors for consideration by
policymakers and practitioners.
Challenged to consider what culturally competent
leaders need to know and be able to do, participants
rst decided to ask a preceding question: “Is a
culturally competent school leader any di erent from
an e ective school leader?” Said another way, is it
possible to have an e ective school leader who is not
culturally competent? Participants agreed that, increasingly,
it is not.
Some school leaders in high-performing schools
and districts may appear to be more e ective than they
actually are. As schools are required by the No Child
Left Behind Act (NCLB) to disaggregate test results
across speci c subgroups, even successful schools are
being forced to acknowledge pronounced di erences
in performance between majority students and those
from minority and certain ethnic groups. Participants
noted that these gaps are found not only in groups
facing overt barriers to learning, such as poverty or
language di erences, but also in middle class, Englishspeaking,
minority groups. Th is suggests that various
covert issues related to race, culture, and social di erence
a ect student learning. School leaders need to
understand and address all of these issues.
Although the argument in support of culturally
competent leaders is most evident in diverse urban
areas, rapid patterns of demographic change mean
that few school districts will remain culturally homogenous
in the near future. (It is important to note,
however, that cultural competence is important in all
contexts—rural, urban, suburban—and in all settings,
regardless of whether the populations are homogenous
or diverse.) A leader’s grasp of cultural issues and a
leader’s commitment to socially just and equitable
schools will help determine whether he or she sets
a tone for all stakeholders and welcomes growing
Educational leaders who are not culturally
competent cannot be fully effective.
Leaders Need
Understanding of critical theories about how
people learn, and the impact of race, power,
legitimacy, cultural capital, poverty, disability,
ethnicity, gender, age, language, and other
factors on learning
Understanding of patterns of discrimination
and inequalities, injustice, and the bene ts and
liabilities associated with individual groups
Ability to articulate his/her own philosophy
of education and use it to maintain the
status quo or to empower others’ active
participation in their own transformation
Knows and questions his/her values,
commitments, beliefs, prejudices, and uses of
power and in uence
Understands varied contexts and situations and
accepts challenges presented
Understands cultural history of school,
community, and parents
Possesses a global perspective
Knows culturally relevant curricula and
instructional strategies in support of student
Knows about various learning styles and
di erent ways to assess student understanding
Knows processes for informing and mobilizing
organizational change/cultural competence
Knows about and how to use data
Understands and manages collaboration with
community, capitalizing on the community’s
u u u u u u u u
Possesses capacity to break down systems of
practice that perpetuate inequalities
Engages people from di erent cultures; acts as
“cultural broker”
Conducts “situational audits”
Creates a “safe” environment of cultural
competence where people are held accountable;
facilitates dialogue and mediates con ict
E ectively communicates a culturally
competent vision and its goals
Has capacity to catalyze change and deal with
Manages pressure, tension, stress, and
Commitment—heart, spirit, and energy
High expectations for all
Role model
Open to change and to di erences
Values cultural diversity
Comfortable sharing power
u u u u u u u u u u u u u u
“Knowledge, Skills and Attributes of Culturally Competent School Leaders”
General Statements
diversity—and a broader perspective as an opportunity
to help students develop new skills and improve
academic outcomes—or whether he or she will react
defensively to maintain the status quo.
Participants agreed that cultural competence
should be viewed as a set of capacities that inform
every aspect of e ective leadership, rather than as an
added component or “icing on the cake.” Only by fully
integrating cultural competence in preparation and
professional development at all levels will schools be
able to 1) enact needed instructional practices and policies
and 2) develop the trusting relationships required
to ensure that all children are given a quality education.
prejudice and bias in uence their leadership decisions
and behaviors? and Does it have an impact on the lives
of their students?
Leaders also need to consider systemic patterns
of discrimination and prejudice. How are cultural
di erences and prejudices about them played out in a
variety of economic and social institutions, especially
schools? Th e National Center for Cultural Competence
at Georgetown University o ers a framework for
achieving cultural competence, based on the work of
Cross and his colleagues. (Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis,
K., and Isaacs, M. Towards a culturally competent
system of care, Volume I. Washington, DC: Georgetown
University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical
Assistance Center, 1989.) Th e Center notes that
cultural competence is a developmental process. As
such, “cultural competence requires that organizations
1) have a de ned set of values and principles and demonstrate
behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures
that enable them to work e ectively cross-culturally;
2) have the capacity to value diversity, conduct self-assessment,
manage the dynamics of di erence, acquire
and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and adapt to
diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities
they serve; and 3) incorporate the aforementioned in
all aspects of policymaking, administration, practice,
and service delivery and involve consumers, key stakeholders,
and communities.” (http://gucchd.georgetown.
Culturally competent leaders need to understand
their cultural history and contemporary status, as well
as that of their students and their communities. In
particular, if they are to fully appreciate their students’
strengths and needs, culturally competent leaders must
rst identify where and how structural inequities have
and continue to a ect students’ lives.
A variety of skills can help leaders mitigate the
negative e ects of prejudice and cultural barriers. First
is the ability to develop and model a positive vision
of a culturally diverse school and use it to strengthen
their schools and communities. Second is to simultaneously
keep the focus on 1) e ective strategies for
improving student achievement and well-being and
2) where strategies need to be further developed. In so
doing, they also are explicit about common American
values that inform public education—chief among
them being social justice, fairness, and equity.
Culturally competent leaders work
to understand their own biases as well as
patterns of discrimination. They have the
skills to mitigate the attendant negative
effects on student achievement and the
personal courage and commitment to persist.
Participants emphasized that self-awareness provides
the foundation for cultural competence. According
to the Minority School Achievement Network, if
school leaders are serious about closing the minority
achievement gap, they must be willing to sit down
and talk honestly about issues of race and class. School
leaders need to convene sta to engage in “courageous
conversations”—but only after they have participated
in their own candid, re ective discussions to address
issues such as race, class, discrimination, and diversity,
including a self-assessment of their own values, behaviors,
and attitudes pertinent to these issues.
Preparation programs need to provide safe environments
for school leaders to “take the blinders o .”
Supportive settings should encourage leaders to tell
their own stories and share the values, beliefs, and assumptions
and expectations they hold with others who
have di erent stories to tell. Th ey should also prod
leaders to explore more di cult, often unsettling questions,
such as: What privileges do they enjoy? How
do they use their power and in uence? What kind of
As instructional leaders, they must be familiar with
instructional methods that speak to di erent learning
styles and nd ways to create and share new resources
with their sta . Th ey should encourage sta e orts
to experiment with new approaches and provide sta
development opportunities to help teachers enhance
their ability to engage and motivate diverse students.
Strategic leaders use data to build support and
mobilize action, but skillful, culturally competent
leaders look well beyond test results to make the case
for change. Th ey disaggregate a variety of carefully
selected school data on student participation as it
relates to health, behavior, attendance, and academic
as well as employment opportunities. Th ey also look
to census reports and other state and local sources for
additional information and resources on how diverse
student groups are faring.
Some potential school leaders have a natural ability
to see inequities and the courage to take action
against them. Preparation programs can help aspiring
school leaders develop these attributes by paying more
attention to Standard No. 5 of the Interstate School
Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards
for School Leaders (
isllcstd.pdf). ISSLC Standard No. 5 focuses on “…an
educational leader who promotes the success of all
students by acting with integrity, fairness, and in an
ethical manner.” Instead of shying away from discussions
about values, professional development programs
can be organized around them. Clarifying the connection
between cultural competence and justice and the
principles of democratic education will help aspiring
and current leaders acquire insights, a broadened sense
of purpose, and the tenacity to be leaders for learning
for all students. Such an explicit focus can also encourage
people who are clearly uncomfortable or ine ective
in diverse settings to opt out—thus paving the
way for better selection, placement, and retention of
more e ective leaders.
As community leaders, it is important for school
leaders to know how to engage families and community
partners in collaborative e orts. Culturally
competent leaders do not use cultural di erences as
an excuse for poor student achievement; instead, they
create an environment in which all stakeholders can
honestly address cultural issues—and end the “blame
game.” Leaders provide the resources—including time
and skilled facilitation—necessary to engage school
communities in candid and often di cult, ongoing
conversations about how to change schools from what
they are, to what they could be. Because they recognize
that tension and dissent can energize change, culturally
competent leaders are willing to tolerate signi cant
turbulence. By clearly communicating a vision of a
culturally competent school, they nd ways to channel
con ict constructively rather than suppressing it.
In the course of their conversations, participants
frequently returned to the importance of intentional
community engagement, pointing to extensive research
conducted by Anthony Bryk and his colleagues
for the Chicago Reform Project. (Bryk, A., Sebring, P.
B., Kerbow, D., Rollow, S., and Easton, J. Q. Charting
Chicago School Reform. Boulder, CO: Westview Press,
1998.) Th at work con rmed that e ective schools
made intensive e orts to reach out into the community
—they took action to show parents that school sta
cared about their children and sought to build trusting
relationships between school and community.
If leaders are to acquire the knowledge, skills, and
attributes that constitute cultural competence, they
need to experience more than “drive-by consultations”
or “food-group” training that substitutes generalizations
of major di erences among cultural and ethnic groups
for real understanding. Intentional conversations with
families and community members can help reverse the
usual “leaders talk and others pay attention” relationship.
Leaders become learners, asking questions and listening to
answers. Th e process challenges leaders to share their own
values and to be receptive to new points of view.
Much of what culturally competent leaders
must know and be able to do is learned in
relationships with families and communities.
As family members from diverse cultural and
ethnic backgrounds share their own school experiences
and assumptions about schools and learning,
leaders may better understand the factors that a ect
how families participate in their children’s education.
For example, while school leaders may understand the
theory of second-language acquisition, they may never
have heard rst-hand how life is ltered and sometimes
distorted through language barriers—nor have
appreciated the extent to which di erences in language
ability create unequal power relationships between
families and school sta .
Informal conversations are also useful. In fact, the
frequency with which leaders casually interact with
families and students can be an important measure
of cultural competence—as long as the manner in
which they are conducted conveys the leader’s respect
and regard. Home visits and neighborhood walks are
other ways that leaders can begin to get a feel for the
community in which they are working and demonstrate
their willingness to break down barriers between
school and community.
Conversations like these will only make a di erence,
however, if leaders use them to improve school
practice and policies. Moving from awareness to action
might mean, for example, introducing more frequent
and e ective use of translators, or helping the school
come to understand fully the message that culturally
pejorative names for athletic teams sends to students
and the community.
Community assessment and mapping activities are
another strategy for helping develop cultural competence.
School leaders need more than school data
to get a 360-degree view of their students’ challenges
and strengths. Working relationships with community
agencies help school leaders access information about
a range of economic, social, and health factors that
a ect student learning. Dialogue with families, combined
with community information, can help schools
develop roadmaps to help parents guide their children’s
educational experiences and obtain the non-academic
services and supports they need along the way.
Th ese kinds of strategies are endorsed by Th e Coalition
for Community Schools (www.communityschools.
org) at the Institute for Educational Leadership. Th e
Coalition’s “Conditions for Learning” are:
Challenging curriculum, quali ed teachers,
high standards and expectations
Motivated and engaged students
Attention to physical, social, and emotional
needs of students and families
Mutual respect and e ective collaboration between
families and school
Involved community members.
Culturally competent leaders recognize the
bene ts of community collaboration and have the
capacity to bring together the right players—a diverse,
inclusive group of stakeholders that includes more
than the “usual suspects.” In some communities, collaborative
e orts may already have begun to assemble
information on needs, resources, and gaps in services.
With school leaders at the table, partners can bring
new resources, including health, social services, and
after-school programs into the school. Th ey may also
introduce new methods to reach students with diverse
learning styles and make curriculum and instruction
more engaging to cultural and ethnic groups.
Developing the exibility and con dence necessary
to invite in new partners is a skill best learned
in school and community practice. For example,
when a new principal at a school in New York City
realized that drug dealers were recruiting her sixthgraders
as “runners,” she held an open meeting
with families and community agencies to seek solutions.
Th ey decided to take a win-win approach—
parents volunteered to constructively confront and
“negotiate” with the drug dealers and the problem
was resolved. In addition, the community agencies
involved were able to provide services to deal with
family and social issues that surfaced as conversations
and negotiations continued.
(Magalia Maldonado, New York City Department
of Education,
Th rough more intentional contact with families
and community institutions, aspiring and sitting leaders
broaden their perspective and develop a kind of “withit-
ness” that makes them more e ective in dealing with
cross-cultural issues. Most importantly, these connections
ensure that leaders and school sta no longer think of
“these children” but see them always as “our children.”|
According to participants, collaborative e orts
between preparation programs and school districts
need to develop a variety of structural supports for
aspiring, new, and sitting leaders. Th is “sca olding”
creates a seamless web between preparation and continuing
professional development—between universities,
which provide much of the training, and districts,
which know the leadership needs that must be lled.
While no single training model can t all the
contexts for which leaders must be prepared, e ective
leadership frameworks share several key features. For
example, a leadership support structure should include
safe settings in which participants can question their
own perspectives with faculty, including mentors and
coaches who are themselves culturally and ethnically
diverse as well as culturally competent. Th e structure
also should extend longitudinally beyond initial preparation
into practice for both new and seasoned leaders.
Recently prepared leaders need help to sustain the
gains they have made once they return to “business as
usual.” New principals often nd themselves just trying
to put out res and may lose sight of the kind of culturally
competent school they want to create. Seasoned
leaders can lose their edge. Transformative leaders at all
stages should be nurtured as well as challenged.
Leaders need exposure to cultures and settings different
from those they are used to if they are to lead,
rather than react, to political currents in their own
schools. Extended internships can o er diverse learning
laboratories as well as an opportunity to become
uent in new skills.
One of the programs in the Chicago Leadership
Academies for Supporting Success, Th e Leadership
Academy in Urban Network for Chicago
(LAUNCH), provides year-long internships
during which aspiring principals take on new
responsibilities at their home school and then are
intentionally rotated to di erent settings to round
out their experiences.
(Frederick Brown, Chicago Leadership Academies
for Supporting Success,
School districts and their top leaders—superintendents
and school board members—need to understand
and support what happens in preparation programs.
Inviting sitting principals to help design and implement
preparation courses may be one way to both
tap their talents and to promote their professional
development. Similarly, including other community
agencies can provide a range of expertise beyond the
education sector. In Georgia, for example, sitting principals
and district sta are trained to understand what
quality leadership is supposed to look like and how
schools are supposed to operate. Cohort training in
which learners stay together over an extended period
and learn as peers can be especially e ective.
Mentoring during the preparation period and
extending into the rst year or two of practice can
help new leaders continue to grow and learn. Every
new principal in New York City, for example, is now
being assigned a mentor for two years. Whether they
are called mentors or coaches, and whether they hail
from education or from other sectors, the fundamental
challenge is that they be people genuinely interested
in nurturing new leaders and have the training to do
so. Th e relationship between mentor and mentee is
critical, so matches need to be made carefully. Random
assignment often does not work. Mentors, like
aspiring leaders, should be expected to meet speci c
standards. When they do not, they should be asked to
exit the program.
A sca olding approach to leadership training also
recognizes the need to build a cadre of prospective
and diverse leaders, beginning with teachers. When
educators notice exceptional students, they often urge
them to consider a range of possible career choices.
Teaching, however, is seldom high on the list. In many
states, such as Indiana where only ve percent of current
teachers are from minority backgrounds, e orts
need to begin early to develop diverse and culturally
competent educators.
Culturally competent leadership develops
over time and needs to be supported from
preparation through practice.
Creating collaborative frameworks and
structures can be useful.
At the same time, a leadership framework needs to
lay out a continuum of skills and opportunities so that
individuals can see where a teaching career might lead.
Helping new teachers see the possibilities for advancement
that exist within a district can be an important
way for schools to recruit and retain high caliber sta .
A collaboration between the New York City Department
of Education, Region One LSC, with the Bank
Street College of Education, for example, has developed
a two-part preparation model as a rst step in
developing this kind of career path. Strong relationships
and peer-to-peer learning among cohorts of
aspiring teachers have also resulted.
Finally, a supportive leadership structure makes sure
that leaders learn how to use a variety of tools, including
data analysis techniques, situational audits, interviewing
protocols, and community mapping formats.
Lists of leadership skills and accompanying assessments
can help schools identify teachers who show promise,
provide opportunities for them to develop their abilities
while contributing to the school, and screen out people
who are not equipped for leadership roles.
Rigorous selection is a hallmark of the Austin
Independent School District School Leadership
Academy, which was designed to prepare leaders
for urban schools with signi cant populations of
underachieving students. Candidates with at least
three years teaching experience must be nominated
by a superior, submit a portfolio of their accomplishments
in the area of diversity, and answer
several questions related to their work with speci c
populations. An orientation session introduces
them to the program’s demands and its focus on
social justice. Final candidates are observed teaching
and interacting with students. From over 100
applicants, about 15 are selected.
Depending on their interest, students are
placed at an elementary-, middle-, or high-school
leadership development school. Twelve credit
hours of the program focus on real-world problem-
solving. Interns research a signi cant school
issue—analyzing data, interviewing families,
and exploring best practices. Th eir objective is to
recommend reasonable and balanced solutions.
Interns also are assigned administrative duties,
meet regularly with a principal/coach, and take a
variety of courses emphasizing the principal’s role
in promoting equity in school policy and practice.
(Glenn Nolly and Vera Wehring, Austin Independent
School District School Leadership Academy,
A two-part collaborative model (Bank Street
College of Education and the NYC Department
of Education Region 1, the Bronx) to train both
teacher leaders and principals, in schools that serve
a very diverse community, provides incentives to
students by picking up two-thirds of the tuition.
Selected by their school, teacher leaders stay in
their classroom while taking 18 credits in adult
and child development, structural leadership, and
literacy and math instruction. Th eir classrooms
provide lab sites for other teachers and they are
freed up to work with colleagues one period a
day. Upon completion of the 18 credits, they can
choose to enter the Principals’ Institute, a 36-
credit program with a full-time summer internship
program leading to a master’s degree and
placement as an assistant principal. We call this
our blended leadership model. Th ose who do not
enroll in the Principals’ Institute are helped to gain
national certi cation.
(Carmen Jimenez, School Leadership Program
Community School District Program, cjimene@
The majority of all college and university training
programs are anchored in standards developed by
ISLLC. None of these standards speci cally addresses
cultural competence. While ISLLC Standard No. 5
does reference “…an educational leader who promotes
the success of all students by acting with integrity, fairness,
and in an ethical manner,” there is a de nite need
for a distinct and explicit standard requiring leaders
who can demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attributes
needed to work e ectively in diverse settings. Such a
standard would illuminate the importance of cultural
competency and could be invaluable in creating a
sense of urgency about incorporating training components,
curricula, and strategies related to cultural
diversity and cultural competence in all leadership
preparation programs.
Citing the reality that “policies matter,” participants
noted the importance of doing the advocacy
work required to inform and in uence policymakers,
and then to hold them accountable for enacting
speci c policies and regulations in support of the
preparation of culturally competent and diverse school
leaders. Frequently during the discussions, participants
acknowledged that issues of cultural competence and
diversity—as well as related issues of race, gender, poverty,
discrimination, special-needs populations, and
linguistic diversity—continue to be uncomfortable
for many and, indeed, unimportant for some. But,
they insisted that champions must mobilize, advocates
must unify, and stakeholders from all community
sectors must galvanize e orts around these issues if, in
fact, no child is to be left behind and if our nation’s
future is to be viable. n
The following comments summarize several recommendations
o ered by participants during these
discussions for helping better prepare and support
leaders who are diverse and culturally competent:
It was noted that state professional leadership
boards and professional associations can help by
including cultural competence in certi cation
and recerti cation requirements. Certi cation
boards might also stipulate that an array of courses
focused on cultural competence must be taken for
certi cation or recerti cation. In addition, they can
encourage or allow culturally relevant experiences,
including travel or second language study, as ways
for meeting continuing education obligations.
In general, standards and licensing requirements
should be aligned to promote leadership
frameworks that ensure coherence between standards
and practice. Some states are also looking
at a range of certi cations that require skills and
requirements needed in speci c settings—di erentiating
the skills needed, for example, at di erent
educational levels or in more challenging districts.
State e orts to make available an on-line map of
state-funded leadership activities would greatly
improve knowledge sharing among partnership
programs. Support for a clearinghouse to identify
curricular materials and instructional methods
that have proven e ective with speci c student
groups is also needed. Some participants noted
that much of what is currently available merely
repackages conventional materials.
State education departments can diversity to the
pool of potential leaders by promoting the recruitment
of more minority teachers. For example,
North and South Carolina currently sponsor
teaching fellows programs. Students are identi ed
in high school and their college tuition at a state
school is paid for in return for a three-year teaching
commitment. States can also give special attention
to grant proposals that creatively address cultural
issues in leadership preparation and support.
Preparation programs and school districts need to
establish more regular contact with key members
of state legislative committees and boards. Policyu
State and local policies need to build
a sense of urgency about preparing
culturally competent leaders.
makers need to be kept apprised of local concerns
and provided with data and research summaries,
examples of successful models, and other information
they can use to advance a leadership agenda
that includes issues regarding cultural competence.
Consideration should also be given to statefunded
mentoring for both preparing and supporting
new principals. Th is kind of scaled-up commitment
requires advocates to have clear answers to
questions about the mentor’s role, the best way to
select and match mentors and mentees, as well as
methods to ensure high-quality training.
Regionally, collaborations between preparation
programs and school districts need to include
more diverse partners—sociology, economics, and
public policy departments; community institutions;
local and state agencies; sitting school leaders;
and school board members—all of whom can
bring valuable perspectives to the design, practice,
and nancing of innovative leadership training
that address cultural competence and diversity.
At the district and building levels, job descriptions
and performance evaluations should re ect
the knowledge, skills, and attributes of cultural
competence. Hiring procedures and interview protocols
should assess the likelihood that candidates
will work well in diverse settings. Using incentives
or pay scales to bring talented people to hard-tosta
areas should also be explored. Multi-year contracts
for principals, which exist in some states but
not others, can make it easier for new principals to
take the leadership risks necessary to turn around
a challenging setting.
Consider state models, such as in Oregon, that
establish new standards with an emphasis on
cultural competency for leaders. Oregon, supported
by a grant from Th e Wallace Foundation,
and after years of collaborative work including
representatives from various sectors (e.g., the state
board, universities, and school districts), recently
unveiled the ndings from their summit meeting
focused on enhancing the cultural competency
of the Oregon P-16 workforce. (To see a copy of
their cultural competency summit report, visit
their Web site at
Finally, there is solid, albeit anecdotal, evidence
that culturally competent leaders—surrounded
by a culturally competent sta , using e ective
instructional materials—can improve results.
More research, however, would underscore this
point and yield improvements in preparation and
support models. For example, e orts are needed to
accomplish the following:
spell out the impact of specific cultural factors
on student achievement across student groups
identify the elements of effective culturally-focused
curriculum and instruction
better understand the dynamics of mentoring
relationships that support transformative
focus more attention and concentrated effort
on the codification of specific best/promising
strategies and practices related to the preparation
and support of culturally competent,
diverse school leaders.
Th e expanding and complex diversity of our
nation’s population, in rural, urban, and suburban
school districts and communities, large or small,
demands that school leaders themselves need to be a
more diverse and culturally competent community.
Furthermore, as we seek to improve student outcomes
and ensure that not one child is left behind, we
must recognize the important implications for school
leaders as they deal with these demographic realities.
Indeed, preparation programs to support and prepare
school leaders must deliberately include the many key
and critical issues related to cultural competence and
diversity in the planning, design, implementation, and
evaluation of the programs. We believe that preparing
diverse and culturally competent school leaders is
an imperative for today and for the future. We want
to continue to address the issue—to monitor, extract,
and disseminate lessons and best practices such as
those re ected in this brief—in order to contribute to
the knowledge and practice base as related to culturally
competent and diverse school leaders. n
Suzanne Bronheim National Center for Cultural Competence, DC
Frederick Brown Chicago Leadership Academies for Supporting Success, IL
Barbara Crossland Northwest Missouri State University, MO
Arnie Danzig Arizona State University, AZ
Sheryl Denbo Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, MD
Ann Du y Georgia’s Leadership Imitative for School Improvement, GA ann.du
Deidre Farmbry Leadership for Learning Project, NJ
Patricia Felton-Montgomery Bridgeton Public Schools, NJ
Daphne Ferguson School Leadership Program, AL
Elsy Fierro-Suttmiller New Mexico State University, NM
Jan Gillespie-Walton Camden City Public School District, NJ
David Green Leadership for Learning Project, NJ
Rebecca Hare Institute for Educational Leadership, DC
Kay Harmless Indiana Principal Leadership Academy, Indiana Department of Education
Mariana Haynes National Association of State Boards of Education, VA
Carlo Ignacio Studio Métis, LLC, DC
Carmen Jimenez NYC Department of Education Region One LSCBronx, NY
Mike Kiefer Urban Principals Leadership Academy, MI mikekiefer@um
Courtland Lee University of Maryland-College Park, MD
Migdalia Maldonado New York City Department of Education
Keith Myatt California School Leadership Academy, Los Angeles COE, CA
Rosemary Ndubuizu Undergraduate, Stanford University, CA
Glenn Nolly (retired) Austin Independent School District Leadership Development Project, TX
New contact: Vera Wehring
Elavie Ndura University of Nevada, NV
Laraine Roberts WestEd, CA
Jose Rodriguez O ce of Organizational Development,
Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
Kwesi Rollins Institute for Educational Leadership, DC
Katie Shorter-Robinson Cleveland State University, OH
Anthony Sims Yale Comer School Development Program, MD
Carmen Arroyo American Institutes for Research, DC
Barbara McCloud* Institute for Educational Leadership, DC
Patrick Cokley Institute for Educational Leadership, DC
Betty Hale Institute for Educational Leadership, DC
Sheri Deboe Johnson National PTA, DC
Fred McCoy Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University, PA
Tia Melaville Consultant, MD
Peggi Zelinko U. S. Department of Education, DC
* Barbara McCloud, a Senior Leadership Associate with the Institute for Educational Leadership, serves as the Director of the School
Leadership Learning Community and coordinated the “Select Seminar” series.
Since 1964, IEL has been at the heart of an
impartial, dynamic, nationwide network of
people and organizations from many walks
of life who share a passionate conviction
that excellent education is critical to nurturing
healthy individuals, families, and communities.
Our mission is to help build the capacity of people
and organizations in education and related elds
to work together across policies, programs, and
sectors to achieve better futures for all children
and youth. To that end, we work to:
Build the capacity to lead
Share promising practices
Translate our own and others’ research into
suggestions for improvement
Share results in print and in person.
IEL believes that all children and youth have
a birth right: the opportunity and the support to
grow, learn, and become contributing members
of our democratic society. Th rough our work, we
enable stakeholders to learn from one another and
to collaborate closely—across boundaries of race
and culture, discipline, economic interest, political
stance, unit of government, or any other area
of di erence—to achieve better results for every
youngster from pre-K through high school and on
into postsecondary education. IEL sparks, then
helps to build and nurture, networks that pursue
dialogue and take action on educational problems.|
We provide services in three program areas:
Developing and Supporting Leaders
Strengthening School-Family-Community
Connecting and Improving Policies and
Systems that Serve Children and Youth.
Please visit our Web site at to
learn more about IEL and its work.|
e-Lead ( is in
important resource designed to increase
the dissemination of e ective principal
preparation programs. It was developed
by the Laboratory for Student Success
at Temple University and the Institute
for Educational Leadership, the Select
Seminar sponsoring organization.
Th is Web-based resource is organized
around six research-based principles
for the professional development of
school leaders. It includes a searchable
database of existing, standards-based
preparation programs. A leadership
library o ers annotated information
about a number of leadership development
issues and links to the latest information
and resources. e-Lead’s blog,
LeaderShipShape, is designed to provide
school and district leaders with the most
current and relevant information on
news, research, controversies, events,
and opportunities in the eld. n
Ordering and Contact Information
Copies of this report are available for download at no cost
from IEL’s Web site. Requests for printed copies must be
received in writing by fax, e-mail, or mail, and are subject to
availability, plus a minimum charge of $2.00 for shipping and
handling. To order copies:
Institute for Educational Leadership
4455 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 822-8405
Fax: (202) 872-4050
Web site:
© 2005 by the Institute of Educational Leadership, Inc. All
rights reserved. In the spirit of IEL’s mission, this whole document
or sections thereof may be reproduced in any way, along
with the proper attribution to: Institute for Educational Leadership,
Washington, DC. Written permission is not necessary,
but we hope you will inform us of your use of this material,
ISBN 1-933493-01-1 n

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