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Minority School Leaders: Contributing to the Development of an Inclusive Multi-Cultural Environment.

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The purpose of this paper is to share findings from two studies. One study investigates how Minnesota school administrators are addressing cultural diversity and English Language Learners. Data was collected through an electronic survey sent to superintendents and principals. 326 surveys from a possible 998 were completed for a return rate of 32.6%. Respondents were asked to identify their leadership position and type of district (urban, suburban, rural, or other). Respondents were also asked their perception concerning (a) personal awareness of English Language Learners (ELL) and cultural diversity needs, (b) district efforts through finances and professional development to address ELL and cultural diversity issues, (c) awareness of higher education efforts to address cultural diversity issues, and (d) level of interest in attending training on ELL and cultural diversity. The second study focuses experiences and perceptions of school leaders of color. Data were collected through focus groups and individual interviews. Questions include (a) what challenges do people of color face in securing leadership positions; (b) what challenges do people of color face in their current position; (c) how important is it to have a person of color in a leadership position where the majority of students are students of color; (d) how can people of color be encouraged to seek school leadership positions; and (e) what suggestions would you make regarding recruitment of people of color into administrative preparation programs? This paper shares their perspective on the importance of having a person of color in a leadership position. Results from the two studies indicate a need for Minnesota school leadership to reflect a more diverse student population and for school personnel to develop inclusive, multi-cultural environments. Recommendations for addressing the absence of school leaders of color include (a) school districts identifying people of color within their teaching ranks and encouraging them to seek administrative licensure; (b) districts and professional organizations establishing mentoring programs for aspiring school leaders of color; and (c) universities collaborating with local school districts to recruit aspiring school leaders of color for preparation programs. Recommendations for establishing a positive multi-cultural environment include (a) elimination of stereotypes, (b) implementation of teaching strategies that meet the learning needs of all students, (c) acknowledgment of the different cultural backgrounds of students and how they enrich learning, and (d) use of the dynamics and influences of the family with addressing the achievement gap.

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Author:Haar, Jean M.; Robicheau, Jerry W.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Feb 7, 2008
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