Principals’ Voices in School Equity

Principals’ Voices in School Equity

A new article series by the NAESP National Task Force on Race and Equity highlights the principal voice in the advancement of equity in schools.

In our increasingly diverse society, one of the most important parts of a principal’s job is leading school equity. While this particular role is not new, it has come into sharp focus over the past year as the nation has entered a period of racial reckoning, examining the long history of inequality in various sectors, including in our schools.

In response, NAESP formed its National Task Force on Race and Equity to advise the association on issues related to racial equity in school communities, reveal schools’ common challenges and solutions, and support a peer-to-peer network of support for school leaders. This action responds to what principals say they need: more guidance on leading equity.

The 2020 Task Force on Race and Equity builds on the work of NAESP’s 2016 Diversity Task Force, which was established to examine and identify effective practices that promote positive student outcomes through policy and practice recommendations, which were ultimately published in The Principal’s Guide to Building Culturally Responsive Schools. The guide—recognizing that students of color are now the majority—identified four leadership competencies and 15 recommendations to transform schools to places where all students can thrive. But one of the most important aspects of the guide is that the recommendations were developed for and by principals.

An Equity Journey

The 2020 National Task Force on Race and Equity takes up where The Principal’s Guide left off, highlighting principals as leaders of school equity. We know that principals’ voices are critically important in advancing school equity. But to be transparent: Leading equity can be a daunting responsibility. We all know how important it is—but it can be hard to know how to get started, how to prioritize it, and how to make sure that teachers and staff have the mindset and skills they need to move it forward.

We also know that principals learn best from each other and in a supportive environment. Over the next several months, the Principals’ Voices in School Equity series will explore some of the leading issues in school equity, covering topics like implicit bias, recruiting and retaining teachers of color, and conducting equity audits.

As you navigate this series, and your own journey as a leader of school equity, consider the following essential reflection questions:

  1. What is my own racial identity and how has it impacted my experiences as a school leader?
  2. How will I translate my learnings about equity leadership as guidance for teachers and staff?
  3. What are additional ways I can advocate for all students so that they get the opportunities and resources they deserve?

Now more than ever it is important that school leaders place their emphasis on improving experiences and outcomes for all students. Growing your capacity in this area is well worth the effort, and your NAESP community of practice is right here with you at every step. The nation’s children are depending on you.

Kimbrelle Barbosa Lewis is president of NAESP and chair of the NAESP National Task Force on Race and Equity. She is principal of Cordova Elementary School in Cordova, Tennessee.