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Social Justice Leadership Bookshelf

This post is the second of a two-part series by Jennifer Burris, a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland and Summer Professional Development Specialist at TLI.

If you’re looking for social justice leadership reading or maybe you need more text-heavy resources after reading “What is Social Justice Leadership?,” this list is for you. Below are the books that I grab when I am looking for inspiration, guidance, reaffirmation, and tools to push myself when working towards educational equity.

  • “These Kids Are Out of Control”: Why We Must Reimagine “Classroom Management” for Equity by Richard Milner IV, Heather Cunningham, Lori Delale-O’Connor, and Erika Kestenberg is an excellent resource for classroom management. This book examines several different factors that influence classroom management: the cradle-to prison pipeline, effective instruction, creating a caring environment, and restorative discipline. Milner also defines three different categories of urban schools: intensive, emergent, and characteristic. Many schools in rural Oklahoma are beginning to fit Milner’s category of urban characteristic. Despite having locations outside big cities, they “may be beginning to experience increases in characteristics and realities that are sometimes associated with urban contexts, such as an increase in English language learners in a community” (Milner, 2019, p.8). This book also includes classroom vignettes and easy-to-follow reflections at the end of each chapter.
  • The School Leaders Our Children Deserve by George Theoharis follows real principals “who came to their positions with a desire to enact social justice.” (2009, p.18). These principals embody the seven keys to equity, social justice, and school reform through their experiences leading schools. Theoharis also examines barriers to social justice leadership at the school, district, and institutional level.
  • Culturally Responsive School Leadership by Muhammad Khalifa is a great pick if you like your literature rooted in history. While this book is a deep dive into the life of a culturally responsive principal, it also offers a background to schooling and society providing a more nuanced understanding of educational inequity. Each of the activities throughout the book include tasks for the teachers, principals, and superintendents as they work together in their culturally responsive practices.
  • Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education by Paul Gorski is the first book I grab when I am leading workshops or classes for educators. Each vignette is a two to three page situation that could happen at any school – but there are no endings. Educators must work together to think through possible short and long term solutions to the problem at hand. They must examine several different points of view as they think through “what would I do?”
  • Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education by Ozlem Sensoy, Robin DiAngelo, and James Banks has it all. Bite-sized chapters. Perspective checks. Stop and think activities. Comprehensive glossary. If you are looking for an all-in-one guide to social justice education – this is it. This would be a great resource for professional development, weekly workshops, or training before the school year starts. Make sure to get the second edition with up-to-date data.

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