Striving for Equity

Striving for Equity District Leadership for Narrowing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps

Robert G. Smith and S. David Brazer
paper, 192 Pages
Pub. Date: June 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-937-2
Price: $30.00

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Based on in-depth interviews, Striving for Equity brings to light the complex and illuminating stories of thirteen longtime superintendents—all leaders of the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN)—who were able to make progress toward narrowing opportunity and achievement gaps in traditional school districts with diverse populations and multiple, competing agendas. Drawing on current research in organizational learning, the authors introduce a framework consistent with the systemic perspective of these superintendents to help school leaders who want to prioritize the narrowing of gaps.


Equity is a major issue that confronts us in public education. We must develop thought leaders in education who represent and speak for the vast number of children in America who are not receiving the quality education they are entitled to. Striving for Equity can serve as an invaluable resource for superintendents and other school system leaders. — Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Talk is cheap—action is hard! Smith and Brazer examine the complex and politically challenging processes and procedures necessary to create equity of outcomes for all children. The book is an excellent, easy read that provides a practical set of considerations and a framework for action for those who strive for excellence and equity for ALL children. — Jerry Weast, founder and CEO, Partnership for Deliberate Excellence, and former superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

Smith and Brazer present the reality of leading change to close achievement gaps. The commitment of the featured superintendents should give hope to leaders everywhere who are willing to challenge communities to provide equitable opportunities for all students. The stories are not easy, but the children are worth the price. — Edgar B. Hatrick, former superintendent, Loudoun County Public Schools, and past president, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Striving for Equity is a rare gift, reporting on decades of work in more than 20 school districts by the Minority Student Achievement Network...This book has value for district, school and community leaders who are dedicated to social justice and equity. Smith and Brazer fill a need by providing a menu of thoughtful gap-closing strategies along with commentary from school leaders on why districts chose their particular approaches. — Larry Nyland, School Administrator

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About the Authors

Robert G. Smith is currently an associate professor in the George Mason College of Education and Human Development’s Education Leadership program. He retired from preK–12 public education in 2009 after forty-four years in the field. He worked as a teacher, building administrator, and central office administrator, concluding his public school career after twelve years as the superintendent of the Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools. His research interests include school and school district leadership, opportunity and achievement gaps, collaborative inquiry, and teaching for meaning. Smith is coauthor, with Arlington colleagues, of Gaining on the Gap: Changing Hearts, Minds and Practice and has authored or coauthored a number of book chapters, as well as articles appearing in publications such as Harvard Education Letter, Journalism Quarterly, High School Journal, Public Administration Quarterly, Equity and Excellence in Education, School Administrator, and Reading Today. Smith earned his PhD at the University of Maryland, College Park.

S. David Brazer is an associate professor and Director of the Leadership Degree Programs in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. Brazer spent fifteen years as a middle and high school teacher and administrator, serving during the last six years of his K–12 career as a high school principal. His primary research interests include decision making in schools and districts, school improvement, instructional leadership and teacher collaborative teams, and leadership preparation. He teaches leadership seminars and courses in the Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies and joint MA/MBA programs. His recent theoretical and empirical publications have appeared in Educational Administration Quarterly, Leadership and Policy in Schools, and various edited volumes. He is the second author (with Scott Bauer) of Using Research to Lead School Improvement: Turning Evidence into Action (2012, Sage Publications). Brazer received his PhD from Stanford University.

Table of Contents


Interview with Author

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Navigating Social Justice

Martin Scanlan, Foreword by Michelle Young, Afterword by Vonzell Agosto

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The Instructional Leadership Cycle

Daniel Allen, Foreword by Lee Teitel

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Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders

Jennifer Perry Cheatham, Rodney Thomas, and Adam Parrott-Sheffer, Foreword by Carl A. Cohn

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