T. Shields, K. Cassada

University of Richmond (UNITED STATES)
The study of school leadership, professional development, and selection criteria in school leaders has historically reflected the dominant culture and its demographics in the United States (U.S). This examination, study, and criteria has focused on the agentic or masculine styles, which are top-down, hierarchical, and authoritarian structures. However, this type of leadership styles is outdated as our society has become more diverse and as our leadership has changed. Today’s schools need professional development that focuses on communal leadership that prepares school leaders for social justice, building meaningful coalitions, understanding the role of followers, creating ethical frameworks for difficult times, and communicating so that all voices are heard and understood.

Over the past several years, the Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) has served four partner school districts in the Richmond, Virginia, U.S. metro region. The participating school divisions comprise one urban, two suburban and one rural/suburban. Two of the suburban divisions are quickly becoming more diverse through increasing demographic changes by race, ethnicity, and socio-economic factors. Since its inception in 2005, NGLA has worked with a total of 337 school leaders.

This study utilizes data from: 1) a survey administered to 198 respondents, who were in the NGLA program between 2008-2009 and the 2011-2012 academic years and 2) a detailed application that asked questions about current professional development and future career aspirations. In addition, the research team collected data regarding the status of employment of each participant since completing the NGLA program. This data included: the level of schooling; the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic make up for the student population of the school; the type of promotion; and the time frame of the promotion.

This paper will examine who is encouraged and selected by divisions to participate in NGLA. It will also examine the type of participant the school divisions are supporting through enrollment in this professional development and the participants’ leadership promotions and placements. This study explores the concept of sponsored mobility or, as Myung, Loeb, and Horng (2011) state, “getting tapped”. Utilizing data from the NGLA program, the authors will explore what it means when future school leaders are “tapped” for positions, particularly in districts that are changing demographically and socio-economically.

This type of analysis of school leadership is very important as the United States is changing demographically. In 1970, nearly four out of every five students across the nation where white, but by 2009, just over half were White (Orfield, Kucsera & Siegel-Hawley, 2012). What these and other compelling statistics tell us is that we need to have a serious examination and discussion of how we select American K-12 school leaders and how they reflect the changing demographic profiles of our students. The study will examine a major question - are U.S. school divisions promoting and placing school leaders who are reflective of the school’s changing student demographic population. This study will also question the best ways to train leaders in a demographically and socio-economically changing country. Should the NGLA program, and others like it across the nation, continue to evolve and consider topics and format that reflect the style and populations of the schools?