Multicultural Summer Learning Experience for School Principals

Posted by on February 19, 2007

[posted from Public Education Network newblast]


This article by Betty J. Cobbs and Margery B. Ginsberg describes a summer learning experience that helped educational leaders listen to and learn from underrepresented voices. In July of 2005, doctoral students studying to become superintendents, most of whom were currently principals, visited the homes of Somali, Mien, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Latino families living in a Seattle-area school community. Although several of the students had visited low-income homes in their own districts, this was the first time they had done so with the primary purpose of listening to under-represented voices on matters of district policy. The leadership students sought to understand how members of linguistic minority communities respond to policy decisions such a school closure. In addition to learning about perspectives on policy, home visits also helped students challenge assumptions regarding equitable communication and cultural awareness. The process revealed eight common themes and a structure for encouraging high-level decision-makers and administrators to meet with diverse families in their homes — one that the authors hope others will also consider using.

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