The book offers a progressive perspective of turnaround principals and adds to the current turnaround school literature. It includes stories of the lived experiences of three critically conscious principals’ journey to school transformation. The turnaround principals in this book disrupted cultures of oppression in predominantly African American schools. Through the power of transformative leadership these school leaders improved the academic outcomes for students as well as the working conditions of teachers and staff.
Kishia C. James is a lecturer at San Francisco State University and coordinator for the Community Resiliency Model® at Wake County Public School System. She is an educational leader with over two decades of educational leadership in urban school districts and turnaround schools and the co-editor of The Gloria Ladson-Billings Reader (Cognella, 2020).
List of Figures
Chapter 1. Understanding the Concept of School Turnaround
Chapter 2. The Fallout from Turnaround Efforts
Chapter 3. The Philosophical Underpinnings of Critically Consciousness Leaders
Chapter 4. The Critically Conscious Principal in Action
Chapter 5. Lessons Learned from Critically Conscious Leaders
Chapter 6. Conclusion
Readers who want more than a pep talk, more than the usual bromides for failing schools, will find Kishia James’ careful parsing of the multiple causes and factors which prevent more schools which serve the stressed cities and neighborhoods of America from being successful, not only inspirational and analytical, but with advice which begins and ends with what’s in the turnaround principal’s critical consciousness. Developing such a consciousness requires accurate historical knowledge, and untangling the layers of bias and misunderstanding about visible and invisible racism that remains deeply embedded, layered, and pervasive in contemporary culture and schooling. That journey begins with this book.
All students, including Black and Latinx students, are entitled to a quality education -- no matter the school. Fortunately, Kishia C. James, a seasoned practitioner-turned academic, has authored this book, Turnaround Principals: Passionate Leaders Who Can Improve Low-Performing Schools. Turnaround Principals offers a comprehensive, research-based look at the status of Black and Latinx students in US schools -- and provides a strategy to address their marginalization and to provide them with a quality education. We have been challenged with providing these students with quality education since they were first enrolled in US schools nearly 200 years ago. This book provides valuable insights into a strategy that has worked in some settings. Enjoy.
I am honored to have the opportunity to write an endorsement for Dr. Kishia James book titled, “Turnaround Principals: Passionate Leaders Who Improve Low-Performing Schools.” As a former dean of education, I am aware of the hard work and dedication that principals exhibit in schools; especially in low-performing schools. What is of interest and noteworthy about Dr. James book is that it draws from theoretical frameworks that are important in addressing systemic inequities present in low-performing schools. Dr. James book is timely and a must-read as it highlights exceptional and transformational leaders that are making a difference in today’s schools.
This book is important for programs that are training school leaders. Dr. James effectively traces the root of low-performing schools as a basis to understand the systemic nature of the inequities many schools and communities face today. Most importantly, this text leaves the readers with hope and lessons learned from change-makers in the field. The urgency of now is of utmost importance in addressing our education system, so every child has access to excellent schools that equalize opportunities for those historically pushed to the margins.
In an era of myth and misinformation, this book is a guiding light. This book seeks to highlight underserved schools by investigating and supporting critical conscious turnaround principals. Too many in our populace seek comfort while avoiding inconvenient truths, painful history, and contemporary accountability. The leaders in this book understand that comfort is earned by navigating the discomfort. These are indeed the kind of leaders needed in turnaround schools and this is the book to unlock their potential.