District leaders set the stage for equity-focused learning

By George S. Perry Jr., Joan Richardson and Tiffiny Shockley Jackson
December 2022
Generations of leading educators have shared a compelling vision of educational equity: to ensure that the learning of every student matters. However, despite the efforts of these leaders, from John Dewey to Ron Edmonds to Paulo Freire to Bettina Love, achieving that vision has been elusive. Across geographic locations, historical eras, and even varying levels of resources, we have ensured learning matters only for some students, not all. Why? Simply put, some of what we believe and what we do based on our beliefs doesn’t lead to success for all students. Systems, structures, and practices perpetuate disparities because they reinforce barriers that sort and separate students based on assumed success or failure. When we disadvantage some students in this way, the implicit message is that

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Heifetz, R.A. & Linsky, M. (April 2004). When leadership spells danger. Educational Leadership, 61(7), 33-37.

Perry, G.S., Jr. (with Richardson, J.). (2022). Equity warriors: Creating schools that students deserve. Corwin Press.

Pink, D.H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Riverhead Books.

Schein, E.H. (1992). Organizational culture and leadership (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

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George S. Perry Jr. ( advises school and district leaders.
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Joan Richardson ( is a veteran education journalist.
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Tiffiny Shockley Jackson ( is a classroom teacher in San Diego, California, who supports adults at schools and in district offices.

The Learning Professional

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