A culture of equity calls for leadership from the top

By Monica Minor Gant
December 2021
We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us … We already know more than we need to do that … and whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.” — Edmonds, 1979 More than 40 years ago, Ronald Edmonds made this indictment of schools that fail to teach all students, pointing out that “differences in student performance … seem to be attributed to factors under the schools’ control” (Edmonds, 1979). He vehemently denounced the notion of family background as the primary cause of student performance because “such a belief has the effect of absolving educators of their professional responsibility to be instructionally

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Au, W. & Jordan, C. (1981). Teaching reading to Hawaiian children: Finding culturally

Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15-18, 20-24.

Erickson, F. & Mohatt, G. (1982). Cultural organization and participation structures in two classrooms of Indian students. In. G. Spindler (Ed.), Doing the ethnography of schooling (pp. 131-174). Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Irvine, J. (1990). Black students and school failure. Greenwood.

Kikoski, C. & Kikoski, J. (2004). The inquiring organization: Tacit knowledge, conversation, and knowledge creation: Skills for 21st-century organizations. Praeger.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), p 465-491.

Mohatt, G. & Erickson, F. (1981). Cultural differences in teaching styles in an Odawa school: A sociolinguistic approach. In H. Trueba, G. Guthrie, & K. Au (Eds.), Culture and the bilingual classroom: Studies in classroom ethnography, pp. 105-119. Newbury.

Schein, E. (1992). Organizational culture and leadership. Jossey-Bass.

Monica Minor Gant ( is associate secretary of the Delaware Department of Education’s academic support team.

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