The Impact of Black Women Educational Leaders on Student Achievement
- Terri N. WatsonTerri N. WatsonCity College of New York
- and Patrice A. McClellanPatrice A. McClellanFielding Graduate University
What is the relationship between educational leadership, student achievement, and what we know about Black women? For one, while educational leadership is closely associated with student achievement, school leaders were found to have little, if any, direct effect on student achievement. Black women, on the other hand, are rarely mentioned in regard to student achievement, yet their efficacy is unparalleled. Black women should be listed alongside often-cited theorists, including John Dewey, James MacGregor Burns, Nel Noddings, and the Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire, as they have made significant contributions to the field of educational leadership. These trailblazers include Frances (Fanny) Jackson Coppin, Sarah J. Smith Tompkins Garnet, Mary Jane Patterson, and Anna Julia Cooper. As Black women and professors of educational leadership, we have an obligation to ourselves, our communities, and the next generation of school leaders to reframe and extend the narratives surrounding educational leadership, student achievement, and Black women.
Most research focused on educational leadership and student achievement includes neither the perspectives nor contributions of Black women educational leaders. Extant educational leadership literatures largely chronicle the perspectives of White men and rely on theories established by other White men. Moreover, student achievement is most often attributed to teachers, roles primarily occupied by White women. These correlations negate and further marginalize Black women educational leaders, who, despite the fact they have successfully led schools and are effective instructional leaders, remain untapped resources. Black Feminist Theory provides a framework to explore the lived experiences and contributions of groundbreaking Black women educational leaders. The knowledge gleaned from these “firsts” will proffer invaluable lessons to the field of educational leadership.