Latina superintendents in Texas : developing leaders in a climate of change
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There are several studies on the school superintendent and the job has evolved since its early inception in the 1800s. However, the role of the district leader is now quite expansive and complex. With the exception of the era of the 1920s, white males have filled this highly stratified position. Yet, as our population has become increasingly majority minority with no change in the make-up of the position. This is especially true for Latinas aspiring to the position. While there is no shortage of Latinas in the pipeline, there is a concrete ceiling that has yet to be regularly penetrated for this group of women. The lack of mentorships combined with the hefty responsibilities of the job make it even more challenging to break into the role. Today’s technological advances, academic complicated accountability measures, societal discord, and the political forces at work in school districts make the school leader even more difficult. This makes preparation for the role even more pertinent, yet, policy changes are making the path to this position more accessible for non-traditional leaders. The proliferation of charter schools makes this ascension even more feasible for candidates with little to no public schooling experience. While this may seem promising for a nontraditional candidate such as Latinas, this opening into the role has the potential to make the ascent even more challenging. Not only has the legislative agenda expanded the number of charter schools that can open in the state, the educational governing body of Texas has begun to relax the standard for principals and superintendents to exclude prior requirement that included teaching and principalship experience. The literature describes the generalized challenges of the superintendency and emerging studies on gender and ethnicity. The research is also rich with studies regarding the importance of mentorship as a component of success for aspiring school district leaders. However, the literature lacks qualitative research studies focusing on those few Latinas who have managed to have ascended to the superintendency, particularly amidst the background of policy changes in Texas. Even more elusive in the literature, is leadership associated with the burgeoning charter school industry.
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