Professor Whitaker Publishes “Public School Equity”

Manya Whitaker, associate professor of education, recently published “Public School Equity: Educational Leadership for Justice,” which takes a new approach on eradicating educational disparities. Drawing on more than 40 interviews with teachers, principals, and district leaders, Whitaker offers educators guidance for leading a school or district grounded in social justice that centers teachers — not just teaching practices — and that focuses on the belief systems that shape decision-making.

“So often we ask leaders to do things they are unprepared to do because what we want is ‘new’ and a product of current sociopolitical dynamics that were not present during their training. This book is an attempt at an intensive course (think Block Plan) on how to live up to current expectations,” says Whitaker of why it was important to her to write “Public School Equity.” “My other motivation for writing this book is that I want to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners. I can research all I want but unless I share the implications of my findings with those doing the on-the-ground work, my research is for naught. I wanted to give space for school and district leaders to share their wisdom.”

The book walks educational leaders through a strategic approach to long-term change: from school planning for family and community engagement, to hiring and onboarding teachers, to sustaining equity through multifaceted professional development and equitable evaluation. Concrete “how-tos” are provided throughout, along with reflection questions to help readers apply the content to their context.

“The most rewarding part of writing this book is feeling like I can help educational leaders rise to the occasion,” Whitaker says. “The book is practical and chronological, so it is easily inserted into a principal’s workflow. I love that everything is situated within the realities of today’s educational context, so nothing is unreasonable or unattainable. I’ve always wanted to effect and affect meaningful change in our schools, and I truly believe this text offers folx the opportunity to do so.”

Whitaker is a developmental educational psychologist with expertise in social and political issues in education. She researches the stability of teachers’ diversity-related belief systems across time and settings, and how those beliefs can be intentionally disrupted and re-structured through teacher training.

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