How You Can Be A Diversity Advocate as an Education Leader

A smiling teacher meets with a student.

Education leaders have a responsibility to advocate for diversity in education. Students and staff have widely diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences––learning environments and curricula that fail to reflect that diversity can’t meet the goal of providing all students with the best education. By valuing the differences and unique contributions that all people and groups make, education leaders promote education equity and provide a powerful example for colleagues and students.

The Importance of Diversity in Education

Factors that inhibit diversity and inclusion include cultural bias, descrimination, and structural inequities. The factors can result in the marginalization of people who are outside of a dominant group. The “othering” of marginalized groups can be based on any number of differences, including racial and ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religion, citizenship status, language proficiency, and ability.

Education systems that fail to recognize and meet the needs of all students and staff perpetuate harmful and counterproductive conditions:

  • Curricula and teaching methods that lack diversity fail to provide all students with equitable access to the best education.
  • School workforces that lack diversity have limited ability to guide and serve as role models for all students.
  • School administration that fails to value diversity limits professional opportunities for educators in marginalized communities.

Greater diversity benefits schools, communities, and students. However, promoting equity and leveling the playing field for all students and educators requires leaders to take concrete steps to improve diversity and inclusion in education systems.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

Education leaders use several strategies to promote diversity and inclusion:

  • Implementing inclusive hiring practices that attract diverse teachers. Inclusive hiring practices can include deliberately recruiting people of color and others from marginalized groups, creating diverse search committees, and developing inclusive job descriptions that demonstrate support for diversity and inclusion.
  • Developing inclusive curricula and encouraging diverse teaching styles. The goal of inclusive curricula is to make every child feel valued and engaged. Such a goal fosters higher academic achievement for all students, not just those in marginalized groups. Using diverse teaching and learning models allows educators to reach diverse students with different aptitudes, communication preferences, and learning styles.
  • Providing diversity training. Training can help teachers and other staff members understand the needs of marginalized groups and address implicit biases. Exploring the ways that social categorizations such as race, class, and gender overlap and amplify discrimination leads to a better understanding of the disadvantages that marginalized groups face.
  • Promoting broader representation. Having diversity among the teaching and support staff results in greater representation for diverse student populations. Evidence suggests that demographic matches between students and teachers improve educational outcomes.

Education Leadership Roles and Diversity Advocacy

Examining just a few of the common education leadership roles illustrates the opportunity they have to advocate for diversity.

Director of Admissions

Also known as the director of enrollment, the director of admissions typically leads recruitment efforts for colleges or private schools and helps those institutions meet enrollment goals. Working with faculties and administrators, directors of admissions review applications and select candidates. Ensuring the fairness and integrity of admissions policies and practices is their paramount responsibility.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

Enrollment and admissions professionals promote diversity with nondiscriminatory admission policies and programs that seek to ensure a racially diverse student body through recruitment, outreach, and financial aid programs.

Director of Human Resources in Education

Human resources (HR) directors, or HR specialists, lead hiring and recruitment efforts at schools. They oversee job titles, promotions, salaries, benefits, and employment tests. They also handle employee training and orientation and work with school administrators to put professional development programs in place.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

HR specialists can play a direct role in promoting diversity by working with teachers and administrators to assess training needs, including those around diversity and inclusion. For example, an HR professional may work with outside specialists to design training related to cultural competency, restorative justice, or trauma-informed education.

Nonprofit Directors

Advanced training in education prepares professionals to lead education-focused nonprofit organizations or education programs in nonprofit organizations. In addition to directorships, leadership roles include management positions focused on program management, community outreach, development and funding, strategy, and public policy.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

Some nonprofits are directly focused on addressing inequities in education and policy reform, while many others concentrate on issues such as economic inequality and social justice that disproportionately affect marginalized groups and limit access to quality education.

Principals

Responsible for the well-being of students and teachers, as well as a school’s overall performance. principals have wide-ranging duties. They contribute to curriculum development, assess teaching methods, monitor student behavior and achievement, encourage parent engagement, develop policies and procedures, oversee budgets and facilities, and hire staff.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

Principals are positioned to promote diversity and inclusiveness that affect both students and staff. Their role allows them to put inclusive hiring practices into place and develop inclusive curricula.

Becoming an Education Leader

Promoting diversity and inclusion in schools requires a commitment to justice in education. Aspiring education leaders who hold education equity as a core value should seek programs that share their commitment.

Mills College’s online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program is suited to active teachers pursuing professional development and advancement. Focusing on organizational change in education, the program promotes a collaborative and an inclusive leadership model. Explore the online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership to learn more about how Mills College prepares professionals to confront the ethical, social, and fiscal demands of educational leadership.

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