Changing social context of education in the united states: Social justice and the superintendency

Lars G. Björk, John L. Keedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Macro-level demographic forces are changing the social context of schools and shaping the national debate on school reform in the United States. Critics, however, note the lack of correspondence between the gender and ‘race’ of those who teach and lead public schools. This is particularly the case in the USA, where superintendents, who are appointed by local boards of education to administer district affairs, reflect neither the characteristics of their populations nor school professionals. The United States Census Bureau recently characterised the superintendency (chief executive officers of our over 14,000 local school districts) as the most male-dominated executive position of any profession in the nation. This observation has led scholars and policy makers to speculate that, rather than reflecting changes occurring in the larger society, professional preparation, training and selection processes appear to reproduce, rather than transcend gender and racial inequities. This article examines the nature and direction of social changes in the USA population, characteristics of children in schools, and the gender and racial make-up of school district leaders. Findings from a national study, The 2000 Study of the American School Superintendency: a look at the superintendent of education in the new millennium (Glass et al, 2000) are analysed to identify career paths, as well as factors limiting and advancing careers of women and people of colour in the superintendency. These data, and a discussion of learning theory and mentoring models, provide a template for addressing these problems and achieving social justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-428
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of In-Service Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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