Advancing Racial Equity Leadership: A Driver for Systemic Change

Meisha Porter, Fordham University


New York City public schools, serving nearly one million students, are some of the most segregated in the nation. The Bronx, one of the poorest school districts in New York City, serving students who are 83% Black or Hispanic, has been plagued by persistent racial disproportionalities. Top-down change efforts have consistently failed. Improvement Science, which works from the bottom up, holds tremendous promise and has been proven successful in the Bronx. As the former Executive Superintendent in the Bronx and the new Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, I have the opportunity to scale the successes in the Bronx to the entire NYC school system. This research study used Improvement Science, autoethnography, and interviews with superintendents from around the county who are actively pursuing equity initiatives. The Practice of Practice for the Bronx was that district leaders and their principals had few consistent practices to recognize and address racial inequities in their schools and persistent low performance in their high poverty districts. Two key strategies for change were used in the Bronx: 1) redesigning how the Executive Superintendent works with superintendents to use collaborative inquiry to impact goal setting and progress monitoring and 2) providing two years of professional development for district leaders and principals focused on developing racial awareness and understanding implicit bias. Four key themes emerged 1) establish a clear vision and definition for equity, 2) create readiness through awareness, 3) develop systems and structures for support, and 4) leverage data to address policies and procedures.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration|Multicultural Education

Recommended Citation

Porter, Meisha, "Advancing Racial Equity Leadership: A Driver for Systemic Change" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28867332.