Global Ed Leadership Distinguished Fellow Ian Martin shares his experiences about counseling in a variety of schools and educational systems…
Around this time last year, I was working with colleagues in Nigeria at the University of Lagos. We were conducting a study on counselor roles and activities within Nigerian schools. After collecting about 300 surveys, we ate catfish, drank beer and watched the sunset. I distinctly remember sitting there and wondering, “How in the world did I get here?” A surfer dude from California, in Nigeria, learning about counseling – How cool is that?
While I was very excited to learn about Nigerian school-based counseling, much of the current scholarly literature on counseling within schools in rooted in the western context. Examples of practice within other international settings usually involves a description of the status of counseling within a specific country or region. Unfortunately, these descriptions often involve some commentary on how far behind the country is in its development when compared to professional markers common within the US (i.e., university training, licensure, professional associations, accrediting bodies). While this is understandable, I am increasingly uncomfortable with the US operating as the gold standard for practice internationally.
First of all, as a former school counselor and current counselor educator in the US, I can tell you that accessing high quality school counseling services within the US system is not a given. Recent studies indicate that school counseling programming is not implemented consistently across the states. This means there are significant contextual differences that effect the practice of counseling from state to state. While the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) has had good success promoting the ASCA National Model (a programmatic model that encourages students’ personal, social, academic and career development), there is no official national curriculum and many states (nearly half) don’t even mandate or require counseling in schools.
Furthermore, one only has to spend a brief moment scanning the daily headlines or watching the nightly news to clearly understand that the US is struggling mightily with many sociocultural issues (e.g., racism, substance abuse, lack of mental health care, inhumane immigration policies, gun violence, access to equitable education, outrageous cost of living). Despite these significant national needs, it saddens me to say that counseling services in schools are largely not seen as a priority. It seems obvious to me that a country where school violence responses include very real plans to better arm teachers, should have its status as a world leader in school-based counseling challenged.
Mountain Brook Schools
While the US may have made advances in the organization and credentialing of the profession of school counseling, I believe we have a lot to learn in terms of designing services or creating arguments for counseling that are realistic and/or related to our true national needs. Over the years I have had the privilege of traveling to many different countries and witnessing counseling occurring in a wide variety of schools and educational systems. In many instances I was humbled and amazed by the level of practice or the highly contextualized ways practitioners solved issues within educational systems. This is where it became clear that we need to engage in more intentional international comparative study.
It is amazing to see this type of energy and enthusiasm for international school-based counseling in such a short period of time. While comparative studies in this area are still in their infancy, it represents a great opportunity to create a counter-narrative and enliven the conversation with ideas outside of the US context. Opportunities to learn from each other are becoming more authentic and action oriented. Just a couple of years ago I never would have thought it possible to collaborate on a survey with colleagues from 16 different countries. But here we are and I am sure I’m not the only one appreciating the ride and wondering, “How in the world did we get here?”
Context Matters: Professor Bruce Barnett describes some key findings from the High-Need Schools research projects…
Schools around the world serve large numbers of students at risk of educational failure or in need of special assistance and support. Many of these students live in poverty, are homeless, reside in foster care, have physical and learning disabilities, and are second language learners. As a result of these conditions, many students drop out of school, are employed in low-paying jobs, and become dependent on public assistance. These conditions also affect children’s sense of hope. Although American adolescents and undergraduate students tend to be more hopeful than are their counterparts in other countries (Lester, 2015), about 30% of American adolescents experience a sense of hopelessness, with much higher rates among racial and ethnic minority groups (Child Trends, 2012).
Given the increasing numbers of schools serving high-need students and communities, the International School Leadership Development Network (ISLDN) was developed as a joint initiative of the British Educational Leadership, Management, and Administration Society (BELMAS) and the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). Two areas of focus have emerged: (1) leadership for social justice and (2) leadership in high-need schools. (For more background about the ISLDN, see https://isldn.weebly.com).
High-Need Schools Project Overview
One of the major purposes of the ISLDN is to examine what leaders in high-need schools are doing to overcome many of the educational, social, and economic challenges students and families are encountering. I, along with Jami Berry (University of Georgia), Ian Potter (Bayhouse School, United Kingdom), Pam Angelle (University of Tennessee), and Charles Slater (California State University, Long Beach), have been co-directing these research projects.
The High-Need Schools (HNS) project consists of researchers who are conducting case studies of high-need school leadership across the globe. The project focuses on schools and communities with large numbers of families with incomes below the poverty line, teachers who are not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach, teacher and leader turnover, non-native language speakers, and students from indigenous groups.
The project has sought to identify school principals working in a number of different cultural contexts to addresses the following research questions:
What fosters student learning in high-need schools?
How do principals and other school leaders enhance individual and organizational performance in high-need schools?
How do internal and external school contexts impact individual and organizational performance in high-need schools?
A recent special issue of International Studies in Educational Administration (Gurr & Drysdale, 2018) summarizes how principals in high-need schools in several countries (Australia, Belize, Mexico, New Zealand, United States) deal with the internal and external contextual factors influencing student and teacher performance. These six studies examine the relationship between leadership and context, an important area of study since this interplay can determine success and failure (Clarke & O’Donoghue, 2016). Successful leaders understand the context in which they work and can navigate the various levels of context to forge successful outcomes, while other leaders can be constrained or derailed by the context.
One of the studies of a high-need school in the USA identifies the critical contextual challenges principals experience, including national policy changes affecting privatization and reduced resources for public schools, unequitable allocation of support in high-poverty areas, high principal turnover, and inadequate leadership preparation. The school leader addressed these challenges by developing a positive culture of learning through use of quality data, increased community engagement, improved climate and higher teacher quality.
A second study examines the leadership of three underperforming schools in Australia. The authors identify six layers of context: institutional, community, socio-cultural, economic, political, and school improvement. The leaders of each of the schools worked within these six contextual dimensions to improve school performance despite the fact that two schools were in educationally high-advantaged contexts, but were defined as high-need schools.
The third study explores how four leaders in an urban elementary school in a high-need urban context in South Texas have successfully improved and sustained student performance over 25 years. The findings reveal how each principal sought to understand and work within the community, school, and district context to develop interventions that improved and sustained success. Collectively, the strategies adopted by each principal were shown to build on previous success.
Leadership within an early childhood setting in a challenging social economic context in New Zealand constitutes the fourth study. The research emphasizes how these principals developed strong, nurturing relationships with parents and the community to foster a positive environment that enhanced students’ life chances.
The fifth study explores school leaders’ roles in developing a STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Math) curriculum for students in a secondary school in Belize (Central America). Despite limited resources, the two school leaders collaborated with the community to maximize ways for the STEM program to provide opportunities for students to work practically within the industry to develop career options in tourism.
The final study explores principal leadership practices within three Mexican elementary schools in high-need environments. Using a multi-perspective case study approach, the authors outline the external and internal contextual challenges principals had to navigate. These principals promoted order and discipline, clarified roles and rules, managed external support, and developed students’ self-esteem and sense of belonging.
These cases reveal school leaders’ contextual acuity by adapting their interventions or practices to suit their unique circumstances. In Belize, the two principals connected the curriculum with current interest in STEM education and the local industries that were likely to be sources of employment for students. In New Zealand, the three early childhood leaders not only focused on developing teachers, but also understood the importance of developing parents’ skills, particularly in helping them raise their children. In Australia, one of the principals in a school that was about to be closed decided to develop a student-focused learning environment by searching for “next practice” ideas, and assembling them into a coherent instructional program. The other two principals led “best practice” environments where the schools utilized ideas that were known to be effective approaches to learning. In the South Texas school with four principals over 25 years, each principal adapted to their context and built on the foundations laid by previous principals, a powerful story of how thoughtful leaders were able to read their immediate and past school contexts to continue nurturing school success.
What also emerges from these studies of contextual leadership in high-need schools is how common views of leadership describe the core practices of these principals: setting direction, developing people, redesigning the organization, and improving teaching and learning (Day & Leithwood, 2007). The ECE leaders in New Zealand set direction, developed people, and redesigned the organization as well as created positive school/family relationships. The four principals in South Texas set a clear direction for student improvement, supported teachers to improve, altered school conditions, improved teaching and learning processes, and fostered significant parent and community engagement. At the other high-need USA school, significant improvement in staff retention, curriculum, student behavior and attendance, parent involvement, and student learning outcomes resulted from the principal establishing a collaborative school vision, creating a culture of learning, and implementing incremental change in discipline, attendance, training, and curriculum implementation.
Research also demonstrates several types of organizational leaders who are sensitive to their contexts: (1) entrepreneurs are ahead of their time, not constrained by their environment, and able to overcome almost impossible barriers to develop and implement new ideas, (2) managers are skilled at understanding and exploiting their context and possess a deep understanding of how the context can shape and grow their organizations, and (3) leaders confront change and see potential in their organizations that others fail to see. In sum, “Entrepreneurs create new businesses, managers grow and optimize them, and leaders transform them at critical inflection points” (Mayo & Nohria, 2005, p. 48). Evidence of these patterns and behaviors emerge from our studies of high-need school leaders. For instance, the Australian case demonstrates that one of the principals employed entrepreneurial leadership by creating new processes, structures, and practices. In addition, the two leaders from Belize exemplified leadership and entrepreneurship by introducing an innovative STEM program for students in response to the challenges of a high-needs environment. Furthermore, the New Zealand early childhood principals showed leadership by building social capital through partnering with parents in the community. Despite the changing context at different levels at the national, state, district and community levels, the principal in the Texas case study took advantage of the educational initiatives offered at the state level to introduce a series of strategies to build a learning culture and improve teacher quality. Finally, the Mexican principals developed sound managerial strategies for improving student discipline and establishing clear school rules and roles.
Finally, several lessons about leadership and context emerge from these cases. First, leaders in high-need contexts face seemingly insurmountable obstacles; however, rather than being constrained by these contexts, they are optimistic about a better future for their students and communities. Second, by being contextually sensitive and responding with strategic interventions, they demonstrate the competence and skills to successfully manage situations and make good decisions. Third, they are adaptable to changing systemic, school, and community contexts. Together, these factors reflect school leaders’ contextual acuity.
Aspiring and practicing school leaders in high-need schools need opportunities to develop their contextual acuity. On one hand, they can shadow and interview school leaders who are adroit at reading and responding to their contexts. These observations and conversations not only can reveal how leaders are reading contextual clues, but also can uncover their problem-solving strategies. On the other hand, collaborative work groups of school leaders can be established to allow them to compare and contrast different contextual factors affecting their schools. These experiences can sensitize school leaders to consider various options when dealing with these factors to optimize learning for students, teachers, and parents.
Child Trends (2012). Adolescents who felt sad or hopeless: Indicators on children and youth. Bethesda, MD: Author.
Clarke, S., & O’Donoghue (Eds.) (2016). School leadership in diverse contexts. New York, NY: Routledge.
Day, C., & Leithwood, K. (Eds.) (2007). Successful school leadership in times of change. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer-Kluwer.
Gurr, D., & Drysdale, L. (2018). Leading high-need schools: Findings from the International School Leadership Development Network. International Studies in Educational Administration, 46(1), 147-156.
Lester, D. (2015). Hopelessness in adolescents. Journal of Affective Disorders, 173, 221-225.
Mayo, T., & Nohria, N. (2005). Zeitgeist leadership. Harvard Business Review, 83(10), 45-60.
For those of you not familiar with the way in which the UK parliament works, it has standing committees – drawn from all parties – which look at various aspects of state provision and report accordingly. Typically, these Select Committees can summon witnesses and ask for submissions from interested parties on the chosen topic. As such these reports tend to avoid political bias and are usually very robust pieces of research.
This parliamentary report looked at the ways in which alternative provision was seemingly being abused by a sharp increase in the number or permanent exclusions from mainstream schools in England. The purpose of alternative provision is to meet the needs of a wide-cross section of the pupil population, who will often arrive with complex needs and vulnerabilities and not all of whom have been excluded. In this case, the committee report appears to have been triggered by significant evidence and concerns about the over-exclusion of pupils, many of whom end up in alternative provision.
Bastions of inclusion
“Mainstream schools should be bastions of inclusion”, concluded the committee and “intentionally or not, this is not true of all mainstream schools”. The BBC analysis of the report showed pupils being excluded at the rate of 40 per day, however, with the bulk of those coming from secondary schools (83%) and the greatest proportion coming after Year 9 (i.e. during the final stage of their secondary education).
Exclusions can be:
Permanent, where a pupil is unable to stay at their current school;
Temporary, where a pupil is not allowed to attend school for a certain number of days;
Internal, where a pupil is placed in isolation and segregated from the rest of the school
Just as I reported in my previous blog there has also been an alarming increase in ‘hidden’ exclusions ranging from those whose parents have been encouraged to take their child out of school voluntarily to children being separated from their peer group and ‘taught’ in isolation. Sadly, the committee also received evidence of schools deliberately failing to identify children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), seemingly for financial reasons.
We also heard that schools are justifying permanent exclusions of pupils with SEND, by claiming that they will get the support that they need in alternative provision, and exclusion will speed up the assessment process.34 This then leads to pupils with SEND being left for long periods of time in alternative provision while the assessment takes place, which does not mean that a child’s needs are being met. (2018 Select Committee Report: p 10)
Finally, greater awareness of pupil’s mental health and well-being was resulting, it seems, in more children being identified as needing support which mainstream schools and wider support services are not able to provide. Nevertheless, children with such difficulties were often still being excluded.
Reasons for permanent exclusions
What we are witnessing in England, therefore, is a dramatic increase over the last three years of permanent exclusions with a rise of some 40% being recorded. Persistent disruptive behaviour was by far the most common reason for permanent exclusions with the effect being felt most by disadvantaged groups, but those being referred to alternative provision also include children identified as SEND, those with mental health issues and those with undiagnosed difficulties.
The analysis of exclusions seems to reflect a growing social divide with very poorest pupils, those on free school meals, being four times more likely to receive permanent exclusions than other pupils with the figures also showing that black Caribbean pupils have an exclusion rate three times higher than the school population as a whole. Meanwhile children with special educational needs support are almost seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than pupils with no SEND and boys are three times more likely to be permanently excluded than girls.
Partly the reason for rising exclusions, suggested the Select Committee report, was a shortage of funding for schools which limited their ability to be responsive to need, but there has also been an increase in zero-tolerance behaviour policies.
The evidence we have seen suggests that the rise in so called ‘zero-tolerance’ behaviour policies is creating school environments where pupils are punished and ultimately excluded for incidents that could and should be managed within the mainstream school environment. (Ibid, p 11)
The report also provided evidence (as I did in my previous blog) that government’s strong focus on school standards has led to:
… school environments and practices that have resulted in disadvantaged children being disproportionately excluded, which includes a curriculum with a lack of focus on developing pupils’ social and economic capital. There appears to be a lack of moral accountability on the part of many schools and no incentive to, or deterrent to not, retain pupils who could be classed as difficult or challenging. (Ibid, p 14)
This latter point is significantly supported by evidence from children who highlight exam stress and subject choice, along with negative impacts of social media, as impacting on their mental health and well-being.
The press for academic attainment
The committee report concludes that the press for academic attainment has probably placed stress on schools to demonstrate sustained and enhanced levels of performance on an ever-narrowing curriculum:
An unfortunate and unintended consequence of the Government’s strong focus on school standards has led to school environments and practices that have resulted in disadvantaged children being disproportionately excluded, which includes a curriculum with a lack of focus on developing pupils’ social and economic capital. There appears to be a lack of moral accountability on the part of many schools and no incentive to, or deterrent to not, retain pupils who could be classed as difficult or challenging. (Ibid, p 14)
It is too early to say whether the evidence will lead to change in practice. What we do know is that the process of ‘off-rolling’ I described in my previous blog is illegal. The problem, however, is that “the exclusions process is weighted in favour of schools and often leaves parents and pupils navigating an adversarial system that should be supporting them” (Ibid, p 40).
The report concludes with numerous recommendations to government for change, including establishing a Bill of Rights for pupils facing exclusions. My best guess? This will disappear in terms of government priority because of the forthcoming Brexit and disadvantaged and vulnerable children will continue to be denied access to high quality provision in mainstream schools. I will be delighted if I am wrong.
Dr. Corinne Brion from the University of Dayton sends a letter about her recent experience working with school leaders in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Neowongo! (Welcome in Mooré, one of the 59 dialects spoken in Burkina Faso, West Africa).
Tonight, I’m leaving Burkina Faso. I’m at Ouagadougou’s international airport reflecting on my experiences in the land of the ‘Incorruptible People.’ Burkina Faso is the size of Colorado and has approximately 19 million inhabitants. It’s a former French colony and like many countries in Africa gained its independence in 1960. Burkina Faso ranks 183 out of 188 on the Human Development index (which measures the capability of people to live long happy healthy lives, and to have access to education).
To better understand the educational needs of Burkina Faso, it’s important to take into consideration the following data. Burkina Faso’s literacy rate—defined as people over 15 years old who can read and write—is 36% (CIA, 2016) and 3.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on education. Burkina Faso uses the French education model for all levels of education, unless the school is part of an international system. There are six levels of the elementary system exclusive of kindergarten (la maternelle). Kindergarten classes exist for children age three to six but they are mainly located in large cities and are under-developed.
The Education System in Burkina Faso (CIA, 2016)
Language of Instruction
6 years of Primary
(CP1,CP2, CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2)
4 years of Junior
(sixième, cinquième, quatrième and troisième)
3 years of Senior
(Seconde, Premiere, Terminale)
Literacy Rate in %
(15-24 years old).
I’ve been fortunate to work part-time in Burkina Faso for the past 5 years. Our task here has been to build the capacity of school leaders. School administrators in Low-Fee Private Schools (LFPSs) rarely have any formal training and in most instances they are not educators. Because a training is as good as its material and trainers, a team from the University of San Diego developed contextualized research-based educational leadership materials in which adult learning theories are embedded; we train local school leaders, train local trainers through a Train the Trainers model (TOT) and conduct research (see our earlier posts: A Model for Leadership Training and the Missing Link on Learning Transfer.
This week, I was asked to oversee a three-day leadership training that focused on the Conditions for Learning (Table 2 outlines the topics covered during this leadership training). In order to enhance the
transfer of knowledge post training, we conduct all trainings using an active learning approach. Trainees participate in a case study, work in groups and spend time reflecting about their schools.
At the end of each day, participants also complete a School Development Plan or “Plan d’Action.”
The co-facilitators for the training were two Burkinabe colleagues who are still learning the materials and were working alongside a Ghanaian colleague and trainer. To find quality facilitators we work with local universities and schools. Our local-co-facilitators are carefully selected and are educators by training. Most of them are university professors in an educational leadership department. Each training is led by 2 facilitators who take turns between facilitating and being the lead and co-facilitating. We have developed Pedagogical Notes to outline the roles of the facilitator and co-facilitator. When potential facilitators first work with us, they come to the training and observe the entire training session. They also participate in daily debriefing meetings. If they remain interested in the work and content of the materials, they become co-facilitators the next time the training is offered and teach about 25% of the content. They are teamed up with an experience facilitator who can offer their support and feedback. Again, at the end of each day, there is a debriefing session that provides time for reflection. The second time a facilitator-in-training teaches, s/he will facilitate for approximately 50 % of the time. The third time a person teaches about 75% of the content and after that they become full-fledged facilitators. In addition to the daily debriefing and feedback sessions, the lead facilitator writes a feedback letter at the end of the training for his/her co-facilitator. To help with the letters and the language one should use in order to give constructive feedback, we developed a TOT guide containing sample letters, language that might be used, position descriptions as well as the selection process and the roles of both facilitators, co-facilitators and observers.
The Three Modules of the School Leadership Training: The Conditions for Learning
Day 1: Module 1:
Title: Building a Culture of Learning
· Writing a mission statement.
· Creating an invitational school culture.
· Parents and families as partners.
Day 2 morning: Module 2a:
Title: Health and Wellness
· Clean water.
· Disease prevention.
· Working with the community.
Day 2 afternoon: Module 2b:
Title: Facilities and Safety
· School construction: indoors and outside.
· Acoustics and ventilation.
· Kitchen facilities
· School safety
Day 3: Module 3:
Title: Teacher Recruitment, Induction and Professional Development
· Values and dispositions of quality teachers.
· Recruiting and hiring quality teachers.
· Teacher retention and development.
· Supporting teachers and staff.
This evening after three intense days of training, I feel content. Participants were excited about the content of the modules, they acquired practical ideas and tools to help them with their schools and they networked with each other. Our local trainers are progressing in their learning and I had the chance to meet some leaders who had attended the training three years ago. They told me that they continue to transfer the content of the modules to their schools. That is music to my ears!
The other day my husband stated in an exasperated voice: “So, you got an advanced degree and you work in schools in sub-Saharan Africa and South America yet all you talk about are toilets. Isn’t that a waste of your education? Shouldn’t you be spending your time figuring out how to improve student achievement?”
Well, it jolted me for a few seconds and then I responded—but that’s what I am doing! It’s taken me years to understand that, yes—high quality teaching and strong school leadership will lead to improved student learning outcomes—but the school’s physical learning environment—the conditions for learning come first. Sanitation and nutrition are the foundation for learning and that’s why I have taken hundreds of photos of bathrooms and kitchens in schools around the world– so I can focus on student learning. Maybe my understanding of the importance of good sanitation and healthy children –washrooms and kitchens– is a key reason I did get degrees in education.
Over the last few years of working in mostly low-fee private schools in low and middle-income nations, I’ve come to understand that you can’t have a school with students successfully learning, without having a school with clean toilets. Of course, the corollary is not necessarily true, clean toilets do not equal improved learning. But, I am sure that each child and adult in a school having access to toilets that are clean, and in sufficient number for enrollment, is a basic condition for improving student learning. And by clean, at a minimum I mean– they don’t smell, there isn’t exposed dirty paper and there are no flies.
According to UNICEF – In 60 countries in the developing world, more than half of primary schools have no adequate water facilities and nearly two thirds lack adequate sanitation. Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and lack of hygiene not only affect the health, safety, and quality of life of children; they also claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five who die each year from diarrhea.
The research is clear. Schools with better sanitation facilities report higher attendance and overall better health for children. We know that providing better water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools reduces hygiene-related diseases and can help curb absenteeism due to missing school because of diarrhea. We also know that girls are reluctant to continue their schooling when toilets and washing facilities are either unavailable or are not private, safe, and clean.
According to the United Nations and UNICEF, one in five girls of primary-school age are not in school, compared to one in six boys. One factor accounting for this difference is the lack of sanitation facilities for girls reaching puberty. The installation of toilets and latrines may enable school children, especially menstruating girls, to further their education by remaining in school (see our March 2018 blog). If girls at puberty do not feel safe by having access to a private toilet area and if we do not provide access for students with disabilities, then absenteeism increases.
I’ve visited many schools that are oases for children. In far too many cases schools
are surrounded by extreme poverty, thus all types of services such as good roads, adequate drainage, easily available clean
drinking water, etc. are missing. Schools and the adults working in them are role models for youth and sanitation is key because poor sanitary conditions can lead to disease and minimal learning.
So, what can school leaders do to ensure that children and adults in schools are learning and teaching in sanitary conditions?
Here are some of the strategies we discussed with school leaders and trainers during a recent workshop:
Make the School Leadership Team (Head Teachers, Directors, Coordinators, Proprietors, and others) aware of the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools. They have an important role to play through their work with teachers and other staff, schoolchildren, and families. Provide guidance and support so that they can promote the development and maintenance of a healthy school environment.
Find out if your country has school facility standards (E.g., Ghana, Peru, and Rwanda have guidelines while Burkina Faso and Liberia do not.). Usually the standards are posted on the Ministry of Education’s website or ask your local district supervisor. If standards do not exist here is a great resource: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Schools in Low-cost Settings http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/wash_standards_school.pdf
Create a School Improvement Plan that includes setting targets for water, sanitation and hygiene. If you can’t make all the changes immediately, prioritize the improvements and phase them in so that the most urgent problems are targeted immediately, and other changes can subsequently be phased in.
Provide sanitation and hygiene training and supervision to all adults. Staff training is crucial and the goal is a healthy school environment. Since teachers and other staff are role models for students, be sure to give these topics a central place in in-service teacher training.
Develop and enforce school sanitation rules and procedures. Once the washrooms and toilets are ready for use create a maintenance plan and be sure to regularly monitor the facilities. Assign someone (or a group) to be responsible for daily cleaning; include who is responsible when the sink or toilet are not working or if there are problems with the water.
Support the provision of consumables, such as soap.
Encourage parents to support these efforts. Work with the Parent-Teacher Association and provide parent education programs on hygiene, nutrition and sanitation.
Partner with community groups or NGOs to build water and toilet facilities for the students and the surrounding community to use.
Every child—and teacher— has a right to a school with clean water and sanitary toilets!
Once the basic conditions for learning are ensured, then we can focus on why we are at school—to optimize learning.
This blog reminds me of the Akilah Institute that I recently visited in Rwanda. Akilah is a remarkable two-year college for women who will be future Rwandan leaders. This blog describes an initiative that also is playing a key role in creating a pipeline for future leaders, but in this case NCCHC is identifying and supporting Latino(a) leadership.
“Preparing strong leaders for the future is the primary purpose of the National Community College Hispanic Council’s Leadership Fellows Program,” said NCCHC President, and Chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges-Tempe, Arizona, Maria Harper Marinick. She further states “A demographic shift is occurring in the United States and we are preparing new leaders who can model the way for the growing Hispanic population our community colleges serve. Through this program, Fellows gain the necessary knowledge and skills they need to lead higher education into the future and positively impact the economic and civic success of their respective communities.”
Here we’d like to share with you a unique community college leadership development program targeting future Latino/a leaders and solicit your nominations for the next cohort!
A bit of historical background
NCCHC is an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges, a national organization that has provided leadership to the community college movement for the past half-century. The Council, which was established 30 years ago, works to promote the educational interests and success of the Hispanic community and emphasizes access, equity and excellence for students and staff in community colleges. One of the first ventures was to offer a leadership development program, with support from the Ford Foundation. Of the original 72 Fellows, more than 15 became community college presidents and many others have moved to positions of increased responsibility as executive level administrators. Since the program’s inception, more than 250 community college administrators have participated as Leadership Fellows.
Today, twelve of the 65 Latino community college CEOs nationwide are former NCCHC Fellows, and the program’s national impact on the leadership pipeline continues to grow. During a recent 16-month program, at least 42 former Fellows were promoted, including three vice chancellors; eight presidents; seven vice presidents; 12 deans and 12 directors. Additionally, two former Fellows now serve as vice chancellors at four-year institutions.
From 2003-2009 NCCHC was housed at North Carolina State University under the supervision of Dr. Leila Gonzalez-Sullivan, retired President of Community College of Baltimore County-Essex Campus. Then, from 2010-2013 NCCHC moved to California State University, Long Beach under the leadership of Dr. Bill Vega, retired Chancellor of the Coast Community College District. Since 2014, the NCCHC Fellows Program has been housed at the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences under our direction: Ted Martinez, a retired Superintendent/President of Rio Hondo College is NCCHC’s Director, and Reyes Quezada, NCCHC’s Associate Director, is a USD Professor.
Annually the program Identifies 20-25 potential community college presidential aspirants and provides year-long learning opportunities. The 2018 cohort is comprised of 24 Fellows (11 males and 13 females) all have a master’s degree and ten hold doctorates. They include community college vice-presidents, executive directors, deans, and directors from nine different states: AZ (5), CA (4), FL (2), IL (1), NJ (1), CO, (1), TX (8), NY (1), and WA (1).
Fellows participate in two residential learning seminars that meet for four days in early June and another four days in early October. The October meeting links with the annual NCCHC conference and many of the Fellows present at the conference. NCCHC participants develop an individual plan of action since the program includes a one-year mentoring experience with a seasoned community college
leader and helps Fellows build professional networks that advance their career aspirations. There are various online activities in between the two residential seminars.
The curriculum is learner-centered and based on the AACC Competencies for Community College Leaders. Various sessions are presented by community college Latina(o) chancellors, presidents and other high-level administrators or community college board members. Some of the topics include: organizational strategy, institutional effectiveness, communication, collaboration and the change process, crisis and conflict management, cultural proficiency and diversity, strategic planning, finances and facilities, as well as professionalism. Individual sessions and the overall program are evaluated annually and the results are presented to the NCCHC Board of Directors.
We all know that ’the proof is in the pudding.’ NCCHC participant testimonials include hundreds of statements and stories of how the program made a difference in their professional as well as their personal journeys. Participants express their excitement in becoming leaders who represent the Latino community for the betterment of all community college students.
Creating a Latino(a) Leadership Pipeline
There is a great need to have strong leadership programs to prepare community college leaders for the 21st century since many current administrators will be retiring. According to some estimates, 50%-75% of community college presidents will retire by 2020. A 2015 AACC report indicates that out of the 961 community college presidents nationwide, the number of Hispanic CEOs was only 4%; 53% were White, 9% African-American, and 2% Asian. Thus, it is imperative that leadership development programs be created to increase the pipeline of Latina(o) leaders in higher education. So how do we do this?
First, we need to design and identify effective recruitment strategies. This can be done by:Developing strategies to increase the number of Hispanic executive administrators and presidents in community colleges.
Creating mechanisms to increase the visibility of Hispanic administrators and CEOs in order to attract greater number of Hispanic students to these institutions.
Creating mechanisms and programs (such as the NCCHC Fellows Program) to develop a cadre of Hispanic leaders that can serve as role models and decision-makers.
Why is it crucial to have such a pipeline program for Latino(a) Community College leaders?
First, demographics show that Latinos were the second largest racial/ethnic group in the U.S. in 2012; 17% of the total U.S. population compared to Whites at 63% (NCES, Digest of Education Status, 2013). By 2060, the Latino population is projected to increase to 31%, while Whites will represent 43% (U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division). In 2011, Hispanics represented 24% of K-12 education enrollment and are projected to represent 30% by 2030 (NCES, Digest of Education Statistics, 2011).
In Fall 2012, Hispanics were the second highest group enrolled in community colleges at 20%; Whites represented 54%, African-American 15%, Asians 6% (NCES Digest of Education Statistics, 2013), and in 2012, almost half (46%) of Latino students in higher education were enrolled in public institutions and 3% in private two-year institutions; compared to African-Americans (34%), Asians (32%), and Whites (31%) (NCES, Digest of Education Statistics, 2013).
Second, the Latino managerial and administrative staff in all colleges and universities are not proportional to the presence of this group in the general population. In 2018 a report by the Los Angeles-based Campaign for College Opportunity found that 44% of the students in California’s community colleges are Hispanic while the faculty is 15% Hispanic. California has 114 community college presidents and/or chancellors, only 17 are Hispanic.
A Call to Action! Help Us Recruit New Fellows
Each year, we mail information letters to all Community College Presidents informing them of the program so they can identify and sponsor an eligible Fellow. The eligibility criteria include currently holding an administrative position and aspiring to become a community college president; a Master’s degree is required and a doctorate preferred.
Please help us Identify potential community college leaders at your institutions. You can begin by establishing a mentoring program at your college. Mentor one potential leader whose goal is the presidency. Make a special effort to identify diverse candidates. Provide financial support for internships, travel, seminars, etc. Promote and collaborate with area leadership graduate programs and support the NCCHC Fellows Program and other similar programs.
Valuing diversity means understanding that everyone does not experience the world in the same way, and that the richness of these differing experiences will improve the quality of life for all… Valuing diversity means getting over the issue of race and gender, and focusing on the best interests of the institution and the community when selecting a college president. (The Community College Presidency at the Millennium, George Vaughn)