Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Lisa Starr


Diversity is what gives our society depth and arguably beauty but it also problematizes already complex social issues like the importance and value placed on the education. In part, this challenge exists because public education is founded on the “values and belief systems of the dominant cultural and linguistic class” (Goddard & Hart, 2007, p. 16) yet schools are a complex, heterogeneous weave of cultures (Murakami-Ramalho, 2008). According to Chambers (2003), Canadian students are “probably the most ethnically, racially, linguistically, and religiously diverse of any school population in the world” (p. 223). This is no less true in the United States where one third of the school population is considered ethnically, linguistically or culturally diverse (Ladson-Billings, 2005). In European countries, the growth of the population has also shifted towards greater diversity; Switzerland, for example is now 20% foreign born (Levin, 2008). Despite this reality, schools leaders struggle to find ways to address the needs of culturally diverse students and their families (Bazron, Osher & Fleischman, 2005; Goddard & Hart, 2007); this challenge creates conflict in schools, particularly for those charged with their leadership.


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