Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Steve Myran

Committee Member

Kala Burrell-Craft

Committee Member

Judith Dunkerly


With the continued transformation of the cultural landscape of America and the recognition of the importance of our diverse communities, schools and educational leaders across the country must transform and grow to be reflective of this diverse world. Because it has been demonstrated that principals have a profound impact on instruction and student learning, facilitating the implementation of culturally relevant pedagogies can play a critical role in developing and sustaining effective urban schools. However, there is an undertheorized tension between the inequality regimes of managerialism and the goals of culturally responsive school leadership, highlighting that the undergirding theories of action of managerialism are conceptually and practically incongruent with the core mission of equity and social justice. This literature begs the question, is social justice and equity possible under the auspices of scientific management and colonization? This study, drawing on qualitative and ethnographic methods, explored how school leaders committed to the principles of cultural competence and culturally responsive practices navigated these incongruent theories of action in their day to day work as agents of equality and equity. Analysis unearthed a tiered model where, at the center, the school leaders eagerly and intuitively adopted culturally responsive practices and readily saw the value, not only for students' learning and growth, but in guiding and facilitating a healthy learning environment for all. However, in the outer tiers of the model these educators encountered organizational and structural obstacles which were primarily rooted in traditional managerial oriented norms, values, and beliefs. Scientific management and its influences on organizational practices represented a host of barriers, both theoretical and practical, that limited the kind of free exchange of cultural resources and knowledge that is needed in a diverse world.


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