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The Relationship Between Motivation, Recruitment, and Principal Retention Essay

Updated August 9, 2022

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The Relationship Between Motivation, Recruitment, and Principal Retention Essay essay

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I have work in education for 19 years, with varying experiences that have brought highs and lows. My journey began as a teacher of science, where I enjoyed the impact and effect I had on young middle schoolers. However, as I grew in the field of education, my hunger to increase my effect grew. This began a new chapter in my as I work toward gaining a position in education administration, a world that I found to be full of unknowns and unspoken rules all of which genuinely rooted in the culture and climate of the community.

All my life I have heard that education need more black males in the school. Therefore, I was confident that my future was bright. However, it was a challenge to just get in the door. This was when I was finally confronted with the possibility of inconspicuous systematic barriers, which hinder promotion and upward momentum. I continued to reflect and ask myself questions. Did I read the wrong playbook? Was there something I am missing? Was there a set of rules that I was breaking? Fortunately, before I could discover the answer, I was recommended for an administrative position. However, this experience created the path I would like to travel to help others who wish to enter the field by creating relevant literature on this subject.

I am not the only one who noticed this disturbing trend, since the issue of diversity in K-12 educational leadership has been acknowledged as a systemic problem for a multitude of years (Hooker & Kessinger, 2007). The effect of the Brown Supreme Court decision, which desegregated schools (Karpinski, 2006), may be one reason why it is particularly difficult for African American males to become school administrators. This decision allowed blacks and whites to apply to the same jobs, which seemed to be consistent with a decline in black administrators with a rise in white ones (Displacement, 1971). This historical trend coupled with my own experiences makes a compelling case for the existence of inconspicuous systemic barriers in the hiring process of K-12 school administrators. This research will investigate these possible barriers in more depth, specifically in regards to how they may be making it more difficult for African American males to land jobs in school administration.

African American males who wish to go into school administration face pathological employment discrimination that is culturally rooted (Graham & Erwin, 2011). Furthermore, having black males in positions of power is important for supporting African American male students, while the lack thereof could be contributing to the failure of these students (Kapinski, 2006). Addressing the gap in terms of the number of white and black school administrators is therefore of the utmost importance, since more opportunity for African American males in school administration could both help those individuals progress in their careers and help their students achieve in the classroom.

The difficulty that African American males experience in getting hired as school administrators and principles was addressed by Karpinski (2006). In her incredibly relevant article, the plight of African American principals since the Brown decision was analyzed. The publication concluded that even under direct orders from the federal government, state and local government systematically created barriers and challenges to dismiss or demote African American principals (Karpinski, 2006). The idea that states may be making it more difficult for these individuals to advance in education administration has been found elsewhere as well, with some results showing that states utilized certification structures that were culturally biased (Baker, 2001).

Furthermore, as legislation meant to level the job field between whites and blacks was introduced, other measures have been consistently brought forward which rendered any progress moot. In particular the NTE has been pointed out as a piece of legislation that was biased against minority educators (Baker, 2001; Futrell, 1986). Because of these trends, entering the school administration field has proved far more difficult for African American males than the qualifications and desires of this population to enter this field should warrant. Racism persists in modern society as a color line that makes it harder for African Americans to gain promotions in their fields (Banks, 2007).

The lack of African Americans males in administrative positions can be connected to an insufficient number of individuals from this population in teaching positions as well (Murray, 1993). Ironically, Murray (1993) also identified the fact that teaching was seen as a stereotypical occupation for African Americans as a reason why they were not being found in administrative positions. This fact may indicate that African Americans get stuck in teaching positions even when they desire to move into more leadership oriented roles. Certification exam requirements were pinpointed as another contributing factor to the lack of African Americans in administrative roles (Murray, 1993), however low compensation was not mentioned. Considering the socioeconomic climate at that time though, it can be safe to assume that pay was a factor.

At the turn of the century the issues of a dearth of minority individuals in school leadership positions persisted (Richard, 2000). Furthermore, it was not just academics making this assertion. In an article by Richard (2000) Andre Hornsby, the superintendent for the Yonkers, New York school district, was interviewed. In this interview Hornsby acknowledged that many well-qualified minority candidates who hold jobs as assistant superintendents or principals and often are not considered for the top positions although they would make excellent superintendents, saying “An insufficiently tapped supply of superintendent candidates may be found among educators who are women and members of minority groups” (Richard, 2000, p. 3). It has now been almost twenty years since that article was written, but school leadership still does not have a sufficient number of minority individuals in positions of power.

In a speech at Howard University former Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. challenged the current trend of diversity gaps in public education leadership and administration (2016). Secretary King called for research that supports the idea that students of color benefit from familiarity in the classroom and school, and a new age of education that fosters an atmosphere of genuine diversity in the school setting. His comments highlight the benefit of diversity, as well as having more leadership that looks familiar, in a school system and concluded by posing the following question to the nation, ‘How do we address this quickly and thoughtfully?’ (King, 2016).

Statistics also back up the fact that there is a lack of African American in school administration positions. In the 2011-2012 school year it was found that 80% of public school principals were white, while only 10% were black (King, Mcintosh, & Bell-Ellwanger, 2016). Overall it has been found the 26% of school administrators are African American or black, which is actually a pretty high considering this population makes up 23% of the U.S. workforce (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2016).

However, these numbers clearly show inconsistency between the number of African American school administrators and school leaders who get promoted to the highest positions in their organizations. This research seeks to address this apparent gap in promotion, which has not received sufficient consideration in the literature. My personal experience working as an African American male school administrator coupled with the research outlined above points to insidious mechanism that make it more difficult for black individuals to gain promotion in this field though. Furthermore, this research will serve as a guide to other African American males who wish to pursue a career in school administration in regards to the barriers they are likely to face and how these barriers can be overcome.

Although it is easy to find research looking into the needs of the African American student population, studies dealing with the reasons why African American males may or may not succeed in becoming principles or high level school administrators are severely lacking. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st this topic was paid greater attention through multiple studies (Baker, 2001; Brown, 2005; Kapinski, 2006; Murray, 1993; Richard, 2000), however little modern research exists that looks at this issue within contemporary society. Some recent research has been done that deals with the issue of African American female promotion within the school administration field (Robinson, Shakeshaft, Grogan, & Newcomb, 2017), as well as the challenges faced specifically by Asian American women in this field (Liang & Peters-Hawkins, 2017; Liang, Sottile, & Peters, 2015).

These studies may concentrate on a population that is separate from the one of interest in this study, but are still useful as examples of how research into the underrepresentation of minorities within school administration can be studied. This is especially true because gender notwithstanding, minorities are underrepresented within the population of administrators (Robinson et al., 2017). This fact has been shown to be true within the context of higher education leadership (Wolfe & Dilworth, 2015) as well as within K-12 public schools (King et al., 2016). There is clearly a need for research in the topic of African American school leadership, and calls for more investigation in this area have recently been made (King, 2016). For these reasons this research seeks to address the specific problem of the promotion of African American males to high level administration positions in K-12 schools, an issue that directly affects the lives of many individuals but has been given very little attention within the literature.

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to investigate the tools and strategies that African American male public school leaders have used to advance up the career ladder in predominately white schools and school districts, and the factors that motivated them to do so. The study will give an enlightened perspective on support structures, experiences, and obstacles that accompany the job of an administrator, with a specific concentration on those factors that are particular to the population of African American males within this field.

This cohort faces greater racism than others, discrimination which may impacting their promotion as school administrators. The variables of relevance to this study will work to measure the lived experiences of the study cohort, so that a nuanced perspective of the what it is like to be an African American male in the field of school administration can be gained. Findings from this study will help to fill a gap in the literature that fails to investigate African American educational leaders and might be a critical resource in the development of an administrator’s handbook or etiquette guide for minority school administrators.

The current social climate in the nation has ratcheted up the pressure to appear culturally progressive, while undertones of discrimination continue to influences the modern workplace (Robinson et al., 2017). The discrimination is varied, situational, and subjective, which may make it seem innocent on the surface. However, this atmosphere of discrimination may negatively impact the employee and organizational relationship, and therefore need to be understood so that the inherent micro-aggressions may be mitigated. With this in mind, Critical Race Theory and the Black Identity Development model have been chosen as the theoretical underpinnings of the current research.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) provides a model for understanding the unique position that those who have been culturally disadvantaged and marginalized because of their race occupy specifically within the context of the United States (Barnes, 1990). This theory was first purposed in the 1970s by Bell and Freeman, a pair of researchers who were particularly troubled by a continued lack of racial reform (Delgado, 1995). Based on a earlier legal movement called Critical Legal Studies (CLS) (Brown & Jackson, 2013), CTR attempts to account for this by acknowledging that that racism is ordinary within the society of the United States (Delgado, 1995).

Therefore, because racism is heavily intertwined within the fabric of our society, CRT aids in the unmasking and exposing of racism in multiple settings. With this in mind, African American male administrators likely face the same obstacles that their White counterparts face along with other obstacles rooted specifically in their ethnicity. CRT allows the researcher to ‘analyze the myths, presuppositions and received wisdoms that make up the common culture about race and that invariably render blacks and other minorities one-down’ (Delgado, p.xiv 1995). The use of CRT will help to promote a genuine discussion of the unspoken assumptions of racism in the educational field through the storytelling process.

Along with CRT, Jackson’s (2000) BID model will be used to guide this study. This model consists of five stages: 1) Naive, 2) Acceptance, 3) Resistance, 4) Redefinition, and 5) Internalization (Jackson, 2000). This perspective provides a metric by which to measure to growth of a black male and can be conceptualized as beginning in the infancy of a career or at the beginning stage of promotion, with step has new challenges and new responsibilities (Jackson, 2000). The BID model allows the researcher to analyze different strategies to overcome the issues that may exist in the CRT perspective. Furthermore, the two theories work well together as a means of explaining the particular experiences of the cohort in this study, who are highly successful African American males.

This study will use a descriptive, qualitative research method as opposed to a statistical, quantitative method. More specifically, the data will be collected through interviews and analyzed phenomenologically. A qualitative analysis was chosen because this type of research design concentrates on the experiences of individuals, looking for meaning in those experiences rather than finding correlation between particular variables (Merriam, 2009). Furthermore, qualitative studies are especially useful in the study of phenomena that has not already been robustly investigated since these methods more easily foster the identification of baseline knowledge (Ritchie & Ormston, 2013). The current study has little recent precedent, so qualitative methods that distill the background mechanism that influence the promotion of African American males within the field of public school administration must be implemented before specific variable correlations can be investigated through quantitative measures.

Phenomenology was chosen as the design for the qualitative study since this approach prioritizes the lived experiences of participants, granting them validity from the perspective that individuals understand their own lives better than anyone else (Merriam & Tisdell, 2015). This design is most appropriate because the current research seeks to understand the perceived road blocks to promotion that African Americans experience in public school administration in contrast to their white peers. Furthermore, the formulation of this research is based off my own lived experiences in this field. Data collection will occur through open-ended interviews, which is a key method for conducting phenomenological research (Petty, Thomson, & Stew, 2012).

Participants for this study will be selected using criterion sampling, which lays out criteria that participants must adhere to so that they are sure to have knowledge of the phenomena under investigation (Mayhew, 2004). For inclusion in the current study participants must identify as African American or black non-Hispanic males, and hold a leadership position within a majority white school or school district. These parameters will provide a relevant context for studying how school leaders who are African American males perceive the road blocks they face when moving up the career ladder in contrast to their white peers.

Data on the concepts of interest to this study will be gathered through interviews of seven African American public school administrators from Central and Eastern North Carolina. These interviews will be open-ended and contain questions designed to gain insight into the tools and strategies used, challenges and obstacles faced, and motivations of African American male public school administrators. Furthermore, this research seeks to qualify whether the experiences of African American administrators differ from those of their white peers. Data will be collected using voice recording software during one 90-minute interview session with each participant, and later transcribed and coded. The method of organizing phenomenological data put forth by Moustakas (1994) will assist in the coding process.

As a means of enhancing the utility of the data and conclusions provided by this study a few assumptions will be made. These assumptions will remain consistent within all aspects of this study. The first is that participants responded with accurate information that is a reflection of their experiences and motivation for entering the field of educational administration. This is a central tenant of phenomenology, which as a design method assumes participant responses to be credible and accurate (Burns and Grove 1999).

Another assumption made by this research is that all participants meet the guidelines for inclusion in this study. This guidelines are that they are African American males and that hold an administrative leadership position in a predominately white school or school district. Like the last assumption, this one credits participants with honestly portraying themselves to researchers.

Finally, this research will assume that the experiences of African American male public school administrators differ from that of their female counterparts. This assumption is made because gender can exercise influence over experience and resources (Robinson et al., 2017). For this reason different phenomena should be studied in gendered ways so that a full picture of the issue can emerge. This assumption therefore backs up the utility and need for the particular cohort of interest to this research.

The participants in this study were delimited by the individual experiences of African-American principals and assistant principals in building level administrative positions in a selected school district of Central/Eastern North Carolina. Therefore the sample was drawn from Kindergarten – 12th-grade public school moreover, district-level administrators in Central/Eastern North Carolina school districts. Furthermore, this research will only include males who fit the above description. It should be noted that this leaves out all African American female public school administrators. This decision was made because it is likely that African American males and females have distinct experiences within the field of public school administration.

This research will also be delimitated by its nature as a qualitative phenomenological study. The data collected through this research seeks to gain insight into the lived experiences of participants. The goal here is not to create concrete connections between variables, but rather to draw general conclusions about important trends in the advancement of African American male’s public school administration careers. In this way the goals of this research are more aligned with creating a template for future studies than concrete pronouncements about the relevant mechanisms and variables. For this reason the participants’ reflections and experiences are not generalized to all African American males in school leadership or other public school administrators outside of this geographical area. However, this research may serve as a valuable resource for future studies on this subject and for the creation of materials designed to help and inform that who work in school administration.

A final delimitation is set by the theoretical frameworks that has been chosen to guide the current research. These are CIT and BID, which have been found to be most relevant to the study at hand. Another theoretical framework that could have been selected is intersectionality, which works to account for the multitude of identities that one individual can hold (Liang & Peters-Hawkins, 2017). However, since the selected frameworks of CIT and BID are specifically concerned blacks within society (Delgado, 1995; Jackson, 2000), which is an idea under investigation in the current study, those frameworks are more readily applicable.

The transferability of the results from the current research is limited by the fact that this research in one of the first to investigate the lived experiences of African American male public school administrators. The results can therefore work as a template to guide further research on this subject but should not be thought of as easily transferable to populations other than the one specifically being studied. This research is also limited by its design as a qualitative phenomenological study, which will yield data that more nuanced and less precise than that gained through quantitative investigation.

Currently, there is a limited and outdated body of literature on the experiences of African American male administrators and more specifically, on the motivational, support, and racial factors that either hinder or promote their employment and routine leadership (Baker, 2001; Brown, 2005; Kapinski, 2006; Murray, 1993; Richard, 2000). This study can aid not only aspiring African American heads, but also school board members who need to understand the positive impact that African American school heads can make in their school and the community.

The findings of the study will provide helpful insight into the world of an African American male administrator in public schools by identifying the motivating factors, common obstacles, perceived stereotypes, and roles played by African American males in education as they climb the ladder to administrative appointments. Insight will also be gained into the differences in the experience of African American administrators and their white counterparts. The results from this research will be readily applicable to future research into this topic. They will also help guide the creation of an administrator’s etiquette handbook that will be developed to help future educators seeking promotion,

African American men and women have historically been underrepresented and underappreciated in educational leadership (Banks, 2007). Currently, in the education field, demographics show a field heavily dominated by white males and females (King et al., 2016; Robinson et al., 2017). Despite this trend little research has been done looking at the unique experiences that African Americans encounter when they decide to enter this particular field. This research aims to begin closing this gap and hopes to encourage more investigation into this particular topic.

In this study, I will provide local school districts, educators, and universities with information and recommendations to motivate and support future African American male school administrators in the surrounding geographical area to become leaders in majority White school districts. In the context of this study, I will discuss how the Critical Race Theory and their racial identity relates to their leadership experience. The study will subsequently aid school districts in understanding how African American male administrators view their roles on K-12 school campuses and their rationale for their actions and behavior. The study will also demonstrate the benefits of having African American males in leadership roles in majority White school districts to close the achievement gap.

In Chapter 2, I will provide an overview of the literature about African American male administrators. The chapter details the research of African Americans in schools in all roles from maintenance, teacher, and leadership. The chapter will also highlight characteristic norms of African American men in their local schools and their involvement in the district level educational system.

In chapter 3, I will describe in detail the methodological approach I will use in this qualitative study. I will present the research approach, participants, data collection procedures, data analysis procedure, trustworthiness criteria, limitations, and delimitations. Chapter 4 is dedicated to the profiles of the pseudonym study participants who participated in this study. These profiles allow the reader to understand the otherwise unspoken truly. The reader will gain a deeper understanding of who these men are as individuals and as school leaders. The chapter will analyze the responses and coding from the qualitative study to develop themes and connections.

The findings from this study are presented and discussed in chapter 5. The emerging themes from the chapter analysis will be in-depth discussed. Possible themes could be natural transitions from a teacher to leadership, different standards of measurement, mentorship of future administrators, and the dissecting of each participant’s Black identity development is also provided in this chapter.

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