Does Racism Exist in the Hiring and Promotion of K-12 School Administrators?


Phillip A. Smith

Teachers College, Columbia University


There is an absence of any extensive examination of the ways in which agency, White conferred dominance, and racial stratification perpetuate inequalities in access to educational leadership positions by Black Americans. Through an integrative review, and analysis of national data sets, this paper explores the extent to which differing levels of racism - individual, institutional or cultural, exist in the hiring and promotion of K-12 school administrators. Utilizing a critical race theory (CRT) epistemological approach, as well as a historicizing of knowledge analytical approach, the paper illustrates that despite significant gains through the Civil Rights movement, African Americans continue to be denied equitable access to senior school administrative positions. The paper also examines the social and economic cost of maintaining racism within this area of public services. The paper concludes with a response to the entitled question Does racism exist in the hiring and promotion of K-12 school administrators?

Keywords: African American, School administrator selection, racial bias and discrimination


The challenges in adequately responding to the leadership crisis facing schools and school districts are multi-faceted. There is some evidence of a supply problem (Thomson, 2009, p.31) in the pipeline of education and school administrators (DeAngelis & OConnor, 2012). As Pounder, Galvin, and Shepherd (2003) report, there are a multiplicity of both independent and intentional factors that may contribute to perceptions or misperceptions of a supply problem or shortage of suitably qualified school administrators. The school leadership is an aging workforce: over 50 percent of currently serving principals, the group most likely to progress to more senior administrative roles, reaches retirement age within the next few years (Papa, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2002). Whilst there are greater numbers of individuals suitably qualified to enter administration positions, decreasing numbers of certified individuals seek these senior administration positions (DeAngelis & OConnor, 2012).

Also, there is a need to increase diversity and representation of senior school leaders comparable to student, and wider community populations (Alston, 2000; Tallerico, 2000). The demographic, racial and cultural context of the U.S. is a rapidly changing one, with public schools moving from monocultural non-diverse contexts to serving more heterogeneous and diverse student cohorts (Jones, 2002; Noguera, 2003). It is estimated that that by the year 2020, only 49% of the school-age population will be White (Karpinski, 2006; Riehl, 2000). Brown (2005) and others (Jones, 2002) have argued that: schools in a racially diverse society will require leaders and models of leadership that will address the racial, cultural, and ethnic makeup of the school community (Brown, 2005, p. 585).

Yet, there is evidence of significant under-representation of individuals of African heritage in school and senior educational leadership positions (Brown, 2005). Jackson (2003) noted similar concerns within higher education through his research and analysis of the African American male educational pipeline to faculty and administration positions in higher education institutions. The aforementioned highlights a pressing need for the collective professional practice of education and school administration to reflect the full spectrum of cultural and social traditions and systems within society. Schools and school districts need to be more responsive to rapidly changing student demography, to become diversity-enhanced institutions, that is, places of vibrant opportunities to support racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse student cohorts (Howard, 2007).

Further, as proffered by Tillman (2003), despite our commitment to diversify [educational administration], our field remains predominantly White (p.1). The predominance of a homogenous school leadership workforce is further compounded by a decentralized, localized model of education that results in variable routes to the hiring and promotion of school administrators dependent on type of school, urbanicity, school district and state. Invariably, such decentralized systems and practices provide the starting point for race discrimination (Bush & Moloi, 2008).

For the purposes of this paper, Gates, Ringel, Santibanez, Chung & Ross (2003) following use of the terminology school administration will apply:

those [individuals] filling a variety of school-, district-, and state-level management positions in the K-12 school system. Principals and district superintendents are the most visible administrators, but there are many others as well, such as assistant principals, district business managers, and regional superintendents (p.1).

In order to fully understand the effectiveness of these senior management positions there is, according to Brown (2005) a need to investigate school administration in specific social, political, and racial contexts (p. 587). Such an investigatory inquiry should be supported through more rigorous, and practice-oriented research and scholarship on workforce diversity effects (Pitts & Wise, 2010).


Gaps in the Literature

The aforementioned research and scholarship forms a significant contribution to a growing body of literature that examines the underrepresentation of people of color in school administration roles as well as the benefits of a more racially and culturally diverse school leadership workforce. There is also evidence of significant scholarship and research on the experiences of African American principals and school administrators both before and since the Brown era. There is however, less substantive literature on the racialized aspects of the educational leadership pipeline, and the hiring and promotion processes of school administrators (DeAngelis & OConnor, 2012; Jackson, 2003; Tallerico, 2000) or any detailed investigatory inquiry into elements of the hiring process that can limit advancement of people of color. As Hooker (2000) highlights, the literature on recruitment and selection of school administrators continues to be anecdotal, unpublished, and atheoretical. (p. 183) Gooden (2012) makes a more explicit reference to the racialized aspects of the organizational contexts signposted in Hookers (2000) earlier paper and highlights the multiple levels in which racism within the realms of education leadership development does advantage Whites and subordinate Blacks and those from other racial minority groups (p.79).

This conceptual paper seeks to build on the scholarship of Hooker (2000), Gooden (2012) and others (Alston, 2000; DeAngelis & OConnor, 2012; Jackson, 2003; Pitts & Wise, 2010; Pounder & Shepherd, 2003) connecting the intersections between organizational context, hiring practices and the racial under-representation of African American K-12 school administrators. Through a critique and problematizing of generally accepted facts and factual assumptions, the paper seeks to further understand the role of structural inhibitors, racial micro-aggressions, and racism in the hiring and placement of these individuals into senior school administration positions. The paper will specifically focus on the extent to which the under-representation of African Americans in K-12 school administration roles is due to intentional or consequential racism in hiring and promotion processes vis--vis individual, institutional, or cultural racism directed towards K12 school administration candidates of color (Guess, 2006). In so doing, the paper makes a contribution to the lacuna of literature on the longer-term impact of racialized hiring and placement practices on the underrepresentation of this sub-group of senior educational leaders.

To fully explore the presence of racism in hiring and promotion practices, it is important to first understand the different levels within which racism manifests: individual, institutional, and cultural. Such racism may be due to structural inhibitors, racial micro-aggressions, and invisible selection criteria that people of color encounter as they seek to progress their career ambitions (see Gooden, 2012).

Jones (1972) encapsulates all three levels of racism into the following single definition: Racism results from the transformation of race prejudice and/or ethnocentrism through the exercise of power against a racial group defined as inferior, by individuals and institutions with the intentional or unintentional support of the entire culture (p.172). Cress Welsing (2004) expands on this and provides a further definition that usefully illustrates the institutional and cultural ways in which racism exists as:

the local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as White, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; this system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbols formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war. (p. ii)

In naming the research focus vis--vis racism in the hiring, and placement of K-12 administrators, the author acknowledges that racism is ubiquitous and universal at individual, institutional and cultural levels throughout society and particularly within the realms of education and schools (Decuir & Dixson, 2004; Delgado & Stefancic, 2012; Ladson-Billings, 2009a, 2009b, 2013; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Leonardo, 2009; Parker & Lynn, 2002; Solrzano and Yosso, 2002; Tate, 1997)



Integrative Review Framework

The research, conducted primarily as an integrative review, synthesizes previous relevant literature, empirical studies, and research in order to infer generalizations about substantive issues of race within the context of the hiring and promotion of educational leaders and school administrators (Cooper, 1982, 2010; Demerath & Roof, 1976; Jackson, 1980). Coopers (2010) seven-step approach to research synthesis and analysis formed the basis of the integrative review: Step1: Formulating the problem the research proposal and hypothesis were initially formulated through engagement and discussion with other researchers and scholars within the field, both within and external to the authors home institution. These preliminary conversations informed a more directed investigatory inquiry of other substantive research, commentary, and examinations of the racialized aspects of the school administration pipeline. Step 2: Searching the literature literature used to inform the study was limited to empirical studies and research that specifically focuses on documenting the African American experience and understandings of the school administration profession. The use of limited, relevant, literature is consistent with a methodologically adequate studies approach as supported by Jackson,1(980, p.455), Demerath and Roof (1976), and Jackson (2003). Specific studies were identified through a search of literature using keyword, phrases, and subject searching of library databases, and citation indexing. Key search terms included race, education[al] leadership, principal/administrator hiring, African/Black American, and education/school pipeline. A separate author search of the scholarship of leading scholars within the field was also conducted. Step 3: Gathering information from studies information was primarily gathered through a synthesis of reported findings and associated implications, as well as coding of key themes emerging from identified, relevant studies on the topic of hiring, placement, and promotion of African Americans in school administration and education leadership positions. Step 4: Evaluating the quality of studies cross triangulation between information gathered from studies, statistical data, and other official sources was used to identify comparative and contrasting themes and perspectives discussed and identified. Cross triangulation also enabled the formulation of critical judgments on the quality of empirical studies and findings that constituted data for the purposes of the integrative review and research synthesis. Particular attention was given to literature and research that provided historical, factual, substantiated accounts that examine the inner-relations between career trajectory, socialization, and identity (Floyd, 2012, p.224) as experienced and understood by African American educational professionals. The results of Step 5: Analyzing and integrating the outcomes of studies, Step 6: Interpreting the evidence, and Step 7: Presenting the results constitute this paper and conclusions.

Other Related Epistemological Frameworks

A central premise of the research foundation and inquiry is that fully understanding the causes and consequences of the under-representation of African American school administrators requires examining the historical and racialized aspects of hiring and placement practices (Ingersoll & May, 2011). Two central and related epistemological frameworks have informed the research design - historicizing of knowledge, and critical race theory.

Application of the first framework, historicizing of knowledge, is consistent with the methodological framework tradition adopted by Brown (2011) in his problematization of historical and contemporary beliefs about Black males as articulated in social science and education literature from the 1930s to the present. Historicizing of knowledge allows for an examination of the extent to which present realities and assumptions are constructed, for example as a result of multiple and uneven trajectories of the past (Popkewitz, 1997). This is particularly relevant in a discourse on racialized aspects of education, and education leadership. As illustrated by McCray, Wright and Beachum (2007) in their study on racial bias in the hiring and placement of school administrators, the extent to which the historically negative presumptions as it relates to the leadership capabilities of African American principals are still part of the thought patterns of decision makers regarding the placement of these administrators (p.247).

Critical Race Theory (CRT) forms the second epistemological method of analysis. The use of CRT as a theoretical framework was seen as an appropriate culturally sensitive epistemology and methodological approach through which to explore the racialized aspects of the school administration/education leadership pipeline as experienced by African Americans. In particular, the impact and implications of the racialized aspects of: de-segregation, schools and education (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Parker & Lynn, 2002; Tate, 1997); racism as normality (Bell, 1992; Crenshaw, 2010; Delgado, 1995); and racial stereotyping (Solrzano, 1997; Steele, 2010) on the hiring, placement, and promotion processes.  Evidence of the existence of racism in the hiring, placement, and promotion of K-12 school administrators will be explored through consideration of the historical and contextual background of the profession. This will include presentation of the changing demography of the school population and implications for the hiring and placement of school administrators of color in key roles. References will also be made to historical literature, existing empirical research, and both qualitative and quantitative data sets to further explore the issue of racism, whether intentional or consequential, in the hiring of K-12 administrators (Department for Professional Employees [DPE], 2013; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2008, 2011; Office of Civil Rights, 2012).


There is limited available data of the selection criteria that applies across the range of school administration professions. This may be due to the decentralized nature of the hiring and promotion practices across school districts as previously highlighted (Huber & Pashiardis, 2008). Further, whilst making references to equality and employment legislation, any detailed analysis of equality-based hiring practices, affirmative action policies or other similar federal or state level public sector hiring initiatives is considered outside of the scope of this paper.



School Administration as a Profession

The role of the school principal, administrator, or superintendent is typically, although not exclusively, assumed by individuals from a teaching background or with experience in the education system (DeAngelis & OConnor, 2012; Gates et al., 2003; Rousmaniere, 2007). Subsequent education reform, increased decentralization from federal-to-state-to-district and greater local accountability for student outcomes, and an overall increased marketization of education has led to greater expansion of the school administration professional function. As a result, and in some larger school districts in particular, the traditional administrative role of superintendent has metamorphosized into several individual roles with responsibilities for a range of distinct business functions (Tillman, 2004). These significant changes in the role and responsibilities of K-12 school administrators also signal a leadership crisis for the profession and the education system. All of the above, whilst having an impact on the school administration profession as a whole, also present themselves as an additional challenge for African American school leaders and individuals from other minoritized and non-dominant groups, with limited and/or inequitable access to social and cultural capital. Consequently, African Americans and other race/ethnic minoritized leaders are unable to successfully navigate or circumvent the impact of these pressures to the same degree as school administrator peers from the dominant, White racial group. For example, education reform, demands to improve student attainment levels, and insufficient resources are most likely to be a greater issue for school administrators serving urban and suburban communities of predominately students of color, with higher proportions of English language learners, than for those, predominately White, administrators in more suburban or rural districts and locations serving more homogenous, majority White, student cohorts (Akom, 2011; Franklin, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 2009; Oakes, 2005; Tallerico, 2000)

Hiring and Placement Process

In Mickelson, Smith and Oliver (in Weis & Fine, 1993), we are reminded that employment policies and practices do not exist in a vacuum; they operate in a society whose racial divisions overlap those of class and income (p. 24). In many ways work-place organizational structures replicate the social hierarchies that lay at the foundation of wider society, with careers and professional positions becoming synonymous to racial and culturally determined social positioning and stratification. However, commentators have previously argued for the importance and need to increase diversity and representation of school principals and administrators comparable to the student and wider community populations that they serve. Further, there is significant evidence to suggest that a diverse work-force comprised of people from a wide range of backgrounds, representative at all levels across the organization hierarchy, is a stronger and more effective one (Hunte, 2010; Purdie-Vaughns, Steele, Davies, Ditlmann, & Crosby, 2008; Ross, 2002; Tallerico, 2000).

Policymakers have instigated a range of strategies and initiatives, at the federal, state, and district level, to address the leadership crisis facing schools and school districts, and in many cases, for example in New York, have attempted to rationalize their assessment and certification of school leaders (Huber & Pashiardis, 2008). There is, however, limited available data of the selection criteria that applies across the range of administration positions. This may be due to the decentralized nature of the hiring and placement practices across school districts as previously highlighted.

Scholars have argued that many of the traditionally accepted hiring and promotion practices are in fact racially biased. For example, Arvey (1979) examines the legal and psychological aspects of the employment interviews as evidenced in the legal challenge of United States v. Hazelwood School District (1976), highlighting the very subjective nature of the interview process and influence of stereotyping and bias within the school-based interview setting. It is this unfamiliarity or incongruence with cultural patterns between White interviewer and Black applicant that potentially biases the validity of the employment interview process (also consider Jussim, Coleman & Lerch, 1987; Sekaquaptewa, Espinoza, Thompson, Vargas, & von Hippel, 2003). A further example is the practice and use of a prior relevant experience selection criterion, which as Tallerico (2000) observes: the professional norms and routines that reify prior experience in positions in which women and people of color are underrepresented, as forces operating systemically that contribute to the predominance of White males in educational administration (p.38). Measures have also been put in place to increase the range, provision and number of university K-12 administration leadership development programs with many institutions now offering urban leadership development programs in recognition of the specific and oftentimes particularly challenging context of urban district K-12 school administration (see McCray, Wright & Beachum, 2007).

Altruistically, the generally decentralized nature of the hiring and placement of school administrators, as well as the stepped controlled stages in the process are intended to ensure a consistent and same approach to the hiring and placement process and in the treatment of individual job applicants. This sameness of treatment and procedures is seen as particularly important, and especially so in light of and in compliance with equality employment legislation. However, there is still evidence of a range of structural inhibitors to the hiring and promotion of African Americans to school administrative roles with, in the majority of cases, search committee membership being exclusively or dominated by White males (Ortiz, 2000).


Pre / Post Brown

Notwithstanding the constitutional challenges, and landmark victories gained through the Civil Rights movement, especially the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), the changing demographic landscape of the nations population, and an increased need for school administrators, the role of the school principal [and K-12 administrator] has according to Pollard (1997) remained the long considered bastion of White men (p. 354). The placement of Black K-12 school administrators juxtaposes the comparative experiences of White administrators. African American school administrators are most likely to be placed in schools and school districts serving predominately students of color (Ortiz, 1982). In many instances African American principals are completely excluded from leadership positions in predominately White public schools (Rousmaniere, 2007). In contrast, White administrators are placed in predominately White, predominately minority, as well as in schools with diverse student groups (see Horsford, 2010, 2011; Tillman, 2003).

The promised integration of the school system following the 1954 Brown decision, and desegregation of education led to the amalgamation and wholesale closure of Black schools with devastating consequences for the provision of education, Black school principals, the teacher workforce, and the wider African American communities that these schools served (McCray, Wright & Beachum, 2007). Also consider Ethridge (1979) and Hudson and Holmes (1994). The post-Brown era marked a period in the history of education in the U.S. that according to Karpinski (2006) resulted in the decimation (p. 251) of the numbers of Black principals. The future status, and threatened job security of African American principals and educators was one of the most consequential travesties of the perceived gains of the post-Brown era (Fultz, 2004; Karpinski, 2006). Between 1954 and 1964, the number of African American principals was reduced by 90% (Rousmaniere, 2007; Tillman, 2004;).

According to Karpinski (2006), the displacement of African American principals and teachers removed some of the most competent educators in the U.S. public school system resulting in the withdrawal of potential African American candidates from the principalship [and broader school administration] (p. 248). This would be particularly salient in the hiring of senior school district administrators in the future. The significant displacement of Black students to the teaching profession, and subsequently to the pool as potential school administrators, continued for several decades, through to the early 2000s (Brown, 2005). The introduction of teacher education programs as well as new teacher certification requirements have both further resulted in the significant displacement of educators of color. This has further increased the levels of underrepresentation of African American teachers relative to the student population. To illustrate, in 2001, 6% of public school teachers were African American, whereas 17.1% of the school student population were of African American heritage. The disparities and racial under-representation increases at the senior level school administration positions.


Other U.S. Federal Legislation

There has been considerable advancement through federal legislation post Brown to the protection of employment rights of individuals, and which specifically prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Federal Affirmative Action law further provides a legislative framework for the hiring and placement of minority workers. However, there continues to be a degree of ambiguity and ongoing legal controversy and debate on the setting of constitutional standards for race-based affirmative action. Further, and importantly, as stated by Rance (1992), there is some evidence to suggest that even though minorities are becoming increasingly more qualified to hold high level administrative positions, the number of Blacks in the field of school administration has not significantly increased (p.14).


The Changing Demography

The demographic trends and projections of the United States are changing. In 1970 83.3% of the population was White, 10.9% Black, 4.5% Hispanic and 1.3% Asian or other minority group. It is predicted that this will change significantly by 2050 with almost 50% of the population being people of color (Hacker, 2003; U.S. Census Bureau, 2001; Young & Brooks, 2008). It will be incumbent on schools, school districts and administrators to find demonstrable ways to support the evolution of human capital and shift to a majority minority ethnic student and wider population over the next few years to adequately support diverse cohorts of students to be fully prepared as global citizens.

There are approximately 811,000 education administrators in the U.S. of which 76.6% are White, 13.3 % are Black or African American, 7.9% are Hispanic or Latino/a, and 2.2% are Asian (DPE, 2013). The proportion of individuals in these roles is not reflective of either the percentage distribution enrolled K-12 students by race, or by race of the wider population. The United States Census Bureau (2013) report that of the total number of K-12 school enrolments, 52.5% of enrolled students are White (non-Hispanic), 15.4% are Black, 23.8% are Hispanic or Latino/a; and 4.8% are Asian (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). In looking at the wider population, of the total resident population, 77.7% are White, 13.2% are Black, 17.1% are Hispanic or Latino/a, and 5.3% are Asian (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). Pacific Islanders, American Indian/ Alaska Native and other minority groups make up the remainder of the total population. (NCES, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2013, 2014). Under-representation of African Americans and other racial minority groups within the K-12 administrative workforce, comparable to their representation in the wider population, may be an indicator of intentional or consequential racism within the employment practices of the profession.


Compensation and Wage Differentials

Margo (1984) posits that the the nature and extent of racial wage differentials is an important economic and social issue (p. 306), an important and helpful proposition in analysing compensation and wage differentials. Benefits and wages for K-12 administrators vary significantly by: state; school district within state; location of school city, suburban, town, rural; the level and type of institution in which employed; and the specific role an individual assumes. The latest estimates from the Department for Professional Employees (2013) report that the median annual wage for K-12 administrators was $87,760 in 2012. The NCES (2012) analysis of average salaries for principals for 2007-08 (calculated on a 2009-10 cost basis) provides the most recent available salary information by race of principal. NCES report that for 2007-08, White principals on average received an annual salary of $86,900, Black principals received $89,900, Hispanic/Latino/a principals $95,100, and Asian principals $105,900. Whilst a useful comparator, it is not possible to distinguish the salaries paid to individuals across all racial groups in comparative school/ district settings. Further, as we are reminded in Papa et al (2002), the compensation of school leaders may not compensate for the extraordinary demands placed on school leaders, with this being most likely in schools where working conditions are most difficult (p.15).

Inequalities in levels of salary compensation are often an indicator of discriminatory work practices. The notion of equal pay for equal work is particularly relevant. Whilst the average annual salary level for principals of color is marginally higher than that for White principals the urban contexts within which most principals of color work are arguably more complex, challenging and demanding. Further, school principals and administrators of color typically lead in significantly under-resourced school contexts, disadvantaged through the historical inequalities of an educational apartheid system (Akom, 2011). In contrast, White administrators, for the most part, assume positions in less challenging, smaller urban, suburban or rural areas.



Wider Cost Implications

Racism and racial inequalities are costly (Feagin & McKinney, 2005). The consequential costs to society of creating and sustaining systems that maintain systemic stratification and unequal distribution of resources, power, wealth, and prestige are insurmountable (Akom, 2011; Morrow & Torres, 1995). Whilst attempts have been made to quantify the socio-psychological costs of racism, there have been limited attempts to look at the broader economic and financial cost implications of systems that perpetuate individual, institutional or cultural racism. Further, much of the attribution of costs assume a victim perspective and thus falls short of any analysis of the wider cost implications of racism to all sections of society.

Shapiro (2004) provides a helpful contrast between the hidden costs of being African American and the advantage of being White (p. 55). This is a helpful paradigm, particularly in examining the cost-implications of racism within the hiring and promotion of school administrators. It is therefore pertinent to explore the extent to which supply and demand or an advantage / disadvantage metrics collates to a Black / White racial identity of prospective candidates to be hired or promoted into these senior school administration posts.

It is important to consider the wider hidden cost implications of racism in the hiring processes of school administrators in terms of economic significance, salary compensation, human and cultural capital, stereotype and racial stratification of the attributes of the effective leader. A dominant monocultural, Euro-centric perspective defines both school leadership and students as composites of ostensibly homogenous sub-groups. This limits and promotes an assimilist or race-neutral approach to education leadership and schooling (Mabokela & Madsen, 2005) that is unable to benefit from a collective global-mindedness, and culturally competent effective school leadership (Gooden, 2012; Johnson & Campbell-Stephens, 2010; Reyes & Wagstaff, 2005). Further, the challenges of leading in complex urban and suburban contexts may also have a negative impact on the personal health and wellbeing of the school administrator. An additional hidden cost of race discriminatory practices, are the costs, financial and otherwise, associated with pursing claims and actions as a result of race bias and discriminatory employment practices.



Race definitions, expressions thereof and any extensive or explicit discussion on individual, institutional or cultural racism or other forms of racialized inequalities in schooling, education and public services more broadly have over time become transient. The discourse on racism, racial inequality, or power conflict has been muted through a broader post-racial, colorblind narrative (Gooden, 2012; Mabokela & Madsen, 2005;) and what Pollock (2005) terms colormuteness that intentionally avoids the need for any meaningful race talk, engagement or analysis on the uncomfortable topic of race and racism. Whilst much has been done to remove visible evidence and manifestations of individual racism, structures and systems in place as well as organization climate continue to preserve the influence and impact of macro, structural discrimination, and institutional and cultural level racism.

Within the area of hiring, placement and promotion, dominant White America deploys what Marger (2012) describes as techniques of dominance and subordination to promote and confirm prejudices and discrimination. The use of over simplified and negative stereotyping, particularly within hiring and promotion processes, presumes to assume that physical or behavioural traits which do not align with the model image of the school administrator as White, and male, renders applicants who do not fit this mold unsuitable candidates for such senior positions. Such prejudice and discrimination is often reinforced within the permanence of ethnic and racial stratification with inherent and negative assumptions of place, status, and attributes of members from minority groups.

Sixty years after Brown, de jure racial segregation has been replaced with de facto segregation (Tillman, 2004). The extent to which a wide range of structural inhibitors and racial micro-aggressions prevalent within the education system and schools continue to contribute to the under-representation of African Americans in senior K-12 administration positions remains evident. As this paper has demonstrated, there is a need for a wider policy discourse and examination of the longer-term effects of racialized and race bias practices within education in aspects of hiring, placement and retention of school principals and senior administrators. Failure to do so maintains an inequitable racialized distribution of individuals at the most senior levels of education administration and denies students, schools, school districts, and states of the skills and expertise that African American educational professionals may bring to the profession (Brown, 2005; Horsford, 2010, 2011; Howard, 2007; Lomotey, 1989; Reyes & Wagstaff, 2005). This is ever more important in senior K-12 administrator positions, for it is the school administrator that shapes the ethos and direction of the school, the effective management of the school district, allocation of resources, and ultimately the attainment and achievement of the student cohorts.


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