Transcript of the episode “Antiracist school leadership: Courage and commitment”

Amy H-L: [00:00:15] I’m Amy Halpern-Laff.

Jon M: [00:00:16] And I’m Jon  Moscow. Welcome to Ethical Schools. Our guest today is Dr. Bradley Carpenter, an associate professor of educational leadership at Baylor University. A former teacher, assistant principal, and principal, Dr. Carpenter has a passion for working with public school administrators. His research focuses on the development of social justice and antiracist oriented school leaders, leadership wellbeing, and how public discourse shapes educational policy. Welcome Bradley!

Bradley C: [00:00:48] Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be with you this afternoon.

Jon M: [00:00:51] What does antiracist school leadership look like?

Bradley C: [00:00:55] That’s a great beginning question. What I am envisioning for antiracist school leadership, as well as a lot of folks in the field that are writing about it currently, is that it is leadership from perspective that we are going to recognize that racism is still alive and well in our public schools. And then we are going to systematically audit our practices and curriculum and values that we display in public schools, or private schools, for that matter, to root out racist tendencies, whether they be tendencies in the written curriculum, tendencies in the pedagogical approaches of teachers, or tendencies that are maybe embedded in the values of a school or school district. So it is an explicit focus on calling out racism and working to address those issues so that we can offer students a more equitable opportunity at excellent education.

Amy H-L: [00:01:54] If I could just clarify that for our listeners. When you say calling out racism, you’re not, you don’t mean to call out teachers or students for specific, I’m using air quotes now…

Bradley C: [00:02:10] I would argue that it’s all of the above. So I think, you know, what we’re trying to prepare leaders for is not to be in a staff meeting and label somebody as racist. But I do think you have a responsibility as a school leader, if someone is acting in a racist manner, to have those one-on-one conversations and to broach those difficult conversations. And that’s one of the reasons that really brought me to this work. What we find in higher ed, if we’re preparing educational leaders or what we still see in public education, that race is oftentimes such a volatile topic that instead of addressing those types of issues in courageous ways, people tend to avoid or shirk away from those difficult conversations, which then just perpetrates those types of things continuing to happen.

Amy H-L: [00:03:05] Okay. I just want to differentiate here, calling out from calling in. Yeah.

Bradley C: [00:03:13] I think that’s a really good point. I mean, it’s semantics in the sense that when we’re talking about calling out, it means, you know, that a leader of adults and children and a community, which I would argue a school leader is today, by calling out that we’re going to name whatever it is in our scope of influence that may have racist roots. And so that’s the calling out piece. And then the calling in, to your point, is that there’s an ethical way to address those issues. So it’s not to put individuals in the spotlight and that being said, there are going to be difficult times, whether you’re in a school board meeting or a contentious SBDM meeting a school, a site-based decision making meeting, where you have different constituents that you may have to pause, and you may have to really have a timely and difficult conversation in front of a group of people about something that was said, or  question the intentionality of what was said. And so I do think that calling out and calling in language is important to differentiate, but I think both happen in my eyes when you’re asking someone to embrace the identity of antiracist school leader broadly.

Amy H-L: [00:04:30] In an article published in EdWeek last September, you observed that  “most university-based preparation programs have not explicitly prioritized antiracist school leadership. While prep programs may offer a course or two on equity schools and communities, or culturally responsive leadership, they’re often near the end of the program, giving the impression that they’re optional or not as important as the rest of the syllabus.” What would you like to see in leadership prep programs?

Bradley C: [00:05:04] Yeah. So this is an issue that the scholars within the University Council for Educational Administration, UCEA, have been looking at for some time. And I forget the year, but Hawley and James did a massive survey of UCEA institutions, and found that issues of social justice were frequently not present in the formal curriculum of educational leadership preparation programs.

And then other scholars like Mark Gooden and a whole list of folks have furthered that kind of investigation into higher ed, and what Sarah Diem and I have really looked at is all of those studies to see where is it taking place? How is it taking place? Where are the gaps and what do leadership preparation programs that have that desire need to look like in the future?

So to your question of, okay, what does that look like? If it’s not left to the end, if it’s not a singular course, what it looks like is a group of clinical, you know, assistant associate and full professors, hopefully in a robust educational leadership preparation program, agreeing on a set of values. And one of those values is that we are going to ensure in the formal curriculum,that issues of antiracism and equity are embedded throughout the entire scope and sequence. And so that means that we’re not having one class, like I had as a master student, that was multicultural education. And that’s the only, the only class I ever had conversations about race and racism in my own master’s degree program. It means that whether we’re in school finance or school law, or organizational theory or whatever class that is typically void of those difficult conversations, that we embed,those types of issues and conversations and readings across the curriculum.

It also means that no one professor has to carry the burden of being that person. What you see in a lot of programs is one or two people that their research agenda centers on issues of equity or social justice, or anti-racism feeling like they have to carry the burden of that conversation for the entire program. And that’s an unfair burden. We see penalties in terms of how students evaluate those professors. We see penalties of which professors are expected to carry that burden. More often than not, it’s professors of color. And that has ramifications.

And so that’s a long kind of rambling answer to say. What I want to see our program do is a group of adults agree that this is going to be a value. And then audit the curriculum for the formal curriculum to see what is taught in those classes and ensure that woven throughout we’re going to address those issues from course one to the clinical practices and the field experiences and to the end, whatever capstone or thesis project is required for leadership programs.

Jon M: [00:08:07] Are there grad schools of education in educational leadership that are doing what you’re talking about now, or in various stages of, of getting there?

Bradley C: [00:08:17] Certainly there’s a continuum, right. And one of the things that we discussed earlier is that unfortunately in higher ed, it appears that it has to be a very unique situation where single professor or a professor and a couple of peers agree that this indeed is a value. Period. Then that agreement is made they are given the leeway over time to hire additional professors where they maybe share the same worldview. But that’s, you know, the way that higher ed is constructed, if I’m at–pick a university that’s of prestige–I may have three or four professors that have vastly different worldviews, that think that racism and issues of equity should not be up front and center. And because they’re tenured or full or associate, they don’t have to include it in their syllabus. They don’t have to include any readings that address that, they don’t have to talk about it in class. And that’s just the reality.

So what we’ve seen is it takes a courageous, either leader senior professor in the program to say this is going to be our value moving forward. It takes the chair’s support. And sometimes it takes the Dean and Provost support to say this is what our college or university stands for, and because we educate students for this setting, we would like to see our educational leadership preparation program or a teacher preparation program assume these values and make sure that those values are explicated in the formal curriculum.

Amy H-L: [00:10:00] What kinds of support does a leader, say, a principal, need to transform a school into an antiracist community with antiracist policies and antiracist curriculum?

Bradley C: [00:10:13] Well, I will speak from the most pragmatic sense first. And that is, if I’m a principal in a school district and I am convinced that this is the leadership that my community needs and deserves. I’ve got to have the support of my immediate supervisor, because what we know is that when those issues are surfaced in some communities, more than others, there will be pushback by certain stakeholders in the community. And so if I don’t have my immediate supervisor’s support, then when those issues surface to the school board or to the superintendent, that effort can be short-lived. So I would say, first they have to have the support of their immediate supervisor. To kind of be the umbrella to keep some of the pressure off from maybe upset school board members or upset community members that don’t agree that that should be our priority.

The other thing that they need is a network beyond their schools. So other school leaders that are attempting to do the same type of work. So it helps to have leaders in different contexts that maybe are at different stages of implementation to see what are the lessons learned. What were the pitfalls, you know, what were the facilitators for success? What were the obstacles for success? So that outside network.

And then finally, I think if I were to wave my magic wand and create a perfect situation, you would also have university support. So the support would kind of be threefold: you would have the immediate supervisor, you would have networks of support outside of your location, and you would have a university that was willing to get in and mix it up with you as well.

And then finally, which I think is important, you would have community stakeholders. So parents, caregivers, other invested persons in your school community to say this is important to us. And yes, there’s some people in our school that are upset about it, but we’re going to support this leader because we feel like this is right for our community and for our kids.

Jon M: [00:12:18] Can you talk at all about some of the networks? Are there specific networks that you’d recommend, for example, to our listeners?

Bradley C: [00:12:26] There’s a couple of places to look. I mean, I’ll speak from the academic lens first and then kind of move on from that. I mean, certainly where my  life has been, as somebody that’s been a professor in educational leadership, UCEA has been central to my upbringing. I was a graduate assistant for Michelle Young when she was the executive director, when UCEA was housed at UT Austin. There are a list of resources if you visit the UCEA page, and we received a grant several years ago to develop a series of lessons for urban leadership, for schools and for people that are working with schools. And so if you go into that resources page, and I can certainly send you the link so that your listeners can find it more easily, there’s some modules and powerful learning experiences that were developed by people preparing leaders in urban contexts across the United States, from California to New York and in-between. So that would be a great place to look for kind of lessons, along with literature to support that and  other helpful tidbits.

One that we spoke about earlier, Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership is also another accessible Sage journal, that if you search by keywords, if you search by social justice or equity, or even antiracist, you would find a series of cases that a leader could learn from and use with their leadership team to think about how to address those issues going forward.

And then there are a couple of online forums now that are bringing educational leaders from across the United States. One of my friends in New Jersey, and the last name escapes me, I’ll share it with you, [Joshua Bornstein of Fairleigh Dickinson University] is leading basically a zoom talk on Thursday evenings, I believe it’s Thursday evenings, for educational leaders trying to do this work across the nation.

Finally, I would say one of the best ways to do this is to look at your local, either nonprofits. I know at University of Louisville, we were involved in the Urban League that provided a network for school leaders and then other community organizations and maybe wanting to help support schools or providing venues for networking that that may not be readily apparent for school leaders because their everyday work, they’re just caught up in the work and they often are not able to step back and kind of think about how do I increase my networks.

Jon M: [00:15:07] Could you give the link or spell it out so that people who are listening, who might [inaudible] check our link.

Bradley C: [00:15:13] Absolutely. Yeah. It’s the University Council for Educational Administration, and I will send you and Amy the link to the journal. I’ll send you the modules that were developed for school leaders to use. And I’ll also send you a link to that Thursday night forum for educators.

Jon M: [00:15:30] That’s really wonderful. So how can principals convince teachers who may not be grounded in antiracism to change their approaches to discipline and academic content and areas like that?

Bradley C: [00:15:44] Yeah. Schools ask that of us all the time and we’re being, I say we. A colleague of mine is now the Associate Dean for Diversity and Equity at Louisville, and was a chair in the Department of Criminal Justice. She and I have done work in different places across the United States on this issue. And schools, ask us, okay, come in and help fix us.

And that’s a big task. And so one of the issues that we see, I see, that often trips up school districts, is they want to read a book, or they want a list of seven things that they can do to move to the next phase of kind of awareness and practice. And so one of the steps that you’ve asked is, “okay, well, how do I work with teachers that maybe don’t see that?” We’re going to have to do some positionality work first, and that’s often the icky kind of laborious work that people don’t feel like they have the time to spend on, but if you don’t kind of situate the work, and what’s my own positionality, what privilege do I bring to the table, do I even recognize my privilege? It’s difficult to start dis-aggregating data, looking at academic or discipline gaps, if you haven’t kind of surfaced where people are coming from and what their own biases are when they sit around the table, because once you kind of surface those biases and have those critical conversations about privilege and misunderstandings about whether it be meritocracy or the infrastructure of racism, right. You know, if you don’t have those conversations and sitting around and looking at data points with discipline or academic gaps, you’re not going to get very far. Because there’s going to be disagreements on why those exist, how those came to be. And they’re going to be very student-oriented versus system-oriented.

And what we’ve got to do is help people to one, recognize who they are. When they sit around the table and then look at systems and the history of kind of what infrastructure has been in place to perpetuate those gaps and then start looking at our school gaps. But as y’all well know that schools are pressed for time, and to do that type of work is not a short time endeavor. I mean, it’s not a “I’ll visit your school twice and provide professional development and everybody will be woke and we’ll start addressing these deep issues.” It’s “can you spend a year with me as a professional developer, can we start with positionality, addressing biases and where people are at. And then can we look at historical issues, and then can we get into your data and start looking at how to unravel that and reconstruct education a more equitable manner?”

Amy H-L: [00:18:26] What about for schools who don’t necessarily have the resources to bring in a consultant for a year? 

Bradley C: [00:18:34] Yeah, that’s a great point. And that’s where I would say there’s two venues to look at. There are certainly, and the communities that I’ve existed in there’s there’s nonprofits willing to help you do that work either at no cost or very low cost or reasonable cost. The second place, honestly, Amy, is we need to, universities have got to quit being the ivory tower. And if they are taking the money from the community to educate future leaders, right? We’re, you know, most universities want to have students enrolled. If we’re willing to take the money from the community, then we need to be involved in the community politics and the school politics and the school development. And I would argue that more often than not, university professors should look at.eIther providing some of their time in terms of service, which would be at no cost, or I know a lot of professors across the nation are certainly willing to work with principals and school districts to find grant money that provides both the school with the space to do those initiatives and provides the professor with some type of incentive that they may be able to buy out a class or buy out some time so they can focus on helping those schools.

Jon M: [00:19:50] You know, when you’re talking about positionality, it sounds very similar to cultural humility in terms of sort of recognizing where you fit into the whole universe of what’s going on. What are some strategies that you’ve seen work in terms of having these kinds of conversations so that they make progress and people don’t end up feeling defensive and so forth?

Bradley C: [00:20:17] Yeah, that’s, it’s never easy. And that’s why a lot of folks avoid it, right? Because the focus, whether we like it or not, in the United States is still test scores. And so for a principal to take half a year of professional development time to address these issues, you know, you’ve got constituents around the table asking, “well, what does this have to do with test scores in terms of resources?”

One thing that we’ve used in previous contexts is a Singleton and Linton book, the “Courageous Conversations” book and critical conversations and they have, I think, a second edition and a workbook that goes along with that. I can provide you the links for that as well to add to the ecology.

I would also say that again, I would look at some of the research on the construction of those conversations, because if you go into those conversations without a game plan, what will end up happening is you will be overwhelmed by the emotion, the pushback, the fight, in some cases, the silence in other cases. And so that’s kinda been my and Dr. Diem’s, Sarah Diem’s, argument from the beginning of our work is that if we don’t provide leaders in the preparation of leaders with the deliberative skills necessary to facilitate those conversations, then we’re doing a disservice to schools because those conversations will continue to be pushed away or avoided. And, and that’s very problematic for our kiddos.

Jon M: [00:21:55] Those resources sound, you know, really helpful.  A criticism I’ve heard of some professional development programs, or maybe they’re, you know, weekend workshops kind of things that friends of mine who are educators come out of feeling very cynical, like somebody just came in and sort of laid out where you’re supposed to be. And if you’re not here now, well, that’s your problem and get with it. You’re smiling, although our listeners can’t see it, but obviously you’ve run into some things like this too, I guess.

Bradley C: [00:22:33] Yeah. Well, you know, one of the first things that I say when I’m working with Cherie Dawson-Edwards and others is that there’s no end point. I’m not now antiracist as Bradley Carpenter. I’m on a journey to become even more aware of my own positionality and the privilege I bring to the table. You can start, but there’s no end point. It’s not, there’s not an end project. It is a commitment for life that I’m not perfect. I will make mistakes. And this is especially important for white allies that have the privilege to jump in and out of these conversations. If you truly want to consider yourself an ally and, you know, as Dr. [Beverly Daniel] Tatum defined it, and that is you’re going to stay at the table. And even though you fumble and make mistakes, you’re going to be willing to come back to the table. One of the things I was thinking about when I was. Preparing for today’s conversation with you all was one of the first conversations that Dr. Diem and I had at UCEA. And we gathered all these kind of senior scholars in the field and we brought up this issue of “why don’t we do a better job in leadership preparation programs, discussing issues of race and racism.”

I remember standing in front of Jim Scheurich and saying, “we’re just trying to find a safe space to do this work.” And he kind of laughed at me and he said, “First of all, there’s not a safe space, Bradley. It’s not going to be safe for you or for others. That doesn’t mean you don’t do the work.” And so I think the problem with the hit and miss professional development sessions is that you leave the community that you’re working with with just a taste of the depth of work that has to be done, the emotionality that’s tied to that work, the, the labor intensity of sustaining that work.

And so if I was consulting with any superintendent or any principal in the United States, I would say, if you’re going to do this work, you’ve got to embed that work for at least a year. And it doesn’t mean that every professional development session has to be around these issues, but it does mean that all of your teachers are going to have access and be expected to participate in those ideas throughout an entire year.

If you try to do it in a weekend or a winter conference or a summer conference, there’s just not enough legs. And when you get back to the crunch of time and educating students and meeting some standardized definition of success, then all those cool ideas that you were exposed to in readings that you were given kind of get pushed to the side for the more immediate matter. And that is how do we get kids to be successful in the classroom bubbling in a standardized test at a certain point of the school year.

Amy H-L: [00:25:25] So beyond this year or so of courageous conversations with faculty and staff, how do these ideas get incorporated into discipline policies and curriculum? 

Bradley C: [00:25:41] I thInk there are two things that I would say first. I mean, first, Amy, is I think before you start adopting any type of resource, which I think there are resources out there that you can, any school leader today can Google equitable disciplinary policies and they can find a handful of districts and schools across the United States that have tried to develop more equitable discipline policies. I mean, that’s the great thing about the internet today, right.

But what I would argue is before you start finding those policies and trying to implement something that somebody else has done, there are two steps that have to be taken. One, you need to have an audit of what you’re currently doing. And so you’re seeing more people like Muhammad Khalifa that’s in Minnesota, that has an equity center that will do this for school districts. And that’s a full equity audit of discipline, of academics, of extracurricular activities, et cetera, and really surface the data of what’s currently taking place in the school district. So that’s that’s step one is what are we currently doing? Step two is having those difficult conversations that we were referring to, is this a value for us moving forward? We’re doing a full audit and we’re surfacing the data and rooting out the inequities. That’s great. Next, do we agree that this is a value and that this has to move forward? That’s important. And then after you do that, then you can start to look at other school districts across the United States. You can look at research that’s been done on these issues and you can start to develop your own contextually appropriate plan for moving forward. But if you don’t have those two other pieces in place, I would argue that trying to implement something like that’s going to have a very short life and be pretty chaotic and will receive a lot of pushback.

Amy H-L: [00:27:34] What about curriculum?

Bradley C: [00:27:37] I mean, that’s, you know, when we look at equity audits, we look at their curriculum too. So it’s looking at each one of our classes, our issues addressed in those classes, everything from what are the texts that students are able to choose from? Are those texts culturally responsive? Are our lessons delivered in a way, you know, does the pedagogy honor the cultures of the kids that are sitting in the classroom? I mean, we’ve been talking about culturally responsive leadership since Gloria Ladson-Billings. I think schools are, again, are on different areas of the continuum, but I would say the same thing for the curriculum audit. What it is that we’re doing? Where are the gaps? Sitting down as a leadership team with your teachers and saying, is this a value? And then if it’s not, having those difficult conversations about, okay, what viewpoints are we bringing to the table? And why can’t we come to consensus that educating our students in a culturally response manner is a value.

Once that conversation takes place, then you can start to look at how schools and school districts have implemented curriculum to better meet the needs of diverse student populations.

Jon M: [00:28:47] I think you have been starting to talk about, you know, how antiracist administrators can be addressing structural racism within the district through things like this, as an audit. Some of the things that tend not to be as visible on paper, but are very visible in practice, and I’m wondering whether these audits would cover, are things like differential funding for schools, for example, or in some cases in some districts, you know, the role that seniority plays in teacher assignment, or we’ve done a number of episodes talking with people about how school district boundaries in a lot of places have been really carefully designed to structure inequity into things. So how does, and I don’t know if this is more of a assistant superintendent and superintendent kind of question, but you know, there’s always the question of what kind of change can be done from within the system and what kind of change has to happen from outside the system and how do they interplay with each other? So, how do you, as talking in educational leadership terms, how can administrators surface kind of really fundamental financial and structural questions?

Bradley C: [00:30:09] It’s been a topic for our field for, I don’t know, the past 10 to 15 years, and looking at the principal and their role in politics. And fortunately the standards, they’ve been revised to recognize that the principal indeed is a political figure. The school leader is a political figure. I mean, I’ve seen in myself, I’ve used a lot of political capital at times when I was a principal to really, you know, the, the issue you brought up of school boundaries, I was really personally burned in a school boundary conversation. We spent an entire year developing a more equitable boundary for our school attendance zones. And after the vote was counted, the side of equity won. And then a week later, we find out that they’re revolting, and lo and behold, the wealthy folks in the community were able to switch that vote at the last minute, after spending a year in a deliberative body, really getting parents involved, hearing the pleas of parents, hearing the pleas from principals.

So to address your question directly. I think you’ve got to find allies in the school district. If I’m advising, if somebody pays me to advise them like, “hey, this has got to happen in my community, I always had the alternative certified teachers. Every year, I’m turning over 40% of my teaching staff. I have no teaching experience. I don’t have as many resources. It appears that they’ve locked me in and boundaries, et cetera, et cetera,” I’m going to say, who are the people in your district that you can have a small group conversation with, to start plotting out how we’re going to make a change. And in this situation, in the near future, one of the things that I formally incorporated in my class is really borrowing from Saul Alinsky and grassroots organization, that’s the do some political mapping. So principals and school leaders don’t think about that, but who are the constituents that care about my school, that make a difference in my community? How are those different people connected politically? And how can I start having, whether it’s a 20 minute coffee or a 30 minute coffee office visit, how can I start weaving together those resources to say look what’s happening in this school. Who’s going to help me push at the district level with my supervisors? Who’s going to help me push at the board level with the school board.? Who’s going to help me rally the nonprofits in the community that can perhaps provide additional resources?

And so it’s a lot of burden on the principal to say, not only do you have to be today’s ultimate instructional leader. You also need to have these grassroots organizational skills so that if your district continually creates a situation where your school is finding itself with inequitable resources that you’re going to have to go out and put all these other people and players together and start to change. And I think, like we talked about the other day, I think that’s why you see one of the reasons the, you see the frequent turnover in leaders in under-resourced schools, because they’re carrying the weight of all of that every day of inequity of serving kids from concentrated poverty that bring a lot of wonderful things to school, but also bring a lot of challenges in terms of meeting expectations on standardized exams. So I think you’re seeing fatigue and burnout of school leaders because we’re putting so much on the individual building leader.

Amy H-L: [00:34:00] What about so-called “nice white parents,” who may have a sense of entitlement. Is there a need for parent antiracism education?

Bradley C: [00:34:13] Oh, absolutely. I mean, in fact, the recent work that we did in the school district here in Texas, we suggested that first we started off with the town hall and really get parents to the table because the, let’s say the well-intended  “white liberal parent,” that will run a 10K fundraiser to raise money for social justice issues as long as it doesn’t affect their kiddo, I would argue that, well, I won’t say specific cities. We all know that there are cities that are havens for those folks. Yes, we cannot put the burden of school reform on the population that is historically marginalized. We have to get nice white parents to just not be nice in speech, but to be nice in the way that they step up and speak, they need to be at the school board meetings arguing for equity. They need to be serving on the committees. They need to be reading literature, that questions their identity and where they’re coming from and that really stretches who they think they are. And so that’s often a problem for our communities is we have well-intended parents, or maybe some of them are well-intended, but when you ask them to do the difficult work of really restructuring schools, are they willing to stick with it or is it nice in theory, but we don’t have time for that in practice?

Jon M: [00:35:46] What would you recommend? In terms of what you’ve been talking about with, uh, you know, grassroots organizing and so on, situations where there are vocal and/or powerful overtly racist forces, how can administrators deal with them?

Bradley C: [00:36:03] Well, it’s a perfect example, a timely example, of what we’ve been dealing with in one school community where probably 15% of the community is very vocally against any conversation about race and racism. I think you have to have an agreement amongst your school that we cannot kowtow to 15% of our community. If what we’re doing, and we believe our values align with what we’re doing is a benefit for all students in our school, then we’re going to have to get used to protests, formal and informal protests. We’re going to have to get used to calls to the school board. We’re going to have to get used to public pushback. And that that’s a part of this difficult work. I mean, it’s not going to be easy in most communities because you’re going to have some certain part of the population that is either politically aligned against you or theoretically aligned against you. And so again, it goes to do I have the support of my supervisor? Do I have support of key parents and key stakeholders? Do we have the bandwidth and capacity to withstand the fallout from addressing these issues in a systematic manner? And it’s not easy, but I think it’s happening in different places at different degrees.

Jon M: [00:37:33] Shifting gears slightly, is an antiracist orientation helpful in retaining teachers of color, especially in high needs schools where turnover tends to be high?

Bradley C: [00:37:44] Yeah. I don’t know what the empirical evidence says about that, but I would say anecdotally, in the communities that we’ve worked in, what we see is twofold. We see an initial, from people of color, a thank you that these issues are being addressed. But we also see an initial doubt, a lack of trust that these issues are going to be sustained and carried through. So for instance, I sat on a community board in Louisville, Kentucky with some elders in the community that said, you know, I’ve been sitting on these committees for the last 40 years. Not much has changed. And so when you ask does doing this at the school level engender teachers, maybe to extend their tenure, I would say it depends on what the followup actions are. If you start a conversation, get everybody riled up and then you move on to the next professional development idea a year later, you’re probably going to lose trust in that community and therefore start losing teachers. If you’re willing to stick with it and stay with it and support those teachers in difficult times, I would argue that you’re most likely going to see extended tenures for those teachers that may have left if other things had taken place.

Amy H-L: [00:39:00] And what about both the principals and the teachers going through this process of antiracism or building antiracist communities, what kind of self-care they need to engage in?

Bradley C: [00:39:14] Oh, that’s that’s a great question. I’m glad you asked that because I will tell you honestly, that in my field, educational leadership, we’ve talked very little about any type of self-care. And so that’s an area that I’m researching now. Why do people get fatigued and burned out? And what are the interventions for fatigue and burnout? So I would argue that self care could be mental health days. It could be, do I create space for my teachers? And do I model what health looks like, that I don’t need to be working 24/7 to be successful in my job, that I can leave at a decent time at my school and spend time with my family and eat healthy meals? And do I give my teachers breaks during the school day? I mean, there’s a, a number of ways to support teachers that are going through difficult work. I think the best thing that you can do is to create a community of support. So that is a group of allies that when things are getting difficult, that they can vent to that will listen to them. They will step in their class if needed, if they’re burned out on a particular day.

And then the other thing we have to start looking at is how do we combat chronic stress in schools? And teachers and leaders are chronically stressed in schools. They’re suffering from. secondary trauma, some of them from PTSD of things that are happening in schools. And so one of the things that I’ve started to introduce, and my thinking is how can mindfulness align with antiracist activities and how can mindfulness, as we know, Jon Kabat-Zinn is a strategy to combat chronic stress. How can we use mindfulness and centeredness to help teachers and support them, those folks that may be more prone to problems? 

Jon M: [00:41:03] Thank you then. Dr. Bradley Carpenter of Baylor University.

Amy H-L: [00:41:08] And thank you listeners. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend or colleague Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and give us a rating or review. This helps others to find the show. Check out our website at for more episodes and articles. Subscribe to our monthly emails. We post annotated transcripts of our interviews to make them easy to use in workshops and classes. We work with consultants to offer customized SEL programs with a focus on ethics for schools and youth programs in the New York City area. Contact us at We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @ethicalschools. Our editor and social media manager is Amanda Denti. Until next week.

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