Trib+Edu: Would you say this social justice approach is politicizing education?
Carpenter: When we talk about social justice in our program it’s about creating equitable opportunities for all students. It’s not political in nature. Some people may interpret that as political but as one of my first professors said, everything in life is political.
Our future principals of the greater Houston area have a responsibility to the taxpayers of those schools to make sure every student that walks through those front doors has an equitable opportunity at achieving great things. That social justice orientation means I’m going to look at the systems in place. Are they askew in a way that some students get access to some programs others don’t. Are we tracking special ed referrals, discipline referrals?
We also focus on how much funding schools receive and what reform models are available. While leadership preparation programs can’t fix everything, there are benefits to teaching skills related to turnaround leadership so we can address persistently low-achieving campuses.
If these schools are not seeing a positive change, then higher education has to take some responsibility. If the schools in Houston where we’re placing our students are not experiencing success, we need to reevaluate our approach.
We’re invested in building a sustainable professional network to support each other.