Professor George Theoharis Publishes Second Edition of “The School Leaders Our Children Deserve”

Addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in a political climate of national resistance to DEI, Syracuse University School of Education Professor George Theoharis has published the second edition of The School Leaders Our Children Deserve: Seven Keys to Equity, Social Justice, and School Reform (Teachers College Press, 2024), a bestselling book on school leadership, equity, and social justice.

“The book is updated for the current moment about advancing equity in schools and the national backlash to that work,” explains Theoharis. “It is expanded to include an understanding of leadership that centers the need of marginalized students from intersectional identities, including race, class, disability, language, and LGBTQ+. It positions leadership for social justice or equity-focused leadership as encompassing both culturally responsive leadership and leadership concerned about DEI/DEIA.”

George Theoharis headshotFeaturing a mix of theory and practical strategies, the second edition offers new examples and frameworks relevant to today’s leaders. Among new frameworks are those for creating and maintain inclusive services, for anti-racist leadership, and for equity audits that drive change.

The book draws on the experiences and words of successful public school principals, showing why social justice leadership is needed and how it can be effective in creating more equitable schools.

Portraying how real school leaders seek, create, and sustain equitable schools, especially for marginalized students—and in the face of tremendous barriers—the principals featured in The School Leaders Our Children Deserve make important strides toward closing the outcome and opportunity gaps in their schools.

“This edition provides insights and idea that are contrary to many school reform ideas of making classroom and curriculum ‘teacher proof’ or scripted,” observes Theoharis. “The leaders described here have worked to support teacher curricular expertise and to embrace an inclusive curriculum.”

An updated chapter depicts the difficulty leaders face when focusing on equity and justice—and the toll it takes. To counteract these challenges, the book contains strategies for how leaders can develop resilience.

“The book concludes with an updated discussion about how leadership for social justice is distinct from our notions and ideas of what ‘good leadership’ is,” says Theoharis. “The book includes important examples of what that means and looks like.”

Writes John Rogers, Professor of Education, UCLA, “George Theoharis provides us with a new and powerfully updated edition. The book offers a compelling vision for how principals can upend long-standing patterns of inequality and make a profound difference in the lives of their students. In a moment when social justice education has come under increasing attack, the stories and theories in this book are essential reading. It is the book we all deserve.”

“This second edition of The School Leaders Our Children Deserve couldn’t come at a more pressing time,” says Melissa A. Martinez, Professor in Educational and Community Leadership, Texas State University. “Dr. Theoharis beautifully illustrates the continued relevancy of social justice leadership through the perspectives, challenges, and lessons learned via public school principals engaged in the hard work of making their schools just, inclusive, and free of opportunity gaps. Current and aspiring school and district leaders alike can readily connect, reflect, learn from, and apply the strategies presented to be the leaders our children need.”