Research Topic

Leadership for Racial Equity and Social Justice: Engaging Families and Communities in Educational Research, Advocacy, and Change

About this Research Topic

The public health crises associated with COVID-19 and the brutal and senseless murders of innocent Black men, women, and children have sparked greater attention to systemic racism, supported by national and local efforts to dismantle it through anti-racist education, values, and practices. As educational leaders weigh the difficult decisions associated with school reopenings, the organizational and human resource capacity for remote learning, and ensuring the health and safety of their employees and students; they are also increasingly expected to respond to and address racist incidents and conflicts with sensitivity and swift action.

Renewed attention to the role and significance of schools as community institutions and their engagement with families presents an ideal opportunity to examine the role of educational leaders during this critical juncture in U.S. political history, where school and district leaders can either maintain the status quo or serve as family and community advocates and agents of social change. As school leaders continue to face increasingly complex challenges and decisions related to race and inequality in their schools and systems, it is important to consider the role of community-engaged educational research as a lever for racial equity and social justice.

The purpose of this article collection is to explore community-engaged research and scholarship as both a promising methodological approach and lever for leadership for racial equity and social change. We are interested in how the multiple crises shaping current context including the mismanagement of the global health pandemic, rise of white nationalism, economic recession, and in the case of education - school closures and reopening plans – have revealed the need to examine more closely the role of educational leaders in collaboration with families and communities through educational research.

Given the major gaps in knowledge that continue to exist from the perspectives of communities of color on issues related to race, equity, voice, power, culture, and justice in education, we invite articles that reflect the underexamined epistemologies of family and community members within the context of education, privileging their wisdom and ways of knowing as those nearest to the problem. Guiding questions include:

• How do educational leaders sustain authentic relationships with their families and communities in times of crises and/or conflict?
• In what ways are educational leaders who enjoy existing relationships with their school communities better positioned to manage crises like COVID and failed state and federal responses to the pandemic? Rise of white nationalism? Uprisings and protests against policy brutality?
• How do school leaders without prior relationships with or access to families and community members and groups respond to such crises and/or other racial incidents, conflicts, and injustices?
• How do leaders committed to racial equity and social justice make decisions when the needs and demands of community stakeholders and constituencies inherently conflict with one another?
• What are effective strategies and practices used by school leaders for fostering family and community engagement and collaboration especially where research is also taking place?


Keywords: racial equity, social justice, family and community engagement, advocacy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The public health crises associated with COVID-19 and the brutal and senseless murders of innocent Black men, women, and children have sparked greater attention to systemic racism, supported by national and local efforts to dismantle it through anti-racist education, values, and practices. As educational leaders weigh the difficult decisions associated with school reopenings, the organizational and human resource capacity for remote learning, and ensuring the health and safety of their employees and students; they are also increasingly expected to respond to and address racist incidents and conflicts with sensitivity and swift action.

Renewed attention to the role and significance of schools as community institutions and their engagement with families presents an ideal opportunity to examine the role of educational leaders during this critical juncture in U.S. political history, where school and district leaders can either maintain the status quo or serve as family and community advocates and agents of social change. As school leaders continue to face increasingly complex challenges and decisions related to race and inequality in their schools and systems, it is important to consider the role of community-engaged educational research as a lever for racial equity and social justice.

The purpose of this article collection is to explore community-engaged research and scholarship as both a promising methodological approach and lever for leadership for racial equity and social change. We are interested in how the multiple crises shaping current context including the mismanagement of the global health pandemic, rise of white nationalism, economic recession, and in the case of education - school closures and reopening plans – have revealed the need to examine more closely the role of educational leaders in collaboration with families and communities through educational research.

Given the major gaps in knowledge that continue to exist from the perspectives of communities of color on issues related to race, equity, voice, power, culture, and justice in education, we invite articles that reflect the underexamined epistemologies of family and community members within the context of education, privileging their wisdom and ways of knowing as those nearest to the problem. Guiding questions include:

• How do educational leaders sustain authentic relationships with their families and communities in times of crises and/or conflict?
• In what ways are educational leaders who enjoy existing relationships with their school communities better positioned to manage crises like COVID and failed state and federal responses to the pandemic? Rise of white nationalism? Uprisings and protests against policy brutality?
• How do school leaders without prior relationships with or access to families and community members and groups respond to such crises and/or other racial incidents, conflicts, and injustices?
• How do leaders committed to racial equity and social justice make decisions when the needs and demands of community stakeholders and constituencies inherently conflict with one another?
• What are effective strategies and practices used by school leaders for fostering family and community engagement and collaboration especially where research is also taking place?


Keywords: racial equity, social justice, family and community engagement, advocacy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2021 Manuscript
15 February 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2021 Manuscript
15 February 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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