Engaging multiple publics calls for a skill set that “stand[s] in stark opposition to the typical types of managerial and administrative habits characteristic of public schools today” (Knight Abowitz, 2011, p. 477). As instructors in two graduate level leadership preparation programs, we grapple with the tension between developing “managerial and administrative habits” and developing leaders who help people “to mobilize around particular problems related to young people and their schools” (p. 467). In this self-study, we explore how these differing discourses influence the work that we do and our ability to help our students learn to engage with multiple publics. Using a structured, collaborative model for our self-study (Patrizio, McNary & Ballock, 2011) that includes doing shared readings about curriculum leadership, studying artifacts from our practice, extending conversations with a series of reflective letters (Altman, 1982), and revisiting all of our data sources as an aggregate for analysis, we find that pressure to align our courses to the state and professional standards that govern our programs prioritizes a focus on managerial and administrative habits. Further, we find that our students’ beliefs about curriculum leadership more closely align with a managerial and administrative perspective than one that includes multiple publics. Our findings echo Knight Abowitz’s concerns about the types of skills leaders need, the extent to which we expose our students to them, and the mismatch between leadership that privileges a narrow understanding of curriculum and one that transcends any focus on outcomes and blends technical and political skills.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.