Join Our Mailing List
We promise not to spam you.
Letter from Etienne R. LeGrand
The W.E.B. Du Bois Society was formed eight years ago because a few concerned parents and educators realized the need for a different approach to narrowing the wide and stubborn academic achievement gap that exists between African-American students and their white and Asian peers. We successfully created programs that celebrated academic achievement and showed our children that while you’ll hear cheers on the football field or basketball court, you’ll also hear them in the classroom as well.
Today, a sea change is in order. Not only is it imperative to celebrate learning in the classroom, but we must also take a look at improving the entire school culture if we mean to evoke the academic change we are truly seeking.
Why school culture?
Few are talking about it. Research shows that schools with a positive culture foster academic improvement, cohesion, collaborative decision-making, professional development and staff and student learning. Even as we tend to overlook it because we can’t adequately measure it, school culture influences what the school cares about, the way people behave, what the people in the school spend time doing, and what they celebrate. The school whose leadership does the best job of deliberately influencing culture does a better job at producing student and teacher learning.
Toxic school culture is prevalent and goes unacknowledged in so many school districts and low performing schools, hindering learning in large and small ways. For thirty years, the US educational debate has centered on school reform but these efforts have failed to sustain increases in educational attainment. Particularly for low-income and minority students, school reform alone is not working. Yet for those schools and districts that are improving performance among these students, lessons point to effective leadership equipped to deliberately shape a positive culture within the school.
Improving culture will not happen overnight and it will be challenging to reshape a toxic culture into a healthy one. But research demonstrates that culture is foundational to performance and that mandated reforms have a better chance of succeeding in schools that have a healthy school culture than ones that do not.
With investment, engagement, and support, we can make a difference.
Etienne R. LeGrand
President & Co-Founder
W.E.B. Du Bois Society