Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Source

International Journal of Educational Reform


Context matters. These two words ring true everywhere, in every situation we find ourselves and for everything we do or say, but they have a particularly strong impact in American schools. Even though the fact that American schools have legally been desegregated since 1954, researchers such as Bolgatz (2005b); Delpit (1995); Lindsey, Robins and Terrell (2009); and (Singleton, 2014) argue that schools and classrooms are still largely segregated in a variety of ways. The majority of schools for example, lack contextually appropriate curriculum, do not promote diversity among students, teachers, and staff, and/or fail to engage all parents and community members. Besides institutional and deeply rooted cultural, societal, and political reasons for these inequities, Di Angelo (2011) posits that White people do not know how to tackle issues of race and racism and would rather avoid the topic all together, perpetuating the inequalities among minorities. In this book, Khalifa focuses on how all urban school leaders (from any race and ethnic background) can support minority students. He posits that while culturally responsive methods have been presented and taught to teachers, most school leaders are not familiar with the concept.

Khalifa presents a strong argument, in which culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL) must be a priority for urban school leaders in order to become effective instructional leaders and to have a positive impact on student learning regardless of the students’ cultural and racial origins and heritages. As a result, CRSL must be promoted by school leaders far and foremost. The author also suggests that in order to endorse CRSL schools, leaders need to be or become critically self-reflective, support teachers to become culturally aware and responsive, help them develop culturally responsive curricula, provide inviting and safe learning environments, and lastly leaders need to engage everyone in the community. The author offers practical advice and solutions for school leaders and for lasting systemic change. For example, at the end of each chapter, the readers can find Discussion questions (self-reflection questions) and in some instances other questions which are drawn from the embedded case study. Khalifa also provides some helpful activities that school leaders can do with their school team. Finally, the book’s tables offer activities and salient examples. For example, the author lists the behaviors to avoid and others to adopt in order to be culturally responsive school leaders (see page 87 on Inclusive and Exclusive School Space).

Inclusive pages




Document Version



The document available for download is the author's accepted manuscript, provided in compliance with the publisher's policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file.

Citation information for the book reviewed:

Khalifa, Muhammad A. Culturally Responsive School Leadership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-68253-207-2.


Sage Publications





Link to published version



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