Review: Equity Focused Leadership

Book Review: Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders

Empowering Schools and Communities

By Jennifer Perry Cheatham, Rodney Thomas, and Adam Parrott-Sheffer.

Read this book to “garner trust, insights, and impetus to make … transformational change.”

A Powerful Framework and Resource

Start strong, stay strong, and get stronger with this book.  “Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders” is a powerful resource for new and equity leaders. The authors combine research, personal experience, and empathy interviews to offer practical ideas for positive changes. They provide a helpful framework, many case studies, and many tools.  All are designed to empower schools, communities, and the reader.

Understanding the Existing Culture and Context

Get to know the organization’s culture and context before implementing equity-focused initiatives, they say. And they provide tools and frameworks, including cultural audits and power dynamics analysis, to assess the organization’s current state. These steps help ensure that equity efforts are tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the school or district.

Building Relationships and Trust

Build strong relationships and trust with key stakeholders, including staff, students, and community members. The book offers examples of effective communication and collaboration strategies to ensure that wisdom is gathered from all stakeholders. They show how a culture of inclusivity and shared commitment can create an environment where equity becomes a shared goal.

Ongoing Professional Development and Learning

The authors offer a range of resources and suggestions for ongoing professional development, empowering leaders to stay informed and engage in continuous learning. By fostering a learning culture within the organization, leaders can model the importance of growth and improvement and establish continuous learning.

Data and Measurement in Equity-Focused Leadership

The authors emphasize the importance of collecting and analyzing data to identify disparities and assess the impact of equity initiatives. They show how to leverage data to inform decision-making and track progress toward equity goals. This data-driven approach ensures that efforts are evidence-based and results-oriented.

Why it matters

Knowing your district is essential.  Building trust is essential.  And planting the seeds of equity transformation is essential.  This book shows you how to gain “the insight, trust intentionally, and shared commitment necessary to address educational inequality head-on.” The appendices provide action-ready tools, including an entry planning outline and a reporting template.

Voices of Experience

This book will help you advance equity at every level of the district in support of each and every student.  The authors share their profound personal experiences, theirs and those they interviewed.  Lead author Jennifer Cheatham tells how her RE-entry plan in Madison, WI, helped transform the narrative, the need, and the vision for a renewed equity commitment.


Entry Planning for Equity-Focused Leaders by Cheatham, Thomas, and Parrott-Sheffer will help district and school leaders learn and grow stronger in their ability to uncover community needs, develop transparent narratives, and build the will needed to transform schools.  This book will help you make changes with and for those who need your leadership most.

Reviewed by Larry L. Nyland (with an assist from ChatGBT)

Click here to read my AASA review of this book in the September issue of the School Administrator. 




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Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

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