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Demographic Shifts Within the United States

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The demographic shifts within the United States have created new challenges for educators. There is no question that US schools are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. It is estimated that, at present, more than half of the students in urban schools are minorities (Orfield, 2001). By the year 2050, more than half of the US population will be other than non-Hispanic White (Marx, 2002). As cultural diversity becomes a greater factor in schools cultural awareness on the part of teachers and educational leaders is becoming imperative. The role of leaders is often perceived as the ultimate authority figure, decision-maker, problem-solver and traditional leadership approaches continue to ignore the demographic changes. Maxcy (2002) observes that, "Entire genres of educational administration research and writing have overlooked these culture shifts" (p.50). Approaches to leadership and diversity continue to be prescriptive in nature, listing the many qualities necessary for effective change in schools, however, most approaches fall short by failing to explain how to develop these qualities within leaders. Cases of successful leadership in diverse settings not only depend on the style of leadership, but the principal's ability to promote diversity on a daily basis. School leadership has the critical role of making certain of inclusive teaching approaches that encourage culturally relevant teaching practices and implementing appropriate pedagogical approaches.

Although rapid demographic changes are occurring in our society, some student groups (i.e., Latino and African American) continue to perform at mediocre and failing levels (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). For many, finding these groups at the lower ends of school success has become common place - often attributing failure to home cultures. These changes demand greater emphasis of cultural knowledge and intercultural development in professional development programs. This entails a greater analysis of the findings by various researchers to determine key areas of leadership that will perform effectively in diverse environments.

As schools are confronted with these dramatic demographic shifts, schools need to respond by providing adequate leadership in these diverse settings. As traditional studies of organizational leadership evolved from systematic forms of organizations to more humanistic and behavioral approaches to organizational development. This shift in emphasis for leadership development, especially educational leadership, is one that recognizes the importance of people. Simply, organizations cannot function effectively if the needs, desires and well-being of its participants are ignored. Educational organizations are human organizations with the responsibility to enrich, fulfill and provide individuals with opportunities for personal growth. This requires leaders to provide educational organizations with the direction and vision

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