Keynote 3: Mark Gooden

Sunday 9th July
11:00  – 12:15

‘Writhing, Wishing, Waking, & Walking Against the Wall: Fighting for the Future of Equity-Centered Educational Leadership in a Global Society’

In the United States a block of citizens overlooked or endorsed a history of troubling behavior exhibited by Donald J. Trump and have elected him to the highest office of the United States. Though the U.S. has had presidents who have won the election and not the majority of the vote, Trump’s election has caused a conflagration of events including protests and refusals by high-ranking officials to serve in his administration. Furthermore, after less than a month in office, the Trump administration has attempted to fulfill controversial promises relative to exclusive immigration policy and construction of a wall, a literal physical barrier designed to keep Mexican neighbors out of the country. Reasons for electing such a polemic presidential candidate have ranged from racial backlash to fervent promises to provide more jobs for workers who have been displaced by the de-industrialization of America, who apparently felt shut out of the current economy. In the US many marginalized groups are concerned that their voices will not be heard.

What does this brash display of leadership mean for school leaders who fight for equitable schools on behalf of marginalized populations? Well the new president also has a particular stance that does not favor public education and will result in redirecting funds to private schools. His newly appointed Secretary of Education, who has no experience working in or with public schools, was just confirmed. Accordingly, President Trump’s plans for the Department of Education include immediately adding an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice by reprioritizing existing federal dollars, supposedly to support children living in poverty by providing better educational options. Yet, the president argues that the United States should build a wall to keep struggling Mexican families out of America, the so-called “land of opportunity”. In the context of another country, some Brits have been vocal about closing borders to immigrants and questioning the place of minorities in their country. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May launched in 2016 an “audit to look into racial disparities in our public services that stretches right across Government. It will highlight the differences in outcomes for people of different backgrounds, in every area from health to education, childcare to welfare, employment, skills and criminal justice.” Thus she seems to be arguing for more inclusiveness. What must we make of these occurrences? What do they signal to those who prepare educational leaders to work in schools in their respective communities and countries who commit to resist the rhetoric and inimical actions visited upon vulnerable school children of marginalized populations? In this talk I will discuss ways to resist, hope, prepare, and take meaningful actions against “the Wall”, which is another barrier established to impede the fight of committed social justice leaders.


Mark Anthony Gooden, Ph.D., is the Margie Gurley Seay Centennial Professor in Education at The University of Texas. Within the Department of Educational Administration, he is also Director of The University of Texas at Austin Principalship Program (UTAPP) and Public School Executive Leadership (PSEL) Coordinator. His research interests include the principalship, anti-racist leadership, urban educational leadership and legal issues in education. His research has appeared in a range of outlets including Educational Administration Quarterly, Teachers College Record, Review of Educational Research, Journal of School Leadership, Urban Education, Journal of Research on Leadership in Education, The Journal of Negro Education, Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, Education and Urban Society, The Sage Handbook of African-American Education and The Principal’s Legal Handbook and others. He currently serves as a member of Executive Committee and is Immediate Past President of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), a consortium of 99 higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children. Mark has served on various committees for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and is a member of the Educational Law Association (ELA).