The Leadership for Equity, Antiracism, Diversity, and Educational Reform Program (L.E.A.D.E.R.) was developed in 1996 by the Los Angeles County Office of Education because of a need to support teachers in their efforts to reform classrooms. The program supports teachers, as well as the entire educational community, in its efforts to make the needed changes to curriculum and instruction of students to encourage their empowerment. These efforts promote educational equity, justice, cultural inclusion, self-esteem and intergroup harmony.
The pilot stage of L.E.A.D.E.R. included 25 principals from schools in Los Angeles County. During the training program, principals developed plans for implementing educational changes to meet the needs of students. The plans focused on: school climate; governance; decision-making and accountability; multicultural curriculum and parent\community collaboration; recruitment; and professional development. In the year following the pilot training, principals met in groups to advise each other regarding the implementation progress. As result, the current model for this leadership training consists of 2 ½ to 3 days of intense, interactive sessions. The training takes place at a retreat where they can examine the values and beliefs about issues of diversity, stereotypes, prejudice and cultural identity. They also learn about some of the manifestations of racism, they develop strategies to lead whole school reform so that students from diverse racial, ethnic, social, and cultural groups experience educational equity, empowerment and success. Gathering knowledge and skills on how to develop and maintain classrooms that value and empower all members of the learning community is also an important tool participants learn during the retreat. Training lasts about 12 hours a day. The fee for participating is $300 to $400 per person and covers materials, lodging, meals and trainers/training expenses.
Changes at school sites, both between and among staff, as well as in curriculum and instruction, have been dramatic. Staff at schools implementing changes have rallied behind the goals, and racial tension between staff and students and among students is greatly reduced.