A qualitative study of minority school district administrators in the Central Valley of California: their career pathways, barriers, and perseverance

In California, data indicate that minority administrators are significantly underrepresented in the public school system in California when compared to overall student enrollment (California Department of Education, 2013). This qualitative research study explored the lived experiences of a small group of minority administrators in California public schools. The semi-structured and open-ended questions were used to capture narrative data through an in-depth interviewing process. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Critical Race Theory (CRT), a lens to give voice to the lived experiences from the perspectives of participants. Participants reported personal, professional, and external challenges that acted as barriers to minorities ascending into higher administrative positions. Racism was mentioned as the highest critical factor, particularly in combination with factors like culture, childhood environment, formal education, and commitment to family. Other local factors like governing boards, hiring processes, community partnerships, and perceptions of minorities were also mentioned as challenges. The highest mentioned factor for achieving success was networking, followed by having job skills, a pre-defined mindset, and integrity. The results of this study provided valuable information to minority administrators and other stakeholders. In addition, the results of this study contributed to current research on minority school administrators and how they have become successful in their careers.