Susan Levine EdD
Advancing Educational Justice
Barstow Unified School District Superintendent Susan Levine has been spared any serious financial stressors, but her professional life has been turned upside down by California’s budget woes.
Levine, who is in the first year of the university’s doctorate in Leadership for Educational Justice, says she is constantly agonizing over the difficult personnel and programming cuts she is being forced to make.
The small school district, located in the High Desert region, has had to cut at least $5 million from its approximately $55 million budget for the 2009-10 school year.
Because of her long hours at work, Levine said she has been struggling to get her doctorate coursework done.
“I’m basically doggie paddling to get my coursework completed for class each week,” she said. “It’s my positive attitude and my passion for academia that keeps me going!”
Levine said the doctorate program’s emphasis on educational and social justice drew her to the program, and has inspired her to continue her coursework during such frantic times.
The program has a unique focus on educational and social justice—the idea that students from all backgrounds should have access to quality instruction, resources and other educational opportunities.
“My Redlands education is helping me focus as a social justice leader and think about how to let that shine in every decision I make in personnel and as superintendent,” Levine said.
During particularly tough times, Levine said her doctoral cohort’s close-knit nature also has helped her to persevere.
“Every member is special to me and we have bonded and formed a close relationship already,” Levine said. “That is the wonderful part—being in the program together and helping support the others, as well as being supported.”
Levine said she understands why the troubled economy might push some students to consider dropping out. But she said students should weigh all their options—and rally their support network—before making such a decision.
“If someone is considering dropping out, they should immediately speak with their advisor,” she said. “Maybe someone in their cohort can buddy up with them to help them get through a bump in the road. I believe there is always a way to succeed. Sometimes, it takes a friend or a colleague to help think out of the box with options and solutions.”