Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

by Glenn E. Singleton

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Create a systemwide plan for transforming the district office, schools, and classrooms into places that truly support ALL students achieving their highest levels!


This updated edition of the highly acclaimed bestseller continues to explain the need for candid, courageous conversations about race so that educators may understand why student disengagement and achievement inequality persists and learn how they can develop a curriculum that promotes true educational equity and excellence. Almost a decade since its original publication, the revised book includes new features as well as preserves the core content that led to many schools’ and districts’ success.


  • NEW! Courageous Conversation Compass
  • NEW! Racial autobiographies, offering more focused and relevant voices from a diverse group of skilled Courageous Conversation practitioners
  • NEW! Case study on St. Paul Public Schools, a district that has stayed on track with Courageous Conversations and successfully implemented the Systemic Racial Equity Transformation Framework
  • NEW! Links to video segments featuring the author describing different aspects of the work
  • UPDATED! Implementation exercises
  • UPDATED! Activities and checklists for school and district leaders 
  • UPDATED! Action steps for creating an effective equity team


"What this book has given me is an effective set of tools to support me in understanding, first, my own racial biography and then how to discuss with my team race and its impact on education. The lessons from this book offer a useful starting point for every school district that wants to change mindsets, policies, and outcomes. Singleton takes readers on a personally and professionally transformative journey toward understanding and action."

—S. Dallas Dance, Superintendent

Baltimore County Public Schools, MD


"All students, especially white students, need to read, think, converse and write about issues of race, racism and whiteness if teachers are to help move society into a more racially aware and just place for all. The work of Glenn Singleton and Pacific Educational Group gives educators the tools they need to have those Courageous Conversations."

—Jackie Roehl, 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Edina High School, Edenia, MN


"Brave and grounded, patient but pointed, Courageous Conversations About Race delivers a rare combination of critical information, illuminating perspective, and truly useful tools to get and keep us all engaged in the most important work of our time. A great nation is not defined by its ability to assimilate all of its citizens, but by its ability to provide equitable opportunities for all of them. This book shows us how."

—Dr. Anton Treuer, Author, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask; Executive Director, American Indian Resource Center

Bemidji State University, MN


"When I finished reading this book, I immediately wanted to share it with others. Glenn Singleton provides strategies and tools to help one examine one′s own racial identity. His curriculum and modes of inquiry promote self-discovery and self-awareness. The racial autobiographies allowed me to deepen my racial consciousness and become a more effective Courageous Conversation practitioner.  Mr. Singleton is the best equity practitioner I have worked with—provocative, stimulating, mindful of the sensitivities of this topic, and devoted to fulfilling our racial equity mandate."

—Ellen C. Stein, Head of School

The Dalton School, New York, NY


"In the first edition of his groundbreaking book, Courageous Conversations, Glenn Singleton made a powerful case that, in order to dismantle racism, it is first necessary to talk about and understand how power and privilege are related to race. In this second edition, he takes it one step further, adding racial autobiographies and supplements to make it even more accessible to diverse audiences. This work is sorely needed if we are ever to reach educational and social equity in our nation."

—Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita - Language, Literacy, and Culture

College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


"The City’s leadership team has used Pacific Educational Group’s training and the Courageous Conversation protocol effectively to launch our racial equity work. Sharing these concepts and approaches with our partners, Saint Paul Public Schools, has created a level of trust and understanding around racial equity we didn’t have before."

—Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor

City of Saint Paul, MN

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781483388472
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Publication date: 10/11/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 518,065
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Glenn Eric Singleton hails from Baltimore, Maryland. A product of public elementary and independent secondary school, Singleton earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Singleton began his career as an Ivy League admissions director. In 1992, he founded Pacific Educational Group, Inc. (PEG) to support families in their transitions within and between K–12 and higher education. His company rapidly grew into a vehicle for addressing systemic educational inequity by providing a framework, guidance, and support to K–12 systems and institutions of higher education focused on meeting the needs of under-served students of color. He is now its president and chief executive officer.

Singleton and his associates at PEG design and deliver individualized, comprehensive professional development for educators in the form of training, coaching, and consulting. Working at all levels, from beginning teachers to superintendents at local, state, and national levels, PEG helps educators focus on heightening their awareness of institutional racism and implementing effective strategies for eliminating racial achievement disparities in schools. In 1995, Singleton developed Beyond Diversity, a widely recognized seminar aimed at helping administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community stakeholders identify and examine the intersection of race and schooling. The Beyond Diversity seminar is the foundation for the PEG Systemic Racial Equity Framework and its theory of transformation, which focuses on leadership development, teacher action-research, and family/community empowerment. Today, participants around the world use Singleton’s Courageous Conversations Agreements, Conditions and Compass, introduced to them in Beyond Diversity, as they strive to usher in culturally proficient curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Over its 20-year history, PEG’s scope of work has expanded to include online professional learning, independent school partnerships, and international efforts in Canada and Australia that focus on educational equity for indigenous populations. PEG hosts an annual Summit for Courageous Conversation, in which scholars, educators, community members, and other stakeholders convene to identify strategies and best practices for creating high-level, equitable learning environments for all students.

Singleton currently resides in San Francisco, California. He is the founder of the Foundation for a College Education (FCE) and currently serves on the FCE Advisory Board.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Gloria Ladson-Billings
About the Author
1. Breaking the Silence: Ushering in Courageous Conversation About Race
The Racial Achievement Gap and Other Systemic Racial Disparities
Three Critical Factors
The Courageous Conversation Strategy and Protocol
Part I. Passion: An Essential Characteristic of Racial Equity Leadership
2. What’s So Courageous About This Conversation?
Courageous Conversation
A Difficult Conversation
3. Why Race?
The Problem of the Color Line
The Racial Gap
Race as a Factor in Education
Dealing With Race
Establishing Common Language Around Race
Do We Have the Will?
Racial Autobiography Part I: Glenn Singleton
4. Agreeing to Talk About Race
Racial Consciousness
Four Agreements of Courageous Conversation
Racial Autobiography: Curtis Linton
Part II. Practice: The Foundation of Racial Equity Leadership
5. The First Condition: Getting Personal Right Here and Right Now
Personal, Local, and Immediate
The Impact of Race on My Life
Degree of Racial Consciousness
Racial Consciousness Versus Racial Unconsciousness
Racial Autobiography: Melissa Krull
6. The Second Condition: Keeping the Spotlight on Race
Isolating Race
Unpacking Race
Racial Autobiography: Patrick Sanchez
7. The Third Condition: Engaging Multiple Racial Perspectives
Social Construction of Knowledge
Surfacing Critical Perspectives
Racial Autobiography: Leidene King
8. The Fourth Condition: Keeping Us All at the Table
Interracial Dialogue
Creating Safety
The Courageous Conversation Compass
Racial Autobiography: Andrea Johnson
9. The Fifth Condition: What Do You Mean By “Race”?
A Brief History of Race
A Working Definition of Race
Racial Autobiography: Luis Versalles
10. The Sixth Condition: Let’s Talk About Whiteness
White Is a Color
White Privilege
White Is a Culture
White Consciousness
Whiteness as Examined in the Five Conditions
White Racial Identity Development
Racial Autobiography: Rev Hillstrom
Part III. Persistence: The Key to Racial Equity Leadership
11. How Racial Equity Leaders Eliminate Systemic Racial Disparities
Invisibility Versus Hypervisibility
Understanding Students of Color and Indigenous Students Within a White School
Understanding Systemic White Racism
The Injustice of Gradualism and Incremental Change
Racial Autobiography: Courtlandt Butts
12. Exploring a Systemic Framework for Achieving Equity in Schools
A Vision of Equity
Systemic Racial Equity Transformation
Racial Autobiography: Unsuk Zucker
Racial Autobiography: Malcolm Fialho
13. Courageous Conversation as a Strategy for Achieving Equity in Schools
Personal Racial Equity Leadership
Individual Teacher Racial Equity Leadership
Whole School Racial Equity Leadership
Systemic Racial Equity Leadership
St. Paul Public Schools: A Case Study
Leadership for Racial Equity
Racial Autobiography Part II: Glenn Singleton
References and Selected Bibliography

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