Charter school leaders of color from across nation gather in nation’s capital

Lagra Newman

This week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools kicked off its fifth annual School Leaders of Color (SLOC) convening. This cohort of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American charter school leaders who run high-quality public schools are in Washington to share best practices and showcase the secret to their success.

As our country struggles to diversify its teaching force and boost student achievement for Black, Brown and low-income students, the work of these school leaders is particularly noteworthy. Studies have found that K-12 students perform better academically if they’ve been assigned to a teacher of the same race. These findings are significant given that the teaching force at charter schools is more diverse than at traditional public schools. Data suggests that students who have been ill served in district-operated schools, especially students of color, flourish at charter schools.

In 2017-18, 33% of charter school students were Hispanic compared to 27% in the district, 26% were Black compared to 14% in the district and 32% were White compared to 48% in the district.

In 2015-16, 11% of charter school principals were Hispanic compared to eight percent in the district, 15% were Black compared to 10% in the district and 70% were White compared to 79% in the district.

“It’s an honor to host some of our nation’s top school leaders and hear more about how the flexibility and autonomy of the charter school model allows them to directly serve the students of their communities,” said National Alliance President and CEO Nina Rees. “Charter schools employ more teachers of color and enroll more students of color than traditional public schools. It’s critical that we equip school leaders of color with the tools they need to open and run great schools—ultimately yielding more educational equity and stronger student performance.”

According to Stanford University’s ‘Credo,’ Black students in urban charter schools gained 36 additional days of learning in math and 26 additional days of learning in reading per year as compared to their district school peers. And for Hispanic students, charter schools generate learning growth equivalent to 22 extra days in math and six extra days in reading annually. For low-income Hispanic students, these numbers rise to 48 extra days in math and 25 extra days in reading.

This year’s cohort includes Lagra Newman, founder and head of school for Purpose Prep in Nashville.