Openness and Leadership.” Credit: Paul Downey

May 11, 2017; The Atlantic

Though studies show that the race of educators makes a difference in minority student achievement, the number of black and Latin@ principals has lagged behind the number of corresponding students. Nonprofits, like New Leaders, have demonstrated success in recruiting black and Latin@ principals.

In 2012 only about 10 percent of public-school principals were black while 16 percent of public-school students were black, according to a 2016 U.S. Department of Education report on diversity among educators. The same report showed that only 7 percent of principals were Hispanic compared to 24 percent of public-school students.

Further, “According to the 2016 report on diversity among educators, in 2012, only 7 percent of teachers were black, while 8 percent were Hispanic.”

New Leaders helps build the pipeline of educators and leaders of color through “summer training, monthly classes, paid principal apprenticeships, and two additional years of professional support.” And they have been successful. “Since its inception in 2001, New Leaders reports that 1,083 principals have successfully completed the program, 64 percent of whom are people of color—more than triple the national average.”

It turns out that principals are key in recruiting teachers of color.

“The black principal was for years the linchpin of his community—the link between the white and black communities, the idol of ambitious young blacks, the recruiter and hirer of new black teachers,” said a 1970 report by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

After 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools unconstitutional, “black principals, especially in the South, were routinely and systematically removed from their jobs.” Today, “the number of black and Hispanic educators has remained disproportionately low.”

However, change is coming, partly the result of nonprofits and school districts across the country working to diversify educators.

The public school system in Boston; Call Me MISTER in South Carolina; Dean’s Future Scholars in Reno, Nevada; Teach Tomorrow in Oakland, California; and Teach For America are just a few of the growing number of organizations focused on changing the makeup of the school workforce.

According to the 2016 U.S. Department of Education report titled “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce,”

There were more black and Hispanic college students pursuing education majors in 2012 than in 2000…Twenty-seven percent of education majors in 2012 identified as black, Hispanic, or “other,” compared to 22 percent in 2000. And 22 percent of new teachers in 2012 were black, Hispanic [sic], or “other”—four percentage points more diverse than the teaching force as a whole.

Jean Desravines, the CEO of New Leaders, argues that “by focusing on mindset, a willingness to share leadership with other adults and a proven track record of success, his organization can do a better job of picking future leaders than if it stuck to traditional measures like GPAs and the relative prestige of candidates alma maters.”—Cyndi Suarez