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New Study Urges Changemakers to Prioritize Increasing the Number of Leaders of Color in California's K-12 Schools

November 19, 2019

Los Angeles, CA – Committed to more equitable learning outcomes for all K-12 public school students, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released a study highlighting the critically important role racially diverse school leaders play in California’s public school system.

Charting the Course to Equity: K-12 Leaders of Color and Student Success explores how African American and Latinx leaders benefit all students in an analysis focused on the relationship between the 2017-2018 academic year’s school-level outcomes in California’s public schools and the presence of leaders of color.

“Not only are racially and ethnically diverse leaders important in showing children of color what’s possible, but national research also confirms the impact they can have on increasing academic achievement and decreasing disciplinary actions for all students,” said Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO, CCSA. “Closing the achievement gap for black and Latinx children is our top priority.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • On average, students at schools with a leader of color scored significantly higher on state tests, especially at high schools.
  • Twelfth grade students at schools with a leader of color graduate significantly more prepared for college and career.
  • Students at high schools with a leader of color were significantly less likely to be suspended. Specifically, Latinx students at a high school with a leader of color were 33 percent less likely to be suspended, and African American high school students were 47 percent less likely to be suspended.

“In California, more than 60 percent of all public school students are African American or Latinx, yet only 20 percent of school administrators reflect these populations,” said Dr. Laura J. McGowan-Robinson, Chief Operating Officer, CCSA. “This research should serve as a rallying cry to move toward solutions to not only close the racial diversity gap between leaders and students, but to determine what factors contributed to the outcomes of this study. In partnership with a diverse coalition, we have issued a call to action which will serve as a framework for our work going forward. Over the next several months, we will work toward translating the framework into measurable goals.”

“This growing coalition recognizes the value of racial diversity among K-12 leaders and the role they play in closing the opportunity and access gap,” said Jennifer Childress, Development Director, United Negro College Fund, Greater Los Angeles Area. “Bolstered by this research, we will work together to change the existing conditions that have put many Los Angeles children—particularly children of color— at a disadvantage.”

“Our experiences as practitioners have long told us what the national research confirms—that racially diverse educators have a positive impact on educational outcomes for all students,” said Layla Avila, CEO, EdLoC, an organization that focuses on elevating the leadership and voices of third way leaders of color and creating schools. “Now let’s reject the polarization and double-down on what’s working for Black and Latino children—more diversity in leadership in and outside the classroom.”

UNCF, EdLoC and other members of the coalition will be present at the research discussion on Thursday, November 21 at Loyola Marymount University.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to build great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community, and life. The mission of CCSA is to meet parent, educator, and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high quality non-profit charter schools and sharing their success throughout California’s public schools. Learn more.

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