News

Deputy Secretary of Education Addresses Philanthropy, Business And Education Leaders on Diversity in Leadership Ranks of Education Reform

April 30, 2014, Oakland, Calif. — The deputy U.S. education secretary and a panel of experts urged the education community on Wednesday to accelerate efforts to recruit and train more leaders of color.

Jim Shelton, the deputy secretary, called on the nearly 1,000 educators gathered at the NewSchool Venture Fund’s 2014 Summit to act urgently to diversify their own leadership ranks. Joined by D.C. Public Schools Chancellor, Kaya Henderson; TFA Co-President, Elisa Villanueva Beard; KIPP Foundation CEO, Richard Barth; and John Rice, founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Shelton cautioned that a large and growing gap between the demographic composition of America’s student population, and its education leaders, threatens efforts to close the achievement gaps between poor students of color and their affluent, largely white peers.

Federal estimates predict that by this September, the student body of America’s public schools will cross over and become a “majority minority” at 50.2 percent. At the same time, the population of educators of color is only 16.4 percent. Last year at NewSchool’s Summit, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged leaders to recognize that this gap is a concern. This year, Shelton and his fellow panelists laid out plans for rapidly altering the status quo and invited the audience to take up the challenge.

Speaking of the leading education reform organizations gathered at the Summit, NewSchools managing director Deborah McGriff noted that research demonstrates a simple fact: “Our organizations will be more effective if the leadership is more diverse.” 

“Our first commitment is, and should always be, to outstanding student achievement,” said Shelton. “The good news is that we have seen time and again that pursuing that North Star is not in tension with closing the demographic gap.” He urged education leaders in the room and across the country to ask themselves, “What do you believe? And what are you willing to do?”  

Echoing this sentiment, McGriff added that “what is needed now is less conversation and more action. At NewSchools we are helping our portfolio companies recruit qualified leaders of color, and increasing our own focus on recruiting world-class talent that represents the diversity of the students we aim to serve.”

NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that partners with entrepreneurs to provide all students with an excellent public education and the promise of a bright future, hosted the session at their 2014 Summit in Burlingame, Calif. The Summit also focused on Common Core, STEM and STEAM and advances in education technology.

Full video of the session, as well as other Summit content, is available at: http://www.newschools.org/blog/live-from-summit-2014-from-talk-to-action

About NewSchools

NewSchools Venture Fund is a venture philanthropy that partners with entrepreneurs to provide all students —regardless of where they come from or live – with an excellent public education and the promise of a bright future. Since NewSchools’ founding in 1998, more than $200 million have been raised and invested in a national portfolio of entrepreneurial ventures, including charter management organizations, teacher preparation programs, and educational technology companies. These investments have improved educational outcomes for more than 15 million students. To learn more, please visit: www.newschools.org