Influence 100: Reimagining the Role of State Education Agencies Through a Race-Conscious Leadership Initiative
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Camacho, Cheryl Nneka
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CitationCamacho, Cheryl Nneka. 2019. Influence 100: Reimagining the Role of State Education Agencies Through a Race-Conscious Leadership Initiative. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn Massachusetts, 40% of children attending public schools in grades K-12 are of color. In contrast, 4% of superintendents in traditional school districts in the Commonwealth are of color. While the demographic profile of students in public schools has become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse over the past ten years, the trend line for superintendents of color has remained flat. I argue that a variety of root causes contribute to this phenomenon, including racially and ethnically isolated professional networks, bias at all stages of the hiring process, and a desire to avoid being specifically race-conscious when designing strategies to address this challenge. It is important to note that race-conscious work that focuses explicitly on diversity, equity, and inclusion is nascent in most state education agencies, as is a focus on diversifying the superintendent role. The role of race-consciousness in transformation efforts remains an area of ambiguity, particularly as it is clear that federally funded educational entities such as state education agencies are under incredible pressure to remain race-neutral given recent Supreme Court rulings. At the same time, K-12 schools and districts are pushing in a variety of ways for these entities to become more race-conscious in order to address longstanding gaps in student achievement and educator diversity.
In this capstone, I analyze the development of Influence 100, a race-conscious leadership initiative designed to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which I developed and led over the course of my ten-month residency at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
My findings suggest that there is a unique opportunity for state education agencies to take the lead on race consciousness and provide valuable support to districts and schools to engage in robust strategy development and action around increasing educator diversity at all levels—teacher, principal, and senior leadership. The opportunity also comes with a unique set of challenges if State Education Agencies are to lead on and support this consequential work given the traditional role of State Education Agencies that is, in many ways, in tension with the role that is required of them to serve the students and communities of the future.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42063279