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Public Charter School Leaders of Color from Across the Country Join Together to Advocate for Students

Public Charter School Leaders of Color from Across the Country Join Together to Advocate for Students

February 27, 2024

46 charter school leaders of color visited the nation’s capital to advocate for public education, families, and students in their states

In 84 meetings with congressional lawmakers and staff today, 46 public charter school leaders of color delivered a message of equity, innovation, and hope in public education. Hosted by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Charter Collaborative, the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, the Black, LatinX, Asian Charter Collaborative, and the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools, leaders from 21 states advocated for these unique public schools and their communities, families, and students at the nation’s Capitol.  

“These leaders, who are teachers, principals, advocates, and community members, know firsthand how the charter school model successfully provides a high-quality education to the children and families in their communities, and especially to students of color,” said Ron Rice, Senior Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “These 46 leaders are advocating for solutions, resources, and innovations that will address the significant inequities and gaps in public education that children and families from historically disadvantaged communities experience every day. Support from our elected leaders is imperative to this mission.” 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) from 2020-21, 33.4% of charter school principals are school leaders of color compared to 21.8% in district schools. Charter schools are leading the way in creating diversity, equity, and inclusion within public education and historically serve proportionately more students of color and more students from low-income communities than district schools. According to the most recently available data (2020-21 school year), 69% of charter school students are students of color compared to 53% of district school students.  

When looking at what parents of color what for their children, 70% of Black parents and 63% of Hispanic parents strongly agree that parents should be able to have a choice in where their children go to school. 53% of Black parents and 40% of Hispanic parents strongly agree that they want options for their children other than the district school they are zoned for or assigned.

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is critically important to the growth of the charter school sector. Charter schools are often located in urban areas and overwhelmingly serve students who are Black, Hispanic, or from low-income families. More than 1 million students have access to high-quality public schools that would not have existed without the CSP. At its current funding level of $440 million, the CSP amounts to less than one percent of federal spending on K-12 education. Equitable funding is necessary to provide the same quality of public education – regarding facilities, teacher pay, curriculum, technology, meals, etc. – to all students, and to provide more students with the opportunity to attend a public charter school.  

The following 46 leaders from around the country participated in meetings with their congressional representatives today:  

AL: Angela Lang, Founder and CEO of I Dream Big Academy 
AL: Jeremiah Newell, Superintendent/Headmaster of Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF) Public Charter Schools 
AL: Calandra Sales, Executive Director of Independence Preparatory Academy 
CA: Cady Ching, CEO of Summit Public Schools 
CA: Carlos Garcia Saldaña, Executive Director of Odyssey Charter Schools 
CA: Ricardo Mireles, Executive Director of Academia Avance 
CA: Maya Woods-Cadiz, Superintendent of AIMS K-12 College Prep Charter District 
CT: John Taylor, Executive Director of Elevate Charter Schools 
D.C.: Naomi Shelton, Executive Director of National Charter Collaborative 
DE: Margie López Waite, CEO of Las Americas ASPIRA Academy 
GA: Nikki Grier, CEO & Founding School Leader of DELTA STEAM Academy 
GA: Rashaun Kemp, Senior Director of National Charter Collaborative 
GA: Samuel Stephens, Assistant Principal of Fulton Leadership Academy 
HI: Amber Leon Guerrero, Chief Student Success Officer of DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach Public Charter School 
IN: Kimberly Neal, Executive Director of BELIEVE Schools 
LA: Adierah Berger, CEO and Head of School of International High School of New Orleans 
MD: Angelica Jackson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Phoenix International School of the Arts 
MD: Atasha James, Co-Founder and CEO of Legends Charter School 
MD: Kristina Kyles-Smith, CEO of Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School 
MD: Alan Washington, President and CEO of Charter Schools Development Corporation 
MD: Lori Widney, Principal of Watershed Public Charter School 
MN: Norma C. Garcés, Executive Director of Academia Cesar Chavez 
MN: Katie Groh de Aviña, Executive Director of El Colegio Charter School 
MS: Amanda Johnson, Executive Director of Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School 
NJ: Dr. Dowayne Davis, CEO of Phillip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson 
NJ: Nihat Guvercin, CEO of iLearn Schools 
NJ: Khalil Nassiruddin, Government Relations of BRICK Education Network 
NJ: Danielle West, CEO of Queen City Academy Charter School  
NM: Azella Humetewa, Head of School and Mentor Teacher of NACA Inspired Schools Network 
NM: Cynthia Ramirez, Executive Director of Technology Leadership High School 
NM: Isaac Rivas-Savell, Founder and CEO of Voz Collegiate Preparatory Charter School 
NV: Ignacio Prado, Founder and Executive Director of Futuro Academy in Las Vegas 
NY: Dr. Raymond Ankrum, Superintendent of Riverhead Charter School 
NY: Rev. Al Cockfield, Founder and Executive Director of Lamad Academy Charter School 
NY: Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, Founder and Managing Partner of Ember Charter School for Mindful Education, Innovation & Transformation 
NY: Melissa Melkonian, Founder and Executive Director of American Dream Charter School 
NY: Charlie Ortiz, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WHIN Music Community Charter School 
NY: Sonia Park, Executive Director of Diverse Charter Schools Coalition 
NY: Miriam Raccah, CEO of Black, Latinx, Asian Charter Collaborative (BLACC)  
NY: Tresha Ward, CEO of Prospect Schools 
OH: India Ford, Director & CEO of T-Squared Honors Academy 
PA: Kwanza Waters-Cogdell, Principal of Tacony Academy Charter School 
TN: Lagra Newman, Founder and Head of School of Purpose Preparatory Academy 
TN: Elaine Swafford, CEO of Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy/Montessori Elementary @ Highland Park 
TX: Roberto Gutierrez, Founder and Leadership Fellow of Latino Educational Equity Partnerships (LEEP Academies) 
UT: Hanifi Oguz, Executive Director of Beehive Science and Technology Academy 

Leaders and experts are available for interview and comment. Please reach out to Jennifer Diaz at jennifer@publiccharters.org to schedule. 

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