For the fourth year in a row, leaders of color from charter schools across the nation will descend upon Washington, D.C., to challenge inaccuracies and untruths before the nation’s federal representatives.
Contrary to the false narratives promulgated by special interests, choosing to open a charter school is—in many cases—a direct community response to a need for students to get a high-quality education, founded and supported by leaders of color who live in those communities. How these community-led schools came to be and the people behind them are the stories not often told.
On February 25-26, over 45 charter school leaders of color from 19 states will travel to the nation’s capital to meet with congressional leadership and their respective members of Congress and staffs to tell them why they chose the charter school model to create exceptional schools in some of the most challenging locales in America—and how they are closing the achievement gap in their communities.
These African-American, Latino, Native, and Asian American charter school leaders—many of whom taught in the traditional district school setting but left due to the inability to allow for innovation and out-of-the-box ideas—will share their stories and petition Congress for more funding for charter school growth.
The leaders—many of whom are born and bred in the same challenging communities they now operate schools in—will have the opportunity to represent the perspectives of the families they serve and the millions of families who demand a charter school in their neighborhoods.
Attendees will spend the first day engaging in peer-to-peer networking around issues such as trauma-informed teaching, how to run a school with a diverse teaching staff (since charter schools often have much more diverse teaching staffs than their district counterparts), and use of best practices.
The National Alliance will honor these leaders and their successes in a reception at the U.S. Capitol, which will be co-sponsored by our national partners, the National Congress of Black Women, Inc., and the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition.
On the second day, these leaders will participate in over 112 meetings and make the simple case: Public charter schools—especially those led by leaders of color and grown out of community need—are part of the solution for better public education in America and are not going away.
Ronald C. Rice is the senior director, government relations for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and a former city councilman for Newark, New Jersey.
Listen to the stories of school leaders of color from last year’s convening.