School leadership: An untapped opportunity to draw young people of color into teaching

School leaders serve many critical roles in their schools. They split their time between supporting their teacher workforce, communicating with parents, working with the district office, and managing all of the operational processes to keep the school open day to day. A demanding job, school leaders often work nearly 60-hour weeks, filled with challenges ranging from layers of bureaucratic and policy requirements to regular criticism from parents or employees.

 

Given the importance and visibility of school leaders, it is important to consider the racial and ethnic diversity of this group of educators. Administrators of color bring a number of unique strengths: More frequent exposure to people of color in authoritative positions can replace stereotyping and unconscious biases with acceptance and trust; leaders of color have a distinct advantage when interacting with community members that share their racial or ethnic background; and finally, leaders of color can contribute nuance and perspective for academic programs targeting students of color. As public schools increasingly serve more students of color, states and districts should also make a diverse corpus of principals a priority.


In this installment of our ongoing teacher diversity series, we examine diversity among school leaders. Because leading a classroom is nearly a universal prerequisite to leading a school, we were unsurprised to see large diversity gaps between principals of color and the students they serve, roughly mirroring what we observe among teachers.

 

We were surprised, however, to learn that opportunities for leadership in schools are significantly stronger for black and Hispanic groups in comparison to leadership opportunities in other industries. In other words, our results imply that opportunities for leadership could be a strength of the teaching profession. These opportunities just might help attract young people of color into it the teaching profession, if we can get the word out.

 

For more on this story or the Brown Center on Education Policy's "Teacher diversity in America" series, click HERE.

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