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Black Charter School Leaders – Driven by History, Committed to a Better Future

Dr. Ramona Bishop

June 22, 2021


Black leaders have long understood the path to equity is through education. That’s why Black people risked punishment, in times when learning to read was made illegal to them, to smuggle books and teach their children.

That’s why educators such as Fanny Jackson Coppin and Mary McLeod Bethune fought so hard to increase education opportunities for African-American people.

And that’s the very same reason why Black charter school leaders devote our lives to creating and growing charter schools that elevate educational standards in predominantly Black communities.

That’s why young educators like Patrick Edmond are stepping up to the plate as school leaders. That’s why my team of charter school leaders at ELITE Public Schools is bringing STEM and robotics programs to Black students.

That’s why inspiring educators such as Robert Marshall of Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis place such an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning and the well-being of their students.

That’s why charter school leaders like Craig Cason are demanding excellence from Black students and growing an expectation that college admission is not only achievable but the expected norm.

[CallOutBox bgcolor=”orange”]”We are committed to educating our young people and work hard to develop the whole mind of each of our Scholars. We focus on the “why” of education and want all students to understand the importance and significance of getting a quality education.” — Craig Cason, DuBois Integrity Academy[/CallOutBox]

Black Charter school leaders are aware these schools provide Black families with educational opportunities. Many studies also show these schools are getting dramatically better outcomes for Black students.

Charter schools are also more likely to employ Black teachers. This is important because research shows that Black students who have one or more Black teachers are more likely to go to college.

A Unique Problem-Solving Perspective

Charter school leaders focused on Black excellence bring a unique problem-solving perspective to their mission. In the economically depressed county is Quincy, Florida, Crossroad Academy Charter School is teaming up with a historically Black University to bring opportunity to rural Black students.

In Madison, WI, One City Charter Schools is partnering with a network of local realtors to bring Black families up to $15,000 for a down payment on a home. The program, called “OWN IT, Building Black Wealth.”

That’s why some charter schools are focusing on employment opportunities post-COVID.

That’s why Black education leader Sharif El-Mekki has raised $3 million with which he aims to bring 21,000 Black students into the teacher pipeline.

As Sharif El-Mekki states in an opinion piece, Black leaders have long looked at charter schools as a mechanism of emancipation, a tool for self-determination. School choice has meant something at a much deeper level to folks who were at one time actively prevented from learning.

  • A national study of 41 urban areas estimated that charter schools provide black students in poverty with an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days of learning in reading per year.
  • In a review of 15 randomized control trial studies on academic effects of urban charter schools, 12 showed significant benefits for reading and math, three showed no effects, and none showed negative effects.
  • Studies in three states have demonstrated that attending charter high schools boosts college entry and persistence.
  • Studies in two districts have shown that attending charter schools decreases criminal activity. (Source: Madison Institute)

Honoring Leaders of the Past, Building Leaders of Tomorrow

Robert Marshall, Founder & Executive Director of Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis, was recently recognized as one of the select few InnoPower Innovators on the Rise, for his role in furthering Black innovation and advancement.


This fall, DuBois Integrity Academy will be taking a field trip this Fall to Selma, Alabama as part of a historic reflection on the benefits of knowing the struggles of the past. DuBois Integrity Academy will take 700 of their scholars on a walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which has become such an important part of our American history.

The Black Teacher Pipeline will launch this year. It will identify and cultivate high school and college students for careers in education, offering them apprenticeships starting in high school, mentorship into college, and overall support through their first four years in the profession.

The Black Educators of Excellence Fellowship will partner with the United Negro College Fund to recruit and financially support students.

The goal is to bring 21,000 Black students into the teaching pipeline and mint 9,100 Black teachers over the next 12 years in 10 communities around the country.



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