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Monthly Digest with Coalition Updates, Must-Read News, and Upcoming Events

Wishing all our members Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year with family and friends. We are always inspired by your work and so grateful for your support. We look forward to another amazing year together!

Coalition Updates

Updates from the Coalition: Where Have We Been? 

Excel in Ed Conference & School Visits (Nashville, TN)
Sonia and Elsa attended the Excel In Ed conference, a convening of school reform leaders from across the nation and around the world to share strategies to improve the quality of education. Highlights include a keynote address by Governor Jeb Bush and Q&A with Walton Family Foundation Education Program Director Marc Sternberg. Missed the conference or curious about the keynotes? Check out the archive of videos here.

We also had the opportunity to tour member school Valor Collegiate Academies and RePublic Charter Schools, who is partnering with Valor to launch Compass, a five-point SEL tool that is used to guide curriculum and encourage intentional teaching of non-academic skills. It was a pleasure to see firsthand Valor’s work of mutually reinforcing relationship between academics and social-emotional learning. And we couldn’t leave Nashville without trying the famous “Hot Chicken,” though next time we’ll consider the extra-hot 🙂

NYC Council’s Education Committee (New York City, NY)
Sonia and Allison Keil from Community Roots testified before the New York City Council’s Education Committee on school diversity. The hearing was an opportunity for the Committee to examine the DOE’s Diversity Plan and its effort to achieve diversity throughout the public school system. Though the Committee Chair expressed skepticism about the role of charters schools, we were able to share powerful testimony on how diverse charter schools can work to combat segregation.

NYC Advisory Group (New York City, NY)
Sonia has been named to the New York City School Diversity Advisory Group. The group is tasked with making recommendations to the Mayor and the NYC Department of Education on how to integrate the nation’s most deeply segregated system. The group includes representatives from the Department of Education, the teachers union, the charter school sector, as well as students. Read more about the group and NYC’s integration efforts here.

Diversity and Equity Summit hosted by Learn Together, Live Together (Washington, D.C.)
Elsa participated in Learn Together Live Together’s first Diversity and Equity Summit. The LTLT Summit convened a diverse coalition of education stakeholders to engage shared learning around the concepts of school diversity and equity, with an emphasis on gaining an understanding of the current challenges and opportunities to pursuing school integration and diversity efforts in the Washington, D.C. area.

Welcome New Schools + DCSC 2018 Convening 
Please join us in extending a very warm welcome to six new member schools. Joining our Coalition family are:  Hellenic Classical, Academy of the City, and Central Queens Academy in New York City, City Garden Montessori in St. Louis, MO, and Elsie Whitlow Stokes and Inspired Teaching in Washington, D.C. Each of these schools embodies our core values and have shown a commitment to equity, access, and integration. We look forward to working with them, and all of you, to demonstrate the power of diversity and a new vision for public education.

Our Convening in Denver will be the perfect opportunity to meet representatives from our new member schools and get reacquainted with old friends (perhaps over drinks at our Happy Hour January 18th!). We already have over 50 participants attending and hope you’ll join us too! We are excited to have David Osborne, author of recently published Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System, present the keynote address.

DCSC Fellowship Program Updates
We’re excited to introduce Ashley Heard as our new Managing Program Director. Ashley started her career as a special education teacher in Washington, DC. After teaching, she worked as a teacher coach with Teach For America, supporting secondary special education teachers.

In 2011, Ashley moved to Chicago to attend law school. During school, she worked with Chicago Public Schools as an Education Pioneer Fellow and for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools consulting with community members starting charter schools. In 2014, Ashley returned to her hometown of Baton Rouge to serve as the Director of Strategy and Innovation at New Schools for Baton Rouge. There she managed the organization’s $10,000,000 human capital strategy and innovative schools portfolio. Later, Ashley founded Ashley Heard Consulting, providing strategic planning and fundraising support to education and social services nonprofits.

At DCSC, Ashley will serve as Managing Program Director, working to design and execute the organization’s fellowship program. She looks forward to working with DCSC’s board, member schools, fellows, and stakeholders to launch diverse by design schools that bring people and communities together. You can reach her at

Ashley holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, a MA from American University, and a JD from Loyola Chicago School of Law. In her free time, Ashley practices yoga, fusses at her poorly behaved dog, Annabel, and attempts home renovation projects.

ICYMI:  Founder’s Story: Dianne Tavenner and Summit Public Schools
As part of ongoing coverage of America’s high-performing charter school networks, the 74 Million launched an online oral history featuring in-depth interviews with more than two dozen educators, school leaders, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. Featured in their “video histories” is Dianne Tavenner and her inspiring true story of how Summit Public Schools began. Listen to Diane’s “Founders” story here.

From the Field: Petition to Strikes Sections from Appropriations Bills
The National Coalition on School Diversity launched an online petition and call campaign asking Congress to strike Sections 301 and 302 from the House and Senate appropriations bills. NCSD and other civil rights advocacy groups have sent letters to leaders in the Senate and the House, urging the removal of language from the 2018 appropriations legislation that prohibits federal funding from being used to pay for the transportation of students participating in integration programs. Learn more about these efforts, the bills, and sign the petition here.

Spotlight On: EmpowerEd in Washington, D.C. 
Creating and supporting diverse and integrated schools, and school improvement generally, requires that many of us engage in work across a number of issues — from community engagement to curriculum development and building better teacher pipelines. We want to introduce different organizations in hopes of helping not just build new partnerships but also drive collective impact.   

EmpowerEd works to empower inspired teachers to improve school climate and student results.  Research shows that teacher morale and teacher leadership are linked to higher student achievement.  We know that relational trust is a key ingredient in successful school turnaround, so EmpowerEd works with dedicated, innovative teachers to lead school-wide efforts to build trust and teacher professional authority in schools.  Our end goal is retaining these incredible educators in our highest need schools to ensure an equitable education for all DC students.  Learn more about EmpowerEd’s work and how your school can engage in this important work next school year here. You can also reach out to Scott Goldstein, a 10th-year teacher in D.C. Public Schools and Director of EmpowerEd, via email at

Opportunity for High School Students: The Princeton Prize
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognizes and rewards high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities through their volunteer efforts. Recipients of the prize have stood up to intolerance, worked towards greater inclusivity, and encouraged understanding and harmony in their communities. Learn more about the opportunity, or nominate a high school student, here. Submission due January 31, 2018.

Upcoming Conferences & Events

2018 Bilingual Education Fair of DC 
January 20, 2018 from 1:00pm – 5:00pm in Washington, D.C.
Register here

The Bilingual Education Fair is the premier event in the D.C. region for parents, educators, and community members to discover multi-lingual education options, personalized technologies, fun language resources and how to bring bilingual education to your community. Organized by DC Language Immersion Project, and co-sponsored by DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter School Board, the fair will feature 50 exhibitors including dual language programs, language and culture organizations, bilingual publishers, app developers, after-school programs, daycare operators, and tutors. The fair is aimed at families with young children, educators and administrators from across the D.C. region who wish to increase access to linguistic and cultural competence.

News Roundup

Are Private Schools Immoral? A Conversation With Nikole Hannah-jones About Race, Education, And Hypocrisy by Dianna Douglas
The Atlantic — December 14, 2017

“Charter School Leaders Are Complicit With Segregation, And It’s Hurting Their Movement” by Andre Perry
Hechinger Report — December 11, 2017

“Education Reform Groups Decry Associated Press Analysis of Charter School Segregation” by Laura Fay
The74 — December 6, 2017

“Diversity in Charter Schools: Another Look at the Data and the Debate” by Arianna Prothero
EdWeek — December 4, 2017

“The California Schools Where The Kids Are All The Same Race, All In One Map” by Kyle Stokes
SCPR — December 3, 2017

“Integrating education in Denver, school by school, student by student” by Brandi Chin
The Denver Post — November 24, 2017

“Why ‘apartheid schools’ have become common in Philly and NJ” by The Inquirer Editorial Board
The Inquirer — November 21, 2017

“Does anyone know why Chicago children are getting smarter?” by Neerav Kingsland
Relinquishment — November 20, 2017

“Five months in, crucial part of New York City’s school diversity plan begins to take shape” by Christina Veiga
Chalkbeat — November 19, 2017

“The Student Who Challenged My Teaching On Race” by Sarah Carr and Mallory Falk
The Atlantic — November 16, 2017

“We Can’t Be Teachers by Day and Oppress Our Students of Color by Night” by Zachary Wright
Education Post — November 15, 2017

“Strategies for Building a Diverse School District” by Carol Patton
District Administration — November 14, 2017

“Diverse by Design: These Charter Schools Show What Integration Looks Like and Why It Matters for Kids” by Rob Samuelson
Education Post — November 14, 2017

“Scientists Start To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health” by Rae Ellen Bichell
NPR — November 11, 2017

Research Briefs:
New Jersey’s Segregated Schools Trends and Paths Forward
A follow up to an initial report that tracked racial trends within New Jersey schools from 1989-2010, this report focuses on New Jersey schools from 2010-2015 and increasing severity of racial stratification and division. It also analyzes additional issues within the school system such as preschool segregation and the situation of English language learners amid the schools doubly segregated by race and poverty.

School Boards and Student Segregation
Local school boards are a distinctive feature of the American education system in which civilian, elected by local voters, administer public education within districts. This system of local governance and representation purportedly enables boards and school administrators to meet the needs and preferences of local households. While boards are generally charged with setting district policies (such as through hiring the superintendent), their responsibility for allocating students to schools, with its attendant consequences for school segregation, has been at the center of multiple landmark Supreme Court decisions. This paper seeks to examine the effects school board members and their policies can have on the demographics of neighborhood schools.

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