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Leading Public Education Organizations Lack Diversity at Top, Report Finds

A new report from the from Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers finds that racial and ethnic diversity is lacking in the leadership ranks of K-12 public education organizations even as the student population becomes increasingly diverse.

"It's clear leaders in public education organizations understand the importance of a diverse leadership team and are committed to increasing racial diversity, however, many don't have the practices in place to build and retain diverse teams," said Julayne Virgil, vice president of Sector Impact for Education Pioneers and a report co-author.

The findings show that while 98 percent of the participating organizations support diversity, only 33 percent describe it as a core value and even fewer have a clear definition of what it means.

Leaders from 44 nonprofit education organizations participated in the 64-question survey. The results are included in the final report, "From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact."

The report does not name which groups participated in the survey but does highlight a few education nonprofits that have made building diverse leadership teams a top priority. TNTP and College Track are two that are featured.

The boards of directors and advisory boards for the participating organizations have similar issues. On average, blacks represent 12 percent of board members. Asians total 6 percent, Latinos 4 percent, and multiracial members 2 percent.

The report findings come on the heels of enrollment estimates that indicate the overall number of Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms is expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites for the first time in U.S. history.

With the report, officials with Koya Leadership Partners, an executive search firm, and Education Pioneers, a nonprofit that recruits leaders for education organizations, said they also sought to provide a roadmap for school districts seeking new ways to increase diversity.

The groups recommend that organizations customize their visions and strategy for diversity and inclusion, focus on the recruitment and selection process, invest in leadership development to retain high performers and ensure ongoing discussion about diversity.

"There is no silver bullet for building diverse and inclusive teams," said Molly Brennan, managing partner of Koya Leadership Partners and a report co-author. "The students and families served by education organizations deserve innovative, effective solutions that only can be developed by high-performing, diverse teams of dedicated professionals."

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