NYCLA Working to Improve Racial Equity in School Districts in Massachusetts

by Lauren Provencher / Oct 22, 2019

The NYC Leadership Academy (NYCLA) has developed a two-year fellowship program for aspiring school-district leaders in Massachusetts to strengthen the cultural responsiveness and awareness of future superintendents. The program aims to establish more culturally competent school districts and support improved outcomes for students, especially minoritized students.

In collaboration with individuals from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) Influence 100 project, NYCLA will work to establish the two-year fellowship program for selected educators. Launched in mid-October, the pilot project is a recent endeavor of DESE that seeks to increase the racial and ethnic diversity among superintendents within 15 of Massachusetts’ school districts.

NYCLA is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that combats inequities at all levels of the education system. It promotes improved outcomes for students by preparing educational leaders and building their capacity to support student success, regardless of racial background.

The need for the fellowship program stems from the equity issues Massachusetts’ school districts are facing. Approximately 40% of students attending public schools are of color, with just 4% of superintendents and 8% of teachers identifying that way, according to DESE, which hopes to close this systemic cultural gap between minoritized students and leaders in the academic system.

The fellowship program will equip future leaders in education with the necessary tools to support marginalized students and establish a more culturally responsive and diverse academic environment. It will consist of both educational and leadership aspects with equity embedded in the curriculum. As they acquire the essential skills to lead school systems successfully, participants of the fellowship will be able to identify and address inequities that impact different races, classes, and English-language learners.

The curriculum will also encompass the history of inequities in the U.S, specifically in Massachusetts, allowing fellows to examine and analyze the systemic correlation between past and current equity issues.

As an additional requirement of the fellowship, participants also must engage in an action research project in which they will analyze a pressing inequity they wish to change.

Read more about this equity fellowship for aspiring superintendents of color.