Guiding Latinx Educators Towards a Path to School Leadership

Hear from nonprofit leaders, school and district leaders, and two Latinx educators pursuing principalship on what more we can do to boost more equitable representation in schools.
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Blog date
5/11/23
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A new study by the U.S. Department of Education found Hispanics made up 8.7% of the principals across the country. Currently, less than 2% of superintendents across the nation are Latinx, yet Latinx students make up about 27% of all public school students—and are expected to keep growing to almost one-third by 2030. 

“There simply isn’t enough professional development, training and access to become a principal,” observes Amanda Fernandez, CEO and Founder, Latinos for Education. “It is not a lack of aspiration for Latino educators, it’s a lack of a system to support these educators to move forward in these leadership roles."

Fernandez joined New Leaders CEO, Jean Desravines, and Antonio Tijerino, President/CEO, Hispanic Heritage Foundation for a panel discussion on how to boost representation of Latinx educators in school leadership. Our panel also included Javier Cabra Walteros, a New Leaders alum and Bay Area Executive Director for Aspire Public Schools. In addition, two current fellows from our National Aspiring Principals Fellowship—Iris Ferrufino and Yadira Suazo—shared their perspectives as future leaders. The panel was moderated by Kayla Jimenez from USA Today

“I never had a teacher who was of my identity,” observes Ferrufino. “Not once, not until I got to college. Now I serve as an assistant principal and the girls who look like me can see themselves and see that it’s possible for them to go into school leadership too.” Tijerino echoed the same. “A teacher is the starting point. What is beyond being a teacher?”

We hear from districts and nonprofits across the country who are looking to diversify and build strong leadership pathways. This webinar offers important insights and real solutions. From recruitment and PD to equity audits to the best ways to overcome common and often hidden barriers to promotion, all six speakers shared their experiences, what propels them forward, and why school leadership matters.

“None of us can achieve this on our own,” adds Desravines. “That’s why we are partnering to set more Latinx educators on the path to leadership. We have educators who are trying to be part of a solution and demonstrate the type of leadership that our country needs in education. Our National Aspiring Principals Fellowship is designed to set them up for success and prepare them to become highly effective, equity-focused principals.”

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If you’re thinking about moving into leadership, consider the advice from other leaders:

"Become aware of programs that exist by asking other Latino leaders and leaders of color who you know and admire: How did you get here? What do you recommend? We can't just wait for the opportunities to come. Sometimes you have to go out and look for them."
Iris Ferrufino, Fellow, National Aspiring Principals Fellowship

"What was most helpful for me as I was becoming a principal was having dedicated time to step back and reflect with others on what was going on in our schools. The space to reassess where you are and what you’re learning ultimately leads to the development of your leadership approach."
Javier Cabra Walteros, New Leaders alum, Bay Area Executive Director, Aspire Public Schools

"Have a community of educators that you can turn to and lean into goes hand-in-hand with any program. That is exactly what I felt in the Fellowship. Continuing those conversations helps me see how we can all become better leaders." 
Yadira Suazo, Fellow, National Aspiring Principals Fellowship

If you're looking to build diverse pipelines, here are five actions we recommend district leaders take:

  • Create leadership pathways for career mobility 
  • Examine and advance more equitable promotion practices
  • Foster conditions that reduce turnover and retain school leaders of color 
  • Implement more transparent and equitable recruitment and hiring practices
  • Truly prioritize and measure school leader diversity

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