Washington, DC (May 20, 2016)—Today, New Leader Principals joined Secretary of Education John King at the U.S. Department of Education for a day-long series of meetings focused on school leadership and bringing the principal perspective into federal policy conversations.
In recognition of their strong leadership and track records of getting results for their students, New Leader Rashad Meade, principal of Eagle Academy for Young Men at Ocean Hill in New York City, and New Leader Chris Turk, principal of George Washington Elementary in Baltimore, were invited to the Department’s headquarters to share their expertise and help inform the Department’s work on equity, college readiness and access, elevating the education profession, and improving the lowest-performing schools, among other priorities and initiatives.
Mr. Meade serves an all-male population of students in grades 6-12, three-quarters of whom come from low-income families, 97 percent of whom are young men of color, and one-quarter of whom have special educational needs. Mr. Turk serves a high-need community of PK through fifth grade students, 94 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and 93 percent of whom are students of color.
“Principals at ED is an opportunity to bridge practice and policy, by bringing in a diverse group of principals to speak to their role in education,” said Alicia Perez-Katz, who, as Washington Principal Ambassador Fellow, leads many of the Department’s efforts to engage with school leaders. “Principals are the visionaries for their schools and with the opportunity to network, advocate and be heard, can truly affect the education of students. This is an opportunity to build principal networks to collaborate and share ideas, as a principal is only one to a building. It is also an opportunity to learn about policy in order to best advocate for what is needed in education.”
Also attending today’s Principals at ED session was New Leader Joe Manko, Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow and principal of Liberty Elementary School in Baltimore. According to Mr. Manko, principals have an important opportunity and responsibility to shape education policy as the Department, states, and districts work to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new K-12 federal education law.
“This is a critical point for ESSA,” says Mr. Manko. “Guidance and regulation at the heart of the implementation process will be enacted this year and will shape decisions our leaders make for many years to come. School leaders need to be knowledgeable and ready to provide input to federal, state, and local legislators and policymakers so we craft a policy structure that is optimal for the teachers we support and the students we serve.”
“We are thrilled the Department has continued to put a strong focus on the important role principals play in implementing policy at the school level,” added Jackie Gran, Chief Policy Officer of New Leaders. “The most well-intentioned, well-designed policies—including many promising provisions found in ESSA—won’t motivate teachers or inspire students to love learning in schools with struggling leadership. “Everything that happens in schools that work—setting high expectations, ensuring the curriculum is engaging and challenging, creating time and space for teachers to work together to help kids, engaging families and communities, everything—is influenced by the caliber of our nation’s 90,000 school principals.”
Today’s meetings follow a Principals at ED event held in January 2016, when New Leaders Josie Carbone, founding principal of Girls Prep Bronx in New York City, Tiffany Etheridge, principal of Belmont Elementary School in Baltimore, Jessica Nauiokas, Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow and principal of Mott Haven Academy in New York City, and Mr. Manko contributed their knowledge and experience as high-performing school leaders to the pressing issues facing the Department.