Shining a Light on Black Education Leaders

Partners is celebrating Black History Month by shining a light on one Black education leader each week in February. These leaders have made a difference in the lives of low-income students of color throughout the United States. 

In this fourth week of February, we are highlighting Joseph Price, who called attention to the plight of Black education in the South in the 1880s and established Livingstone College, one of the most important liberal arts colleges for Black Americans. 

Price was assertive about upholding civil rights, writing at one point, “A compromise that reverses the Declaration of Independence, nullifies the national constitution, and is contrary to the genius of this republic, ought not to be asked of any race living under the stars and stripes; and if asked, ought not to be granted.”

Partners celebrates Joseph Price for his strong example in fighting for equity! 

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In this third week of February, we are highlighting Tovi Scruggs-Hussein, who is currently an independent consultant in the Bay Area. Ms. Scruggs was recently a leader on the field staff of Partners.  

We asked Ms. Scruggs-Hussein to describe how Partners has helped her make a positive impact on the educational experience of low-income African American students in particular. She responded: 

Working at Partners and contributing to educational transformation was one of the best professional experiences of my 20+ year career as an educational leader. Contributing to an organization that values professional learning and equity so highly was a breath of fresh air. I gained skills that broadened my lens of how to best work with other educators working to improve outcomes for Black students. I was able to hone my facilitation skills and grow more strategic in my approach. This has served me well as I’ve taken my unique Partners-experience out into the world, knowing that there’s an entire community of people who have worked for/with Partners who “get it” and whom I can call on in this effort to dismantle inequitable outcomes in our education system.

Thank you, Tovi Scruggs-Hussein, for all of your brilliant, heartfelt work on behalf of educators and their students! 

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In this second week of February, we are highlighting Kimberly Carter, superintendent of Battle Creek Public Schools in Michigan. Ms. Carter was at one time on the field staff of Partners so she knew the power of our approach to school-transformation when she partnered with us in Battle Creek a few years ago.  

We asked Supt. Carter to describe the work we’ve done together to improve the educational experience of low-income African American students in particular. She responded: 

Oftentimes in education our struggle to provide high-quality experiences for all students is grounded in a “knowing-doing gap.” My training and experience with Partners helped me recognize that the bridge between this gap has to be built by focusing on individuals’ belief systems before processing through their behaviors. The mindsets developed through my training with Partners has perfectly positioned and prepared me to “see the system” and all of its flaws and inequities. Through questioning, reflection, training, and thought-partnership we build an equity muscle that is strong enough to push against the status quo, disrupt structural bias and confront racial inequity. It is this “equity muscle” built through the work of Partners that has given me both the skill and courage needed to place an unapologetic focus on African American students and their inequitable access to success. It has helped me understand that success for Black and Brown students resides in the complete redesign of a system that was intentionally designed to perpetuate their disadvantage. Most importantly, my experience prepared me to engage in a type of rebel leadership that works to ensure that all African American students thrive.

Thank you, Superintendent Carter, for being a rebel leader! 

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In this first week of February, we are highlighting Jamina Clay, assistant superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia. Partners first engaged with her while she was a principal of Bethune Elementary School and now work with her on our networks for school improvement. We admire her professionalism, commitment to mutual accountability, and her belief in the students she serves. 

We asked Asst. Supt. Clay how she has worked with Partners to improve the educational experience of low-income African American students in particular. She responded: 

We develop strong instructional programs that put equity and cultural responsiveness at the center. Partners supports my efforts to strengthen our growth mindset and close the belief gap that permeates urban education. Together, we show that having a strong instruction lens, an equity-driven purpose, and tools to critically examine data and move from analysis to action leads to improved outcomes for Black students. 

For making a real difference in the lives of young people in Philadelphia, Partners in School Innovation honors you, Jamina Clay!