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Education Leaders of Color: Same Reforms, Newly Packaged and Gates Funded

August 9, 2016

The Gates Foundation is funding a brand-spanking new corporate reform nonprofit (that happens to be stuffed with veterans from two very familiar corporate reform nonprofits): Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC).

EdLoC (EIN 812253548) received its nonprofit status May 01, 2016.

Gates started supporting EdLoC in June:

Education Leaders of Color Inc.

Date: June 2016
Purpose: to support the staffing and general infrastructure necessary to develop a new organization of talented leaders of color who are uniquely positioned to transform the national and local education landscape to achieve improvement on a scale that we all seek in the education and lives of underserved children of color
Amount: $300,000
Term: 7
Topic: Not Available
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Whittier, California

Turns out that Mark Zucerkberg was also sending money to EdLoC even before EdLoC had its own website.

This *talented* group is set to put a new, not-so-white face on the worn-out wonders of test-centric, privatizing reforms propagated by the likes of Teach for America (TFA) and The New Teacher Project (TNTP).

In fact, if EdLoC were to remove all of its team wit TFA and TNTP connections, well, there wouldn’t be much of an EdLoC.

All one must do is consider the backgrounds of the EdLoC *team*:

Layla Avila:

Layla Avila serves as CEO/Executive Director of Education Leaders of Color. …

Previously, as Executive Vice President, Layla led TNTP’s efforts to broaden TNTP’s impact through strategic partnerships. She also served as Chief of Staff for CEO Dan Weisberg, and oversaw TNTP’s new business development and federal grant strategy, external research and evaluation, and organizational accountability. Layla also oversaw all of TNTP’s work to recruit and train new teachers where TNTP’s Teaching Fellows Programs pioneered new ways of preparing teachers to be effective in the classroom. Before that, as Vice President and Partner for TNTP’s Teaching Fellows programs, Layla managed the design and implementation of projects across the Southwest.

Layla started her career with Teach For America in 1997….

Kaya Henderson:

Kaya Henderson has served as Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) since 2010. Under her leadership, DCPS has become the fastest improving urban school district in the country. [Schneider’s note: Henderson is leaving DC by October 2016.]

Chancellor Henderson joined DCPS in 2007 [Schneider’s note: Henderson was under DC predecessor, former TFAer and TNTP founder, Michelle Rhee] as Deputy Chancellor. Prior to DCPS, she worked at The New Teacher Project and Teach For America.

Richard Nyankori:

Dr. Richard Nyankori is executive vice president at Insight Education Group. He leads the development of Insight’s new and cutting-edge products. While at Insight, he has led the development of myCore, an online platform that helps educators create and share units and lessons based on the College- and Career-Ready Standards. …

Richard began his work as a special educator with the Baltimore City Public Schools where he taught mathematics, science, and reading. He is the former Deputy Chancellor of Special Education with the District of Columbia Public Schools.

He began designing educational products at Performance Learning Systems and then at The New Teacher Project (TNTP).

Sharhonda Bossier:

Sharhonda is the Deputy Director at Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC). In her current role, Sharhonda focuses on identifying, equipping, elevating and sustaining talented Black and Latino leaders to thrive in the highest-level education roles and lead a more inclusive education reform movement.

Prior to joining EdLoC, Sharhonda Bossier worked with Education Cities, a national non-profit that supports and advises city-based education organizations on their efforts to grow great public schools. …

…Sharhonda co-founded Families for Excellent Schools….

An interesting aside: Even as I was writing this post, EdLoC expanded its “leadership committee” as noted on its website from the afternoon to the evening of August 09, 2016.

Here are the *team members* present on the afternoon version of the EdLoC site:

Aimee Eubanks Davis:

Aimée is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Braven. …

Eubanks Davis has spent the majority of her career at Teach For America. In 2002, she joined the TFA staff as Vice President of New Site Development, helping to grow the organization’s presence into Miami and Philadelphia, as well as doubling TFA’s presence in New York City.

In 2005, Eubanks Davis became the Chief People Officer and oversaw the organization’s staff growth from 200 to over 2500 staff members. Additionally, she worked on the development of a comprehensive competency model for staff recruitment, selection, performance management, and learning and development, ensuring that the Human Assets team was positioned to fuel the growth and success of TFA. In 2011, Eubanks Davis took on the expanded role of Executive Vice President of People, Community and Diversity, leading TFA’s work to uphold its commitment to diversity and to build an organization that is a model of fairness and equality. In January of 2013, she began overseeing the Public Affairs and Communications teams. …

…[She] was a 1995 TFA corps member and taught sixth grade social studies and language arts in New Orleans.

Natalie Gordon:

Natalie Gordon began her career in school leadership by obtaining a Master’s in Education degree from Trinity College via the New Leaders for New Schools Program, a year-long program designed to develop outstanding leaders for service in urban schools. …

Ms. Gordon has over 18 years of experience in urban education, with a particular expertise in school start-up. She is currently the principal of Jefferson Academy, a newly established, DCPS International Baccalaureate middle school. She was also the Founding Principal of Friendship Tech Prep, and both Principal and Assistant Principal at DC Prep’s Edgewood Campus. Ms. Gordon began her education career in New York City as a middle school teacher with Teach for America. Beyond school leadership, Ms. Gordon has worked with TFA as an advisor to corps members, a summer institute faculty director and a regional recruiter. She has extensive experience in the non-profit sector as both the Education Director and Executive Director of DC SCORES, a consultant with The New Teacher Project to lead administrator recruitment in DC Public Schools and manager of the DC Teaching Fellows Program.

Heather Harding:

Prior to joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a Senior Program Officer, [Harding] was the first Executive Director of EdCORE (The Education Consortium for Research and Evaluation) at George Washington University, where she was responsible for launching the new education research consortium focused on improving outcomes for DC’s public school students.

Over her career, Heather has held numerous roles in organizations including Teach For America, the Boston Plan for Excellence, Citizen Schools, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and KIPP.

Kira Orange Jones:

Kira serves as the executive director of Teach For America-New Orleans and she serves as an elected member on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Kira was a 2000 corps member in Baton Rouge, where she taught fourth grade at Eden Park Elementary. She went on to serve as school director for Teach For America’s summer institute and, as vice president of new site development, leading the organization’s efforts to expand to three new regions.

Jessica Levin:

Jessica serves as a strategic advisor to Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC). Previously, she served as Chief Knowledge Officer for TNTP where she launched TNTP’s policy arm….

And here, my friends, are the August 09, 2016, evening additions to the EdLoC website:

Tequilla Banks:

As an Executive Vice President, Tequilla Banks co-leads TNTP’s Client Team and partnerships with school systems, with a focus on building a thriving team and positioning TNTP for impact. She oversees TNTP’s research and evaluation efforts and chairs our Diversity Leadership Council. Prior to this role, Tequilla served as a Vice President and led TNTP’s work with school districts to design integrated approaches to talent and academics. Previously, as Senior Strategist, Tequilla helped lead projects such as measures of student learning with the New York City Department of Education and TNTP’s new work on student surveys.

Before joining TNTP, Tequilla worked for nine years in Memphis City Schools, where she oversaw the district-wide effort to improve student outcomes by increasing teacher effectiveness. Working alongside TNTP’s staff, Tequilla helped build community support for quality education, and drove human capital reforms that led to significant policy changes.

And, wouldn’t you know. Look who is included at EdLoC from enrollment-declining TFA:

Elisa Villanueva Beard:

Elisa’s passion for educational equity comes from personal experience. Elisa grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and developed a deep commitment to Teach For America’s mission as a student at DePauw University, where she was one of just a few Mexican American students. Her journey with Teach For America started 15 years ago in Phoenix, where she taught first and second grade bilingual education as a 1998 corps member. She joined Teach For America’s staff in 2001 to lead the organization’s work in her hometown in the position of executive director. Elisa was inspired to take on this role because she saw her community beginning to have a different conversation as a result of the work her corps members and alumni were doing. Four years later, she stepped into the role of chief operating officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations. In this role for eight years, Elisa led Teach For America’s dramatic expansion as we grew from 22 regions to 48. It is Teach For America’s regions where the organization’s program is put into practice and where 80 percent of its funding is raised.

In 2013, Elisa was named co-CEO of Teach For America alongside Matthew Kramer. In 2015, Matthew Kramer stepped down, and Elisa became the sole CEO. Under her leadership, Teach For America currently impacts more than 750,000 students in over 2,600 schools.

As for the EdLoC late additions, there are more:

Kenya Bradshaw:

Kenya Bradshaw oversees TNTP’s strategy to support districts in dramatically transforming their approach to community engagement in order to create real and lasting changes in education. Previously, as a Partner, Kenya led TNTP’s work with the Houston Independent School District to develop an effective teacher evaluation system, and completely redesign the district’s staffing process and compensation system to recruit and retain only the most effective teachers.

Before joining TNTP, Kenya served as the Tennessee Executive Director for Stand for Children.

Chasity Lord:

In her role as chief external officer of Achievement First, Chastity is charged with leading the teams directly involved with external relations, marketing and communications, development, partnerships, and expansion.

Prior to joining Achievement First, she was a regional vice president for The Posse Foundation, Inc., a national organization that identifies urban public high school students with academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by the traditional college admission process. …

Before joining Posse, she served as the mid-Atlantic regional director for The New Teacher Project….

Ana Ponce:

Ana Ponce is the Chief Executive Officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA), a network of high performing charter schools serving more than 3200 Pre-K through 12th grade students in the greater MacArthur Park neighborhood near Downtown Los Angeles. …

An alumnus of Teach for America, she spent 3 years in the classroom before becoming one of the founding teachers and administrators at The Accelerated School, the first independent charter school in South Los Angeles.

Derwin Sisnett:

Derwin Sisnett co-founded Gestalt Community Schools (GCS), a charter management organization that manages the growth of high-performing, community-based charter schools in Memphis….

Beatriz “BB” Otero:

Beatriz “BB” Otero served as Deputy Mayor for HHS for the District of Columbia. She is the Founder and former President and CEO of CentroNía, a child and family services organization serving the DC metropolitan area since 1986. In 2004 she established DC Bilingual Public Charter School currently managed by CentroNía.

There you have it: The EdLoC “team” as it stands on the evening of August 09, 2016.

In short, it looks like TFA and TNTP are joining forces and trying to reinvent themselves in the public eye in order to make the same test-score-centered, charter-promoting, fast-track, alt-cert, temp teacher reforms appear fresh behind much less whiteness…

…but with the same white billionaires funding the effort.

bill gates forbes  Bill Gates


Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Abigail Shure permalink

    My head is spinning. It is hard for me to conceptualize what all the data points on their resumes amount to in real life.

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Mercedes Schneider, you are indispensable!

  3. The school reform shell game continues. Chaos and deregulation are the most indestructible legs of the Billionaire’s suck-up-the-public-money game.

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Revolving doors and incestuous relationships among all of these moveable and removeable players in the game of billionaire funded non-profits.

    If Bill Gates is a major player, these folks MUST push the Common Core.

    Here is a question. What is the $300,000 really funding, especially with the overhead of 21 “team members?

  5. 21 vetted poverty pimps in 1 a thinly veiled organization funded by Gates to push his agenda. At least we know about this one in advance. kind of anyway. Well we know the players let’s make a pac to defuse them before they ever get off the ground!

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