Repost: When Charters Grow From Communities, They Can and Do Increase Equity

This article originally appeared in Education Post on December 1, 2021.
Written by BES CEO Aasimah Navlakhi

BES (Build, Excel, Sustain) started its Fellowship program 20 years ago to support school leaders with the preparation and professional development they needed to design, found, and lead an excellent public charter school. Charter leaders began this work because they were committed to creating equal access and opportunity for all students.

When I stepped into the CEO role in 2018, I heard a common refrain from many leaders who had participated in our training: While BES was founded to help create equity and access for the students most in need of a quality education, there was a gap between our stated mission and our lived values. BES was part of a movement where “cookie cutter” school models based on “best practices” were placed into communities—instead of engaging authentically with communities to envision a school that reflects its values and meets its unique needs.

After seeking feedback from our leaders, we made a necessary pivot over the past three years. We’ve revamped our training and practices to truly embed our commitment to equity in the way we operate internally, train leaders, and work with communities to serve students and families.

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