Boston Civil Rights and Educator Groups Call for Greater Teacher Diversity
Boston – a group of leading Asian American, Black, and Latino educator and civil rights groups, together with the Boston Teachers Union, released Broken Promises, a call for greater teacher diversity in Boston Public Schools (BPS). The paper highlights research on the positive impact that a diverse teaching force has on all students, but particularly students of color.
“In a district whose student body is 86% Latino, Black, and Asian American, it is high time our students see themselves better reflected in the front of the room,” said Edith Bazile, President of theBlack Educators Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM).
“The research confirms what we’ve always known: a racially diverse teaching corps positively impacts all students, but especially those students who aren’t used to having teachers who look like them,” said Go Sasaki, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Asian American Educators Association.
Teacher diversity has been a focal point in Boston for decades. The district’s 2016 Opportunity and Achievement Gap Policy calls for a diverse corps, and Boston’s longstanding school desegregation order requires the district to maintain it.
“Alarmingly, the percentage of teachers of color in BPS is basically what it was 24 years ago, when the final judgment in Boston’s desegregation case was signed,” said Matt Cregor, Education Project Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “It is hard to point to this past quarter century as progress.”
BPS’ student body has grown increasingly diverse in the intervening decades. Today, Asian Americans comprise 9% of enrollment, but only 6% of the teacher corps. Blacks make up 35% of the student body, but only 20% of teacher corps. And Latinos represent 42% of enrollment, but only 10% of the teacher corps.
“We applaud the efforts of our business and civic organizations that have stepped up in recent years to help tackle this challenge, but BPS continues to struggle with the implementation of innovative strategies to increase teacher diversity. The result being incremental increases among educators of Latino and Asian descent, and a troubling decline of Black educators who have been the hardest hit over the past 15 years by the lack of intentionality in the district’s recruitment, selection and retention practices,” said Tanisha Sullivan, President of the NAACP – Boston Branch.
“Parents of color understand how important representation is for their child’s long term academic and social emotional success. As a Latinx parent with school age children in Boston, I think it’s disheartening that Latinos account for four times more of the student body than they do of the teaching force. It’s evident that we still have work to do. That’s simply not a recipe for success,” said Julia Mejia, Executive Director of the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network (CPLAN), a member of the Greater Boston Latino Network, a collective of nine Latino community organizations in the region.
The paper highlights a number of steps BPS can take to improve the recruitment, hiring, and retention of teachers of color, including many that the district undertook to successfully increase teacher diversity in the late 1990s and that can be reinstated.
“Boston has the tools – and legal obligation – to do more than talk the talk when it comes to employing teachers of color. All of our schoolchildren benefit from walking this walk,” said Rev. Willie Bodrick, II of the Boston Network for Black Student Achievement.
“The professional educators of the Boston Teachers Union agree with these findings which are reflective of our experience in the schools and our prior research on teacher diversity. We also support the solutions set forth in this report. Together with our allies who organized this report, we share the goal of improving teacher diversity within BPS as well as the very important reasons why that improvement must be prioritized. As the conclusion of this report states, it is time to lend the goal of improving teacher diversity the urgency it deserves. We look forward to collaborating with BPS leadership and other stakeholders to advance these recommendations,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union.