Legislation by Senator Lewis and Representative Peisch would create pathways for educators of color and diversify the educator workforce in Massachusetts
Boston, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Educator Diversity Act Coalition, led by Latinos for Education, launched a new campaign to mobilize Latino leaders, educators, and community members to support the Educator Diversity Act (HD.3641/SD.2208) and secure its passage this year. Sponsored by State Representative Alice Peisch and State Senator Jason Lewis, co-chairs of the Education Committee, this bill would create robust pathways for diverse professionals and educators to enter the teaching profession.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more clear: representation matters in education. Students of color have had to bear the brunt of this pandemic as they experience loss in their family, lack access to tech devices and broadband, and are not receiving the same level of support that their White peers do,” said Amanda Fernandez, CEO at Latinos for Education. “Having educators that understand their unique challenges, can connect with their families and problem solve with them, is the only way we will overcome the learning loss this pandemic has created for millions of students.”
While about 40 percent of students in Massachusetts are non-white, only 8 percent of teachers are non-White. The disparity is greatest for Latino students who make up over 21 percent of the student population in the Commonwealth, while only 3 percent of educators identify as Latino. Black students make up 9 percent of the student population and yet only 3 percent of teachers identify as Black. This bill would tackle this inequity by attracting more Latino, Black, and diverse educators and improving retention rates. Specifically, the bill will:
⦁ Establish a pathway for alternative certification to the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) by 2024,
⦁ Charge the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to establish an Educator Diversity Data Dashboard that creates greater transparency and sets clear targets for the diversification of the educator pipeline,
⦁ Require uniformity across school districts to appoint diversity officers or teams to set the vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans, set measurable goals, and ensure compliance with all provisions,
⦁ Establish Educator Diversity Councils to serve as advisory councils to school committees and district leaders to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We know a diverse educator workforce leads to better outcomes for all students,” said State Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of the Education Committee. “This bill would ensure that our students receive a well-rounded education from teachers who reflect the diversity of our Commonwealth.”
“The research is very clear that the diversity of our educator workforce is a critical need for both improving student outcomes and for students of color to consider careers in teaching,” said State Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education “This legislation and its provisions would create the policy conditions for districts to hire and retain more diverse educators, to elevate their voices, and for our teachers to reflect the great diversity of our state.”
The Massachusetts Educator Diversity Act Coalition is a diverse group representing school district leaders such as Boston Superintendent Dr. Lindsa McIntyre and Salem Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike, higher education institutions like UMass Amherst, and teacher training institutions like the Boston Teacher Residency, and education advocacy groups including EdTrust and Latinos for Education. The 17 member coalition represents every voice along with the teacher preparation and retention continuum.
“We fully support the bill that Senator Lewis and Representative Peisch put forth as it comprehensively looks at the entire pipeline that aspiring teachers have to go through, and provide solutions for every step along the way – training and certification, hiring, and retention,” said Lorena Lopera, Executive Director of Latinos for Education – Massachusetts. “We look forward to working with the Committee Chairs and the dozens of superintendents, educators, and community leaders that know this is the right thing to do if we want to get serious about building a more equitable future for all students.”
Latinos for Education is planning legislative briefings on how educator diversity increases educational attainment, will mobilize its network of Latino educators and education leaders, and will work with a broad coalition to build support among Massachusetts state legislators for this bill.