Boston Seeks to Increase Racial Diversity Among Teachers

In the 1970s, a Federal Judge mandated that at least 25% of the Boston School District’s teaching force be black, in order to represent the diverse student body. In the past year, however, the percentage of black educators has dipped down to 21%, putting the district in danger of violating the law.

Boston Latin School. Photo courtesy of Svetlana Miljkovic/Wikimedia Commons.

Boston Latin School.
Photo courtesy of Svetlana Miljkovic/Wikimedia Commons.

The public school spokesman, Brian Ballou, has said that recent retirements account for the loss, and that new initiatives through city-wide advertisements and a more aggressive recruiting campaign should help bring the number back up to where it needs to be. Since the teacher turnover rate is close to 10% per year, the problem should be resolved relatively soon, preventing any type of legal struggle.

Almost 90% of the Boston Public Schools' student population are students of color, so many argue that having a more racially diverse teaching staff is essential to student success. Additionally, up to 47% of students do not speak English as their first language, and a more diverse teaching body could help increase the ability to educate those students. For students who come from underprivileged and largely minority backgrounds, having teachers whom they can connect to can help inspire them to succeed academically.

Governor Patrick visits a Boston public school on MLK day. Photo courtesy of Deval Patrick/Flickr.

Governor Patrick visits a Boston public school on MLK day.
Photo courtesy of Deval Patrick/Flickr.

It is unclear whether or not the school district is open to litigation, but the teachers union and the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts seem to prefer working with the school board over seeking legal action.

“It’s very troubling we were going in the wrong direction,” said Barbara Fields, a former public equity chief for the Boston Public Schools. “It seems to us that the district under Mr. McDonough is ready to move forward and do what is right for the children in the district.” If the district remedies the situation quickly, showing a dedication to maintaining a diverse teaching force, it is likely that legal action can be avoided.

Featured photo courtesy of Boston Public Schools/Facebook.

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