Watch CBS News

Massachusetts Aims To Make 26-Percent Of Teachers Diverse By 2030

BOSTON (CBS) - At the Bridge Boston Charter School in Roxbury, Executive Director Craig Martin never misses an opportunity to inspire the kids in this racially diverse school.

On WBZ-TV's visit, he pulled a book off the shelf to share with a group of girls gathered in the library. It was a children's book by Stacey Abrams. "Do you know who Stacey Abrams is?" he asked. "She's a very powerful woman," he added, explaining her efforts to make sure that everyone has the chance to vote.

In a school with nearly 50% teachers of color, Martin says his students are surrounded by role models. "One of the first things that they do when they come in the morning, they are greeted by "Love Central," he said, describing a staff member of color who greets every child with a smile and even a hug when needed. "They know they are loved from the moment they walk in the door, and she looks like them."

Research has shown that all students benefit from having teachers who are racially and ethnically diverse, but they have a particularly important impact on students of color. "[There is] this understanding that based upon the research and the data that educators of color hold higher expectations for students of color, and with those higher expectations, there is … the desire on the part of students to meet those expectations and oftentimes surpass them," explained Shay Edmond, the senior associate commissioner of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

But many Massachusetts students don't have that opportunity. In 2021, just 9.2% of teachers in the state were diverse. That's up slightly from 2019, when that number was 8.2%. State education officials have set a goal of raising that number to 26% by 2030.

To meet that goal, DESE is providing grant funding to schools and districts to help support their local efforts to diversify teaching. Nine million dollars has been made available over the past few years to help provide tuition assistance, licensure test preparation, and fees.

Part of the funds will be used to help paraprofessionals, who are already working in the schools, get their teaching licenses. "Paraprofessionals are a great source of talent to tap into to support our efforts into diversification," Edmond explained. The state is also supporting efforts to create a pathway to teaching from high schools and community colleges.

According to Martin, low pay and long hours are also barriers to recruiting teachers, but it's a responsibility he wouldn't change for the world. "It's daunting to know that you have the ability, every day … to change the trajectory of a young person's life, and that's incredible."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.