The diversity of the city of Boston and of the students served by the Boston Public Schools is not reflected in the teachers serving in the schools.
More than half the residents of Boston are people of color, and students of color make up 87 percent of the student population in Boston Public Schools. In contrast, 38 percent of Boston Public Schools (BPS) teachers are teachers of color.
Federal court desegregation orders mandate that Boston Public Schools maintain a minimum of 25 percent black teachers and 10 percent “other minority” teachers. In the 2012-2013 school year, BPS has 22.1 percent black teachers and 16 percent “other minority” teachers.
The percentage of black teachers actually declined since the 2011-2012 school year and in each of the previous four years.
The low teacher diversity in BPS is due to problems in recruitment, hiring, staffing, retention and monitoring. The school district has not invested in the staff and resources needed to generate an adequate pool of external candidates of color for vacant teacher positions or to build a robust internal pipeline of staff and students for teaching careers.
BPS has not set clear, firm hiring goals for vacant teaching positions and has not held accountable or rewarded school and central administrators for meeting diversity goals.
The district has too many schools with low or no diversity and some exam schools that do not meet the court-ordered mandate for 25 percent black teachers. BPS has not taken effective action to reduce the disproportionate attrition of black teachers, nor has it maintained the level of monitoring and reporting that ensured that the district achieved compliance with the federal desegregation orders in the past. The Black Educators’ Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM) believes that BPS has been in noncompliance with teacher desegregation orders for too long, and that it is urgent and imperative that the district improve teacher diversity as a strategy for reducing the persistent achievement gaps.
BEAM recommends the following immediate steps: