Latinos for Education Leads Advocates in Urging Massachusetts Legislators to Pass the Educator Diversity Act

At legislative briefing featuring Representative Alice Peisch and Senator Jason Lewis, advocates made the case for why a diverse educator workforce is needed to close education achievement gaps.

Boston, MA – Yesterday, the Massachusetts Educator Diversity Act Coalition, led by Latinos for Education, launched a new campaign to mobilize diverse leaders, educators, and community members to support the passage of the Educator Diversity Act (HD.3641/SD.2208). Sponsors of the bill, State Representative Alice Peisch and State Senator Jason Lewis, co-chairs of the Education Committee, joined the briefing which examined how this bill would create robust pathways for diverse professionals and educators to enter the teaching profession.

“In the past year we have witnessed a pandemic that has devastated Black, Latino, and immigrant communities and a national reckoning that is forcing us to look at how the history of racism permeates throughout all our systems, including our nation’s education system,” said Amanda Fernandez, Co-Founder and CEO of Latinos for Education and member of the Massachusetts Educator Diversity Act Coalition. “This reckoning in education has just begun, but it must include conversations and actions on educator diversity because we won’t fully close equity gaps for all students if we don’t invest in diverse educators.”

During the briefing, coalition members examined the current state of diversity in Massachusetts’ education workforce by highlighting that while 40 percent of students in Massachusetts are non-white, only 8 percent of teachers are non-white. That disparity is greatest for Latino and Black students who make up a significant segment of the student population, but have very little representation in the educator workforce. 

“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.”

“Representative Alice Peisch and I filed the Educator Diversity Act because increasing educator diversity is a crucial part of racial justice and anti-racism work that is so sorely needed in Massachusetts schools,” said State Senator Jason Lewis.

The briefing also focused on the impact that passing the Educator Diversity Act would have on students and educators alike as the research shows that students of color perform better and pursue higher education at higher rates when they see themselves in the educators that lead their classroom. The bill, if approved, would tackle inequity by attracting more Latino, Black, and diverse educators and improving retention rates. Specifically, the bill would: 

  • 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 to 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. 

Speakers at the briefing included:

  • Representative Chynah Tyler 
  • Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, Superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools
  • Dr. Steven Zrike, Superintendent of the Salem Public Schools 
  • Ms. Lydia Martinez, Assistant Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools 
  • Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education
  • Manny Cruz, Advocacy Director, Latinos for Education
  • Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, Assistant Superintendent of Boston Public Schools
  • The Honorable Jeffrey Sanchez, Former Chair of Ways and Means Committee 
  • Students and educators of color