MIRRORS FOR LATINX STUDENTS: Attracting and Retaining Latinx Teachers in Massachusetts

January 30, 2020

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The public education system in Massachusetts is one of the highest–performing in the nation, but only for some students.

From national test scores to graduation rates, we have reason to be proud of the progress we have made over the past decade. During that same time, it has become clear that Latinos have played, and will continue to play, a larger role in the Commonwealth’s future. Latinos are expected to comprise 15 percent of the population of Massachusetts by 2035 – growth fueled primarily by in-state births rather than immigration. It is critical, then, that Massachusetts’ workforce, at every level, reflect our population. This work begins now, in the classroom. Investing in a strong education system that meets the needs of Latinos and other students of color, as well as students from low-income backgrounds, is an investment in the workforce of the future.

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Research shows that a key factor holding back students’ potential is that the adults throughout our education system do not mirror the demographics of our schools. When Latino students have teachers with the same background, these teachers reflect the same culture as students – which creates an environment for students to have their identity affirmed.

The system has not evolved to support the state’s rapidly growing Latino community or acknowledge its strength and potential. The implication is that a Latino child in Massachusetts may never encounter a Latino teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade. The end result is that few Latino students are being prepared to succeed in school, careers, and life.

As a result of this reality, we began researching the Latino teacher pipeline. We collected both qualitative and quantitative data because we wanted to pair research with the lived experiences of Latino education leaders across the state. This included a landscape analysis, three Town Halls in heavily Latino populated communities, a convenings with the Latino community and Massachusetts legislators, and a survey of 250 Latino educators across the Commonwealth.

Based on this research, four key recommendations emerged:

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Working in partnership with Amplify Latinx, the Massachusetts Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (MAS ALAS), and others, Latinos for Education is spearheading efforts to build a statewide coalition that will develop leadership capacity among Latino educators and propel Latino paraprofessionals into an educator role by collaborating with districts, foundations, and other organizations. The coalition aims to provide professional development training, information about the certification process, and mentoring to candidates, as well as provide advocacy opportunities for Latino educators to voice their needs and advocate for policy changes.

We are encouraging leaders across Massachusetts to share your support for this report. We are collecting signatures to build a critical mass of supporters and demonstrate the power of our voice.

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