Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy issued the following statement today in support of “An Act relative to educator diversity,” which has been favorably reported out by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.
The lack of racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity among the state’s teaching force is a significant structural problem that the Massachusetts Teachers Association has been addressing for years. Our members transformed their lived experiences from working in public schools into action, working with Representative Nika Elugardo and Senator Adam Gomez on a bill to create alternatives to the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure.
Just as one-size-fits-all assessments do not accurately demonstrate our students’ abilities, the narrow scope of the MTEL has been identified as discriminatory against educators of color and educators who are linguistically gifted but for whom English is not their first language.
There are other ways to demonstrate competency as an educator, and An Act relative to educator diversity — which closely mirrors the bill that MTA members worked on — sets the state on a path to bring further excellence into our classrooms.
The education experience of all of our students — regardless of their ancestral, racial and ethnic backgrounds — will be enriched by having a diverse set of educators throughout their learning years. Our students, who themselves represent ever more diverse backgrounds, need our public schools to be recruiting and retaining more educators of color and educators from varied backgrounds. This bill will help shatter stereotypes, allow more students to experience cultural affinity with their teachers, greatly expand the perspectives in our classrooms, and simply allow more people of color into the highly regarded profession of teacher. It will also influence our educator preparatory programs.
Passage of the Student Opportunity Act was one way to address structural racism as it exists in funding for our public schools. An Act relative to educator diversity is another way to dismantle other structures of racism as they exist in public education — and thanks to the SOA, districts will have the resources to attract the qualified and diverse educators that our students deserve.
The MTA appreciates the important roles that Representative Elugardo, Senator Gomez and the Joint Committee on Education — led by its chairs, Representative Alice Peisch and Senator Jason Lewis — have played in helping to elevate and advance an issue that has been a core focus of our members. We look forward to continued work with the Legislature on fine-tuning the bill to maximize its effectiveness and to supply the knowledge and insight of our members.