Current Status

Our bill was attached to the Educator Diversity legislation that was favorably reported out of the Joint Committee on Education.  However, the attachment was made without any accompanying language.  

 

While we appreciate the intent of S.366/H.682, An Act relative to educator diversity, we are concerned that this bill will be harmful to BIPOC students and educators because it fails to recognize or address the underlying root causes for racial disparities:
 

  • The curriculum and pedagogy itself does not speak to or support BIPOC students’ or educators’ experiences without which makes it difficult to recruit and retain BIPOC educators.

  • The current curriculum on history, literature and even science and math generally leave out the contributions of BIPOC people implying that our contributions to these areas are less valued and less needed.

  • In the context of curriculum deficiencies and lack of school administration support and resources, the burden is largely on classroom educators to develop curriculum materials and age-appropriate pedagogy for students. Educators are impeded by lack of resources to support this work, and often must do it during their “free” unpaid time on top of their regular responsibilities. They face barriers and artificial constraints by state standards and pushback from both white colleagues and school administrators who question why change is needed. The best case situation is one in which this inquiry comes from a place of curiosity and the result is that BIPOC teachers often carry the extra burden of providing professional development for their colleagues to fill in the knowledge gaps in the present curriculum. The worst case situation is one in which BIPOC educators are resented for bringing this information and proposed changes to light, with fellow educators, administrators, and parents feeling defensive or accused of falling short. 

  • BIPOC educators not only teach in a classroom, but also serve as go-to mentors for BIPOC students who don’t feel affirmed in school. The emotional labor involved in supporting students in systems which are inherently unsupportive is yet another taxing endeavor for BIPOC educators.

  • All of these burdens, additional unrecognized responsibilities, and daily navigation of challenging situations impact the long term professional trajectory of BIPOC educators.

    Inevitably, many BIPOC educators give up trying to make the change they want to see; many eventually leave the profession to pursue careers that are less exhausting and bureaucratic;  and very few BIPOC educators go to serve in leadership roles in school administrations. This signals to BIPOC students that education is an inherently white profession.

 

In order to address these underlying root causes for racial disparities in the educator workforce, we ask that the full revised language from S.365/H.584, An Act relative to anti-racism, equity and justice in education, be incorporated into the Educator Diversity bill for passage by the House and Senate.

 

This legislative language would create a small, workable commission of educational and community stakeholders appointed by our elected officials, accountable to the voters and their communities, to work with DESE to develop the necessary tools, content, and pilot programs for voluntary adoption by school districts. The commission will also include community voices through the representative from CARE, Inc. In addition, the bill creates a trust fund to hold legislative appropriations and private philanthropy grants that will be used to fund the voluntary adoption of the commission’s recommendations by school districts. No unfunded mandates will result from this legislation. The commission’s work will include: 
 

  • Developing K-12 curriculum materials that incorporate accurate histories, stories and contributions of all racial, ethnic and religious groups and teaching materials and practices for age appropriate instruction of the same;

  • Promoting culturally responsive teaching in classrooms and school culture;

  • Providing professional development and training for educators and administrators in the newly developed curriculum materials and teaching materials and practices;

  • Advancing the diversification of the public school workforce, including educators, administrators, counselors and administrative staff; and

  • Providing mental health support to address intergenerational and racialized trauma and its triggering impacts on the wellbeing and success of students and educators.

Background

Our bill, An Act Relative to Anti-Racism, Equity and Justice in Education (formerly S365 and H584) was proposed in response to the accounts of students, teachers, and other community organizations that people of color are underrepresented and as a result, all students are under-served in curriculum, pedagogy, and educational practice in today’s public schools. Not only do such educational inequities harm students who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) and their communities, but such injustices limit the educational experience of ALL students in preparing them for their global future. An education that is lopsided and taught by few BIPOC educators exclude BIPOC students and their communities from being seen and participating fully in society, and deprives ALL students from the education they deserve.
 

Recent key events including the murder of George Floyd and other Americans of color, the disproportionate impact of the Covid-a9 pandemic and the rise in biased and xenophobic violence have highlighted the gaps in our current educational system.  These gaps can seen in the feedback received in school districts throughout the Commonwealth from graduates, current students, families and educators about shared experiences of the pervasive lack of visibility and representation and documented incidents of racism and other bias in schools.

BILL SUMMARY

An Act relative to anti-racism, equity & justice in education (formerly S 365/H 584) creates a Commission for Anti-Racism and Equity in Education, with 7 commissioners with relevant expertise, experience and community representation to be appointed by elected public officials and community organization. Each commissioner will be assisted by an advisory group of relevant and representative stakeholders. The purpose of the Commission will be to:

 

  • Develop curriculum materials with a social justice perspective of dismantling racism and advise the department on improving the history and social sciences framework 

  • Ensure that ethnic studies, racial justice, decolonizing history, and unlearning racism is taught at all grade levels using an analytical approach and pedagogy that is age-appropriate 

  • Advise the Department on ways to ensure equity on the Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure 

  • Ensure that teachers and school counselors have access to professional development that fosters equitable, inclusive curriculum, and pedagogy and practices that support racial justice. 

  • The Commission will also advise the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on how to best promote efforts to increase, support and retain teachers and school counselors of color in our public school workforce. 

  • The Commission, in conjunction with the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Board of Education, will develop and administer an Anti-Racism and Equity in Education grant program to allocate funds for public schools and school districts to promote racial equity and racial and ethnic studies within and across school districts on an application basis. Funds and resources for universities and other community groups working in education will also be considered and administered by the Commission and the Commissioner.

  • The Commission, the Commissioner, and awardees of these funds will work together to analyze the effectiveness of their initiatives, analyze social studies and history curricula and framework through a lens of racial justice, and make amendments to the social studies and history curricula and framework where necessary. 

 

Although our bill was attached to the Educator Diversity legislation which was favorably reported out of the Joint Committee on Education, the attachment was made without any accompanying language. 
Read the fully revised language of the legislation we drafted
for incorporation into the Educator Diversity bill for passage by the House and Senate HERE.