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GBLN Urges MA Dept. of Education to Strengthen ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ to Bring More Latino Teachers to Schools

The Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will submit its plan to the U.S. Department of Education at the beginning of April, and GBLN recently submitted its comments and concerns to the state.

“Massachusetts desperately needs more Latino teachers and administrators to reflect the growing Latino student population, and we are urging DESE to amend the state’s plan to achieve these goals,” said Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, co-chair of GBLN and executive director of Sociedad Latina. “Meanwhile, there are many positive aspects of the state’s plan and we applaud all efforts to focus on middle school math and culturally proficient training for our teachers.”

GBLN supports Massachusetts’ proposals to advance ESSA’s goals, in the following areas;

1. Strengthening educator preparation programs: Access to high-quality teaching is at the core of an equitable public education system, and GBLN supports Massachusetts’ plan to strengthen educator preparation – including through implementing performance-based assessments for teacher and principal candidates. However, GBLN urges Massachusetts to recruit more qualified teachers of color who reflect the ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students they teach.

2. Focusing statewide efforts on literacy and middle grades mathematics in areas where student performance is weak or stagnant: With just 39 percent of Latino students overall and 29 percent of Latino English learners proficient in math in grade 8, Massachusetts’ plan to prioritize supports and assistance for districts to address areas of weak or stagnant student performance is well-placed. In particular, GBLN supports Massachusetts’ decision to ensure that students reach upper elementary grades with strong literacy skills and reach high school prepared to succeed in advanced mathematics. It is critical that all students succeed in advanced math courses that will enable them to participate in Massachusetts’ booming STEM economy.

3. Focus on specific subgroups to address equity: The need to create school environments where all students can learn is a paramount concern, and GBLN supports Massachusetts’ plan to add measures to its accountability system that focus on closing the achievement gap for high-needs students. For high schools, these measures include improving access to advanced coursework, the arts, breadth of curriculum, and school climate. GBLN is encouraged by Massachusetts including additional gap-closing measures focused on specific subgroups, including Latino and English learner students. GBLN believes this focus will move us closer to the goal of educational equity and ensures districts are meeting the needs of all students. 

GBLN urges DESE to provide additional clarity in the following areas:

1. Strengthening family engagement under the state’s ESSA implementation plan, as the draft plan does not include strong measures or data points to guide schools towards the successful engagement of families. 

2.  Adding a school climate and culture measure within its school accountability measure, as students and families increasingly become influencers as well as consumers of public education. A climate and culture measure can provide key insight into the lived experiences of students and families within the school community. In developing this measure, the state should include metrics on: culturally responsive practices, restorative justice approach to discipline, and meaningful family involvement. 

In the coming months, GBLN looks forward to working with DESE on these areas and others to ensure equity and excellence for all students in Massachusetts. Throughout the spring the Greater Boston Latino Network will provide Spanish language education on ESSA to families and student throughout the Commonwealth.

About the Greater Boston Latino Network:

Formed in 2013, GBLN is a collective effort to address the historical underrepresentation of Latinos in leadership roles across the region. Member organizations include: Chelsea Collaborative; East Boston Ecumenical Community Council; Hyde Square Task Force; Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción; Juan Leyton, activist, and Roslindale resident; La Alianza Hispana; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Economic Justice; Sociedad Latina; and South Boston en Acción. Learn more at www.GreaterBostonLatinos.org.

About Sociedad Latina:

Founded in 1968, Sociedad Latina works in partnership with youth and families to create the next generation of Latino leaders who are confident, competent, self-sustaining and proud of their cultural heritage. Operating under this mission, we have developed an innovative youth development model called Pathways to Success, which engages Latino youth over the long-term (ages 11-21) using culturally and linguistically responsive and sustaining practices. Our approach works in partnership with families and cross-sector supporters to capitalize on youth’s strengths and assets, such as strong community ties, bilingualism, and high aspirations. For more information, visit www.sociedadlatina.org.