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LETTERS

Diversity, personnel, and power: Report takes hard look at K-12 school leadership

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Workforce needs to better reflect shifting demographics

Stephanie Ebbert’s story serves as an important reminder that the K-12 workforce needs to better reflect Massachusetts’ shifting demographics (“In Mass. schools, white men have the power: Most teachers here are women but few superintendents are,” Page A1, Nov. 26). Given that teachers of color account for only 9 percent of the state’s workforce while 43 percent of students are people of color, diversifying the educator workforce is not just a moral imperative; it’s an empirical one. Studies show that students of color fare better on a range of outcomes when they are taught by even one same-race teacher.

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Race has always been a flash point in public education. Current debates over how we teach the history and legacy of racism in this country indicate how deeply politicized these issues remain. To successfully diversify the educator workforce in Massachusetts, district and school leaders will need to display strong leadership and commitment to a clear vision of why educator diversity matters. Evidence-backed strategies for increasing educator diversity, such as offering alternative pathways to certification and free test-prep support for the Praxis exam, must follow.

Meg Caven

Senior research associate

Education Development Center

Waltham


Whose impact is greater — teachers or superintendents?

Where does power reside in the Massachusetts elementary, middle, and secondary schools? After reading the article “In Mass. schools, white men have the power,” I have some questions of my own about the underlying assumptions of the research and about what goes on in K-12 education.

Do teachers who spend their days in the classroom uncovering curiosity, stimulating wonder, and providing access to knowledge, understanding, and meaning really have less power than superintendents in their offices dealing with budgets, community politics, bus schedules, or leaks in a school roof?

Is it possible to acknowledge that teaching positions are also leadership positions? Yet there is a significant salary gap between administrators and teachers.

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Is it accurate to assume that being a superintendent requires more complex skills than being a teacher? (The response to this question would have an effect on the profession and how its value is rewarded.)

Could it be that teachers don’t aspire to administrative jobs because the work is less fulfilling?

Judith Harmon Miller

Vineyard Haven

The writer is a retired social studies and English teacher from Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst doctoral program in education, and a teacher educator at Middlebury College and Castleton University in Vermont.