Boston public schools revive racist hiring practices from the 1970s

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Officials with the Boston public schools are aggressively bringing back efforts to hire and retain black teachers and teachers representing various other minority groups.

School district officials will institute a wide-ranging marketing plan to attract teacher candidates with the chosen skin colors, reports The Boston Globe. There will be advertisements on mass transit and in national education publications. District officials will tap into the alumni networks of historically black colleges.

School officials will also begin giving out something called “letters of reasonable assurance” to minority teachers who receive sufficient performance evaluations, in the hope that they will stick around if rumors of staffing cuts begin to fly.

The dead hand of federal district judge Wendell Arthur Garrity (1920-1999) still imposes a quota of minority hires on the Boston public schools. Several decades ago, Garrity mandated that a minimum of 25 percent of the teachers in the city schools be black—particularly at the city’s three premier public exam schools. Further, the judge ruled, 10 percent must represent other minority groups.

The objective of both Garrity’s decades-old edict and the current affirmative-action hiring drive is to achieve a demographic of teachers that reflects the demographics of the student population.

Today, the 4,400 or so teachers in Boston’s public schools are largely white. About 21 percent of the teachers are black.

Meanwhile, 87 percent of the students the teachers teach are black, Latino, or Asian.

At the three public exam schools, the percentages of black teachers are disparate. Boston Latin School has 16 percent; Boston Latin Academy has 13 percent; the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science has 38 percent.

Boston public schools superintendent Superintendent John McDonough downplayed the federal court order, at least somewhat, and focused on his own support of affirmative action.

“It’s simply the right thing to do,” he told the Globe.

Other school officials noted that they have no idea why the percentage of black public school teachers in Boston has been slowly decreasing.

Johnny McInnis, president of the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts and a Boston Public Schools music teacher, expects recruitment efforts to make a difference.

“It’s essential for the district to have a diverse staff,” McInnis told the Globe.

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