Report: Teachers of color more likely to lose jobs under state's tenure-based layoff policy

Teachers of color in Massachusetts are more likely to be affected by school layoffs than their white colleagues, according to a new report from a nonprofit teacher advocacy group.

Its authors concluded that's largely because state law requires non-tenured teachers, or those with fewer than three years of experience in a district, to be laid off first in the event of budget shortfalls.

In Massachusetts, teachers of color are 107% more likely to be in their first or second year of teaching than white teachers, according to the report.

"That means if there is a reduction in force, our educators of color are going to be disproportionately impacted by that decision," said Lisa Lazare, executive director of Educators for Excellence Boston and one of the report's sponsors.

Lazare praised the state for its work to recruit more educators from non-white backgrounds. As of 2022, 8% of Massachusetts teachers are people of color, which is up from 6.8% a decade ago.

Still, Lazare believed the increase in people of color among the state's newest teacher rank remained fragile. She worried drops in student enrollment, as well as the end of federal COVID relief funds could lead to belt-tightening and layoffs across the state.

A group of educators, including Lazare, seeks to change the state law. It wants officials to consider factors other than tenure in layoff decisions. Lazare said one example could be whether a teacher holds a position in fields that typically prove harder to staff, like special education and science.

The educators also want lawmakers to weigh the demand for certain cultural or linguistic expertise among teachers especially in districts with robust student populations who do not speak English as a first language.


Headshot of Carrie Jung

Carrie Jung Senior Reporter, Education
Carrie is a senior education reporter.



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