Equity in Education: Wayland school district addressing teacher diversity

WAYLAND, Mass. — Wayland has been a METCO district for 50 years, and now the district is tackling teacher diversity. Roughly 40% of the student body are kids of color while 92% of all teachers in the state are white.

Boston 25 News has been focusing on issues around equity in education since our series aired last spring. Teacher diversity is one of those issues.

Just 8% of all the teachers in the entire state are people of color, despite an increasingly diverse student population.

>>>MORE: Equity in Education: A closer look at the METCO program

In Wayland, they wanted to change that and traveled to North Carolina to recruit.

"If there are more high-quality candidates of color in other parts of the country, let's go there," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Parry Graham.

A team of Wayland public school principals and Graham went to Graham's alma mater of UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State last May to fact-find and recruit.

"When you look at that research, it's really imperative that our students of color, they have role models and leaders that represent," said Brian Jones of Wayland Public Schools.

Principals Brian Jones, Christie Harvey and Betsy Gabron tell Boston 25 News that they were all struck by the fact that North Carolina is experiencing the same diversity deficiency in their school districts.

Nationally, roughly 80% of all teachers are white women. And that was a collaboration point for the educators.

"Both schools are really very committed to trying to diversify the teaching force in North Carolina but were also incredibly open to us coming in and saying there might be some people who might want to relocate, and this is an opportunity for them," Jones said.

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"Teacher retention is incredibly important and it's a profession that doesn't always have a great track record for retention," said Gabron.

"How else can we think outside the box?" asked Harvey. "Yes, we can go to North Carolina and recruit and work with these colleges, but what else can we do right here? "

With the help of a parent-run non-profit, the district hired a diversity and equity coach starting this year. They plan to expand the recruitment effort to a program including a mentorship component and relocation support.

"We know that students of color experience their environment, particularly when it's a primarily white school, primarily white district, they experience that somewhat differently," Dr. Graham said. "And having staff members of color in the building just improved their experiences. That's the ultimate goal just to make sure we're giving our kids a really high-quality education."

The team from Wayland is actually going back to North Carolina multiple times this year to recruit and to go to other colleges.