Cambridge School Committee Discusses Minority Teacher Recruitment

With talk of combining two local elementary schools still brewing, Cambridge School Committee members discussed how to increase the number of minority teachers in the school system Saturday morning.

The roundtable discussion was held at the Howard Johnson's Hotel on Memorial Drive and was organized by a local citizens group, Cambridge Citizens Moving Forward. Topics ranged the educational gamut as the two dozen audience members and forum organizers posed questions of the committee.

School committee members spent the most time addressing the dearth of minority teachers in the Cambridge school system compared to the minority student population.


According to school district figures, 33 percent of students in kindergarten to eighth grade are black, but only 7 percent of the students' teachers are black.

Committee member Joseph G. Grassi said the district's cumbersome hiring process are partly to blame for the system's failure to hire more black teachers.

Grassi said he favors letting "the superintendent hire teachers of color right away," bypassing a hiring process he said takes three to four months and means Cambridge loses many minority teachers to other districts that have streamlined procedures.

Superintendent of School Bobbie J. D'Alessandro has asked the committee to grant her the power to hire minority teachers without going through the usual resume and interview committees.

If the planned merger of the Fletcher and Maynard elementary schools is approved, the new school will be in a new or renovated facility and its principal will have broad authority to choose a new staff. Committee members said this would be an opportunity to increase the number of minority teachers at that school.

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