Brandan Pierce (MPP '20) describes his work and research with Boston Public Schools in the Office of Human Capital and the goals they are working on such as diversifying faculty/staff for the benefit of the students.
Good evening, my name is Brandon Pierce I'm a 2nd year MPP student here at the Ford School studying education policy and analysis methods.
Beginning my internship search knowing that I wanted to be in education policy, but really open to what that looked like.
I had come from the nonprofit sector, a very small nonprofit and so I was hoping to go some place bigger either district or state level.
My search became a little more focused when my partner who had been getting her MBA in Baltimore all year got an internship in Boston and so I didn't know anyone in Boston, so I immediately talked to Peter.
And Peter was able to connect me with a couple of alumni and before I knew it, the chief of staff at BPS was sending all my contact information out to all the directors at Central Office.
And so within a couple of weeks I had secured a summer internship.
And so when I was at BPS I worked on the team of recruitment: cultivation and diversity.
And so this is a team of about 10 that implements and designs programs to recruit, retain, and develop educators of color in the district.
And this idea stems off of research that proves that students of color do better when they have teachers that reflect their ethnicity.
And students of color make up 60 percent Boston Public Schools and the teachers are roughly 80 percent white.
So these programs are actually the same programs that I wrote about in my public policy 5 time paper and was like super excited about like "what would that look like in Detroit?" And so these like fellowship opportunities, and networking events...
ways for people that have been under represented in traditional teacher preparation programs to get access and become teachers at the district.
So as an intern I did a lot of capacity building at the district.
I was able to flex a lot of the skills that I had learned in my 1st year here at Ford.
Did some strategy memos around recruiting different demographics.
I designed a data tracking tool using Excel, and I can now really say that I'm like proficient in Excel on my resume.
And that is going to be continued to be used for many programs.
And it's a program evaluation of different recruitment events, I even downloaded data onto my computer.
And I'd have it open in my team members would walk by and be like "oh my God what are they making you do" and I was like "No no I like this.
This is fun to me!" And so I was able to look at how effective this prescreening process was at identifying high quality candidates of color and getting them into the pipeline faster.
And I was able to show that it was making a significant impact there.
And my team was really wonderful.
I got to connect on many different issues, so I looked at the new union agreement that had just gotten ratified.
There's a new superintendent and had a transition team coming in.
I got to learn all about the budgeting process that was about to get started.
But there's one conversation that I had that really sort of like was my turning point of the summer.
I was with my director talking about sort of where the progress of these improvements efforts have been over the last several years.
And she mentioned them a couple of years ago they had hired 100 percent of the African-American graduates at the Harvard School of Education.
That was one student.
And so it really spoke to me like these programs are so important but they can't have the impact that they need to have just at the district level.
And if it's difficult for Boston Public Schools, which is an incredibly well resourced large urban district that pays their teachers 6 figures, and you get tenure after your 4th year teaching, what chance does a district like Detroit have?
Detroit where you know recruiting teachers of color isn't the biggest issues, it's recruiting anyone to come and fill a teacher vacancy in the building.
So my experience this summer really reinforced that the policies I'm interested are more at the state level and that's where I plan to continue my journey and the years ahead.