Massachusetts

Brookline Educator Says More Needs to Be Done When It Comes to Teaching Racial Issues

Brookline's interim superintendent, James Marini, acknowledged that there are "too few Black teachers and administrators in our district."

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The longest-serving Black teacher at Brookline High School is raising concern with how well issues surrounding race are taught to students.

“For white teachers, the ones who put in that work, the kids know. And they know every time,” said Malcolm Cawthorne.

The work Cawthorne is referring to involves educators educating themselves on the issues in ways that allow them to better teach the material.

“Teachers over the course of time build those repertoires where they can handle not just current events but highly racialized, politicized events in a way that honors the event itself as well as the multitude of the multiracial voices in our classrooms,” he said.

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Brookline's interim superintendent, James Marini, said in a statement, in part, "Brookline is extremely fortunate to have a gifted educator and administrator like Malcolm Cawthorne at Brookline High School. We are committed to better understanding the burden placed on him and other Black teachers to educate our students and ourselves about race in America.”

“Somewhere along the line we have to ask everyone to make sure they’re teaching about everybody," Cawthorne said. "And understand that that takes work.”

Marini acknowledged in his statement that there are "too few Black teachers and administrators in our district."

"We need to improve that," his statement continues. "The responsibility of understanding and teaching about race and racism should be shared equally among all of us."

Cawthorne says the proof is in what you do.

"I’m glad they wrote the statement. I don’t see it as disingenuous," he said. "My challenge is, will they need to make that statement again two, three, five years from now?”

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