Why I Am Running

Why I Am Running

I am running for School Committee because public education is the great equalizer in our society and all children have a right to a high quality public school experience. As a member of the Cambridge School Committee, I will view my work through the lens of three key values: Equity, Access, and Excellence.

  • Equity:  I am committed to social justice in the Cambridge Public Schools, and I believe that all children should have the supports they need to succeed in school and beyond.
  • Access:  I am a social worker with professional insight into what students need to achieve their potential and will fight for all students to access our wealth of educational resources.
  • Excellence:  I believe that the Cambridge Public Schools must foster an environment of excellence throughout the district. As someone with an MBA, I will help the district assure that all resources are used effectively to educate all our students, regardless of who they are or where they live.

I believe that the School Committee plays a central role in understanding concerns about specific situations as they arise and examining them as part of larger policy questions. The public policy work of the School Committee is built on those three focus areas, and as a member, I will emphasize its role as a policy-making body. For instance, as we work to develop the best ways to teach all students a world language from kindergarten through high school, the committee must consider what the overall goals and outcomes should be, while providing space for differences throughout the system to ensure that there is equity, access, and excellence in every school and for every student.

The role of the School Committee as a policy-making body begins with the vision and focus areas of the Cambridge Public School District.

“The Cambridge Public Schools will be a diverse urban school system that works with families and the community to successfully educate all of its students at high levels.

The District’s three focus areas:
“Improving achievement for all students;
“Building a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment in schools; and
“Instituting long-range planning for budgetary and programmatic decision-making.”

To those three focus areas, I would add two focuses for my work on the School Committee:

  • Building a cohesive and collaborative leadership culture within the School Committee and with the leadership of the District.
  • Ensuring strong and positive working relationships among the Cambridge Public Schools, City of Cambridge programs, and nonprofit partners.

Improving achievement for all students.

A theme in our community is the desire for more rigor and higher expectations for all students. A consistent educational policy and philosophy need to be behind School Committee decisions regarding achievement, although implementation may be different in different schools. Although we may create different interventions for different groups, I believe emphasis on improving achievement for all students must be kept at the forefront of our policy. Our emphasis on the differentiated classroom model as a policy response to this objective is not being implemented consistently throughout the district.  Identifying barriers to effective implementation should be a primary focus in addressing how we improve achievement for all students.

Building a safe, supportive, nurturing environment in our schools.

A welcoming environment should exist for all members of our school communities and requires continuous evaluation and improvement.  The primary focus should be on the students.  We also must develop positive, collaborative relationships between the adults, including family members and guardians, teachers, staff, and administrators.  Adults must model the environment we wish to create for our students.  We should see our district as a single system that implements particular supports, such as academic challenge supports and special education supports, not as separate educational systems.  Some of our schools have created a strong feeling of community through particular practices, which may help us as we consider improvements throughout the district.  We want all schools and the district as a whole to be safe, supportive and nurturing.  I believe a particular focus for the School Committee should be welcoming and  including all groups in our policy discussions.

Instituting long-range planning for budgetary and programmatic decision-making.

Creating effective policy requires School Committee members to understand both what is working and what needs to be improved at a particular moment in time. Parents need to know this, teachers and staff need to know this, and the broader community needs to know this. Planning, evaluating, and improvement need to be part of the ongoing process of setting policies and leading our district. In addition to improving achievement for all students, I will put particular emphasis on the district’s need to institute long-range planning for budgetary and programmatic decision-making. This planning should include wide community input.

Building a cohesive and collaborative leadership culture within the School Committee and with the leadership of the District.

We can improve our working relationships and communication. Communication needs to be more timely, transparent, and multi-channeled. I will emphasize reaching out to and including underrepresented groups in our work and decision making. I will encourage cross-community dialogue about difficult policy questions and complicated decisions. I see this as a primary charge of the School Committee, ensuring that the needs, concerns, and understanding of the community are present and that community voices are not just heard, but included.

I will work to ensure that the School Committee and the District Leadership develop a common language and culture of shared responsibility and accountability in their appropriate roles. The superintendent should receive a constructive review from the School Committee as a whole as mandated by the new state guidelines.

Ensuring strong and positive working relationships among the Cambridge Public Schools, City of Cambridge programs, and nonprofit partners.

I will work to strengthen the relationship between the School Committee and the City Council in order to build a comprehensive support for all children – from birth through age 25 – and for their families with particular emphasis on: expanding parenting training; literacy; early childhood education; academic enrichment in after-school programs, building partnerships between the Cambridge Public Schools and after-school and summer learning programs; and post-high school planning and partnerships.

We should empower School Councils to evaluate their respective schools and develop an explicit working relationship between the School Councils and School Committee. This would be an additional communication channel to the present Citywide School Advisory Group (CSAG), which works directly with the District leadership.

I will advocate that the School Committee focus its policy decisions on equity, access, and excellence.  Equity is critical for all students to receive an education that leads to academic success and successful, civically engaged adult lives.  Access to our wealth of educational resources and opportunities must be available to all students and families.  Excellence requires us to provide necessary resources to

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