Cambridge is a city of high expectations. And we should be. We have a AAA bond rating; are rebuilding our schools without state support; boast of world-class academic institutions threaded through our neighborhoods, and benefit from the robust economic engine fueled by our high tech and biotech corporations.
In addition, Cambridge has been a sanctuary city for forty-five years and celebrates diversity as its cultural heritage.
And so, because of our city’s history and abundant resources, many people are surprised to learn that nearly half of all Cambridge Public School students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and that over 500 students benefit from the Weekend Back Program, providing students with nutritional food over the weekend. There are food pantries in five of our schools, serving 350 families every week.
Challenges at home become challenges at school: In 2016, almost half of incoming kindergartens were identified as high needs; one-fifth of our students qualify as special needs, and one-third of our third graders graduate into fourth grade although not reading proficient.
In a progressive city with a historic commitment to intellectual achievement and social justice – a city whose very foundation and identity are its educational institutions – this is not acceptable.
In 2013, I was elected to the Cambridge School Committee advocating that every child deserves equal access to the opportunities needed to achieve their potential. While serving, I worked hard, stayed focused, and advocated for the best practices I knew were most critical to student learning and post-graduation success. I brought passion, collaboration, and common sense solutions to my work on the committee.
I currently serve as the Legislative Aide to Councillor David Maher, and I’m the only School Committee candidate with experience in both our school administration and our city government. I have experienced the meaning of collaboration and how to get things done in a city with so many but often hard to navigate resources.
With this background and background and experience, I’m ready to hit the ground running, and will bring a sense of urgency to the School Committee’s work. I’ve identified a four-point plan to build the bridges of success we need to address the root causes of the achievement gap, ensuring that all our students graduate with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
- Accelerate Access to Early Childhood Education (ECE)
The most effective way to close the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps is access to high quality preschool education. Yet developing a system-wide ECE program has been slow. An ECE program will not only better prepare our early learners for school, but it will also create opportunity for families to build the habit of engagement with teachers and schools.
- Improve Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in all Schools
Students learn best when they feel safe and valued for who they are. To cultivate resilience in our students takes professional skill building, use of best practices to mitigate anxiety, and teacher empathy. As a member of the SEL Advisory Board, I will continue to advocate for SEL best practices to be adopted district-wide.
- Create a Partnership in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Education
The greatest opportunity for our graduates is in the rapidly growing tech sector, both locally and globally. A recent Massachusetts report identified 120,000 jobs that go unfilled because applicants lack necessary high-tech skills and training. We need to create a STEAM Partnership, creating synergy between our schools, local businesses, and world-renown institutions of higher learning, offering pathways to 21st century careers.
- Recruit and Retain a Diverse Teaching Force
Research substantiates what our students tell us: they feel most affirmed and able to learn when the teachers in front of them look like them or share their cultural experiences. But despite being a majority-minority school district, less than 20% of our teachers are from under-represented populations. Our School Committee has set a goal of 30%, but does not have a plan. I began this work when I served on the School Committee and will continue to conduct the outreach necessary to build the pipeline of diverse talent our students deserve.
It’s our responsibility to make sure every child has the tools to succeed. This requires asking the right questions, having high expectations for achievement, and wisely using our city’s abundant resources. If elected to the School Committee, I promise to work tirelessly and collaboratively to implement the priorities that will improve outcomes for all students.
Thank you for the privilege of bringing my candidacy and my message to so many voters in every neighborhood of our glorious city.
Please support me with your #1 Vote so I can put my expertise in education, policy, and city government to work for the students and families of Cambridge. And please remember that every vote counts!