Emily Dexter, Cambridge School Committee member

Hello and thank you for visiting my website. I am currently a Cambridge School Committee member, serving my second term. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, I’ve lived in Cambridge with my spouse since 1990. Our two daughters attended the Cambridge Public Schools K-12, graduating from CRLS in 2010 and 2014. 

My academic background is in linguistics, anthropology, and developmental psychology, and I have a doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I also have extensive training in educational statistics. After graduate school I held research positions at Harvard and Lesley University.

I came to my School Committee position via parent and community advocacy work, having been a member of the former Citywide School Advisory Group (CSAG), the CRLS School Council, the Citywide STEAM Advisory Group, and the Controlled Choice Community Advisory Group. With my background in statistics, I'm particularly interested in how data can be used for public school advocacy.

Please visit my blog, "Public School Notes: Commentary and Advocacy about Education and the Cambridge Public Schools," Public School Notes

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What are my priorities?

The national trend in education is to teach academic skills at younger and younger ages. I want the CPS curriculum to be flexible, active, and developmentally appropriate. Cambridge teachers do too.

Student learning happens in schools and classrooms. I want our teachers to have the resources they need to teach their diverse students well, and not be stretched thin with too many students and too little support. We need a maximum class size of 20 in grades 1-2, more co-teaching, and more reading and math specialists who work directly with struggling students.

Though our high school has many excellent programs, fundamentally it is a two-track program that labels students as Smart-and-Motivated or Not-Smart-and-Motivated. Detracking the whole school doesn’t solve the problem. We need flexible, more personalized pathways that can be tailored to the interests of each student, not more whole class instruction and standard requirements. As they progress from freshmen to seniors, high school students should have more and more of their learning situated outside the school through internships and apprenticeships.

We still have children starting kindergarten who have never gone to school. Our school department and human services department need to work together to ensure all students have had access to early childhood education before kindergarten.

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What are my qualifications?

  • I’m trained in educational research and have a doctoral degree in child and adolescent development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I worked for five years as a language specialist at a school for Deaf students, and for fifteen years as a literacy researcher at Harvard and Lesley University.

  • I’ve had advanced training in qualitative research and statistics. I understand the power and limitations of data, and how to ask good questions.

  • I was an activist CPS parent for 17 years, and know that schools can only thrive if parents and community members are active, involved, and advocating for improvements.