Thank you for voting in local elections! Remember: November 7, 2017.
I am currently a 1st-term Cambridge School Committee member, running for re-election. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, I’ve lived in Cambridge with my spouse since 1989. Our two daughters attended the Cambridge Public Schools K-12, graduating from CRLS in 2010 and 2014.
Because I’m trained in child development, I view education through the lens of the developing child and emerging young person. Great schools are those that take an individual approach to each student, not a standardized one. Cambridge classrooms have very diverse students, each with different educational needs. Combine student diversity with structural inequalities in our society, and we end up with unequal opportunities for students to have their needs met. Our teachers need more help and resources if they are going to teach every student well. Cambridge spends a lot of money on its school system, but not enough of that spending goes directly into the classroom.
What I've accomplished
In my first term on the School Committee, in collaboration with other School Committee members, parents, students, community members, and the Superintendent:
I pushed successfully for more staff who work directly with students: paraprofessionals in our largest 1st grade classes, high school guidance counselors to reduce student-counselor ratios, and social workers to provide more mental health supports in the elementary schools.
I asked for an attendance report that showed higher chronic absence rates for lower-income students. As a result, principals are making more effort to close the attendance gap.
I pushed for an elementary language program (Spanish) that will be piloted in two CPS elementary schools in the coming year.
I met with high school student government leaders and supported their efforts to spend less time planning the prom and more time having a voice in school policies.
I pushed for a comprehensive review of elementary school staffing, which will be conducted in the 20217-2018 school year. Before joining the School Committee, I co-wrote, “Unequal Schools: How Unequal Staffing, Demographics, and Neighborhood Resources Create Unequal Opportunities for Low-Income Students to Learn in the Cambridge Public Schools.”
I raised old and new questions, such as: How much of our high per pupil spending goes directly into the classroom? Do lower-income students have equitable access to extracurricular activities at CRLS? Is it fair to have a publicly funded Junior Kindergarten (JK) program that serves only half of all 4-year-olds?
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. Cambridge's human services department and public school department need to education all lower-income 3-4-year-olds, and our public schools need to extend junior kindergarten to serve either all 4-year-olds, or have our schools start at kindergarten for all Cambridge residents.
I’m trained in educational research and have a graduate degree in child and adolescent development. I worked for five years as a language specialist at a school for Deaf students, and for fifteen years as a researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Lesley University.
I’ve had advanced training in qualitative research and statistics, and understand data and how to ask good questions.
I was an activist CPS parent, and know that schools can only thrive if parents are active and involved.