I am currently a 1st-term Cambridge School Committee member, running for re-election. Originally from outside Washington, D.C., I’ve lived in Cambridge with my spouse since 1989. Our two daughters attended the Cambridge Public Schools K-12.
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. 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 into the classroom.
- 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, and not be stretched thin with too many students and too little support.
- Our high school offers 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, personalized pathways that can be tailored to the interests of each student, not more whole class instruction and standard requirements.
- We still have children starting kindergarten that have never gone to school. Our public school system needs to start educating at least all 4-year-olds. This is something our wealthy city can afford to do.
What I accomplished in my first term on the School Committee, independently or in collaboration with other Committee members
- 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 students and supported their efforts to have more voice in school policy.
- I pushed for a comprehensive review of elementary school staffing, which will be conducted in the coming year. Before joining the School Committee, I co-wrote, “Unequal Schools: How Unequal Staffing, Demographics, and Neighborhood Resources Create Unequal Opportunities 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?
- 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.