Vision  Analysis  Action

BACKGROUND
Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, I’m currently a 2nd term member of the Cambridge School Committee. With research training from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I know how to raise new issues, ask new questions, ask for and interpret data, and move issues forward with a sense of urgency. I have also gained skill in working on the School Committee: In my first term, I passed five motions; in my second term I passed twenty-five motions. I was also chosen to serve as the budget co-chair this term because I am extremely knowledgeable about our past and present school department budgets and I know how to advocate for resources.

Outside of my School Committee role, I am engaged in several education-related projects. In 2018, I helped create a local, grassroots organization, Data for Better Schools, the purpose of which is to use data for community organizing. I am also an active member of the We the People National Math Literacy for All Alliance, which is focused on enacting federal legislation that will improve math teaching and learning in underserved communities in the U.S.

Prior to being on the Committee, I was a member of the Cambridge STEAM Working Group (STEM + the Arts), which successfully lobbied the Cambridge City Council to establish a STEAM office in the city administration. I also served on the board of Enroot, a program that supports immigrant high school students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and Somerville High School. Early in my career, I worked as a language specialist at a progressive school for Deaf students in Framingham, and later as an educational researcher at Harvard and Lesley University. My two children attended Cambridge Public Schools, K-12.

In my first two terms on the School Committee I accomplished the following:

  • Pushed successfully for smaller class sizes in the critical 9th grade transition year, and more guidance counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals for all grades. This year, 16 paraprofessional positions were restored that had been cut from the budget in 2011.

  • Advocated relentlessly for universal 4-year-old education, which is now in the design phase.

  • Insisted on receiving data on Special Education placements, which triggered an examination of referral practices that had led to disproportionate placement of Black and Latino boys in Special Education.

  • Insisted on receiving data on chronic absences, resulting in more district support for parents struggling to get their children to school every day.

  • Led a successful effort to reform the high school attendance policy, which was disproportionately penalizing students with disabilities and low-income students.

  • Pushed to expand the Spanish language program, which resulted in two more elementary schools offering Spanish instruction.

PRIORITIES

1. Improve learning and achievement, particularly in math. Math is the language of the 21st century for both the job market and civic life. We need an urgent plan for math, the goal of which should be to prepare every student to take advanced math classes in high school.

2. Ensure adequate staffing in every school and classroom. We’ve made some improvements to our staffing levels in the past few years, but our district still has an average class size on par with Medford, Salem, Somerville, and Pittsfield, cities with far fewer resources than Cambridge has. We need more trained educators in our classrooms, and more social workers to provide wraparound services to struggling families.

3. Make preschool, afterschool, and summer programs accessible to all. Cambridge is moving forward with universal early childhood education, but we still have families who can’t afford an enriching afterschool and summer program for their children. We need a system that ensures universal access to out-of-school time education.

4. Create more real-world learning opportunities at the high school. Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School has some wonderful internship and apprenticeships opportunities, but not all students know about them or are able to participate. We need a comprehensive system that provides every student with a well-designed immersive work experience matched to their interests.

ENDORSEMENTS

"For many years now, Emily Dexter is the only, I repeat, the only member of the School Committee who has sought me out at public meetings concerning education, seeking solutions to the CPS system of Sharecropper Education."  

- Bob Moses, educator, founder of the Algebra Project

"Emily gets the big picture and the details. She's already changed the conversation about CPS for the better, concentrating both on the positives and where we can do better. With Emily on the Committee, we can cut through the fog and get kids more of what they need to succeed as CPS students and after they graduate.”

-Leslie Brunetta, former CRLS parent

"Emily is steadfast in her efforts to provide our educators and schools with the tools and resources needed to help every Cambridge student succeed in their educational journeys. Her voice, with its command of what the data and experiences of students tell us, is essential to the School Committee’s mandate to narrow the achievement gap in our schools and enrich the educational experience available to all of Cambridge’s children."

Melissa Ludtke, former King Open and CRLS parent

"Emily Dexter is a serious, substantive candidate. She combines expertise in the field with in-depth experience of the details of the inner-workings of Cambridge Public Schools. Emily has excellent judgment and a vision for how our schools can do better. She is a strong advocate for more resources in the classroom as opposed to the creeping expansion of resources at the Central Office level. Emily gets what is needed practically to improve student achievement which is often at odds w/the political discourse and rhetoric we usually hear. She has the courage to ask difficult questions and demand answers, as well as the analytical ability to understand the complexities of data put in front of her. Emily is a creative, practical problem-solver. We need Emily and more candidates like her!"

- Debbie & Abram Klein, former CRLS parents