Friday, July 12, 2024

A parents’ education organization called the Cambridge Advanced Learning Association has begun work, with its website going live Nov. 11 saying the group “plans to work to support the needs of students of every race, ethnicity and socioeconomic background in need of advanced learning, at the same time as we support the needs of all students in Cambridge.”

The needs of advanced learners — in short, the smart kids and overachievers — has been an urgent theme in the schools community since at least October, when a School Committee meeting heard warnings of what happens when a shortage of resources results in teachers paying attention to lower-performing students and neglecting those they think can learn on their own.

The results range from worsening grades to turning to crime and drugs, the testimony showed.

Association members include parents supporting the Intensive Studies Program, which district sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders have been fighting to keep in some form even after the district implements its Innovation Agenda restructuring next fall.

The student organizers were to present to the School Committee last week a petition backing the program, a follow-up to the testimony given at the Oct. 18 committee meeting alongside an association founder, Freedom Baird.

“Superintendent Jeff Young’s Innovation Agenda is bringing significant changes to the middle grades in our public schools, and although it brings a great deal of disruption, it also provides an opportunity for significant improvements,” Baird wrote on the website with the group’s co-founder, Ari Epstein. “CALA members hope to work with our administrators and teachers to develop a specific, evidence-based policy and program for students in need of advanced learning in Cambridge, in the middle grades and other grades as well.”

The committee’s Nov. 29 roundtable on academic challenge will address some advanced-learner issues, and the group is suggesting that parents go and take notes.

The association’s website has linked invitations for anyone interested in its issues and another just for parents of students in need of advanced learning in Cambridge.