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A longtime Cambridge resident, Dexter is an education professional with two decades of experience in education and educational research. Her two daughters went through the Cambridge public schools, and Dexter was an involved parent during those 17 years. She has served on the Citywide School Advisory Group, the high school council and its accreditation committee and the citywide Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Working Group group, among others.

Dexter has an undergraduate degree in linguistics and a doctorate of education from the Harvard Education School, specializing in literacy, cross-cultural child and youth development and statistics, and has taught in a variety of settings. She has testified dozens of times before the committee; has done independent research on Cambridge schools, including co-writing the report “Unequal Schools: Comparing Two Local Schools in Cambridge’s Poorest Neighborhoods 2013-2014 School Year” and has a blog, Public School Notes, with comments and research on the schools.

Compiled from the candidate’s statements in publicly available sources

Top three issues

bullet-gray-small Well-resourced classrooms. I advocate for better-staffed classrooms. Students can’t learn if the adults in their schools have too much to do. If we want all students to be successful, our schools and classrooms need to be rich with learning materials, well-designed activities and enough skilled teachers, specialists and paraprofessionals to give all students the attention and challenge they need to thrive, whether they are typical or atypical learners, fluent or non-fluent English speakers and whether their current academic skills are at, below or above grade level. I advocate for inclusive teaching and curriculum deeply connected to our students’ lives as a way to build on our diversity to create critical thinkers and “moral actors.”

bullet-gray-small Strategic decision-making, including “ground up” budgeting. Students learn in classrooms; budget planning should start there. We need a budget process that prioritizes school and classroom staffing, a process that works from the ground up rather than from the top down. too many decisions are made without enough information and without thinking about the larger picture. We need to bring together teachers, staff, students, parents and other city residents to create a strategic plan that will guide decision-making.

bullet-gray-small Research and evaluation. Effective organizations keep careful track of their actions and their outcomes. We need on ongoing program of research and evaluation so we know what’s working well in our schools and where we need to make changes. One place to look is within our own city, starting with our students, their parents, our own educators and community leaders. They are experts in their own experience, but are given little opportunity to participate in district decision-making. Ideas should flow in and out of our schools – not generic school reform ideas, but ideas custom tailored for our own amazing students and city.

Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources

Profile one view of the candiateDexter is a challenger who has already been very active in the schools community. She has already done more work on the schools than many committee members, past and present. Like any candidate, she has views that not everyone agrees with, and since she’s had more public exposure than many other candidates for office, more people may be aware of that. But the many skills and passion she brings to her work make it hard to imagine a more qualified candidate.