Fred Fantini for School Committee, 2015
Fantini has served on the School Committee for 32 years, and is currently vice chairman. A lifelong Cambridge resident, Fantini matriculated through Cambridge Public Schools and has long been active in Cambridge’s civic arena. Now retired, he spent 30 years as deputy treasurer for the Town of Arlington, was treasurer for the labor union chapter SEIU 888 and sponsors Cambridge Little and Major League baseball and girls’ softball teams. Fred was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (nominated by fellow committee members in 2012) and was honored for “advocacy and courage during times of great change over 30 years of public service.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Bentley College and a master’s degree in management and earned a specialized graduate certificate in diversity from Cambridge College in May 1999. Fantini continues his education with courses and conferences, including parent advocacy training from the Federation of Children with Special Needs. He has also been responsible for taking the lead at the collective bargaining table, representing management during committee labor negotiations and workers as president of the SEIU/NAGE local 113.
Compiled from the candidate’s statements in publicly available sources
Top three issues:
Student achievement. Ongoing support for the upper schools is essential for building a successful program in grades 6 through 8. It’s important we refine the upper school program to meet the Innovation Agenda goal of providing a superior academic and social experience for all students that prepares them for success in high school and post-secondary education. One issue that is unacceptable to me is the fact we have made so little progress in closing the achievement gap. MCAS standardized test results show that little progress has been made and no internal benchmarks have even been established. The committee and superintendent need to create a real sense of urgency – not panic – and a plan to end this disparity, and with the recent work with our professional development and curriculum development, I am encouraged that we are making progress.
Family engagement and school climate. The committee’s overarching goal is academic excellence and social justice for every student. As a member, I’ll continue my work to build coalitions and mobilize the resources of our social service agencies to support our children and families. I consistently push for the need to address social-emotional needs of our students, and it improve our communication and outreach to families. I continue to visit our schools and reach out to families across the city to hear their needs and help in whatever ways I can.
Operations and long-range planning. I am proud of the education capital improvements, including a renovated high school, war memorial, library, new King/Putnam Avenue Upper Schools building and the upcoming King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Tobin/Vassal Lane Upper Schools buildings. Although some tweaks had to be made on the controlled choice plan, it is strong and continues to affirm our values of diversity and excellence for all our schools. Our changes will continue this growth in balancing our schools. I’ve been around since the start of our voluntary controlled choice plan and know the importance of children of all races and economic backgrounds learning and growing together. The schools are the center of a community and having our schools diverse makes for a much stronger community. We should be proud of how we have made this system work.
Compiled from the candidate’s statements in publicly available sources and public comments
Fantini excels at the “retail” politics of the committee. He does not flag in his dedication and service to the schools. He’s prepared, visits schools and school events unfailingly, and he’s constantly trying to stay abreast of trends in education through reading and conferences. He is not afraid to push back on the administration (or colleagues, actually) if he doesn’t like what he sees. Unfortunately, he can be uneven and biting when stirred. He also can be too quickly mollified and doesn’t always follow through on his bite where merited. A case in point: After demanding that a contract be renegotiated, he passed it happily when it was returned the next meeting with the daily rate only $100 lower than the original $3,000 daily rate. But he’s a friendly, responsive ear to constituent complaints, and there is something to be said for having institutional memory on the committee.