Jake Crutchfield for School Committee, 2015
Crutchfield is a community organizer working to connect students to out-of-school programming in Cambridge, and has been a substitute teacher in Cambridge public schools. He has been in classrooms in nearly every school in the city and is the only candidate with in-Cambridge classroom teaching experience in the past decade. He has also played a significant role as a member of the city’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Working Group. Jake started an after-school class that develops students’ critical thinking skills through structured inquiry – modeled on the Socratic Seminar. This teaching model is being integrated in instructional training for the city’s Agenda for Children.
Jake has a bachelor’s degree in finance and began his professional career as a financial advisor, but quickly came to realize he wanted something different. While spending a year teaching English as a second language in China, he discovered his love of teaching, which led him to getting his master’s in secondary education and political science at Lesley University. Jake says “education has become the center of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Compiled from the candidate’s statements in publicly available sources
Top three issues:
Building on best practices. The Cambridge Public Schools district boasts exceptional teachers, unique institutional resources and high expenditures per student. Our students are in great, capable hands. To further develop our strengths and determine where we need to improve, we must comprehensively evaluate the programs already in place. If elected, I’ll ensure this process is collaborative, with meaningful input from teachers, parents and even students from across the district.
Working better together. Every member of our educational community wants the best for our students. Unfortunately, this good will often translates to a high volume of initiatives, programs and requirements that actually detract from student learning. Moreover, our focus on data has distracted us from real, on-the-ground engagement. We may want to consider a pause on new initiatives and let our teachers – the foremost experts on the classrooms – take the lead on creating educational policies.
Strengthening community engagement. I believe strongly that no student should be without an after-school or summer program. We have the resources. Expanding access requires a greater commitment to on-the-ground engagement, which means meeting families where they are, in their communities. Whether it’s door knocking, distributing pamphlets that list the services available through the schools or holding open forums consistently around the community, we must make the same commitment to outreach that defines election season all year round.
Edited from the candidate’s words
Crutchfield is a candidate who has been actively engaged in civic and education work in the district and is a close follower of the School Committee. This year, he has attended almost every committee meeting and was probably the only person to attend all of the community meetings that were part of the superintendent search. He walks the walk, including making the considerable and rare effort to knock on doors in all of the diverse neighborhoods of the city. Crutchfield wants to turn the committee inside out – make it present in school and public life outside the committee room, to better represent the broad community it serves. Crutchfield has a plan to strengthen the voices of teachers and parents, and it would be exciting to see what change he could bring to the committee.