Thursday, May 23, 2024

From the Campaign to Reelect Emily Dexter, May 19, 2017: First-term School Committee member Emily Dexter confirmed that she plans to run for reelection in November. “It’s been a great experience being on the committee these past 18 months and I’d love to continue the work,” Dexter said. “Our new superintendent Dr. Kenny Salim is a thoughtful district leader, and I’ve enjoyed working with him and the other committee members. If the whole city continues to support the schools, we’re going to see a really great next chapter.”

Dexter has a graduate degree in education. Her career includes interning at the Boston Children’s Museum during her college years, working for five years as a language specialist at The Learning Center for Deaf Children in Framingham, earning a degree in child and youth development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and evaluating literacy programs while a research director at Lesley University. Before being elected to the School Committee, she served on the citywide working group on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics issues; she serves now on the city’s Healthy Children’s Task Force. Dexter sent her two daughters to Cambridge Public Schools, K-12.

As a new committee member, Dexter has focused on access to high-quality learning opportunities. “We can’t force kids to learn what we want them to learn, but we can make sure they have the right opportunities,” Dexter said. “That starts with the basics: Can all families get their children to school regularly? Is every classroom a joyful environment in which students can engage deeply in their work without distraction? Are there enough skilled and caring adults? Learning happens within relationships. Children and teenagers need consistent adult attention to learn difficult things, including reading, writing, math, the sciences, the humanities, other languages, the arts and athletic skills.”

In her first term on the committee, Dexter advocated successfully for small class size targets for ninth-grade English, more social workers and high school guidance counselors, the long-awaited start of an elementary World Language program, full-time art teachers in all elementary schools and more co-teaching. “We have a great model, which is a special education teacher and a general education teacher co-teaching a class together,” Dexter said. “I’d like us to expand that model, particularly in the early grades and in the upper schools. This is the best way to integrate special education and general education.”

Dexter also pushed for a comprehensive review of Cambridge’s elementary program, which will be conducted next year. “We need to make sure there are enough teachers, specialists, paraprofessionals and social workers in every school, that the educators feel valued and that the programs are flexible enough to challenge students with widely varying interests and skill levels,” she explained.

If reelected in November, Dexter said, she plans to continue work on increasing access, including to prekindergarten education for young children. “Every city, including Cambridge, is looking at how to expand early childhood education,” Dexter said. “We have great prekindergarten programs in our city, but not everyone can afford them. The School Committee and City Council are both committed to increasing access to affordable pre-K programs in Cambridge.”

Dexter writes a blog, “Public School Notes: Information and Commentary about the Cambridge Public Schools” and sends out a newsletter to those who sign up on her website, which also has information about how to support her 2017 campaign.