Monday, June 24, 2024

I must confess I was very saddened and angered by the treatment given to superintendent Kenneth Salim at the hands of the Cambridge Education Association (“‘No confidence’ voted for school district officials; Educators want say in hiring next superintendent,” Jan. 22).

I have never written a letter to the editor before, but sitting in my apartment and reading the association’s statement made want to yell and ask people to think twice before calling someone or something “white supremacist.” The district’s reopening process doesn’t promote “white supremacy” and Salim and Cambridge Public Schools do not preside over a “white supremacy” process. It’s just ridiculous! 

My father always told me that when something is good you should acknowledge it. Looking at the past year, I know that Cambridge is trying everything to give the best to its students.

Recently, I had a talk with a colleague, a U.S. naval officer, who was doing his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We expressed our satisfaction with the educational opportunities offered to students in Cambridge. He contrasted that to his native South Carolina, where he didn’t have all these opportunities growing up. By the way, South Carolina spends $10,000 per student (yet $21,000 per inmate), compared with $29,000 in Cambridge. My friend is caucasian and I am from West Africa, and both of our kids are attending and benefiting from public school. So when something is good, just acknowledge that it is good. Please, avoid labeling everything “white supremacist” as if you want to shut down all debate. 

Our goal is to safely reopen our schools. I think that Salim and his team have taken all the necessary measures (and spending $5 million) to safely reopen. There is never zero risk, but with the School Committee’s informed decisions and the risk mitigation measures they have taken and implemented, schools should now be able to reopen safely.

If I were a member of the CEA or the city’s Educators of Color Coalition, I would do some soul searching and see if we are more part of the problem than the solution.

Alain Ondias-Souna, parent of two Cambridge Public Schools students