Jose Luis Rojas Villarreal for School Committee, 2021
Incumbent first elected in 2019 running for committee for the second time
Background: Community finance | Focuses: Early education, world language
Why did you decide to run for another term on the School Committee?
I am running for a second term to have an opportunity to continue to work on my priorities after a first term that was dominated by Covid-19. In addition, I have shown I am an effective member. For example, I can bring people together with different points of view to reach consensus or other ways to move forward. I have brought long-term thinking to the discussions and decisions of the School Committee.
What are the top three issues you would like to address if reelected?
My short-term priorities include:
- Support the interim superintendent to implement the district’s recovery-and-thrive plan developed in response to Covid-19
- Concentrate our efforts on ensuring that we start and complete a new district plan over the course of the school calendar
- Start the search process for a permanent superintendent, to bring stability to the leadership team of the district.
In your experience, what are the most effective ways to strengthen the district’s initiatives to promote social justice and racial equity?
In addition to supporting the district’s efforts to make Cambridge an antiracist public school system, we need to move the School Committee itself in the same direction. I will work to immerse the School Committee in the district’s antiracist work and incorporate it into our governance and day-to-day operations.
How can the district improve its efforts to provide culturally sensitive instruction tailored to student interests, skill sets and ambitions in light of the diversity of student backgrounds?
This is closely tied to the antiracism work in the district. I have seen how training and implementation of culturally responsive teaching has helped all of us acknowledge that we have biases and how we can overcome them so that we have high expectations for all students. The implementation of restorative justice practices is also allowing the district to focus more energy in education.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on students and staff since March 2020 has revealed strengths and weaknesses in the system – are there specific items that you would review or revise?
The response to the Covid-19 pandemic showed us that the district can move and innovate quickly when pushed. With that in mind, for future budget discussions I have asked the administration to not only focus on new initiatives, but also on areas that should be changed or discontinued if they are not showing the intended results.
As a School Committee member, how would you encourage the district’s after-school providers and partners to improve or expand their services?
I would use the convening power of the School Committee by calling for periodic roundtables to explore and evaluate collaboration between the district and after-school partners.
What processes would you put into place to encourage parents and caregivers to have a voice in shaping the district’s priorities?
The Covid-19 crisis forced us to find alternative ways to engage with each other. I would look to incorporate virtual participation in community outreach efforts, in addition to more traditional methods, as they proved that they allow for more families to participate and provide input.