Sunday, July 21, 2024

Cambridge Families of Color is withdrawing its participation in Cambridge Public School’s Virtual Town Hall with families of Color scheduled for Tuesday. The intended purpose behind this town hall is to establish an environment in which caregivers of color can openly address their questions and concerns regarding the rolling back of equity and antiracism initiatives within the school district. Through this discussion, our goal was to prioritize accountability, transparency and active leadership and participation from caregivers of color in this essential conversation. Based on various actions of the district, we no longer feel like authentic partners at this point.

As a collective group of nine caregivers of color from across Cambridge, we met with schools superintendent Victoria Greer to partner on the organization of this town hall event. During our meeting, we outlined our expectations and set the parameters for the discussion. We proactively shared critical themes regarding the issues that caregivers of color within the district have raised and continue to raise as significant concerns for their students’ educational experience. Furthermore, we stressed the importance of caregivers leading the conversation and being afforded a dedicated opportunity and space to address Greer with their specific questions, separate from the broader audience of caregivers across the district.

To ensure clarity and coordination, we emailed with Greer on two occasions, confirming crucial details and providing the event’s promotional materials, including the flyer and carefully crafted language for advertisement. Regrettably, the language sent by the district to families via ParentSquare on Friday diverged significantly from our agreed-upon purpose and focus for this type of town hall.

Our primary goal is to center and uplift the voices, concerns and needs of families of color. But the message sent to all district families through ParentSquare read “all families are welcome” to attend the town hall, contradicting the mutually established intention of creating a purposeful space for caregivers of color.

This effort was not in good faith, caused harm and is yet another example of the lack of authentic relationship and disregard our community continues to experience by Greer’s office. Additional examples include:

  • May: The Fletcher Maynard Town Hall was an enormous disappointment, a display of imbalanced power dynamics, and did not build trust and engage families in good faith, once again.
  • March: On a Rolling Resources Event flyer published on the district website, language prioritizing Families of Color and other marginalized families for the first two hours was removed.
  • Fall 2022: The district rolled back antiracism and equity language in the School Council Handbook after a collective and inclusive process for revision by several families of color through a district-established working group.
  • Fall 2022: A district Anti-Racist Vision and Mission Statement disappears. It was developed by families, students and staff as a part of the Building Equity Bridges initiative and commitments to equity adopted by the School Committee, and foundational for the establishment and initial planning of the district’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

Such actions undermine the trust we hoped to build and sustain with the district, leaving us disheartened and questioning the district’s commitment to true equity and inclusivity. We also know that our educators are feeling similarly following a recent bait-and-switch detailed through ParentSquare about teacher contract negotiations. The district’s actions are severely eroding the trust placed in them by families and educators.

Our community expects better from the district and urges Greer to rectify this situation regarding our town hall promptly by acknowledging the misrepresentation and taking concrete steps to ensure that we can reengage in good faith and partner to schedule a town hall with Cambridge Families of Color aligned with the agreed upon parameters and expectations.

We look forward to hearing back from the superintendent at her earliest convenience.

The Cambridge Families of Color Coalition