Friday, July 12, 2024

Challenger running for committee for the first time

The candidate’s website | Email

Background: Science education | Focuses: Advanced course offerings for every student; using local experts to mentor and teach; and updating curricula for a changing modern society


Compiled by Alex Bowers

1. What are the top three issues you would like to address if elected?

My top three issues are: 1) immediately reintroducing algebra (through providing commutes to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School if all else fails) and putting together a yearlong computer science curriculum at our upper schools, 2) orienting the school committee as a mediator between the community and individual schools to make it easier for people to contribute their areas of expertise through extracurricular offerings, and 3) creating an online platform for collecting open feedback from anyone.

2. Using the Excel tutoring initiative as an example, explain how you would identify goals, monitor progress, and evaluate the effectiveness of a district program.

Goals should be tailored to the purpose of the individual program. In the case of the Excel tutoring initiative, I would look at weekly short quizzes (one at the beginning of each week before the material is presented, and one at the end of each week on the same material) as provided by the i-Ready tool. We can then continue to recommend the program to students making consistent gains and explore a different pedagogy for students who may learn better through alternative means.

3. What processes would you put into place to encourage parents and caregivers to have a voice in shaping the district’s priorities?

The most straightforward solution is adding an open feedback form to the school committee website. Beyond that, the school committee should serve a more direct role to help make it easy to start extracurricular activities. A number of people I’ve spoken to have tried to begin school initiatives and found themselves denied for opaque reasons. That red tape needs to be reduced, and having the School Committee act as a more direct mediator is a good first step.

4. 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 experiences? 

I see this question as related to the previous one. The best way the district can anticipate culturally sensitive instruction is by making parents and students feel comfortable with sharing their thoughts and using that feedback to guide instruction. To do that, there needs to be an easy-to-use online platform for sharing their thoughts and communicating directly with the district.

5. How do you propose to improve educators’ experiences (for instance, professional development, workload, and evaluations) in the district?

The most straightforward factor is by increasing pay. One way is through restructuring the compensation dependence on master’s degree. Master’s degrees take time, money, and have consistently been shown to have no correlation with teaching improvement. For anyone who’s already gotten one the compensation gain should be grandfathered in, but looking at examples in the 2020 census, we lose a lot of otherwise excellent candidate teachers, especially underrepresented ones, between the bachelor and graduate degree levels.

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Rachel Weinstein for School Committee, 2019