Saturday, July 20, 2024

Incumbent first elected in 2020 and seeking a third term in office

The candidate’s website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email | (857) 285-2194


Background: Teaching and education | Focuses: Universal pre-K, staffing


Q&A

Compiled by Alex Bowers

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

We need to focus on closing racial, gender, and economic opportunity gaps. We have started developing the robust Individualized Student Success Plans system that I have advocated for, which will identify and meet needs so all of our children have what they need to thrive and excel. Key to this will be ongoing collaboration and coordination with the city, community organizations, businesses, the trades and others.

I am committed to ensuring special education and advanced learning supports are accessible to all. Also, I played a lead role in establishing our plan and timeline for Algebra 1 for all in 8th grade, and I am committed to ensuring we follow through on that plan and prepare our children to succeed at that level and beyond.

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.

The starting point is data. How many students are eligible for this program based on the criteria we have set? How many opt to participate? Those who don’t participate: why? Those who do participate: why? What do participants think of the program? We should check in with participants during the program – both students being tutored and the tutors – so we can course-correct as needed, and we should check in with anyone who stops participating to find out why and address any issues we uncover. At the end of the program we must look at the results, both by comparing pre- and post-tutoring i-Ready data, and by consulting with teachers and the students who participated to have a fuller picture of whether the initiative is effective.

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

We need to do better at meaningfully including parents and caregivers in the development and implementation of district initiatives, in the principal hiring process, and in the creation of the Cambridge Public Schools budget. There need to be opportunities for input and clarity about how that input will be used. This term I oversaw a thorough review of the new school council handbook that was drafted by a working group of Cambridge parents and staff and I ensured that the version adopted by the school committee reflected that community-engaged process. I am committed to ensuring we build on that foundation with robust training on ongoing support so our school councils are truly inclusive and can meaningfully inform the work of the school committee including through the School Improvement Plans they develop and the committee reviews. Throughout my time on the school committee I have proactively sought to engage stakeholders from throughout our community, including students, teachers and families, in all our work – not just reaching out to groups when it is time to discuss “their issues,” but recognizing that a more inclusive process leads to better results for everyone and helps eliminate blind spots.

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? 

Our Office of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging is now working more closely with the Office of Academics and Schools, which will help us better support our teachers with regard to culturally sensitive instruction. In general we must be sure we are consistently identifying and meeting student learning needs, including both when additional supports are needed to reach grade level and when additional supports are needed because a student is ready to go beyond grade level. A component of our Individualized Student Success Plan model should be helping students to discover their passions and identify their strengths, and then making certain each student can pursue a path to success based on their goals. By better coordinating with the city and other partners we will also be able to connect our students with out of school time opportunities (internships, apprenticeships, summer programs, afterschool enrichment, specialized and for-credit courses, and more) they might otherwise have missed.

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

Peer mentoring programs with robust support enable teachers – especially new teachers – to develop their practice without concern about revealing areas of challenge to a supervisor, and should be available to all of our new teachers. Peer to peer learning and collaboration is the most consistently valuable professional development I participated in as a teacher, and is what I hear our educators today calling for. While there will always be room for professional development that is led by people from outside our district, and sometimes that is necessary for new curriculum, we need to make sure teachers have the time and space in their schedules to work with each other. Similarly, evaluations are best when they are based in ongoing, repeated, collaborative work. In order to increase the diversity of our faculty and create a career ladder for educators, I also support the continued expansion of our Educator Pathway Program that provides financial support for current CPS instructional aides and teachers on provisional or emergency licensure to pursue their teaching licenses and to complete a masters degree in education. Overall we should be sure that our teachers and staff can develop their practice and build their careers in Cambridge in a sustainable way and become those longtime Cambridge educators my kids and generations of CPS students have been transformed by.