Monday, June 24, 2024

Challenger running for committee for the first time

The candidate’s website | Email | (617) 547-8043

Background: Education paraprofessional and labor leader | Focuses: Close opportunity gaps, educators resources and support and family involvement


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

Accountability, consistency, stability: I will focus on the school committee’s critical role of adopting, approving, and updating relevant policies. Policies need to be created, clearly communicated, and implemented in order to hold the Superintendent accountable and to allow educators to focus on instruction.

Authentic family and community engagement: I will work toward ensuring that all families have access to welcoming, inclusive schools that value family and caregiver involvement in their student’s education.

Equitable access and opportunity: All students should have access to effective, culturally sustaining, learning opportunities, and equitable pathways to success with the opportunity to pursue their goals and interests. It’s important that all students read at proficiency by third grade.

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.

Based on the assessment data we have now, we need to address our current achievement gaps using proven, research-based pedagogy. Our first responsibility is to ensure qualified educators are hired and appropriately trained to meet the needs of students. My goal is to see every student who qualifies can participate successfully in this program. Careful monitoring of student gains and family satisfaction will determine the overall success of the program.

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

I believe that we can’t wait for families and caregivers to come to us, we need to reach out to determine what does and does not work for them, including timing, modality, and accurate translation of communication. Protocols need to be in place to respond in a timely and supportive manner to family and caregiver concerns or suggestions. Each school must establish a school council which is composed of parents, educators, and community members that has an obligation to work with the school principal to develop a school-based plan that focuses on the priorities established by the school council for each school.

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? 

We need to begin with the mindset that our students’ identities and differences are assets rather than barriers to success in the classroom. Creating culturally sustaining schools requires new learning, understanding, and participation from everyone in our schools from the school committee, superintendent, and educators on down. We need to prioritize the creation of welcoming communities. This is just as important as test scores, and will indirectly improve those scores as scholars are more able to learn in welcoming environments. The school department created a new Office of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging last year and I would make sure that one of its top priorities is ensuring that instruction is culturally sensitive. The Cambridge Public Schools also has created a large staff of “coaches” at each school that should work with the OEIB to ensure this happens. I am committed to ensuring we allocate the resources and support needed to effectively engage and teach our diverse student body.

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

Educators know what professional development is most relevant and effective professional development. This extends to both the content and how it is delivered. We need to listen to educators and differentiate professional development to meet the wide range of experience of current educators. Educators need to help plan with our professional development coordinator meaningful professional development.

Educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions and this extends to class and caseload sizes. Educators need working conditions that allow them to provide equitable learning conditions regardless of where they teach in CPS. We need to listen to educators about how to make their workloads manageable. Currently we are losing many educators because the workloads are unsustainable.

Staff evaluations are needed of everyone working in CPS, from the superintendent on down. Evaluations need to be focused on continuous improvement with effective communication between educators and their evaluators. Moreover, evaluations need to be focused on the goals and priorities of the district.