I hope your school years have started swimmingly! I’ve been heartened to hear educators reflect that schools feel better this fall, presumably because students were in-person last year, and therefore have less of an adjustment to large numbers of peers and classroom expectations.
(Colleagues at one of the resource fairs organized by Mayor Siddiqui's Office and CPS.)
The School Committee also has returned to a healthier rhythm, dedicating more and more of our attention to the policies that will address student learning and school climate (versus the pandemic). This school year, we are poised to tackle some of the issues that motivated most of us to run. Our main mechanism for this work is the emerging District Plan, which defines priority goals and initiatives for the next three years. The Committee is collaborating closely with the administration to craft a plan that will guide everything from our budgets to professional development. The strategic initiatives include individualized student success plans and supports (a variation on my theme of “a champion for every child”), career exploration and experiences, and universal Pre-K, which are three of my priorities.
District Plan Objectives
The School Committee and the CPS Executive Leadership Team (formerly known as the Superintendent’s Cabinet) are strategically calendaring meetings for the year and bringing an intentional equity lens to our plans. Earlier this week, we held a joint retreat to discuss updating policies that will advance racial equity, as well as explore how we might amplify student and community voices in our processes. We now have a draft full-year sequence of presentations for the School Committee meetings as well as days for subcommittee convenings. My hope is that this will mean students, family members, and educators will have more notice – and therefore greater opportunity – to engage in conversations around policies and practices with us, particularly at the subcommittee meetings, which are usually virtual.
Finally, shifting from the multiyear plan to the topics CPS families are reaching out to me about, please know:
- I continue to advocate for masking recommendations after school vacations.
- I continue to advocate for busing students who attend afterschool programs less than a mile from their school when CPS has bus capacity. (A related note: One thing that would reduce the need for transportation is a greater number of Department of Human Services’ Community School slots, which require additional staffing. If you know anyone who loves working with children, DHSP has raised its hourly rates and offers a retention bonus. Learn more here.)
May this be a year of health, joy, and both academic and social growth for all our children!