I hope you and your loved ones are well.
As we move into the holidays, I want to share a few headlines with you:
First, we have a new School Committee Member! Ms. Caroline Hunter officially joined the Committee on December 6th (filling the seat vacated by Akriti Bhambi). Many of you will remember Member Hunter from her years serving as a CRLS administrator, or will have heard of her leadership during the anti-apartheid movement. I’m excited by the chance to work with her.
Committee Members, from left: Student Member Escamilla-Salomon, myself, Member Hunter, Member Fantini, Mayor Siddiqui, Member Weinstein, Member Wilson, Member Rojas, Student Member Clemente
Second, many Cambridge Public School caregivers, teachers, and administrators are engaged in a heated conversation about how we teach young children to read. Without getting into the arguments on both sides, I will simply say that the School Committee has heard serious concerns about the Reading Recovery program, as well as heartfelt expressions of gratitude for the program and its staff. When a related grant came before the Committee earlier this month, we sent it back to Superintendent Greer for further recommendations about how to transition from Reading Recovery to an approach that places greater emphasis on decoding words. In the intervening days, Dr. Greer has communicated that CPS will not eliminate the program mid-year, and will have a thoughtful transition planned for SY23-24 (read her message here). I support this approach.
The Visual and Performing Arts Department and our high school students received a standing ovation for 9-to-5: The Musical.
Finally, the Committee is engaged in two routine, but important processes. We have been working with the Executive Leadership Team on the three-year District Plan, most recently having a thoughtful and productive conversation about setting student outcome goals. As you can see here and hear here, we are aiming for high levels of student growth for all students, with even higher growth rates for those currently furthest behind. We also are beginning the annual budget-development process. I will share more information on that in the months ahead, but in the meantime here is a draft calendar that includes community meetings on the CPS budget.
May your holidays be healthy and joyous!