As we finish 2021, I wanted to share a few recent Cambridge Public Schools headlines with you.
First, I have received a couple questions about the postponed meeting regarding Dr. Victoria Greer’s contract. The proposal that the Committee will consider is to extend Dr. Greer’s employment for a year and to drop the “Interim” qualifier from her title, officially making her Superintendent through June 2023. In our original contract, we included a clause which allowed us to stretch the interim position for a second year. I have been pleased with Dr. Greer’s leadership, and hope that having the title of Superintendent will better position her to drive timely, needed change in our schools. I look forward to hearing your thoughts via email, phone, or public comment at the meeting.
Hundreds of high school students at the walkout
The second headline is not a happy one, nor is it a surprise: our students are struggling with mental health and general well-being. Beyond the data from last spring’s Teen Health Survey, our students have been vocalizing their concerns in real-time, organizing events such as a walkout at CRLS to protest sexual assault and a Day of Silence at one our upper schools to educate peers and the school community about what young people who are LGBTQIA+ experience routinely.
I continue to be impressed and inspired by our young people’s activism and leadership. I also continue to work to learn how, from my perch as a policy maker, I can help make our schools dramatically safer, more welcoming and affirming environments. At CRLS, my immediate action, having attended the walkout and spoken with a few of the organizers, was to amplify and endorse the student requests, all three of which struck me as entirely reasonable. The students asked for adult-facilitated conversations about sexual assault, an incident-reporting system that followed-up with each individual who filed a complaint, and a mandatory consent curriculum for all students. At my request, Dr. Greer updated the Committee and community on these requests at our December 7th meeting (minutes 0:41-1:03).
Breaking ground for the new school building
Finally, the end of the calendar year coincided with the symbolic transition from an old school building to a new one, as elected, city, and school officials gathered to break ground for the building that will house the new Tobin Montessori School, the Vassal Lane Upper School, and four preschool classrooms run by the Department of Human Services. As a parent in the old building for a full decade, I will always remember that the foreboding exterior concealed the warmth felt by young and adult members of the communities inside. I am excited for our students, educators, families and community members who will have a beautiful, healthy, thoughtfully designed new building in which to thrive, come 2025.
I wish you and yours a healthy, joyous 2022 full of learning and growth! I look forward to our work together in the new year.
P.S. The new School Committee will be sworn in on Monday at 6p. With COVID precautions, the in-person capacity is quite limited, but you can catch the live-stream at www.cpsd.us or Cambridge Educational Access TV Channel 98/99.