Summer Starts with Black Lives Matter, Budget and Voting-Rachel for Cambridge

Summer Starts with Black Lives Matter, Budget and Voting

Dear Friends,

Black lives matter.  Black families matter.  Black scholars matter.  Black educators matter.

BLM rally

Elijah Booker, one of the young men who organized the powerful, peaceful rally with My Brother's Keeper on Cambridge Common this past weekend, called for leadership, accountability and action.  Young people deserve that and so much more - peace, joy, freedom, academic and financial success, just to name a few things.

Let us use this moment of global crisis, when racial and socioeconomic disparities are spotlighted and everyone is paying attention, to shift culture, policy and practices.  Let us be bold in our advocacy for opportunity and justice.  

My Sister-in-Service, Ayesha Wilson, and I wrote the OpEd linked here last week.  Our Cambridge Chronicle piece applies an anti-racist lens to the FY21 Cambridge Public Schools budget and to the current key hiring decisions.  It also points to the need to redefine school altogether in light of such factors as COVID-19 and the nature of real jobs in the twenty-first century.  The City Council approved the schools budget at its meeting last Wednesday.   

I am pleased to share that the School Committee unanimously passed motion 20-95, which I authored with sponsorship from Members David Weinstein and Ayesha Wilson.  The motion supports state legislation to strengthen voting by mail, encourages voters to register to cast ballots through the mail, provides 16-year-olds at the high school with voter pre-registration forms, and, because some of our schools are polling places, charges the School Committee’s Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee to work with the Elections Commission and Public Health Department to propose plans for both voters and school community members to stay safe on Election Days.   

Finally, if you missed our virtual town hall on supporting young people’s mental health in this challenging time, you can catch it here.  Our scholars did a great job leading a mindfulness meditation and asking difficult questions.  Our panel of therapists shared helpful perspectives and tips.  I am grateful to Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui for convening the series of Mental Health Mondays in May.                                                                          

As we head into summer, our School Committee work will heat up this year instead of diminish, as it normally does in summertime.  We must plan for delivering stronger remote instruction, anticipating that at least some of the next school year will be remote.  I am eager for Superintendent Salim to answer numerous questions, including:  

  •       How does he propose we design our classrooms and schools to keep scholars, educators and families healthy? 
  •       How does he propose we make remote-learning more engaging for scholars? 
  •       How does he propose we meet the needs of scholars with special rights (due to disability or language needs)? 
  •       And, again, how will we utilize the opportunity in this moment to bring the institution that is “school” into the 21st century, both in terms of closing opportunity gaps and in terms of preparing our young people for success in life? 

 

I hope you will add your voice to this conversation, either by emailing the School Committee (SchoolCom@cpsd.us) and Superintendent (KSalim@cpsd.us) or by signing up for public comment here.

As always, I welcome your feedback, questions and ideas.

In collaboration,

Rachel

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