I hope you are enjoying the May flowers!
(Cambridgeport School students plant a tree for Arbor Day.)
Since my April newsletter, the School Committee unanimously passed the FY24 budget. Last week, the City Council approved the school district’s budget, bringing the annual undertaking to a close. I am taking the feedback you shared into our after-action review conversations and am committed to continuing to improve upon the process.
As for policies beyond the budget, the School Committee recently passed two policies that I introduced:
- After Register Forum reporters approached the Committee about antisemitic graffiti at CRLS, I reviewed our related policy and decided it needed elaboration. My motion 23-047 updated our policy on “non-tolerance of hate crimes” to include text reflecting our belief in the importance of affirming and celebrating the diversity in our schools. The revised policy calls upon our schools to use hateful acts—and acts of unconscious bias— as teachable moments, to invite those involved to opt-in to restorative practices, and to offer counseling to students. (Here is an update from the Register Forum writers.)
- In the absence of sufficient federal gun control, it falls to us locally to do all we can to protect our students, staff, and families from gun violence. I am grateful to Moms Demand Action for partnering with us in this effort. I learned from local activists that secure firearm storage practices are associated with a 78% reduction in the risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries and an 85% reduction in the risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens. Also, I learned that in incidents of gun violence on school grounds, the US Secret Service found that 76% of shooters under age 18 acquired their firearm from the home of a caregiver, relative, or friend. My motion 23-058 directs the Superintendent to inform families yearly about how to safely store any firearms.
(I had a wonderful visit to the Peabody School, where I observed classrooms with Principal Sepulveda and Dr. Madera.)
In addition to these motions, I authored policy orders urging our state delegation to support legislation funding school meals for all students in the Commonwealth, and a bill that would address systemic barriers to credentialing more educators of color. I also joined School Committee colleagues in bringing forward multiple local proposals, including those to expand space, staffing, and transportation for Department of Human Services Programs after schools; to strengthen CPS’ policy regarding access to free menstrual products in school bathrooms; and to assist students with scholarships for field trips.
I anticipate having more to share about Math instruction and hiring processes in future newsletters. In the meantime, you may be interested in viewing the roundtable meeting we had on Math last week (my questions and comments about Algebra One start at around 1 hour 39 minutes). Mayor Siddiqui and I pushed for this conversation, which proved illuminating.
As always, I welcome your questions and suggestions.