I imagine we’re all grateful to see spring blooming. I’m also very grateful to see more students blossoming at school – how wonderful it’s been to get back to classroom visits!
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending an eighth grade English Language Arts Symposium at the Putnam Ave. Upper School. In a lesson designed to showcase argumentative writing and public speaking, Ms. Federico’s and Ms. Escamilla’s students responded to prompts about critical race theory or proposals to name a school after Malcolm X. The young people had clearly done their research and presented clear, compelling arguments. It was an inspiring event.
I also had the opportunity to stop by the high school’s Readathon, where students were selecting the next School Book to be read by all students over the summer. Our all-star librarians and teachers at CRLS had developed a process that engaged students in reading multiple novels over the course of a day, with breaks for hula-hooping, silly photos, and food! The event, which went until midnight, included a sports-like tournament bracket of the final books. What a fun and wonderful way to build buy-in for the School Book while simultaneously building community and a joy of reading.
CRLS Readathon silliness and book bracket
At the policy-making level, I’m pleased to report that the School Committee passed Superintendent Greer’s proposed budget unanimously. I believe Dr. Greer’s budget was made stronger by incorporating significant community input and building upon the findings of the process she used to assess the state of the district, her “entry plan.” The City Council voted to adopt the CPS budget last Wednesday. We will build upon the priorities in this document as we embark on the district planning process this year.
I’ve mentioned previously that the Committee has been working with students to advance gender equity. Mayor Siddiqui, Member Bhambi and I have been in close collaboration with the Title IX Aurelia Advocates (a student organization) that has resulted in an updated Title IX policy for the district. This policy comes back to the full School Committee tonight for what I hope (and expect) will be its official adoption.
One area where the district has not made as much progress as I expected is the review of the Rindge School of Technical Arts. After the administration presented its plans for that review last month, I spoke with the Mayor and Superintendent about needing more oversight and frequent updates on this initiative. We have added quarterly roundtable meetings to the Committee’s calendar in order to monitor this effort more closely. I look forward to sharing more with you as the review and plans unfold.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.
P.S. For those of you curious about our labor negotiations, I share this statement from the Committee: The Cambridge School Committee has a strong commitment to providing an inclusive and productive learning environment for its students, and a supportive, respectful workplace for its employees. The Cambridge School Committee has negotiated and reached agreement on successor union contracts with five (5) of the eight (8) bargaining units of unionized staff and continues good faith negotiations with the remaining three (3). For Units A&B, the teachers and administrators bargaining unit, the Cambridge School Committee continues to engage in good faith negotiations directly with the Cambridge Education Association (CEA) with the shared goal of reaching agreement on a Units A&B contract as soon as possible. The School Committee and CEA have several upcoming bargaining sessions scheduled with the hope and expectation of continued mutual progress toward an overall agreement. The School Committee respects the collective bargaining process between the designated bargaining teams and, accordingly, does not want to make public comments about the details of negotiations at this time.