What a month since our inauguration January 6th! I am truly enjoying serving as one of your School Committee Members, appreciating both my steep learning curve and early accomplishments.
As you know, advancing racial equity is a personal mission of mine. I believe we have a unique opportunity in this term - because of the work of the Building Equity Bridges movement, student activism and the broad community attention on issues of race - to become a more anti-racist district. With this clear priority and a sense of urgency, Committee Member Wilson and I introduced our first motion at our January 21st meeting. Motion 20-12 prioritizes anti-racist work, calls for robust response to each of the 12 areas outlined in the Building Equity Bridges commitments, requires a School Committee retreat by the end of March to determine how the Committee will advance particular commitments, and calls upon the Committee to partner with community stakeholders.
I was heartened to hear the widespread support for our motion during the public comment portion of the meeting. One parent called on the community to “bring fierce, unyielding urgency to our work… to be bold and creative.” Another reflected on the distance we have to go and how a mandate from the Committee would help us go further faster. Additional family members spoke to the need for a paradigm shift in the district. These parents were joined by the President of the Cambridge Education Association, the Principal of the Vassal Lane Upper School and the President of the Cambridge branch of the NAACP, who also each endorsed the BEB commitments and our motion.
On a related but distinct front, one of the Committee’s greatest responsibilities is approving the district’s annual budget. With five of the seven School Committee Members being new to our roles, the Superintendent’s team has spent much of this past month orienting us to the budget and organizing community forums to hear from educators and families about their priorities. Having participated in all of these meetings and forums, I am eager to see how the Superintendent’s proposed budget reflects the concerns of key stakeholders.
Finally, I am pleased to share that the Committee has decided to use gender neutral titles (I asked to be referred to as Member Rachel, so as not to be confused with my colleague Member (David) Weinstein). In addition to being an inclusive practice, I appreciate the collaborative spirit that went into this move, which bodes well for our ongoing work together.
My plan is to send this newsletter monthly. Between these updates, I hope you will remain engaged with the work. One easy way is to stay in touch via social media. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram @RachelforCambridge, Twitter @RachelforCamb. (I welcome emails and calls too!)