Happy Juneteenth! Happy Pride! As the school year wraps-up, it seems like an appropriate moment both for joyous celebration and for reflection on the broader context of public education in our state and country.
Let’s start with the bigger picture. At the national level, the racist murders in Buffalo and the school shooting in Uvalde have, naturally, raised anxiety amongst our students, staff, and families about safety in CPS buildings. We are fortunate that Massachusetts has some of the best gun safety laws in the U.S. Still, we want to be sure we are prepared for worst-case scenarios. A few caregivers reached out to the School Committee with questions about our safety protocols. I discussed these concerns with Superintendent Greer, who had also been thinking it was time to update them. Her team will be reviewing our active shooter protocols over the summer.
(My remarks on the sanctuary resolution are at the 3 hour 5 minute mark of this video)
Another concerning national trend is the legislative attacks against transgender children and families in numerous states. I am grateful to the CPS paraprofessional who brought the Committee Pride flags and suggested that I introduce a motion in support of Massachusetts becoming a sanctuary state for trans youth and families. I’m pleased that the Committee passed this unanimously. #WeWontBeSilent
Compared to other school districts in the Commonwealth, Cambridge has extraordinary financial resources. Students in most of Massachusetts’ public schools are not so fortunate, which is part of the reason I proposed the School Committee endorse the Fair Share Amendment that will appear on your November ballot. If passed, it will allow Massachusetts to improve its public education and transportation systems in particular by requiring that the wealthiest among us pay their “fair share” – a 4 percent tax on annual income above $1 million. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will pay this tax; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, roads, bridges, and public transportation. Learn more and get involved at https://www.FairShareMA.com. (Pledge to vote for Fair Share at https://raiseupma.us/pledge.)
At the local level, I have good news. Having spent many hours this spring on labor negotiations with educators and food service workers, I’m pleased to report that we have settled contracts with our substitutes unit and food service workers, and have a tentative agreement with our teachers and administrators. If union members of the latter two units vote to accept the contract, I expect the School Committee will as well. (I will share the details once the agreement is ratified.)
The CRLS Class of 2022!
I have truly enjoyed being in community with students, families, and educators the last few weeks for a variety of year-end celebrations. From theater productions to capstone project presentations to the CRLS and High School Extension Program graduations, the love and pride our community has shown for our young people has warmed my heart. Outside of our school buildings, I have been inspired by events the Cambridge Families of Asian Descent and the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition hosted at Starlight Square. I want to give a special thanks to the educators and families who organized CPS’ First Community Pride Day earlier this month. While the workshops were exclusively for students, I was delighted to join the outdoor fair, which included an LGBTQ+ book giveaway, cookie decorating, and more. May this be the first of many.
For now, I wish us all a healthy, joyous, growth-filled summer.