There is so much to share!
First, this is the peak of the campaign season. I’ve seen mail-in ballots arrive at homes I’ve canvassed. There are events and candidate forums and and and… I was delighted to be joined by many of you, including Mayor Siddiqui and “the Dean,” retiring School Committee Member Fred Fantini, at our campaign coffee a couple weekends ago.
Second, I continue to hear from educators and families troubled about our elementary school schedules. While there is widespread agreement that our students should have the same amount of instruction in core subjects across all our schools, teachers and caregivers remain concerned that the lack of transition time and recess is making adults and children unnecessarily anxious. I’m pleased to share that the School Committee unanimously voted to adopt my motion clarifying that the guidelines are just that, and not rigid mandates. I will remain engaged on this topic as the administration takes action in accordance with that motion.
Third, last week’s School Committee meeting included a review of the Cambridge Public Schools’ 2023 MCAS results. While standardized tests are an imperfect metric, the results do point to continued systemic challenges in CPS. Yes, as a recent Boston Globe article noted, Cambridge is one of few districts in the Commonwealth to return to 2019 achievement levels. However, while the aggregated averages of our students are back to pre-pandemic levels, there were huge gaps correlated with demographics before the pandemic and they’ve WIDENED. Disaggregating the data shows that we are continuing to fail our students who are Black, multilingual, disabled, and/or from families with low incomes. This holds both for achievement and for student growth. (Here are summary slides the Superintendent's team presented last week.) At the meeting, the administration presented plans to align curricula and implement strategic tutoring, which makes sense. Also, though, I believe more is necessary if we are going to truly prepare all our children for success after high school. My personal theory is that we are not approaching instruction with the needed equity lens, accounting for our own implicit and explicit biases to the degree needed. I shared this view at our meeting, and was pleased to hear Superintendent Greer say that she has instructed our Chief Equity Officer and Chief of Academics to be attached at the hip.
Less than four weeks remain until voting closes! If you are able, I would LOVE to have your help canvassing and/or holding a sign on Election Day. Please reply to this email to sign up. Thank you!