Richard Harding

Richard Harding
2005 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
187 Windsor St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-354-3164

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Richard Harding
PO Box 391321
Cambridge, MA 02139

A lifelong Cambridge resident, Richard Harding attended the city's public schools and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. He then attended Fitchburg State College, where he earned his bachelor's degree. In high school, Richard worked with Congressman Joe Kennedy at Citizen's Energy helping to ensure that families had the assistance they needed. During college he worked for the Department of Human Services at the Area 4 Youth Center in Cambridge, mentoring young people and teaching leadership and self efficacy. Richard also volunteered a coach for elementary school sports.

After college, Richard served as Legislative Aide for Senator Warren Tolman and then as Constituent Services Director and Cambridge Liaison to Senator Steven A. Tolman. After working for four years on behalf of the neighborhoods' interests at the state house, Richard joined the Cambridge Health Alliance and currently runs the Men of Color Health Initiative, a campaign to counteract health disparities men of color face and promote healthy lifestyles. He is on the board of the Cambridge Community Arts Center, the Cambridge Youth Program and he is on the national board of the Young People's Project, a math literacy program focused on bridging the divide in minority participation in science and technology careers.

Richard is involved in the community as Chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and President of the Port Life Foundation, youth development program. Richard puts his expertise to work to help those in need as a member of the Community Crisis Response Team. Richard is intimately familiar with the potential of the public schools and believes in their ability to prepare Cambridge's children for great success. In his second term, Richard Harding was elected to Vice-Chair of the School Committee by his peers in recognition of his leadership, his efficient stewardship and his ability to bring people together.

Top Priorities/Goals:

  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Meaningful evaluations of all administrators and teachers
  • Establishing learning benchmarks for K-8
  • Restoring the public confidence in the Cambridge Public Schools

Roles of the School Committee, the Superintendent, Parents, and the Public:
The School Committee, like any representative body, serves as the political leadership for a municipally run body - here the school system - to ensure its efficiency, appoint its leadership, and hold the system accountable for reaching its goals. But unlike other representative bodies the School Committee must also ensure that the people its members represent have input in the decisions that affect their children's education and their children's future. In all of its decision the School Committee should take into account what is best for kids. The School Committee must provide strong, compassionate leadership that ensures success in the future as well as in the present; leadership that asks tough questions, demands answers, and keeps the system on task; leadership that makes judgments and sets policies with the success of every student in mind. Richard believes that the school committee must work to channel resources into the classroom so that students realize academic success and that teachers are supported.

Elementary School Programs and Administration:

High School Programs and Administration:
Richard Harding believes that Cambridge Rindge and Latin should be the best urban public high school in America. He led the charge to remove the past superintendent for her lack of leadership in serving Cambridge's young people at the high school level. Richard is working with the new leadership both at the system level and with the principal to ensure that every student has the balance of supports and motivation to reach their goals. Richard is a staunch supporter of the Rindge School of Technical Arts and the partnerships that ensure a strong vocational future for those students that choose such a path. Richard co-sponsored a motion to direct the superintendent to develop a plan that ensures that all students meet graduations requirements and graduate from high school.

School Department Administration and the Budget:
The School Committee needs to focus all resources into the classroom to support excellence in instruction and meaningful professional development. The school budget should channel resources that help all principals have the resources needed for academic excellence. The School Committee should work with the administration to cut all non-essential administrative positions and funnel resources into the classroom to support teaching and learning. Richard maintains that we must also use as much of our resources as is needed to make sure we have a first class science and math program at the middle and high school levels. Richard believes that we need to assess what is working for students and eliminate those programs that have not worked.

Teacher Evaluations and Teachers Contract:
Richard Harding believes that excellent instruction is the key to student academic achievement. Richard works to funnel resources directly to the opportunities and supports that affect students and places a focus on those resources supporting teaching and learning. Richard led the way for a meaningful evaluation system that is specific to teachers and a separate system for guidance counselors, who in the past were asked to use the same tool as teachers. Richard Harding fought to make sure all teachers and administrators are appropriately certified so that classrooms are ready to support excellence at all levels.

State/Federal Role in Local Education:
The Bush administration is engaged in a full frontal assault on public education. The No Child Left Behind Act is leaving many students completed locked out of the very opportunities a quality public education should afford them. Richard Harding believes in high standards without high stakes and that we should make schools accountable to all students. Richard has fought to include other assessments beyond the MCAS, such as portfolios, so that students, parents and teachers can get an accurate picture of student performance and make the necessary resource provision when it still counts. This fall Richard Harding took the courageous step to direct the Superintendent and the high school principal to explore a legal "opt-in" policy to make sure that only the information of students and parents who want military recruiters to contact them is given to military recruiters. Currently parents and students have to "opt-out" by signing a document directing the school not to release information about that student.

Declining Enrollment:
While it is clear that there is a relationship between the declining enrollment and the demographic proportions of the city, Richard believes that improving and sustaining our schools is the only way to schools can address this issue. Richard affirms that the shift has disproportionately affected working families, reducing the numbers of students from that socio-economic level, but is committed to building excellent instruction in every classroom to attract families that have traditionally opted out of the public schools.

Charter Schools:
Richard Harding believes in public schools and their ability to produce high achieving, intelligent productive citizens. Richard Harding believes that the best argument against charter schools is to ensure that the Cambridge Public Schools offer the best education possible and meet the needs of all students in the city of Cambridge. Richard takes issue with the funding formula for charter schools and its impact on education of all students. Richard believes that parents should have choice and supports parents' right to choose how and where their children are educated.

Richard Harding believes in the success of Cambridge's young people. Richard will work hard to ensure that we as a city will have a world-class school system that will provide each individual student with the opportunity to define and reach for their goals and the supports and opportunities to get there. Richard is working to restore confidence in the school system as a whole. Richard has worked to ensure that students have access to healthy and nutritious foods and have dedicated time for physical activity. Richard's belief in equity for all students has led him to support social justice projects for students and to support student/teacher efforts to create safe and supportive spaces for all students such as Project 10 East.

Richard's stance on military recruitment is based on the tactics of recruiters including using incomplete and inaccurate information, using pressure tactics in their delivery of information to students, and contacting students at home, school and in the community. Richard believes schools have the responsibility to provide students with bias free, non-pressure driven, and accurate information about career and educational opportunities. Richard believes in the Cambridge Public schools and in Cambridge's students.

Richard Harding is working for excellent instruction in every classroom. Richard led the way to make the system accountable for young people's success and ensure that every high school student who failed three classes had the opportunity to attend summer classes. Richard has led the school committee to push for certification of its teachers in the subjects in which they provide instruction. Richard believes that special education students can learn on a high level if they and their families have the resources they need to succeed. While many speak of measures to reduce or lessen the achievement gap, Richard Harding works tirelessly to ensure that all students from every socio-economic background can succeed because he believes we need to close the achievement gap.

Page last updated July 01, 2007 Cambridge Candidates