Gail Lemily Wiggins
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My dual background in business and education well qualifies me for service on the School Committee.
High standards, with the support to reach them. Cambridge Public Schools need to assure that all students are achieving to the highest level possible, and that each student is individually challenged and provided with the right tools to develop the critical thinking skills and breadth of knowledge that is essential to their own future and the future of our communities.
Continuity and Positive Change. We need to provide positive reinforcement for the significant advances that the School Department has made over the last few years, while at the same time addressing the gaps and collaborating with the administration to fill them.
Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn's Contract - Based on what you
know today, would you support an extension of this contract and, if so,
for what term and under what conditions?:
(1) Beside policy and budget responsibility, the School Committee has the major task of hiring and evaluating the Superintendent. The current School Committee's extension of Thomas Fowler-Finn's contract to January has made it so that one of the very first decisions of the newly elected School Committee will have to be to whether to renew the contract. I believe strongly and know personally from my work in organizational development and large system change that newly constituted leadership groups need time to forge collaborative working relationships. And no matter who is elected the makeup of the School Committee will be different than it has ever been. The priority of this group should be to form bonds to work together for the best interest of the entire school system. Current committee members, in spite of the fact that they have been evaluating the Superintendent for two years, have been officially non-committal about their intentions come January, but some have strongly implied they will vote not to keep the Superintendent. If so, we are looking at a potentially very divisive situation for our school system. With over 12 years in hiring and human resource management I know that high level searches take a lot of energy and involve a lot of time for those who will be hiring (the School Committee), including trips to districts of potential candidates. This process would demand primary attention from the Human Resources (a redirection of their efforts from teacher hiring) and a fair amount of expense. School committees serve for two years - we need to understand if we move to remove the Superintendent then we are agreeing that a primary focus of the School Committee for the first year will be directed toward this search.
(2) I have been involved in the schools for 14 years and have seen a great deal of tumultuous change. In recent years, during the time that Thomas Fowler Finn has been superintendent, I have seen some very positive change. Among the positive changes -the high school has regained its accreditation and has been receiving very good reviews from many quarters, performance indicators throughout the system are improving (though we still have a long way to go to reduce the achievement gap), the Tobin school has been revitalized after many years of decline, and principals are sharing and collaborating in a way that has never happened in my 14 year history with the school system. Yes, I have heard some things about Supt. Fowler-Finn that make me want to know more about his leadership. If elected, I would spend November, December and early January gathering more input from parents, teachers to enable me to make a fully informed decision in January.
If the vote had to be taken tomorrow, based on what I know today I see that the Superintendent deserves a lot of the credit for the positive improvements in the overall school system, and I would vote to renew his contract so that CPS can continue to focus on improvement. At the same time I would work with other members of the school committee to address identified areas in need of improvement and take ownership to develop Committee-level policy changes that are needed in order to reach system-wide goals. Much of the policy setting function rests with the School Committee and not with the Superintendent, although goals are set together, so one presumes and the policy work to reach the goals can be done together.
Enrollment and the Marketing of Public Schools vs. Charter
Schools and Private Schools:
We can do a much better job of educating parents, long BEFORE their children finish middle school, as to the many advantages of a CRLS education, by doing the following:
AT THE K-8 LEVEL
Parent Involvement and School Councils:
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