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I was not lucky enough to be born in Cambridge. I chose it as a place to live since I love the city! I was born in Chicago, along with my parents and my five sisters. I attended Catholic school there until fifth grade, when we moved to Stamford, Connecticut, and my parents chose the public school system. My high school, Stamford High, was very much like CRLS in demographics. Lots of well-off families and lots of families struggling to make it financially and lots in between. Similar breakdown of racial and ethnic backgrounds, except fewer Latino students than CRLS.
I was the first in my family to ever apply to Harvard, where I went to college and first fell in love with Cambridge, and first volunteered in the schools. After a couple years of work in New York City for a politician (Brooklyn District Attorney Liz Holtzman), I went to graduate school, at the Yale School of Management, where I received an excellent education in management and strategic thinking. After several years in corporate consulting at a large international firm of McKinsey, and after paying off my school loans, I went into the non-profit and socially responsible business sector. I have run two small companies (an environmental firm and a telephone reseller).
For the last 7 years, I have been doing mostly project based work, self-employed. Iíve helped a legal staffing firm start, several enterprises that are worker-owned, including a model welfare-to-work home health aide company, worked on economic development in Boston, an environmental mutual fund and many other projects. One of the most exciting was leading a group that sought to open an International Baccalaureate Charter High School here in Cambridge. That effort did not make the final cut by the state, but it got me very involved in thinking about to better use our tremendous resources as a district.
My background in management, strategic thinking and analytical approach to solve problems is what I believe would be a terrific addition to the Cambridge School Committee.
Declining enrollment: We must stop ignoring, dismissing, or disparaging as elitist people who leave our district. Many of those who attend private schools would rather be in public schools. Many of those who move to surrounding communities would rather stay, but feel the schools donít give their kids an excellent education. So many things about our schools are terrific, which is why my kids are enrolled and I spend so much time. But, they can be even better.
Stop blaming our kids or our teachers. When people explain our relatively low district results as due to our ďdiversityĒ I emphatically reject that excuse. I donít buy what they are implying: that poor kids or kids of color donít or canít learn. Itís our own fault not to have provided them with the right school culture of respect, discipline and excitement about learning. And when they imply the problem lies with teachers, I emphatically reject that excuse. Of course there are some teachers who arenít effective. If they canít become effective by changing their instructional strategies, they need to be counseled out of teaching. But if a teacher hasnít gotten the proper evaluation and help, itís a management issue, not a teacher issue.
Roles of the School Committee, the Superintendent, Parents, and the
The Superintendent is the head of our district. He is responsible for overseeing the central administrative staff, which provides the critical support necessary to run the district. He also hires and evaluates every principal in the district, a crucial part of how schools work.
Parents in Cambridge are an amazing resource. Without letting them run the schools, I believe we can better channel the energy, creativity and commitment of parents across the city, from a range of backgrounds, to help our system reach an extremely lofty goal of excellence.
The Public funds our district, and deserves open, transparent reports on how we are doing. The institutions in Cambridge, from the two major universities, MIT and Harvard, to the large companies like Genzyme, to the small companies which pay most of the commercial taxes which pay most of our school bills, all deserve to be included in our broad discussions on how public education can meet our high standards. Everyone in our city should want a system that works; good public schools are essential for thriving cities and a competitive economy.
Elementary School Programs and Administration:
High School Programs and Administration:
We also need to understand how CRLS ever got on probation. People appear ready to put the entire reason for our only high school being put on academic probation as due to one person, the principal. That suggests a bury-our-head-in-the-sands approach, which is counterproductive. The reasons must have included several causes, and the more we understand, the more we will know how to avoid such an embarrassment in the future. Also, documenting how the staff pulled together to get off probation in record time should yield some lessons for how we can address other pressing problems.
The recent change to block scheduling might be terrific. Letís make sure we have clear ways to measure its effectiveness, so we know whether the huge disruption was worthwhile. It would help us learn how to make future changes work well.
School Department Administration and the Budget:
If anyone says we have shifted dollars from central administration into our classrooms, ask for their numbers. The claim is simply not true. Half of the administrative and operations cuts came from IN our schools, e.g. principals or custodians from closed elementary schools. While some central administration dollars were cut, the combination of new positions added and salary raises has meant that we are now spending MORE dollars on central administration this year than pre-consolidation. Our children should have more resources spent IN their classrooms. I know how to oversee consultant reports; I was one for many years. I know what questions to ask in the job of oversight and governance since that is what my training is. That is why I need to serve on School Committee.
Teacher Evaluations and Teachers Contract:
I would hope that the teachers contract continue to evolve as the districtís needs change, to ensure that we can deliver on our promise of excellent instruction in every classroom.
State/Federal Role in Local Education:
Secondly, charter schools do not get started in districts where the schools serve kids well. Only districts like Cambridge, where parents and the community feel their children have not gotten the education they could, even have charter applications. I support the idea that districts that have failed families need to face that fact, and families be given a chance to form an alternative.
Third, they are based on exactly the same impulse that started three of CPS most chosen schools. Cambridgeport, King Open, and Graham & Parks all started from parent desire to create an alternative to existing public schools to better meet their educational desires. That is the same promise of charter schools.
I say letís learn from charter schools, and work with them, not against them. And as Cambridge makes good on its promise of excellent education for all, I fully expect us to earn back many students now in charter schools, private schools, and seeking housing in the area.
|Page last updated July 01, 2007||Cambridge Candidates|