Cambridge Library.jpg

OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES

If given the opportunity to return to the School Committee, my immediate and longer-term priorities, include the following:
  • Support the interim superintendent to implement the district’s recovery & thrive plan developed in response to COVID-19.

    • Work with other School Committee members to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan, encourage and support its success, and make any necessary strategic changes.

  • Concentrate our efforts on ensuring that we start and complete a new district plan over the course of the school calendar.

  • Advocate to start the search process for a permanent superintendent, expecting that our interim superintendent would be one of the candidates. This is an important step to identify and hire the best and strongest individual available to lead our District.

  • Starting this autumn, but knowing it will take more than a year,  I will 

    • Work on developing a multi-year construction & maintenance plan through the building & grounds subcommittee and in coordination with the City Council, 

    • Look to incorporate the evaluation of our different educational programs with the goal of expanding those that work (and therefore are oversubscribed by our families) as part of the development of the new district plan.  

    • Work to immerse the School Committee in the district’s anti-racist work, and incorporate it into our governance and day-to-day operations

  • These priorities are in addition to my commitment to ensure the School Committee has data-driven discussions and that we have equally high expectations for all of our children.

BRIEF LIST OF ISSUES FACING THE DISTRICT AND JOSE LUIS' IDEAS TO ADDRESS THEM
Closing the Opportunity Gap
  • Early education is key.  Pre-school and JK matter.

    • I will support equitable access to Jr. Kindergarten through participation of the School Committee and City Council in a joint task force.

  • Bilingual education has shown to address the opportunity gap and provide other learning benefits.

    • I will support the expansion and/or addition of more bilingual immersion schools.

  • Cambridge's Montessori school has provided the highest achievement growth for all subgroups.

    • I will support a study to explore the possibility of starting another Montessori school.

  • Summer and tutoring programs work.

    • I will improve access to summer and tutoring programs for those who need them the most.

Right-sizing School Capacity
  • While new schools have been built, classroom capacity has remained virtually flat while Cambridge's student population has increased more than expected. Real estate construction is exploding around the city, particularly in East Cambridge and Alewife. I will:

    • Press the District's to improve its forecasting of student enrollment patterns and school capacities.

    • Press the District to assess the need for new schools in light of Cambridge's development.

    • Encourage the School Committee to review the maintenance programs for the existing schools, to ensure that pupils are learning in a safe environment.

Assessing Systems Intended to Support Learning of all Students
  • Testing has led to improved standards, but there are challenges - for example, student anxiety, teaching to the test, etc. Student achievement should be assessed using a combination of measures, of which test results are only one.  As has been pointed out by other School Committee members, additional measures could include graduation rates, student attendance and participation in extracurricular activities.

    • I will support engaging learning environments and culturally responsive teaching practices, rather than focusing only on testing students.

    • I will support the compilation of multi-layered data to show how student achievement is being measured and assessed.

    • I will challenge the District to improve the schools that are truly missing the mark on overall student achievement.

Including More Diverse Array of Voices in Decision Making
  • Some parents feel their voices are not listened to, based on their socio-economic background, their race, their immigration status, etc.

    • I will attend a School Council meeting in each school (17 schools) over my 2-year term, to meet parents in person and hear their opinions.

  • ​More student voices need to be included in the decision making at the high school

    • I will meet with high school student leaders and help bring their voices to the School Committee.

Making the School Committee More Effective 
  • School Committee members should respectfully agree to disagree when needed, while at the same time working to support higher expectations for each student and joyful / vigorous learning for all.

    • I will develop code of conduct with School Committee members to encourage more respectful, productive and impactful discussions.

  • The School Committee has accomplished a lot.  But it must continue to address the opportunity gap.

    • I will ensure the School Committee holds the administration accountable when achievement targets are missed.

    • I will request explanations for those short-comings and an analysis of lessons learned, in order to ensure strategies are adjusted to better address the opportunity gap.

THANK YOU FOR READING

I hope that you will give me your #1 vote on November 2!
If you are looking for passion, community and leadership in School Committee - 
Vote #1 for José Luis Rojas Villareal!
Thank you,
José Luis