Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 16, 2013

Suggested Topics for 2013 Cambridge School Committee candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:50 pm

Suggested topics for 2013 School Committee candidates

1) Background [biographical, etc.]

2) Top Priorities [List about three – then elaborate below]

3) Top Challenges Facing CPS today

4) Evaluation of the Innovation Agenda

5) School Department Administration and Superintendent

6) School Department Budget and Capital Needs

7) Achievement Gaps, Meeting the Needs of All Students

8) Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners

9) Controlled Choice, Student Assignment Policies

10) Curriculum and Programs
a) Elementary School Grades
b) Middle School Grades
c) High School Grades

Other topics:
MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement
Teacher Evaluations and Performance Measures
School Safety and Student Behavior
World Languages
Parent Involvement and School Councils
Enrollment in Public vs. Charter vs. Private Schools

Priority Question: What are your recommendations for meeting the needs of high-achieving/advanced learners, especially in the middle-school grades?

Candidates: Send your responses/remarks on these topics or any other topics of your choice to —- or by mail to 366 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139. All of the information provided is helpful to voters, journalists, and organizers of candidate forums and similar events. You can add more information or change the content of your Candidate Page any time up to Election Day.

Cambridge Candidate Pages – 2013

2013 Campaign Event Listings and Candidate Forums
[Send event listings to —-]


  1. I’d like some emphasis on teacher and administrator evaluation – how/when it is done, criteria in the evaluation (test scores, … observation) , and what is done as a result of the evaluations. There are a lot of factors that effect how well people get educated . The easiest and least expensive to modify that will achieve better results is to:
    1) make sure the best teachers remain in the system by recognizing them and making sure they get appropriate assignments,
    2) work on improving the ones that have shortcomings,
    3) and replace the worst ones.

    Comment by John Gintell — August 18, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  2. I agree with the value of good teacher and administrator evaluation, though, as a teacher, I hope that any such evaluation would be done without relentless visitations by the evaluators. It’s also important to interpret student performance appropriately so that teachers with more problematic students are not unfairly penalized.

    By the way, the only reason I demoted “Teacher Evaluations and Performance Measures” to the Other Topics category was to reduce the main list to a more manageable number. I hope most of the candidates choose to say something about this topic.

    Comment by Robert Winters — August 18, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  3. The issues listed here are worthy of discussion. In addition, I would like to hear concrete ideas from candidates on addressing the inequity in access to junior kindergarten. Currently, children born April – August do not have access to junior kindergarten. They will already be the youngest in their class, and they enter a kindergarten classroom where their peers already have a year experience in that public school. Additionally, the lack of access to high-quality child care can be difficult for families with children born in these months, given the high cost of private school and day care. What will School Committee candidates to to make sure that junior kindergarten is universal in Cambridge?

    Comment by Kristi Jobson — August 18, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  4. I would leave off one of the questions about advanced learners and ask the candidates how they would address the multiple issues around special needs students.

    Also I would pose this question to the school committee candidates: there is reasonable evidence that school committee policies around a variety of issues are not in force. For example: playground time is still taken away punitively, more homework is assigned than current policy supports, certain items in the agreed upon curriculum are not actually taught. How would you work with other school committee members and the superintendent to see that your policies are actually carried out?

    Comment by Kathy Dalton — August 21, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

  5. Sept 26 – PANGEA (Parents for a Global Education Association), a new parent group, has made the following request for questions to be directed to Cambridge School Committee candidates. They would like to get questions no later than Oct 7 and plan to publicize candidate responses by Oct 24. (Questions can be sent to

    Dear Cambridge Families,
    We feel that world languages are an important part of an elementary education. Over the past few years, there has been a vigorous debate around exactly what type of language instruction the City will provide. Given the upcoming election, we feel that it is important to ask specific questions of the candidates and request their written responses. To this end, we are reaching out to the Cambridge community to see what questions they’d like to ask the candidates for School Committee on this issue. If you have a question you’d like to ask, please email us at or send us a letter in the mail to: Jane Chiang, 245 First Street, Suite 1800-18020113, Cambridge, MA 02142


    We will read through these questions, and from these responses, send a list of questions to the candidates. We will then aggregate their responses, send them to the broader Cambridge community, and post them on PANGEA’s website:

    We’d note that not every question sent to us may be submitted to the candidates. We will attempt to capture the key themes/questions that reflect the community as a whole.

    Thank you.
    Paul Ciampa, PANGEA member
    Jane Chiang, PANGEA member

    PANGEA (Parents for a Global Education Association) is an organization of parents and community members advocating for the development, support, and promotion of language immersion programs based on best practices in Cambridge for all children. We believe that effective cross-cultural and communication skills are integral to a global education. Language immersion programs are one way to fill that need. Strong world language programs can also provide these skills.

    Comment by Robert Winters — September 26, 2013 @ 10:02 am

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