Richard Harding

Richard Harding
2015 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
189 Windsor St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Harding Campaign
PO Box 391391
Cambridge, MA 02139
E-mail: or

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Richard Harding
PO Box 391391
Cambridge, MA 02139

Richard Harding, a lifelong Cantibridgian, began his service as an intern at Joe Kennedy's Citizen's Energy, then served as Director of Constituent Services for Senator Steven Tolman and is the past Chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. He has served on the board of the Young People's Project and of the Community Arts Center. Richard is the President of the Port Life Foundation and a founder of the Port Action Group, a neighborhood group focused on violence prevention. Through the Port Action Group, Richard led the effort to secure the funding and institute a streetworker in Area 4 to help connect formerly incarcerated individuals with services and resources.

Recently, Richard has organized and facilitated two community wide conversations in the area of justice -- Civil Rights: Policing, Discretion and Race, and Not Guilty, a forum that examined police conduct in the Eurie Stamps and DJ Henry incidents. Richard is a proud recipient of the NAACP Education Excellence Award and the Cambridge Peace and Justice Award. Richard is a member of the Cambridge Police Commissioner’s Community Advisory Board.

As a School Committee member, Richard's bold, effective leadership included serving as Vice-Chair and co-chairing the Budget Committee and Contract Negotiations. Richard has co-chaired the Kids Council and brought his leadership to the Neighborhood Safety Task Force's Employment Sub-Committee. Richard currently runs the Men of Color Health Initiative and is a program consultant to the job training program, CambridgeWorks. Richard attended the Kennedy Elementary school, received his high school diploma from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and is a graduate of Fitchburg State College. His daughter is a 2015 graduate of the Cambridge Public Schools.

Top Priorities

  • Academic Excellence for all Children
  • Closing the Achievement Gap
  • Hiring the Superintendent
  • Early Childhood including Universal Pre-K
  • Parent University – Creating meaningful opportunities for active parent involvement, advocacy, pathway to college and career
  • Successful Implementation of the Innovation Agenda
  • Summer learning opportunities to address summer learning loss and support accelerated learners
  • Increasing the participation of low SES and minority students in AP courses
  • Creating a rigorous world language program across the district
  • Supporting special education students and ensuring full IEP compliance for all students
  • Evaluating student learning through multiple assessments including portfolios
  • Supporting comprehensive STEAM opportunities that are the gateway to the 21st century economy

Top Challenges Facing CPS today

  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Equity in participation in AP classes
  • Supporting schools to be able to successfully support children with high needs
  • Parent involvement

Evaluation of the Innovation Agenda
I will work to ensure the successful implementation of the innovation agenda for every school and every child. I will work to ensure that central administration hires the most highly qualified principals to run the middle schools. I believe we must make sure that there are adequate out-of-school time resources and programs that cater to the middle school age population. We must also provide resources for community building with new school populations and making sure that there are enough resources in place at schools to deal with social climate issues.

I will lead in the effort to evaluate the Innovation Agenda to make sure that it is succeeding every child, that there is academic rigor in every discipline, and that teachers are given all the support needed to be successful in the new middle schools. We must also ensure that our bilingual programs are supported and allowed to flourish.

All of this is possible if we make sure that the most highly qualified teachers are in front of our children. The evaluation of the innovation agenda must be thorough and comprehensive so that we can begin to resolve any issues that are identified in the first year of implementation. The evaluation must assess student achievement, curriculum and rigor, school climate and effectiveness of special education services. If the Innovation Agenda is going to succeed, we must be committed to an honest, transparent solution-based approach to its evaluation. The success of the Innovation Agenda is critical in closing achievement gap and restoring the confidence in the Cambridge Public Schools.

Lastly, this will be a great challenge and responsibility for the next superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools. I will work hard to keep the superintendent accountable to this responsibility.

School Department Administration and Superintendent
I believe that a primary role of the school committee is to challenge the superintendent to be accountable to students and families by making sure he is evaluating programs, teachers and the central administration staff. We have work with him to make sure that he rises to the challenge of the persistence academic achievement gap and offers a concrete plan to close the achievement gap. I believe we must make sure that the superintendent is negotiating with the teacher's union with the best possible learning environment for children in mind and I will work collaboratively with the superintendent to develop goals that support a child centered learning environment. The superintendent must support teachers while challenging them to close the achievement and opportunity gaps in our schools. I will demand that the next superintendent of schools creates a strategic plan that includes a vision and short and long term goals for academic excellence in the Cambridge Public schools. This should be done collaboratively with the school committee.

School Department Budget and Capital Needs
As one of the members who fought hard to reconstruct our one public high school and voted to do it, I want to see to it that the renovations are completed in a timely fashion so that our children can fully enjoy it. I will continue to scrutinize the budget to eliminate wasteful spending. I will continue to hold the superintendent accountable to any money spent that is not directly impacting the classroom experience for children in the Cambridge Public Schools.

Last year, as budget co-chair, I held the first ever budget hearing exclusively for educators where they were able to express their concerns and what their needs were to successfully educate children and resource their classrooms. This year I propose to have a budget hearing exclusively for students to express their concerns and tell the school committee what they need for to be successful.

Achievement Gaps, Meeting the Needs of All Students
Initial steps include: differentiated instruction so that students; making sure that all students are proficient in reading by the third grade; supporting teachers with meaningful professional development on social emotional issues to be able to serve our students classified as high needs and our special education students; and, continued support for the John Sapphire Initiative to improve ineffective instruction practices in our classrooms.

The Game Changer in Closing the Achievement Gap is that students must complete Algebra by the 8th grade so they can have the foundation to take the high level math courses in high school that prepare them to participate in the knowledge economy.

Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners
Raise the bar and close the gaps. The worst thing for any student in our system is to be bored. Teachers must know the student’s talents, strengths and weaknesses. Teachers must be able to meet the needs for these students by enhancing their preparation, being creative about instruction, mobilizing outside resources and finding challenging opportunities.

Parent Involvement
I believe that parents should be involved in all school based decisions including the budget. Parents also must be invited to the table to be invested in their children's education. I believe that the Cambridge Public Schools must do more to engage parents in the schools and with the school committee. To do the latter we must take meetings out to the community and do a better job at communicating information from the school system to the home.

I would like to bring to Cambridge a model approach to parental involvement called “Parent University”. This would help prepare parents for supporting their children in our schools. They would learn how to navigate the system and how to advocate. Most importantly parents will gain the knowledge and tools needed to support the learning and development of their children so that each student can reach her or his full potential.

Curriculum and Programs
Three overall things are necessary:

  • Improve the School Improvement Plans to align with the achievement goals for each school, focusing the funds on student achievement.
  • Continue to support the AVID program to ensure that students have a chance to succeed.
  • Support restorative justice and learning about conflict resolution.

Elementary School Grades
Ensure reading proficiency by the third grade so that all students can succeed in the proceeding grades where subject matter is reading dependent.

Middle School Grades
Completion of Algebra in the middle school grades so that students have the chance to complete the advanced level of math in high school that are the gateway to the STEM careers of the 21st century economy.

High School Grades
Removal of the false moniker College Prep from a pathway of coursework that is proven to not prepare students for college.

Candidate's 2013 responses     Candidate's 2011 responses     Candidate's 2009 responses     Candidate's 2007 responses

CCTV candidate video (2015) 

Page last updated Wednesday, October 21, 2015 11:40 AM Cambridge Candidates