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Laurance Kimbrough is a new candidate this year.
Statement for 2017 Election
A New Direction for Boys
In the Cambridge Public Schools, boys are almost three times more likely to be disciplined and suspended than girls. Coupled with the fact that boys and men are far less likely to seek help or counseling, I believe we have a boys/men health crisis that is impacting us all.
The Cambridge Public Schools need to think differently about supporting the emotional health and development of the boys who will one day grow up and become men. And while these numbers are not unique to Cambridge, the Cambridge Public Schools should be at the forefront in addressing this national health crisis.
Improving Achievement for All Students
I believe the Cambridge Public Schools has an “Engagement Gap.” Too few of our scholars are fully engaged in learning within our schools because it is enjoyable, uniquely challenging, and personally meaningful. During my time as a special education teacher, guidance counselor, and tennis coach at CRLS, many of my strongest students were simply “doing school,” while others felt little motivation and interest to engage in the education afforded to them.
In 2013, I recall a time when I tried to complement a pair of my students who were deeply engrossed in an AP AB Calculus problem. I told them we needed more students engaged and loving math because it is a language we can use to solve so many of the world’s problems. One was quick to correct me however, stating that she hated math and was only taking AP AB Calculus so she could get into a good college. Improving the type of achievement that looks good on a transcript or increases test scores is NOT the type of achievement I want to improve.
My interest in improving achievement for all students is more value-driven and individual than anything that is measured by fat admissions-envelopes, AP or Honors Classes, MCAS scores, or grade earned. Can we measure achievement by how schools and educators help students and families meet their own personal goals for improvement, engagement, character growth, moral development, and community activism? I believe that we can.
“The Achievement Gap” is an issue within the Cambridge Public Schools for which we must allocate resources and enact policies to eliminate. And yet, we must resist the temptation as educations, policymakers, parents, and community members to only measure things can be counted easily. What good is an acceptance letter from Harvard if the boy receiving it is “cat-calling” girls in the hallway? Is it more important to have students taking AP Environmental Science or understanding the importance of recycling and energy conservation in relation to climate change? Should we sacrifice our need to create lifelong learners at the expense of students passing the MCAS? If a student earns an “A” in US History, but chooses not to vote upon turning 18, did the individual actually learn anything?
I see engagement in school as a prerequisite for a different type of achievement that I believe, we as Cantabridgians, want to measure. Fulfilling our district’s goal of “educating all students well” starts with a love of learning. It continues when curricula is meaningful, challenging, and forces students to think critically about and engage with the world around them. If elected, I will never lose sight of “what really counts,” as it will be part of my core values when evaluating the growth of our school district.
Black Lives Matter!
Lift Every Voice – especially those of our most vulnerable
The race to nowhere
And yet deep in our hearts, I believe what we want most for our children is to not only be happy but to be engaged in their own academic growth. As adults, we should be more interested in our kids' "eulogy virtues" than "character virtues." The desire for our students to do well in school for the sake of college admissions puts us on a "race to nowhere," making learning a competitive battle with others rather than an engaging, fulfilling journey to figure out who we are, what we care about and what type of person we want to become. If we believe in social justice in Cambridge, then education can't be a competition, where we compare our kid's success to that of our neighbors. We must put into practice the beliefs that all kids within our community and within our schools deserve the best schools, the best educators and the best opportunity for personal fulfillment and success; which I believe is at the heart of a social justice education.
Addressing the lack of educational equity
The most recent data from the Massachusetts DESE website shows that Black, white, Latino and Asian students all attend higher education after finishing CRLS in high numbers. And yet Blacks and latinos are 3.5 and 4 times more likely to attend community college than white students. Additionally, in the '15-'16 school year, White students were 3.5 (history), 10 (math), and 8 (science) times more likely to take an AP exam than black students. During my time working within the Cambridge Public Schools, both at the middle and high schools, there was a belief among some Black students that taking honors and/or AP classes was "acting white." I support the "Level Up" initiative at CRLS for the fact that it requires all students to take honors classes upon entering CRLS. This will hopefully create less self-segregation in AP courses during junior and senior years and prepare more students of color to enter four-year public and private colleges upon graduation from the Cambridge Public Schools.
Straight to working for the City
The data from the Cambridge Community Development Team showed that 60% of blacks in Cambridge make $60,000 annually, compared with whites, 50% of whom make over $125,000 a year. 25% of Black families in Cambridge make less than $20,000/yr, the largest wage earning group for Blacks living in Cambridge.
The Cambridge School Department should be working with Cambridge Public Works, the Department of Human Services, Traffic/Parking/Transportation, Information Technology and the Cambridge Housing Authority to provide career pathways for students such as job shadowing opportunities, internships, and to assure that there are job openings for CRLS graduates who want them. This would not only address the earning income gap between racial cohorts within the city, but put CPS graduates on a path towards financial independence, which I also believe will make our graduates more likely to be fully engaged in Cambridge civic life and our national democracy.
Carrying the torch
The last conversation I had with my father before he passed was about educational equity, academically engaging and socially relevant curriculum, and the need to continue to hire more men of color within our public schools. I will never forget that conversation. All Cantabridgians who knew Leslie Kimbrough should know that the torch has indeed been passed. If elected to the Cambridge School Committee, I will continue to carry on my father's legacy and strive towards making our schools better for all students.
|Page last updated Monday, June 26, 2017 2:34 PM||Cambridge Candidates|