Patty Nolan

Patty Nolan
2015 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
184 Huron Ave.
Cambridge MA 02138

Contact information:
Tel: 617-661-0729

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Patty Nolan
184 Huron Ave., Cambridge MA 02138

Or donate with PayPal on my website

I’m Patty Nolan and I hope you will vote # 1 for me for School Committee on Nov. 3.  First, thank you for electing me to this position and for caring enough to do research on the candidates.

For our district to advance, we need engaged policymakers who work hard, use data to inform their decisions, monitor our performance, push for information and answers and take tough votes when appropriate.  That’s how I approach the job.

My husband, David Rabkin and I have two children, both born here and in our public schools K-12.  Our oldest graduated CRLS in 2014, went to Lafayette College for a year and is taking a semester off now, spending time with Outward Bound in Costa Rica.  Our daughter is a senior at CRLS this year.  Both benefitted from a wonderful array of programs, and both attended Amigos for six years – an incredible benefit we provide students – the chance to become bilingual and biliterate.  [In fact one of my priorities if re-elected is to work on increasing the number of seats in our immersion programs so more students can have that experience.]

My own family history includes some of the same complexities of Cambridge families.  My grandmother did not graduate high school and mother had to fight to go to college, since her father thought college was wasted on women.   My father went to night school since he needed to help support the family, since his father was disabled.  My parents built a life in the middle class and raise my five sisters and me to appreciate education – since that is what allowed them to improve their own situation.  By contrast, I was expected to go to college, had to work to help pay for it, but I was relatively privileged.   I was the first in my family to apply to and attend Harvard.  And after working for a few years doing research on work and family and women’s history, I went to Yale to the School of Management.  Since then I’ve done a range of jobs, from McKinsey consulting to working in non-profit management to running two small companies, to helping start worker-owned co-ops.  Lately I’ve worked almost full time in my School Committee job.  I bring my experience and skills in strategic thinking and financial savvy and research synthesis to the job.

I am passionate and focused on making our district even better. My broad management experience, analytical ability and insistence on research-based decision-making allow me to have positive impact.  I continually learn - from my parent experience, listening to teachers and reaching out to educators in Cambridge and beyond.   Hard-working and effective, I’ve delivered on promises, from directing more funds into classrooms to reworking discipline policies to leading on environmental sustainability. My courageous stands and principled voting on tough issues like consulting contracts confirm my independence and commitment to do what’s right rather than what’s easy.

Recently I was asked what is the most important issue facing the School Committee next term.  I reflected on what I’ve learned the last few years.  There are many very important issues – early education, the achievement gap, making sure the new superintendent can be effective.  However, increasingly I see one overarching issue central to all we do – addressing in a comprehensive way the social-emotional needs of students.  If we consciously focus on ensuring that teachers are given the support they need to build relationships with students and have the resources to create a safe classroom environment, many of the “behavior” problems we see would disappear.  And, intimately tied to this issue is standardized testing. Overtesting and an overemphasis on standardized testing is harming the social-emotional needs of students, making it harder to help them learn.  We are doing too much and it is hurting our students and disheartening our best teachers.

I serve knowing that I will not always “win”.  You may not always agree with me.  However, you can be sure I keep my promises, I work hard and I always listen and reach out.

I have led the way on many initiatives – the budget book you get every year which is mailed to every resident is an example of my work.  That guide was controversial – I believe it is because some people did not want the city residents to know that yes in fact we do spend that much money on our schools.  I believed that we should be transparent.  Also, if we are spending it well, then we should celebrate that fact.  Hoenstly, we are spending most of it well, but not all of it.  We need to be more focused in our evaluation of programs so our spending can be more targeted and more effective.

Other areas where I have had positive impact include a greater attention to family engagement.  We are engaged in a process to improve our outreach and be more open to all families to be involved with our schools.  Research confirms that including families helps all students.

And, part of my work has been in the area of ensuring that students who are more advanced receive support.  Instead of asking whether to get rid of honors classes, I have advocated that we instead shift the focus to why those classes are not more diverse and more supports for advanced learners.   Students of all colors and backgrounds belong be in accelerated classes – we need to support teachers on reaching all and convince students that they can do it.

Another critical issue I’ve addressed and will continue to work on if re-elected is our Kindergarten lottery and choice system.  Our choice system leaves too many families feeling unsettled or uncertain.  The solution is not to dismiss their fears, but to make changes so 100% of families get their #1 choice.  It can be done if we have political courage.

This election, you need to decide whom you most want on School Committee – and vote #1 for that candidate.  I hope it is me.   But don’t forget to vote for a # 2, 3, 4 etc.  And remember – no one is automatically elected.  There are six open seats – if you want me to continue, vote # 1 for me, or I will lose.  I won big last time – many will tell you that I can’t lose.  History shows that in Cambridge candidates have won big and then lost the next time.  And a few years ago, I won by 19 votes.  Your vote matters.  Don’t count on others to elect me if you want me to keep working for you.

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CCTV candidate video (2015)

Page last updated Friday, October 30, 2015 2:44 AM Cambridge Candidates