JWG (jwg) wrote,

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Cambridge Public School system

As some of you know I am very involved in various local political activities - these days mostly the public library, but that isn't the subject here.

The Cambridge Public School (CPS) system like most urban systems is in trouble in many ways - failing students, etc. And the challenge is tough - many Cambridge students come from families who don't speak English at all or well, are quite poor, and in general don't have all the support systems that many of us had when we were growing up (yes we are still growing up, but you know what mean) such as educated parents, books at home, a quiet place to do homework, et al..

The enrollment in CPS has dropped by over 15% in the past ten years even though the census showed a >5% population growth in this age group. So what with inflation, too much administration and declining enrollment the per-student cost is skyrocketing (it is the highest in the state even though CPS is near the bottom of the list in test scores).

The elected school committee and the superintendant (who they just declined to rehire) have been battling for the past year and a half about plans to close and/or merge some schools and save some $$ in the process. They give the Supe many contradictory micro-managing instructions and then when she submits a plan they vote it down. Tomorrow is the final deadline for the latest plan and it looks like they might vote it down, too.

They have to do something since they have been given a budget cap (only allowed a 3% increase) and any closing/mergings have to be decided now since CPS requests incoming parents to choose which Kindergardens to apply for in January and that can't be postponed. This choice is important since the location, the reputations, and the educational styles of the various schools are important factors and the assumption is that a child stays in the same K-8 school. So much angst is normal among parents and the closing/merging chaos has increased it.

I've watched some of the hearings on cableTV with streams of parents saying "not my school". That is why the school committee is likely to not act since they all have to be re-elected next year. One of the parents created a web site that is a nice discussion board that has been quite active. I've posted about evaluating and then firing bad teachers and supplying the right training for the rest as well as doing exit iunterviews of parents leaving the system to find out why.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. There is a move to consider replacing the elected school committee with an appointed one as did Boston a bunch of years ago with considerable success.I'll probably be working on that.

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