School Committee Race Focuses On Fairness, Safety
The School Committee race is a poor cousin to the more glamorous and costly City Council election. But to students and parents in Cambridge public schools, the election is an important one.
The 11 candidates for six positions on the School Committee are running on platforms ranging from education reform to equity and safety in schools.
Christine Arruda supports curriculum, core values and safety. The 41-year-old mother of four children enrolled in the Cambridge school system says, "I can make a difference."
Arruda has volunteered extensively in the school system, the followthrough program, and the Head Start program. She believes "all children can achieve high standards of achievement with encouragement and good teachers and parents."
She is running "independently" and is not looking for endorsements.
A six-year veteran of the School Committee, Henrietta Davis is running for re-election. "We have a lot of potential in the Cambridge schools and I'm committed to continuing to work towards excellence in the schools," Davis says.
Davis is concerned about the state's increasing involvement in education, and she says she wants "to make sure that the voice of the parents and the community continue to be heard in the governance of education."
Science education is another important issue for Davis. "I'm concerned especially that our science education continues to head towards the 21st century instead of lagging behind, especially at the elementary level," she says.
The 48-year-old preschool administrator has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) and the Lavender Alliance.
A graduate of the Cambridge school system and a former substitute teacher, Salvatore E. Framondi is running because "I am experienced not only behind the desk as a teacher, but also in front of the desk as a student."
Framondi, 24, believes the main issue is equity. "We have a school system that allocates different resources to different schools, and certain schools get higher quality teachers and better resources," he says.
He wants to institute a core curriculum to promote uniformity of instruction while still granting instructors freedom in teaching.
Framondi supports hiring more security personnel to improve safety in the schools. "There is a problem with the proliferation of weapons on school grounds," he says.
Framondi has been endorsed by the Alliance for Change, the National Association of Government Workers, the International Brotherhood of Police and Correctional Officers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222.
Joseph G. Grassi, 26, is frustrated with the public school system because children "are not getting the best education that they should be receiving."
Grassi's four main issues are safety, equity, academic excellence and fiscal responsibility. He wants to ensure that "all the children of Cambridge receive an equal education," and he argues that Cambridge "needs to make the nest use of its tax dollars and cut bloated administration costs."
Grassi, who has been endorsed by the Alliance for Change, has worked in numerous summer camps and recreational programs. He is the director of the Gatly Youth Center in North Cambridge. He is on the board of directors of Pop Warner Football and East End Day Care Center, and is the former president and a current board member of the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund.
A delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, Robin A. Harris has turned her attention to school politics. A former school committee rep as a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School student, she is running because "I'm very dedicated to education and I think it's time for new blood and some changes."
Harris, who is a teacher and administrator, supports a city-wide core curriculum, an increase in parental involvement and extra services for teachers and staff.
Harris was Teacher of the Year, coordinator of the MIT-Wellesley Upward Bound program, and assisted in starting a program to help minority youngsters get into private schools. Harris is also a girl scout troop leader, an officer of the local chapter of the NAACP, a Cambridge Jaycee and a former president of a teacher's association.
She has been endorsed by the CCA, the Lavender Alliance, the Cambridge Rainbow, the National Organization of Women, and the Tab Newspaper.
Henry J. Lukas is a 47-year-old high school principal in Marblehead and he has worked with the School Committee in several different projects over the years.
Lukas' main issues are "implementing the new state education reform bill, improving students test scores, providing parents with elementary schools of their choice, providing more alternative programs, and increasing parental involvement in all schools."
He has been endorsed by CCA and the Lavender Alliance. Lukas is active on a number of civic boards, including Cambridge Citizens for Livable Neighborhoods, and the Cambridge Civic Association. He has also been a Board Member at the Harvard Principals Center, and is in his child's school Parent Teacher's Association.
Denise Simmons, a graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and a lifelong resident of Cambridge, is seeking reelection to her second term.
Simmons originally ran for election because "I wanted to be in a position to direct policy that would guarantee good education "The main issues are drop out prevention,policy reform, education equity, parent issues,follow-ups on student data reports, and pushingforward our curriculum efforts," she says. Simmons, 42, has been endorsed by the Bostonchapter of the National Organization of Women, theMassachusetts Women's Political Caucus, CambridgeRainbow and the CCA. She also received thepersonal recommendation of Harvard Law ProfessorCharles J. Ogletree and the support of formerstate representative Mel King. Alfred B. Fantini and David P. Maher are bothrunning for re-election but could not be reachedfor comment. John D. Fitzpatrick and Robert V. Travers, Jr.are challenging the incumbents but also could notbe reached for comment
"The main issues are drop out prevention,policy reform, education equity, parent issues,follow-ups on student data reports, and pushingforward our curriculum efforts," she says.
Simmons, 42, has been endorsed by the Bostonchapter of the National Organization of Women, theMassachusetts Women's Political Caucus, CambridgeRainbow and the CCA. She also received thepersonal recommendation of Harvard Law ProfessorCharles J. Ogletree and the support of formerstate representative Mel King.
Alfred B. Fantini and David P. Maher are bothrunning for re-election but could not be reachedfor comment.
John D. Fitzpatrick and Robert V. Travers, Jr.are challenging the incumbents but also could notbe reached for comment