Thirteen Cantabrigians Who Want to Run the City Schools

Henrietta S. Attles

Henrietta Attles, running for her second term on the CCA slate sees the discrepancy in reading scores between Cambridge elementary schools as an important indication of what the School Committee must do during the next years. "With the prospect of another year of 2 1/2 we must concentrate our resources and ensure that each child in our schools gets a basic education."

Attles explains that "a third grader in one school might read at merely a third grade level, but in other schools the average third-grader is at a fifth or sixth grade level." Such a difference in reading scores indicates where resources that the school system has should be channelled, Attles believes.

The current school committee has developed a set of criteria that can best dictate who should be maintained and who fired considering the limited resources, Attles explains--and she sees this formula, not strict seniority, as the most valid criteria.

Currently a second-year doctoral student at Harvard's School of Education, Attles has two children in the Cambridge school system.


Sara Mae Berman

Sara Mae Berman, now running for her fourth term on the School Committee, wants to keep parents in Cambridge committed to the public schools. "If we cut alternative education programs we will lose the parents that we want the most," Berman says.

She adds that if teachers are fired or retained on strict seniority basis, the alternative programs will falter and the school system will suffer large loss of credibility.

Her strategy for maintaining alternative programs and assessing teachers on a number of different qualities calls for stronger leadership at the administrative middle level. "We need more masters who are willing to work cooperatively and supportively to shape programs and guide teachers," Berman says.

In her fourth term--despite Proposition 2 1/2--Berman doesn't intend to give up any of her traditional priorities for the schools: Affirmative Action in the teaching staff, varied programs and effective curriculum planning--she also continues to have a particular interest in the physical education programs for the skillful and not-so-skillful in the Cambridge Public Schools.

David C. Blackman

David C. Blackman, endorsed by the Cambridge Civic Association in his second run for the school board--says he is worried about Proposition 2 1/2. If any more teachers are laid off, he says, the city's school system will become little more than "a day-care system"--he is running for School Committee to find an alternative to firing teachers.

"All teachers provide direct service to the students, and thus cannot be considered for cuts," he says. It is also unrealistic to enlarge the size of classes, especially on the elementary level, Blackman adds: "Even a great teacher can't be effective with too large a group."

As an alternative to firing teachers, Blackman wants to cut facilities. "The school system currently rents a suite of offices on Thorndike St.--this is the kind of expense that has to be looked into. Could the offices be moved to another, city-owned facility?" Blackman also intends to search for new sources of supplies, and for new federal grants.

Blackman, a life-long resident of Cambridge, is married to a Cambridge teacher and has two children in the city's school system. "I went to Cambridge Public Schools and I'm connected with them now as a parent. The schools here have great potential, potential that must be lived up to even with 2 1/2," he said.

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