City Group Endorses Candidates for Schools

The Cambridge Civic Alliance (CCA) yesterday officially announced a slate of four candidates it would endorse for school committee elections in the fall at a press conference yesterday.

The four candidates--two current committee members, one a previously unsuccessful candidate and one a new contender--all emphasized the importance of parental involvement, accountability and changes in personnel selection as a result of a statewide education reform bill in building better schools.

Current committee member Henrietta Davis, who has served on the committee for six years, said she expects the most important issue on the fall agenda will be dealing with education reform, which was passed and implemented by the city council this spring.

Both Davis and Robin A. Harris, a first time candidate for school committee, said parents must be involved in all aspects of their children's schools, including personnel hiring.

Harris, running on the slogan "Put Your Child in the Hands of an Educator," said parental involvement was necessary to deal with changing student needs academically and otherwise.


"The whole notion of accountability and equity of the school system needs to be looked at," she said. "My primary goal is to have some type of curriculum guide [and] curriculum goals implemented."

Henry Lukas, who ran unsuccessfully in 1989 and 1991, said his experience as a teacher and administrator in the Cambridge school systems had shown him the need for the system to adapt to changing times.

"My interest is in raising topics for people to work on who are in the system as well as parents," said Lukas, who is the principal of Marblehead High School in Cambridge. "Teaching is my life... and I want to bring my ideas about it before the council."

All four candidates were critical of a report released by the new political group Alliance for Change which blasted the Cambridge school system for declining test scores and suggested reorganization and downsizing of school bureaucracy to improve the system.

The candidates said the report, titled the Alliance White Papers, ignored several changes the system is undergoing and took data from an unrepresentative sample.

Denise Simmons, who is running for re-election after one term on the council, said she did not consider the tests an accurate representation of the quality of education offered.

"We don't want the systems or the teachers teaching to the test," Simmons said. "We want them teaching to the students."