School Committee Hopefuls Debate Budgets, Testing

Event draws 12 of 13 candidates for posts

Next month's school committee election is heating up.

Twelve of the 13 candidates faced off last night in a forum at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

Candidates across the board advocated tightening the district's policy of teacher evaluations by school principals, a policy that has been loosely enforced until now.


The pre-arranged questions focused on teacher evaluations, the student achievement gap and district budgets.

Audience questions raised concerns of school mergers, standardized tests, recruiting enough new teachers, the level of authority held by the school committee, parent involvement in schooling, and reorganization of the high school.

"Every parent deserves a competent teacher in front of their children and deserves a nice teacher in front of their children," said candidate Fred Fantini, who served on the committee from 1981-97.

Jamisean Patterson, a first-time campaigner but a lifelong resident of West Cambridge, urged early retirement programs for longtime teachers whose instruction had grown stale.

Several candidates made the point that if the evaluation system is to work, teachers' negative attitudes toward it must change.

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