In Reversal, King Takes Lead Over Harding in Cambridge School Committee Vote Tally
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In a surprising reversal, challenger Andrew R. King has taken a narrow lead over Richard Harding Jr. in the neck-and-neck race for Cambridge School Committee, after Harding had appeared to eke out a victory in preliminary election returns.
Additional ballots on the third day of vote counting Thursday showed King — a Cambridge activist and postdoctoral researcher at Boston University — with a 3-vote lead over Harding, a former School Committee member, in the eighth round of Cambridge’s ranked choice tally. After each round of the vote, the lowest-performing candidate is eliminated and their votes are transferred to voters next-ranked choices.
The city will announce the official results on Nov. 17 after tallying all provisional ballots and mailed overseas absentee ballots. Currently, there are 18 overseas ballots and 17 provisional ballots which have yet to be counted.
King, a former Cambridge Public Schools student, made a name for himself in the race through his stark opposition to the use of standardized testing — like the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System — to evaluate student and educator achievement.
“I’ve been a staunch opponent of the harmful, high-stakes MCAS testing system since eighth grade since we have walked out of the Graham Parks School here in Cambridge,” he said at a September forum hosted by the Cambridge Education Association. “We need to go further and ultimately transition away from the MCAS system and move towards the next generation, holistic state assessment system.”
Unlike Harding, King was endorsed by the CEA. King has said his positions on educational policies are guided by the assertion that “educator working conditions are student learning conditions.” He has vocally supported the union during year-long contract negotiations with the district.
Attending a Sept. 18 CEA demonstration, King said he joined the event “to support educators.”
“They’ve been waging an ongoing struggle,” he said. “They’re fighting, we’re trying to fight for them for just compensation, for excellent working conditions.”
Dan Monahan, the president of the CEA, said that he was “excited” to see the latest results. He added that, while he “appreciated” Harding’s statements on issues like paraprofessional compensation, the CEA was unable to endorse his candidacy because they “lacked information” about specific positions.
Out of the three CEA endorsed candidates, only Caroline M. Hunter is currently a secure member-elect.
“A lot could change in the next few days,” Monahan said. “We endorsed Andrew King, and he’d be an exciting candidate to have — so we’ll see how that plays out this week.”
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