Education

My commitment is to provide every student at every school access to an excellent education, driven by creativity and critical skills to become life-long learners. To accomplish this objective we must increase investment in human infrastructure including supportive services as well as cutting edge programming and innovative curricula.  I will ensure that sufficient investments are made in building maintenance and capital improvements to maintain a safe, healthy, and comfortable learning environment.  This will require an intentional focus on addressing the inequities in the school system that were highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic.  We have a moral obligation to close the gap in the digital divide, invest in childcare, after school care programs, and expand opportunities in technical trade and college-level courses.

As Mayor, I will work tirelessly to expand and improve our schools with the following policies:

 

  • Diversity in our Educators: Our goal is to improve the diversity of our educators from the current 20% People of Color (POC) to 40%.   This would be a stepping stone to be more reflective of our student population and send an important message of our collective values and priorities.

 

  • Universal Pre-K programs/Early Childhood Education: Early childhood education improves the likelihood of a student's success regardless of economic status. My goal is to increase the number of diverse students participating in Pre-K by enhanced community outreach, offering incentives to enroll, offering free transportation, and before/after school care. I would make sure to create a family advisory group and convene with them to better understand the challenges for greater participation so we can meet the needs of our parents.

 

  • Multilingual Education: Our commitment must be fluency in a second language for all.   For ESL learners our goal is to increase proficiency in English and commit the needed resources.  Interpreters must be available for children and their caregivers to enhance the educational experience and ensure success and educational attainment.  We live in a global economy and we are not preparing our students with language opportunities at a young age and I will explore opportunities to incorporate a second language at the earliest appropriate age. 

 

  • Social Factors of Health and Education: Kids need to have their basic needs met to thrive. Students that have food, good health, and are free of pain and stress can focus on their studies.  I  will ask the school committee to approve universal free healthy meals for all students to combat increased obesity levels, and incorporate mindfulness training at all grade levels.  I will increase mental health screenings and counseling and substance use services, education, and treatment in our schools.  

 

  • Expand STEAM: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) skills are essential preparation to meet the current labor demand. As Mayor, I will create an advisory committee of parents, caregivers,  educators, local businesses, nonprofits, and experts in economic development to work to provide career preparation and job opportunities.

    • job empowerment programs can catalyze career paths with benefits, growth opportunities, and more competitive wages. Forming stronger relationships with business partners for paid internships for students at growth businesses in Somerville. Somerville will become a mecca of skills training and job placement for all. We are fortunate to have the integration of the technical trades that provide good-paying and protected jobs. 

    • Art programs have a direct bearing on wellness, creativity, and innovative problem-solving. Art increases empathy, broadens perspective and leads to a better understanding of cultural experiences. 

 

  • Class Size Reduction: I am committed to pilot class size reductions in early grades.  Studies have shown that investment in the early years will strengthen academic achievement.  We will start by conducting a space utilization study and incorporate content specialists to enrich personalized learning. 

  • Early College Program (ECP): Somerville High School is participating in the ECP program partnering with Bunker Hill Community College and Cambridge College.  This is a fantastic opportunity for our students but participation is well below 10% for all eligible juniors and seniors. Over the next three years, I would set the target goal to increase the participation rate to 20%. The State has funds in its annual budget, and I would work to secure access to these state funds to fund ECP.

 

  • Adult and Family Education: Our investment in education should go beyond students and include family, parents, and caregivers. There must be a familial lens on education, to expand equitable opportunities for all. 

 

  • Expanded Learning Time: Exploring a longer school day to incorporate the innovations referenced above. This could be accomplished by partnering with nearby Colleges and Universities to enrich the learning experience. 

  • Student Health and Safety: I do not support the placement of armed police officers in our schools but do support community-oriented policing that encourages developing relationships with all community members, including our school community. Instead, resources should be redirected to support the social/emotional needs of our students, particularly coming out of the pandemic. I also favor investment in trained individuals to support teachers and administrators and to intervene when students are in crisis, as well as developing robust restorative justice programs to resolve student conflicts. I would encourage our Police Department to have as many police officers as possible become certified under the newly created Massachusetts Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.