Ayesha will use her body of work to focus on:
Equity Diversity & Inclusion
The demographic composition of the Cambridge Public School’s student body reflects the rich cultural, ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the city. Our educators should reflect our diverse student population. Increasing teacher diversity is an important aspect of improving educational equity for all students—especially for students of color. While I can speak on my personal experiences and how vital educators of color were to my fundamental success, there is a considerable body of research that illustrate the direct impact teachers of color have on all students. The outcomes for students of color who learn from educators of color have been found to include higher reading and math test scores, higher graduation rates, lower dropout and discipline rates, and higher enrollment in advanced courses.
As a school committee member I will be progressive in the support of Dr. Salim’s Dynamic Diversity Development initiative. We need to create a real space for our students and educators if real change is to be possible in Cambridge public schools. Retaining diverse staff must not be overlooked.
School Climate & Discipline
School climate and school culture directly impact student success. If we don't have a positive school climate, then we have a lot of students, parents and teachers who are not reaching their full potential. Currently there is a lack of connection between students and educators. It is imperative that Cambridge Public Schools maintain a positive school climate where students are academically engaged and supported, there is a sense of safety, student connectedness and parent involvement.
With respect to school discipline, the quality of the teacher–student relationship is a primary concern. Implementing a community like approach could empower students and staff to support each other during challenging moments. If elected, I would like to explore the development of an effective and comprehensive school wide plan that fosters a more formative approach to consequences that include strategies for developing self-discipline rather than punitive consequences in the prevention of behavioral issues.
Social-emotional and cultural competency training for educators
As leaders and educators we must recognize how the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, and being able-bodied impact us individually. In an increasingly fragmented world with growing disparities we need to give teachers the resources to help students as they develop empathy for people across all areas of difference. To combat the current climate, I propose professional development workshops yearly, specializing in social-emotional, trauma-informed, and culturally competent learning. Student’s learning and performance increases when educators concentrate on effective professional development focused on the skills educators and staff need in order to acknowledge students’ major learning challenges.
Reducing the Achievement Gap and Create Universal Pre-K for all
To reduce the achievement gap means we must start earlier with implementing education for our students. The City of Cambridge spends roughly $29,000 per student yearly, and this amount is nearly double the state’s average. If elected, I commit to review and adjust the way funds are budgeted, to ensure that our most vulnerable student’s needs are met.
Universal Pre-K has been on the agenda for the School Committee for many years. It has proven success at Fletcher Maynard Academy, Special Start classes (Longfellow Building), and at the Tobin Montessori school. We need to dedicate more classrooms to this initiative.