Letter to the Editor: Praise for Patty Nolan

October 30, 2017

(Source: cambridge.wickedlocal.com)

Candidates say lots of things. Voters should look at what they do. For example, every candidate talks about good governance. Every voter should know that our School Committee voted not to do a job search for the executive cecretary to the School Committee, a job that pays over $90,000 a year. School Committee member Patty Nolan, acknowledging how uncomfortable it is to vote against promoting someone specific, spoke her conscience. As usual, she did her research and reviewed the district’s policies which state that all jobs should be open and efforts made to encourage applicants. In the July 25 meeting, Nolan urged the committee to model equity–making sure all had a chance to apply–and good management practices. She proposed doing a search. Incredibly, the motion was voted down 5-2; only Nolan and Dexter supported it. Can you imagine the committee’s reaction if the superintendent promoted an assistant principal to principal without doing a search? They’d be upset. Yet most of the committee did the equivalent.

Another example of Nolan’s style of leadership and transparency: at a School Committee candidates forum, candidates were asked if they support the accelerated math program in our upper schools, which was referred to as tracking. No candidate except one openly supported the Accelerated Math Pathways (AMP) program. Yet two of those candidates, Cronin and Fantini, had voted for the AMP when on the committee – which Fantini acknowledged. Two others, Dexter and Bowman, are on the committee yet never tried to end the AMP during their term. And none of the others have testified at a School Committee meeting asking for the AMP to be discontinued. Full disclosure: I favor the AMP – our daughter benefited from the ISP and I believe our schools need to meet students’ needs and to walk the talk of high expectations. Only Nolan supported the AMP – with clear reasons: that the AMP was started after years of forbidding leveled math classes because teachers and students asked – since the un-leveled classes were not working for far too many students. And Nolan documented her work to ensure that the AMP included more diversity and will eventually be the standard class for all students. And this year one school has the entire seventh grade in the AMP – in keeping with Nolan’s stated goal.

Next time a candidate says they believe in something, check the record. When I do that, I find that Patty Nolan’s record is always clear, transparent, and models the kind of leadership we need to have on our School Committee.

–Donna Erikson, Hancock St

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