October 24, 2015
To the editor:
As a student School Committee member over 10 years ago, I had the pleasure of serving with Patty Nolan. She was always thoughtful and eager to collaborate on crucial issues, while also relying on my input for the student’s perspective — keeping that at the forefront of all the decisions she was making that guided our school system. Her data-based approach to analyzing the important questions facing the district was critical in ensuring our resources were properly utilized, our budget wisely allocated and the right staff were placed in the right positions. Whether it was working with the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Association to defend that key demographic, changing the way CRLS ranked its students and weighed its GPA, or responding to the concerns of parents that the focus on equity should always be weighed with a focus on excellence, she has shown persistent and early leadership in advancing the future of the district and anticipating it’s needs.
She has also been a progressive and independently minded voice during some contentious periods in our recent history. She was a lone vote against continuing the tenure of Superintendent Jeffrey Young, a process her colleagues later come around to endorsing. She has been a key voice in ensuring that our next leader has the collaborative skills to work with the committee as an ally, rather than the adversarial relationship that has characterized our last few superintendents. And she is committed to maintaining and defending controlled choice, at a time when it is critically needed and under attack. Diverse, excellent schools that provide equal education to all students is still hard to come by throughout the country. It has been the rule, rather than the exception in Cambridge, and will continue to be under Patty’s leadership. She has more than earned a No. 1 vote this November.
– James Conway, Aurora, Illinois