Richard Harding

Richard Harding
2003 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
187 Windsor St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-201-2978

Send contributions to:
Committee to Elect Richard Harding
PO Box 391321
Cambridge, MA 02139

A lifelong Cambridge resident, Richard Harding attended the city's public schools and graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. He then attended Fitchburg State College, where he earned his bachelor's degree. In high school, Richard worked with Joe Kennedy at Citizen's Energy, and during college he worked in youth service with the Department of Human Services. After college, Richard served as the Cambridge Liaison for Senator Warren Tolman and then as Constituent Services Director and Cambridge Liaison to Senator Steven A. Tolman. After working for four years on behalf of the neighborhoods' interests at the state house, Richard joined the Cambridge Health Alliance and currently runs the Men of Color Health Initiative. He is on the board of the Cambridge Community Arts Center, the Cambridge Youth Program, the National Young People's Project, and the NAACP of Cambridge. Richard is involved in the community as Chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and President of the Port Life Foundation. Richard is intimately familiar with the potential of the public schools and believes in their ability to prepare Cambridge's children for great success.

Role of the School Committee:
The School Committee, like any representative body, serves as the political leadership for a municipally run body - here the school system - to ensure its efficiency, appoint its leadership, and hold the system accountable for reaching its goals. But unlike other representative bodies, the School Committee must also ensure that the people its members represent have input in the decisions that affect their children's education and their children's future. The School Committee must provide strong, compassionate leadership that ensures success in the future as well as in the present; leadership that asks tough questions, demands answers, and keeps the system on task; leadership that makes judgments and sets policies with the success of every student in mind.

Elementary School Consolidation:
Richard Harding voted against the elementary school consolidation with both his conscience and his heart. Richard time and again cited the lack of preparation of the system for these changes, the lack of parental and community input, and the huge amount of unnecessary disruption in the education of children and the lives of families. Richard believes it is time that the School Committee holds the superintendent and the school department accountable for educating students - children are not the problem. He believes that we have to do a better job of managing its staff and funneling resources directly to the classroom. While he voted against the consolidation, Richard voted to support the $750,000 increase for the schools that were merged. Richard believes it is important for the School Committee and the superintendent to evaluate the consolidation plan in a timely fashion.

Restructuring of the High School:
Richard Harding believes that Cambridge Rindge and Latin should be the best urban public high school in America. He led the charge to remove the past superintendent for her lack of leadership in serving Cambridge's young people at the high school level. Richard is working with the new leadership both at the system level and with the principal to ensure that every student has the balance of supports and motivation to reach their goals. Richard is a staunch supporter of the Rindge School of Technical Arts and the partnerships that ensure a strong vocational future for those students that choose such a path. He believes that the problems go beyond the accreditation issues, and he cites that while the school is on probation students will still receive diplomas, the larger issue that has to be dealt with is that parents and students are losing confidence in the school. Richard wants to rebuild that confidence with results and success for students.

Academic Excellence and Goals for the Cambridge Public Schools:
Richard Harding is working for excellent instruction in every classroom. Richard led the way to make the system accountable for young people's success and ensure that every high school student who failed three classes had the opportunity to attend summer classes. Richard has led the school committee to push for certification of its teachers in the subjects in which they provide instruction. Richard believes that special education students can learn on a high level if they and their families have the resources they need to succeed. While many speak of measures to reduce or lessen the achievement gap, Richard Harding works tirelessly to ensure that all students from every socio-economic background can succeed because he believes we need to close the achievement gap.

  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Meaningful evaluations of all administrators and teachers
  • Establishing learning benchmarks for K-8
  • Restoring the public confidence in the Cambridge Public Schools

School Budget:
The School Committee needs to focus all resources into the classroom to support excellence in instruction and meaningful professional development. The school budget should channel resources that help all principals have the resources needed for academic excellence. The School Committee should work with the administration to cut central administration by at least 20% over the next 2 years. Richard maintains that we must also use as much of our resources as is needed to make sure we have a first class science and math program at the middle and high school levels. Richard believes that we need to assess what is working for students and eliminate those programs that have not worked.

Richard Harding opposes the MCAS as the sole graduation requirement because he believes in high standards without high stakes. Richard is working to ensure every student in the Cambridge Public Schools is offered a rigorous and challenging educational experience that prepares them for their lives. Richard believes we need to look to a broader range of assessment tools and that a student's ability cannot be measured by a single test. Richard stands for high standards beyond the MCAS. Richard Harding supported the motion to allow all students with special needs to receive diplomas if they met the local graduation requirements.

Civic participation:
As chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee, Richard Harding has championed civic engagement and participation. Richard has worked to involve community members by registering residents to vote and encouraging their participation in municipal and local elections. As a School Committee person, Richard knows that civic participation extends far beyond voting. Richard has worked to involve community residents and neighborhood organizations in the political processes that affect their lives. Richard supports strong school councils in every school and embraces parent involvement at every level of school planning. Richard is working to create schools that reach out and encourage parent involvement. Richard believes that schools should help prepare parents to become integral parts of their children's learning experience. To make sure that parents knew enough to make confident and competent decisions about the schools their children attended, Richard insisted that the superintendent provide informational sessions for parents that discussed and presented the pedagogy and curricula of each school in formats that parents could access. Richard wants the Cambridge Public Schools to adopt a user-friendly culture toward working with parents and the public. Richard demands that all relevant information should be readily available to parents and community members so that they can make informed decisions and participate in the process of bettering our school system.

Richard Harding believes in the success of Cambridge's young people. Richard will work hard to ensure that we as a city will have a world-class school system that will provide each individual student with the opportunity to define and reach for their goals and the supports and opportunities to get there. Richard is working to restore confidence in the school system as a whole. One thing on the horizon that Richard believes is critically important to the success of the high school and to making Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School the best urban high school in America is guidance reform that makes this crucial service both accessible and successful for all students.

Cambridge Candidates