Nancy Tauber

Nancy Tauber
2011 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
137 Chestnut St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Contact information:
Tel: 617-576-7977

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Committee to Elect Nancy Tauber
Mail your checks to 137 Chestnut St. Cambridge, MA 02139
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Thank you for visiting this website to learn more about my work and accomplishments on the School Committee.

This coming School Committee election is important. I am seeking re-election for a third term because the Cambridge Public Schools need leaders who are committed to our public school education and understand the role of the School Committee. I believe I am uniquely qualified because I have worked on the School Committee and I have been a middle school teacher working with students in the classroom.

At this important time of transition in our schools, my qualifications position me as an experienced advocate for our students, teachers and families. I also believe the School Committee is stronger with my teaching experience, my understanding of Cambridge, and my ability and dedication to collaborate, listen, learn and make decisions for the betterment of our children.

There is much on the School Committee's agenda to help improve our public schools, and I hope to continue my service to the wonderful children, families and educators that make up our vibrant public school community.

It has been an honor serving on the Cambridge School Committee, and I hope that you will give me your #1 VOTE on November 8th.

I have lived in Cambridge since 1994. My husband, Tony, and our sons, Isaac and Jonah are proud to be part of this community and call it our home. We chose the Cambridge Public Schools for our sons because we believe public schools are one of the best places where people can learn to live and work together. All children must have the opportunities to be educated and learn to be caring citizens prepared for future success.

I grew up in Connecticut, earned a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a M.A. in Teaching from Simmons College, after which I spent twelve years teaching middle school social studies in the Newton Public Schools. During that time, I served as a member of the Teacher Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves, an internationally recognized curriculum for teaching tolerance; a Team Leader and Department Chair at Day Junior High School and Bigelow Middle School, where I helped develop benchmarks for middle school social studies; and was a mentor for new teachers and student teachers. When my children started public school, I became an active volunteer in their preschools and elementary schools. I served as Co-Chair of the Graham and Parks Steering Committee (School Council) for four years, and I have been a member of the School Committee for two terms.

Top Priorities:

  • Academic Success for Every Student
  • Successful Implementation of the Innovation Agenda

Academic Success
In order to accomplish our goals of accelerated learning and closing the opportunity and achievement gaps, we must insist on the most caring and highest quality teachers, supportive and strong leaders, and academic success for every student. Our children must be challenged with enriching and engaging curriculum in safe, nurturing and healthy schools to best prepare them for future learning and life success.

In order to achieve these ambitious goals, we must insist that all CPS principals, teachers and staff are held accountable to established standards and have the support and supervision necessary to achieve their own professional best.

Successful Implementation of the Innovation Agenda
Having taught middle school social studies in the public schools for twelve years, I know how much kids at this age can do when they are provided with support, engaging curriculum, and encouragement. When presented with an opportunity to study a topic in depth and connect it to their world, their potential for learning is limitless. This age group is capable of so much; therefore, we must have the highest expectations of them, as well as ourselves. All our middle school students deserve an enriching and engaging academic and social experience that prepares them to excel in high school and beyond.

The Innovation Agenda provides an excellent opportunity to create an improved learning and teaching environment for our middle-grade students, teachers, staff administrators, and community members. With the Innovation Agenda, we will get another opportunity to really get to know your kids and for them to get to know one another before they launch into the high school.

As a successful collaborator on the School Committee with middle school experience and an understanding of the issues, challenges, and opportunities that are unique to Cambridge; I will continue to:

  • Ensure that our Upper School Campuses will be learning environments where every student is known, nurtured and challenged, as well as given the opportunity to grow and gain independence by a talented and caring staff;
  • Empower our teachers and provide them with the time and resources to collaborate and design high quality Upper School Campuses based on their collective expertise;
  • Support educational leadership at the middle school level for the first time in our city's history;
  • Foster meaningful family engagement;
  • Be an advocate for equity;
  • Hold our Superintendent and his team accountable to the benchmarks we have set;
  • Responsibly manage the budget;
  • Demand that all changes meet our high expectations.

School Department Budget, Administration and Superintendent
I am proud of my work as a Budget Co-Chair for the FY2010 budget and a member of the Budget Committee for the past 4 budget cycles. It is important that the School Committee works closely with the administration on a thoughtful, transparent and inclusive budget process, and during my time on the Committee we have worked hard to make the process more open and transparent, as well as create a budget document that is more user-friendly. When constituents know how dollars are being allocated, then we can work together to ensure sound expenditures will improve achievement for all our students.

Cutting millions of dollars from any budget causes a great deal of frustration and divisiveness within a community; however, we must be prepared and willing to prioritize and work together. If re-elected, I promise to push for this type of communication and collaboration to continue.

We need to make sure that the school budget remains focused directly on improving teaching and learning. We need to spend money where it will have the most impact - the classroom.

School Department Administration-Superintendent-Role of the School Committee
The role of the School Committee is to achieve real school improvement by developing a clear and compelling vision with the administration, which must be clearly communicated so that everyone understands the expectations and criteria for evaluation. The School Committee is then responsible for holding the Superintendent accountable for making sure the vision becomes a reality, as well as adopting a budget and supporting policies that ensure we reach our goals. Divisive politics, micromanaging and personality conflicts have no place in an effective school system.

I believe the leadership of any organization sets the tone that makes the organization successful. For sustained progress in the schools, the School Committee must be a positive force for change, develop shared priorities, and work collaboratively to ensure an excellent education for all.

I will continue to listen with an open mind, do my best to understand the issues, and respond to the diverse families of Cambridge. As a former public school teacher, I am a vigorous ambassador for public education. As a parent of two children, I am sensitive to the diverse needs of all learners and know how to work within the system for the community. As a member of the Cambridge School Committee, I know how to work for the system that serves the community.

Enrichment Programs
One of the goals of the Innovation Agenda is to establish consistent start and end times for the 4 Upper School Campuses creating unprecedented opportunities for out-of-school time programming for middle-grade students. For the first time, 6th, 7th and 8th graders from across Cambridge will be able to come together for academic, athletic, artistic, and community service activities. We will have the capacity to develop and offer a more diverse set of high quality enrichment activities.

This goal came from the strategic plan developed by the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Services, which I chaired along with City Councillor Sam Seidel. The Shared Youth, Shared Strategies plan seeks to unite city agencies, schools and community partners to greatly enhance out-of-school-time opportunities for middle school youth and families across the city.

The Shared Youth, Shared Strategies plan begins with and builds from a single citywide strategic goal:
To ensure broad participation of Cambridge middle school youth in quality out-of-school-time experiences that fosters both their present and future learning and life success.

This strategic plan has provided Dr. Young, the School Committee and the CPS administration and teachers with valuable information that will help us while we are implementing the Innovation Agenda. We need to be creative and develop innovative models to help our young people acquire the necessary skills to succeed in the 21st century.

No system can do it alone, and it is important that the School Committee and City Council continue to collaborate and communicate with each other. I am extremely proud of the work Sam and I have done to foster this relationship between the elected officials of Cambridge. However, the Shared Youth, Shared Strategies plan is only a start, and if re-elected, I promise to continue leading the effort to accomplish our goal and continue to put the plan into action.

Teachers do not go into education to follow a script or administer a series of tests. It is my experience and observation that students will learn much more if they are engaged, challenged, and invested in the curriculum with strong and well-supported teachers. Our administrators need to make sure our teachers have the time and resources necessary to incorporate creativity, alternatives, and enrichment into their classroom curriculum, where our children participate in a dynamic learning environment and thus a higher quality education. The School Committee must establish policies and adopt a budget that reflects this vision, as well as hold the Superintendent accountable for achieving these collective goals.

Special Education
The success of the Inclusion model – special needs children integrated whenever possible into regular classrooms – relies on informed and responsive classroom teachers and specialists. Classroom teachers and specialists must communicate and collaborate to best meet the needs of any given individual student. They must also be trained, evaluated and know exactly what services their students need, along with the requirements on every single IEP. We need to make sure families, teachers, and administrators are working as a team to help students achieve their full potential. The quality of our services must be proactive instead of defensive and reactive.

Teacher Evaluations and Performance Measures
The most important part of any school is its teachers. Excellent teachers need meaningful professional development, useful evaluations, and supportive teaching environments. They also need many opportunities and time to share best practices with colleagues.

All over Massachusetts, including Cambridge, teachers are retiring and leaving the profession. Especially now, the Cambridge Public Schools need to be proactive in retaining teachers and hiring excellent new teachers from diverse backgrounds. The best way to keep new teachers is to provide them with helpful and supportive mentors. Teaching can be isolating; therefore, we need to continue striving for a structure that provides time for teachers to collaborate and learn from each other.

Excellent teachers love teaching, have high expectations for their students, and believe all kids can achieve academic success. They build safe and respectful classroom communities and work well with students, families, administrators, and other colleagues. This is a challenging task, which is why our teachers deserve expert supervision, meaningful feedback, appreciation and respect. Teachers need to know their strengths and work with other professionals to grow and improve. Administrators must understand what constitutes superior teaching practices, and they need the time to complete their evaluations and have the support to make tough decisions when necessary. Fortunately, we have a very good working relationship with the Cambridge Teacher's Association, and as a member of the School Committee I will continue to support that relationship.

School Climate
The good news is Cambridge has small schools, so teachers can get to know their students individually, culturally, developmentally and academically. It is the responsibility of the adults to make sure that kids are respectful and respected in the classroom, as well as in the hallways, bathrooms, playgrounds and cafeterias. Every adult in the building should take responsibility for every child in the school. This effort must be a priority for the entire community – teachers, administrators, families and students. It is with great pride that I am a member of a school committee that adopted a system-wide goal that ensures a safe, nurturing and healthy school environment.

Research shows that safe schools help students achieve more academically and have better social skills. Also, teachers are more effective and offer higher quality instruction, and all children feel part of a community and more positive about school. Over the past several years, more and more teachers have been trained in Developmental Design and Responsive Classroom (Professional development that offers a variety of strategies designed to keep students safe, connected, responsible, and engaged in learning.) These programs have received positive feedback, and we need to continue monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness. We also need to continue to identify places in the required curriculum where social and emotional skills can be taught. It is hard work, but it needs to be done.

As the member of the city's Healthy Children Task Force, a coalition devoted to promoting children's health in Cambridge, I have seen how this task force uses prevention strategies and existing community resources to enhance and link programs in areas such as mental health, physical health, and violence prevention. I am also the School Committee representative to the Kids' Council, a board dedicated to improving the quality of life for our city's children, youth and their families through making policy recommendations and setting up programs and services. In these difficult economic times, I will continue to advocate for strengthening the partnership between the schools and the work of the Healthy Children Task Force and the Kids' Council, as well as continue to support prevention and intervention programs that help our students stay or get healthy (mentally and physically). If you come to school sick, scared, tired, abused, hungry, or depressed, you will not be able to succeed. The community needs to support the "whole child and family" both in and out of school.

Family Engagement
It is important that every school and the school system as a whole continues to work diligently to figure out ways to outreach to families in a meaningful way, especially families who are not engaged or connected to the schools and their children's education. The school department has begun working with the city's Community Engagement Team and Karen Mapp (author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/school Partnerships). There is a direct correlation between family involvement in schools and academic achievement, and I will continue to support policies and funding necessary to increase family engagement.

Controlled Choice and Student Assignment Policies
One of the strengths of the Cambridge Public School System is that controlled choice allows families' access to twelve unique elementary schools in Cambridge. Equally important is that there be consistency and commonality between these twelve learning communities. I will advocate maintaining a balance between a unified school system and individual identities for each of our twelve elementary schools. To insure excellence for our children, we need a balance of these two.

However, we are faced with many challenges because of our Controlled Choice Policy. We are a community that values both diversity and choice. Yet we often face a dilemma because when families are given a choice as to what school they want their children to attend, the results are all too often schools that are not diverse. We have to address these very important and sensitive issues. Here are just a few:

  • Some of our schools are under-chosen;
  • Too many families are either forced to choose a mandatory placement or leave the Cambridge Public Schools;
  • Several schools have open seats for paying lunch students and a waiting list for free and reduced lunch students, while other schools have open seats for free and reduced lunch students and a waiting list for paying lunch students;
  • There might be a socio-economic balance in the lower grades of our elementary schools, but there is less diversity in the upper grades.
  • We have dual language immersion programs (Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish), and we must figure out how to support these programs.

It is important that the next School Committee continue to work with the administration to tackle these complicated issues. Our system of choice is challenging, complicated and messy, but we do have to address these very important and sensitive issues and focus on high quality economically integrated schools.

MCAS and Measuring Student Achievement
Test scores don't tell the whole story, and many highly esteemed educators have spoken out against the limitations of test scores as adequate measures of learning. Students should be able to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of skills through creative writing, poetry, essay writing, art projects, public speaking, drama, and music. We need to foster other ways of assessing our children that incorporate the multiple intelligences and prepare them for a world which sorely needs problem solvers, collaborators, critical thinkers, and creative people.

Enrollment and the Marketing of Public Schools vs. Charter Schools and Private
It is really upsetting that public schools have to spend time and money on marketing. We should be focusing all our energy and resources on educating our children. However, the reality is many families in Cambridge are choosing charter schools, private schools, parochial schools and home-schooling, and we have to do whatever it takes to continually improve our schools. I believe in order to make our schools attractive to more Cambridge families, we have to let the community know about our successes, share our best practices with each other, and learn from other public schools, as well as charters, home-schoolers, private and parochial schools.

Dana Park - Sept 9, 2007

Candidate's 2009 responses     Candidate's 2007 responses

CCTV candidate video (2011)

Page last updated Friday, September 30, 2011 3:45 PM Cambridge Candidates