“Nadya believes that it is a fundamental right to have access to education, and views it as the pathway to freedom and progress. She feels especially blessed to have had family values that prioritized education above all else, and understands the tremendous opportunities made simply available by equitable access to education.”
-Chelsea Vuong, Finance Director
Especially in families without the access to early child-care and development programs, children are entering kindergarten without knowing the alphabet or how to count. By this age, the difference in vocabulary between students with pre-kindergarten education and without can be well beyond thousands of words. I support finding and creating early child-care solutions for low-income families, and fostering learning experiences, especially in literacy, before they enter their first year of school. By working with the School Committee, we can fight for more classrooms, less waitlists, and greater financial aid for low-income families.
Families should not be penalized for having to work tirelessly. Some families may be able to afford high-end child-care facilities, or can afford to have a parent stay home to care for their children; however, the reality is that many families cannot afford these same programs. The growing wealth gap that exists within the community must not affect a child’s ability to learn. By providing equal education to children, we can work towards closing the gap in generations to come.
Through my accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom, I have come to believe in the power of learning through experience in the real-world. Whether this be early employment opportunities, tutoring, access to technology, internships, athletics, after-school programs, or leadership workshops, I am committed to working with universities and businesses to continue providing learning for Cambridge students away from the classroom. I want to work with Human Services on comprehensive solutions to compiling opportunities and available programs financially accessible to Cambridge youth. In recognition of the wide range of interests and career industries that exist, I want to work with university affiliates to create more programs similar to The Possible Project but in the fields of healthcare and medicine, business and finance, arts and communications, education, public service, and more.
equality in schools
Cambridge is home to some of America’s wealthiest families, but also home to pockets of poverty. In our public schools, 28.4% are labeled as economically disadvantaged by enrollment. When including eligible students that are not enrolled and students whose families make under $55,000 annually, roughly 45% of Cambridge public school students are low-income. However, I want to work towards making sure that this socioeconomic inequality does not hinder educational, extracurricular, and social experiences in schools. This goal trickles into combatting any sort of racial or gender inequality as well.
In middle income neighborhoods, the ratio is 13 books per child while in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one book for every 300 children. To help offset socioeconomic advantages in education, I will work to create a city-wide book exchange for low-income students to have access to books.
In addition to books, access to computers can also serve as another disadvantage for low-income students, especially with the importance of technology in the 21st century. I support the “one-to-one” technology initiative that provides Chromebook laptops to 9th and 10th grade classrooms. The total cost, $20,000, is equivalent to one full-time staff member. Therefore, I believe in working with the School Committee Budget to invest in more technology. From early development, to graduation day, it is vital for our community that children receive equal opportunities within school. It is unfair to hold students to the same standard if some lack access to technology at home. Technology not only aids students in learning and developing useful skills but also eases instruction for teachers. By providing the same resources, such as books, technology, and other tools, to all students, we can work towards leading children of all backgrounds to success.
post high-school opportunities
I want to help ensure that young people have plans after graduating high school, regardless of whether or not students attain higher education. I support all initiatives that create opportunities for college counseling in which there is potential to work with current undergraduate students and networks. However, I also support empowering young people through work programs, job trainings, and employment searches. It is important that we offer opportunities for both college opportunities and also trade school. We need to help the community address the multiple pathways that exist for attaining a stable, sustainable job. I support success for the future of all children, regardless of the path they take.
Support for underprivileged students
I value diversity in schools because I see the importance of having teachers, mentors, and role models who look like you and are relatable on more personal and cultural levels. In the 2014-2016 School Improvement Plans for Cambridge Public Schools, one of the five strategic objectives was to “Develop greater capacity to enhance achievement of African, American, Latino, Low Income, Students with Disabilities, and English Language Learners.” To further increase MCAS performance levels, graduation rate, college enrollment, and AP level course enrollment of these underprivileged groups, I want to implement guidance counseling and mentorship programs with underprivileged students and university students. Although Cambridge’s College Success Initiative supports CRLS graduates on transitioning to attending UMass Boston, college preparation should begin much earlier in elementary school through conversation, information sessions, and counseling.