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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . Study after study has shown that the Cambridge Public School systems staffs its supervisory and administrative positions at rates of two or more times the State average . . .
PASTE studies document excessive Cambridge Public School overhead
Study after study has shown that the Cambridge Public School systems staffs its supervisory and administrative positions at rates of two or more times the State average. Many people argue that by reallocating these excess positions to direct classroom support, Cambridge Public Schools would do a better job of educating all of its students. The extensive studies detailing these staffing issues, called PASTE for short, is available at Cambridgepublic.us.
In his most recent budget presentation, CPS Superintendent Dr. Fowler-Finn provided some vague comparisons between Cambridge and Newton, Somerville and, primarily, Brookline. Based on these comparisons, Dr. Fowler-Finn argued that Cambridge is not, in fact, disproportionately staffed in these areas and that we are gettting resources into the classroom at an enviable rate. The citizen-produced PASTE studies were interesting but no longer accurate. As the Superintendent explained later on, well-meaning and "innocent" parents can easily get confused by the reporting practices associated with Department of Education's data collection tools. In short, he argued, CPS was doing things correctly and those of us who continue to raise the issue of CPS' overly-staffed supervisory and administrative positions are wrong.
The discrepancies between the incredibly detailed PASTE staffing analyses and what Dr. Fowler-Finn has made public are huge. I, like many others concerned about our public schools, can't claim to understand all the numbers perfectly, and when I hear Dr. Fowler-Finn speak, he makes sense. Yet, when I look at the PASTE studies, they are even more compelling. There is absolutely no way that both arguments can be correct.
For reasons he has not yet divulged, Dr. Fowler-Finn has consistently refused to engage in a meaningful discussion with PASTE supporters, instead using the Bully Pulpit of his position as CPS Superintendent to say the PASTE is wrong and he is right. Unfortunately for CPS, and all of us associated with the public schools, this issue cannot be addressed in such a simplistic manner. The PASTE studies are so compelling that, until CPS has done a much more thorough job of dispelling these studies, many of us will continue to push for CPS to incorporate the PASTE conclusions into its overall management program.
Dr. Fowler-Finn should set up a committee made up of his staffing and financial officers, teachers union representatives, parents/guardians of CPS students and, very importantly, a few people who can intelligently analyze and explain the PASTE studies. This committee should be set up immediately and meet publicly, with all supporting data made available via the CPS website. Only by implementing such an open, honest and focused dialogue on this issue, and implementing the suggestions the committee might come up with, will Dr. Fowler-Finn be able to convince many in the CPS community that Cambridge Public Schools does, in fact, have teaching our children as its first priority.