I’m Piotr Mitros, and I’m running for your Cambridge School Committee.
Why I am running
The Cambridge School District is performing greatly below its potential. We spend $27,569 per student – more than double the national average and the fourth highest in the state. We have connections to top education programs at schools such as MIT, Harvard, Lesley, and Tufts. We have some of the greatest teachers in Massachusetts. However, we still have several failing schools. Many richer parents are choosing to leave the district, either for the suburbs or private schools, while many poorer children are failing basic math and literacy exams. We know how to solve these problems. We’ve solved these problems in many places, and in many different ways. I’ve personally lead many projects which have lead to tremendous learning gains, both for disadvantaged and advantaged students worldwide.
In short, I think we can do better. I have the experience closing outcome gaps, in helping students succeed, and in helping organizations perform at a very high level across a range of settings. I’d like to bring that experience to improve your schools.
I’m also the proud father of a child entering CPSD, and I’ve already seen several things which have concerned me. Making positive change happen quickly is an absolute top priority for me. That’s why I’m running.
What you can do to help
First, you can talk to me or email me. I’d be interested in your thoughts about how we can make the school district better.
Second, you can donate to my campaign, help spread the word, and remember to vote in November. Local elections are surprisingly expensive (consider the cost of even a single mailing to the about 50,000 registered voters, or even just the 13,000 active voters)
Finally, you can join my committee and help the campaign as a volunteer.
- Chief Scientist of edX. I served for over a half-decade as the Chief Scientist of an MIT-Harvard organization designed to broadly improve the quality of and reduce the cost of university education worldwide. ( Read more )
- Teaching experience across diverse cultures. I have experience in education across a diverse range of cultures, ranging from China to Nigeria to Jordan and in many international projects in even more nations. There are effective practices for serving culturally diverse populations worldwide which aren’t being applied in CPSD which I would like to bring back to CPSD.
- Experience with constructivist learning. I have been involved in a range of experiments around project-based and group learning, both in-person and online.
- Policy experience. I have served on policy-guiding bodies through the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and for the European Commission. I served as an expert on issues concerning privacy, uses/misuses of assessment, as well as the use of big data in education.
- Business experience. I was a co-founder or key early employee at three new organizations, all of which crossed the $100 million mark. I want to bring that organizational experience back to help empower and support teachers, students, and parents to improve our school system.
- Academic experience. I hold BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees, all from MIT. My academic lineage includes educators such as Jerry Sussman and Seymour Papert. ( Read more )
- I am a CPSD parent and have been a resident of Cambridge for most of my life.
I’ve seen good ideas and bad ideas in educational systems all around the world, and in diverse educational research communities. I would like to work to integrate these to make our school system better.
- Bottom-up innovation. Progress ought to come from students, parents, researchers, and teachers. See my plan for empowering students, teachers, and parents.
- Effective, transparent management. While I’ve been impressed with most individuals in the district, the overall organizational dynamics connecting those individuals are broken. I’d like to streamline and fix many of the organizational processes to have the district function like a modern, transparent, easy-to-engage-with, digitally-enabled organization. See my plan for streamlining processes.
- Time in classrooms. Strategic vision and guidance ought to be guided by concrete reality. I’ve spent time in CPSD classrooms, and if elected, I commit to spending at least one full day every two weeks in classrooms, observing what happens.
- Evidence-based education. Over the past few decades, we’ve distilled tremendous numbers of theories about what works in education to a rigorous, scientifically-validated understanding of what helps students learn and how much. It’s a place I’m considered a world expert, and I’d like to bring that to the district. ( Read more )
- Building a culture of excellence. I believe every student and teacher in the district should not just succeed, but excel. We have the resources to do that. We just don’t have the culture. Excellence comes from having students engage, in-depth, with areas of interest and excel in those areas. That’s key to supporting diversity and leads to passing of basic math and literacy exams as a side-effect. ( Read more )
A few more thoughts
- I did a quick analysis of the gap in outcomes between low-income and non-low income students in CPSD. Did you know one of our schools has no gap?
Ideas I support, but not in my platform
These are things I believe in, will work towards, but which may be out of school committee control:
- Universal pre-K. We might not be able to do this without city council, but we do have the power to do a better job of engaging pre-K parents before they enter the school district.
- Longer elected terms. So school committee members can get work done, rather than constantly competing and campaigning
- Longer school days. Both why this makes sense and why this is hard requires wading through piles of state regulations and organizational constraints.
Helping Cambridge (even you don’t vote for me)
My hope is that having learned a lesson from the recent kerfuffle in national politics, we can work together to make sure we avoid similar ones in local politics. Even if you don’t vote for me, please educate yourself about the candidates, vote, and especially encourage others to do so as well. Anything you can do – work mailing lists, social mailing lists, or otherwise – to drive people to be knowledgeable and involved – will help make Cambridge a better city.