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Committee to Elect Piotr Mitros

For excellence in the Cambridge Public School District

CRLS Register Forum News Clippings

Student voices are important. The CRLS Register Forum is the oldest student newspaper in the nation and provides some of those voices.

This is my set of clippings from the Register Forum. I thought I’d share it in case others found it helpful. Please note the summaries are not proof-read and likely contains typos, errors, misreads, exaggerated claims, mistypes, and similar issues. Please treat this page as a resource to the extent it is helpful, but not as a statement of my opinions or my platform. Indeed, I’d go as far to say as I’d suggest thinking of this more as an index or table of contents (click on links for primary sources) than as a summary.

This goes without saying, but the views on this page don’t always represent my own both since they came from students and since it’s really hard to not give the wrong implications in writing without extensive proofreading, especially on the occasional loaded topics.


The Register Forum ran a number of surveys providing data which may help guide policy decisions. These generally did not follow research methodology, so I’d presume large errors, but even data with large errors can be helpful for qualitative guidance (for example, pointing out significant problems):

Student Government

Among my favorite articles we saw the reasons many students ran for student council. As with the school committee, diversity and the achievement gap were the plurality reason for running, followed by dress code, but otherwise, choice quotes from the 2015 candidate profiles and the 2016 ones (pg 2):

On the other hand, actual student government efforts have been more focused on fund-raising and events.

And, of course, there are efforts to reform the school elections.

School Committee

The Register Forum recently started reporting more on school committee meetings, and did a very nice job summarizing them:

There was also some coverage of the past two elections:

Curiously, the CRLS Mission Statement was developed by teachers, a parent (Emily Dexter, pre-election) and a student.


Curriculum was discussed quite a bit.

There was a series of articles on the Common Core and the change from MCAS to PARCC as it pertains to CRLS. The Oct 2013 issue explained the overall change (pg 1, pg 2). There was a critique of how such common standards sometimes failed to meet the individual needs of different students, and some notes about how it moves algebra to later grades and testing online. In 2015, an article (pg 1 pg 2) discussed how the district flip-flopped, and decided not to adopt PARCC. The rationale, as presented in the article, felt rock-solid. Patty Nolan pointed out that the PARCC “is being developed and run by a for-profit company, which may lead to greater costs and less transparency.” We already spend far too much on testing, and the whole point of such testing is increased transparency. Later, Common Core was confused with No Child Left Behind. This was disentangled in another article which pointed out that teachers were universally in favor of Common Core, but opposed to the high-stakes testing which went with it. Despite the coverage, most students knew fairly little about Common Core.

The most major curriculum change the school has been involved in for years now is the move from tracked education to kids in the same classroom receiving differentiated instruction. The level up program moved all freshman English and history kids into the same “honors” classroom. The goal of leveling up is to “decrease the biased, at times capricious, leveling of students,” which is a goal I agree with. The means of accomplishing this goal – teaching all kids the same thing regardless of level or background – seems biased and at times capricious. Students come in with different backgrounds, and some are served better than others. Uniform tracks without proper adaptation of class format mean some kids will get bored (and develop behavioral problems), while others will get left behind. Differentiated instruction works very well, but requires much more than just putting kids in the same classrooms. An English Student in a Math World talks about the issues with this, and how little support is given to kids who want to excel in English. As expected, without a means to do that, the author developed other problems – she concluded that she was “not as smart as [her] peers.”

Of the proposed changes to curriculum, one which came up several times was a required civics course (and there were several similar arguments for philosophy, as well as a range of diversity-related classes, especially in regards to moving history to be less focused on Europe). Another article which jumped out at me, not so much for the proposed course but for the language used to describe it, was on a course on gender theory.

Otherwise, students were saddened by the loss of some courses, spoke of importance of history, twice and its impact, described many of their favorite courses (AP English Language, Foundations of Art, AP Statistics, and AP US History), and encourage others to learn about issues related to Cambridge values.

Of course, adding more to the curriculum may require restructuring the school day. There were discussions about a longer school day, as was debated in 2013, but shot down due to lack of specificity. It was brought up again in 2015, with students generally opposed. Other structural discussions included restructuring vacation breaks, as well as the block schedule.

Underlying curriculum is the purpose of school, which was discussed as well (pg 1 pg 2).

The school has a lead teacher for social-emotional learning, although many educators in CRLS don’t see the value of that.

The Register Forum reported on Mr. Rubin running an illegal class on entrepreneurship at CPSD, with students Nur, Ngo, Scalzi, Watson, Jean-Babtiste, and many others violating CPSD policies against commercial activity (see, for example, page 41 of the Guide to Policies). Indeed, posting this issue of the Register Forum on the school web site (or creating it on school computers) violated this policy since it promoted those illicit businesses.

And one of my favorite articles compared the Chinese and US education systems. It’s helpful to look at such articles with a very open mind; they’re designed to shock, but most school systems have positive and negative aspects. It’s good to tease those apart and learn from each other rather than merely discounting something as being too different. Coincidentally, having taught in China and interacted with entrepreneurs there, I have seen no support for the statement that the Chinese “lack creativity,” although I have seen this result from similarly test-centered school systems in other nations (for example, India).

Student rights

CRLS is monitored by 45 cameras. Of the 69% of students even aware of this surveillance, most seem okay with it. 8% have had their possessions searched on campus. Indeed, most students would rather have more security rather than more privacy, despite reporting already feeling safe.

The Register Forum is in favor of free speech, except in school. An editorial disagreed, and said we shouldn’t have free speech anywhere where such speech might be offensive. Another piece said we should have free speech, although without commenting on that right in the context of school. Fortunately, a 2017 article describes how devastating such mental censorship is in schools, and how without being able to discuss offensive views, it’s impossible to learn to reason critically.


The school adopted Chromebooks in 2013. Overall, 70% of students were satisfied. Most of the rationale was around work-flow improvements. Curiously, there was no discussion about putting in a consumption technology in education – a process fundamentally about construction. There was also little discussion about how these devices impacted student outcomes. The school filters the internet, something students are overwhelmingly supportive of. For the most part, students considered cyberbullying bad, but did not hold social media sites responsible. Students are starting to notice technology can be harmful.


There was a long series on the policy on punishing students for missed attendance. The first of these found that 78% of students thought the policy was unfair, and 19% had a violation. Official school statistics were that 80 students reach AVF each term. There was a belief that the policy disadvantaged students who live far from the school. Finally, the school committee removed even the option to buy back attendance violations, so they resulted in an automatic 10% grade penalty. In 2017, the school committee is toning down this policy, but it still feels unnecessarily punitive.

Dress code

Much of the push for the new dress code came from a series of a long student drive, including no fewer than five articles in the Register, including a balanced 2014 introduction of the issue which pointed out 2-3x as many girls were effected as boys, an opposing piece in 2015, a scathing 2015 piece, a piece expressing that the dress code “sets a precedent that sexual assault is unavoidable and victims are completely responsible”, and a final piece expressing the dress code is among other things, racist.

Curiously, I saw no arguments for a dress code, or about the purposes of a dress code. In many schools, rich kids can buy nicer clothing which directly translates to higher social status. Given RF’s focus on the achievement gap, social justice, and racism, I was surprised no one discussed this issue. Other articles indicated that race and money did correlate with popularity, although I don’t have a feel for the extent to which that’s about clothing, cars, or digital devices. I also saw no substantive discussions on how what is considered appropriate and offensive dress varies between cultures or how that should fit into considerations of designing an inclusive dress code.

Programs and organizations

Standardized tests, accreditation, rankings

School divisions

Many articles talk about the well-explored racial/gender/LGBTQ divides, but other divides are raised as well.

Articles talk about freshman-senior divides, issues facing foreign students in 2014 (pg 1 pg 2) and again in 2017 (which suggest need for better on-boarding and expectation-setting, as well as better support for ESL students), rivalries based on wards and part of the city kids live in. Of course, people talk about stereotyping and superficial diversity as well. The three lunches introduce a different kind of division.

The tracks lead to division as well: “if you take all Honors and AP, you essentially don’t know anyone who doesn’t take those level classes.” Much of this division is racial.

On the race/gender/LGBTQ/ethnic divides, we see them in extracurricular, sports and classes. We have calls for addressing sexism, transgender issues, cultural appropriation, female-dominance of the feminist movement, keeping affirmative action, and so on.

Curiously, despite the push for integration, the school continues to support prestige clubs such as the National Honor Society


An article pointed out the Cambridge Bubble makes people unfit to operate outside of Cambridge. The sentiment around needing to “have to teach my beliefs” is almost identical to that expressed by some Christians I’ve interacted with in the south, albeit with a very different set of values which must be taught.

There was a fair bit of coverage of the 2014 walk-out (pg 1 pg 2). An article points out that protests work, but not on their own. Missing from the article is that for protests to work, they must be visible to people who don’t already agree with you, and visible in a positive way. My take on many protests is summarized in this video.

Physical school environment

Students called for standing desks. They praised how the school renovation helped the arts program. They asked for different bell sounds for different lunches.

Cambridge Education Association

An article gave an overview of teachers’ unions nationwide. In 2014, the contract negotiations became a little bit heated (pg 1 pg 2). I’m still trying to figure out the major points of contention.

What is clear is that the CEA, and Cambridge Teachers, operate differently from most unions. This is backed by data. The majority of CRLS teachers have reservations about the professional tenure system. The linked article was one of the strongest articles I’ve read in the Register Forum, and well worth reading beyond the soundbite summary.


Hellos, farewells, and similar

These give a bit of idea of student sentiment, but aside from the first one, little substance:

State and national school politics

There was much discussion about national politics, most unrelated to education, but there were some discussions about declining rates of voting among students, unfortunately, without a survey of CRLS, voter registration, and similar. In addition, there was an editorial against charter schools. And, I am extremely sorry to have missed what appears to have been an exceptionally fascinating show.