Melanie McLaughlin candidate for re-election to the school committee
MEDFORD, MA – School committee member Melanie McLaughlin announced her campaign for re-election on Tuesday. McLaughlin is a documentary filmmaker, education and disability rights advocate, and a member of the Federation for Children with Special Needs and the Suffolk District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Working Group.
She is the mother of two Medford High School graduates and a seventh grade student in public schools.
Read McLaughlin’s campaign ad below:
I am happy to announce my campaign for re-election as a member of the Medford School Committee. I continue to uphold my values of ensuring the safety of every child, excellence and access to a high quality curriculum; thoughtful communication and family engagement; and the need for equity, accessibility, diversity and inclusion in our schools.
“I believe when we can meet the needs of our most vulnerable students, then every student can be successful.”
MAIN FIRST TERM ACHIEVEMENTS: Some initiatives that I have helped put in place during my two-year tenure include:
Strategic plan: Collaborated with the Superintendent and his colleagues to establish a strategic plan for Medford Public Schools.
Universal Security Committee: I am a founding member of the Universal Security Committee. This year, we distributed safety kits to teachers and emergency preparedness backpacks to the community. We meet monthly in committee and quarterly with directors and central administration to ensure communication and collaboration between districts.
Family and community involvement: I initiated Medford’s participation in a statewide family and community engagement audit with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Medford was one of six districts in the state to pilot this program. I have also worked with students to produce a monthly talk show as part of our cable access program. During the pandemic, I especially enjoyed the number of community members who joined my listening sessions and office hours to share their concerns, and those who called by phone or emailed to share their personal experience. . Together, we forged relationships to improve our schools for our most valuable asset – our children.
Professional development: I introduced human rights to our staff and our students. I have worked with administration and our Special Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) to ensure continuing professional development points for staff. I have requested the publication of annual reports on the professional development offered to our staff.
Equity, diversity and inclusion: As chair of the Behavioral Health and Special Education subcommittee, equity, diversity and inclusion are my top priorities. I have worked with the student-run CCSR group to support LGBTQI rights and build friendships. I advocated for a disability awareness program, access for teachers and families to shared adapted materials and accessibility for all learners. I worked with the English Learner (EL) department to develop a Parent Advisory Council. I advocated for an inclusive name change for Missituk Elementary School. As a member of our Rules, Policy and Fairness subcommittee, I have worked to establish a more inclusive school calendar recognizing religious holidays in our various
Student Council. I advocated for the translation of school materials and started captioning as part of our regular Zoom meetings, and had campaign material translated.
Adapting to COVID-19: Even if I had predicted that there would be a learning curve during my first term, no one would have predicted the particular challenges that the pandemic has brought. As elected representatives, we strived to create a whole new education system that would balance deadly safety considerations with our students’ need to continue to receive excellent and appropriate public education. I have worked closely with headquarters, teachers, staff and families through community roundtables and a reopening task force to create models of distance, in-person and hybrid education.
OBJECTIVES FOR 2022-2024
It is an exciting time for Medford Public Schools. For the first time in decades, we have a brand new central administration team. We have additional federal funding to meet long-term needs, such as investments in professional development, co-teaching models for enhanced inclusive practice, and strategies to embed equity into operational and system practices. We got things done by closing the achievement gaps, disproportion in discipline, equitable access to transportation and school meals, and improving diversity within our middle schools. And there is still a lot of work to be done. Some of my commitments for the next term include:
Strategic Plan for Medford High School: We need a clear plan for the future of the Medford High School / Medford Technical Vocational High School building. Prior to the pandemic, a vision committee was formed to examine options and costs to repair, restore or replace our current high school. I will ensure that there is a diverse representation on the re-established MHS / MVTHS Vision Committee to include input from family, staff, students and the community on a clear plan, identifying funding for the plan and a schedule for carrying out the plan.
Program : I am committed to ensuring a high quality and stimulating curriculum for every child, accessible and differentiated for all learners, with continuous professional development for staff on universal design for learning and best practices in learning. inclusive education.
Social / emotional needs: We need to focus on the social / emotional needs of our students and families. Anxiety and depression are big concerns for our students, especially as we return to school after the pandemic. I will work on equitable access to before and after school programs and clubs, access to sports and recreation, best practices for trauma-sensitive schools, and building friendships between diverse groups of students.
Equity, diversity and inclusion: The importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in our schools will remain at the center of my work. I will actively educate our diverse communities to ensure culturally appropriate schools and increased public access to meetings. I will work to ensure equitable access to resources between our schools and fight against the disproportion between our schools. I will support and strengthen the Superintendent’s initiative to hire and support various staff in all schools.
I am the parent of three children, two recent MHS graduates and a seventh grader. My experience in advocating for children began in my own childhood, when at age 13 I left an abusive home and applied to the court to become a ward of the state. Extended family, teachers and mentors have helped me guide and shape my commitment to social justice; I agree to pay this in advance. After graduating from Fitchburg State College, I worked as a documentary filmmaker at WGBH and several national networks, then produced and directed award-winning films advocating for child safety. After the birth of our third child, I became a disability rights advocate with the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston and Boston Children’s Hospital. While earning a Masters in Educational Policy and Management at Harvard, I worked at Somerville Public Schools as an equity coach helping identify implicit and explicit biases, and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in as a lecturer for a course on implementing Inclusive Education. Currently I sit on the Board of Directors of the Federation for Children with Special Needs and as a representative of the Suffolk District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Working Group.
I believe that when we can meet the needs of our most vulnerable students, then every student can be successful. My life’s work has been standing up for every child. I humbly ask for your vote to continue serving the children and families of Medford on our school committee. Please watch https://melanie4medford.net to learn more about my achievements, my priorities and my background. Thanks for your consideration.