Earlier this week Bill Cibes, a former state legislator, gubernatorial candidate, Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and Chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, wrote a letter to ConnCAN resigning from ConnCAN’s Advisory Board and instructing them to remove his name from their website. (For background take a look at Tuesday’s Wait, What post)
Mr. Riccards, ConnCAN’s CEO, must have received the letter because Bill’s name is no longer listed on the ConnCAN site.
Bill wrote that he was resigning because he “does not agree with many of the actions and positions recently undertaken by ConnCAN.”
Even more importantly, Bill outlined what he did believe. He wrote;
“I do not believe that public schools are hindered by collective bargaining from becoming great.
I do not believe that public schools are hindered by a properly structured tenure system from becoming great.
And while everyone must focus on improving outcomes, there must be a fair way to measure and compare outcomes for students coming from wildly disparate situations.”
Bill went on to put into words what we all know is the truth. He wrote “student and community poverty create huge obstacles to student achievement. Segregation (by race, by wealth, by language) creates huge obstacles to student achievement. Until we focus on diminishing and then eliminating poverty and segregation, those who are caught in its tentacles – including students, school systems, and cities – face barriers that simplistic “solutions” cannot easily overcome.”
And in conclusion, Bill ended his letter with a statement that should become the rallying cry for all of us who support and believe in the vital role that is played by American public education.
Bill wrote, “great public schools require adequate funding. Great public schools require great leadership. Great public schools require well-trained, motivated and motivational teachers. Great public schools demand great effort by their students. But public schools cannot achieve greatness if they are subject to vilification, rather than support.”
We all recognize that these are dark times for public education.
Corporate reformers are running roughshod over our school and the people who devote their professional careers to providing our children with the knowledge and skills to compete in an every increasingly complex and difficult world.
A day doesn’t go by that we don’t find another example of someone, in the name of reform, seeking to make money at the expense of the students, parents, teachers and communities that are on the front line of confronting the challenges created by poverty and language barriers.
In every great effort through history there has been an event or series of events that changed the course of the entire battle. The battles of Marathon, Waterloo and Gettysburg are just a few examples. I believe that Bill Cibes’ decision to step forward and speak out about the activities of the “corporate education reformers” and their on-going efforts to destroy our public system of education is part of a bigger and broader movement that can turn the tide in this battle.
I have known Bill Cibes for more than 33 years. Bill has proven more times that I can count that one person can make a fundamental impact in our society.
I had the honor of serving as Bill’s campaign manager when he ran for Governor in Connecticut. This would be a far better state if he had won, but his primary goal in that campaign was to re-position the public debate about the need to institute a fairer system of taxation in Connecticut. His campaign, followed by his service as Governor Weicker’s Secretary of OPM was the pivotal development that led to the adoption of a state income tax. Had the governors and OPM secretaries that followed not worked to undermine Connecticut’s tax programs, Connecticut would now be in far better economic shape and would certainly not have the budget problems it faces today.
Bill Cibes made a fundamental difference then and does so now when he tells ConnCAN and the other “corporate education reformers” that we will not back down in our commitment and dedication to protect what is right about public education while we seek to develop and implement policies that make a real, honest and positive impact on the quality of education in our state.
Thank you Bill for speaking up.