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New London's misguided decision to dump Dr. Fischer

By WILLIAM WHITE

Publication: The Day

Published February 16. 2014 4:00AM
Sean D. Elliot The Day
Dr. Nicholas Fischer, then the new superintendent of the New London Public Schools, visits the C.B. Jennings school on the first day of classes in 2009. The city's Board of Education is in the process of replacing Fischer.

The New London school board is making a terrible mistake in replacing Superintendent Nicholas Fischer. I offer this opinion as a former member of the Montville Board of Education, someone who has been through the grinder of budget seasons and search committees.

Education is the new civil rights movement. As such, Dr. Martin Luther King's exhortation to action in the 1960s has an even more urgent currency today. He said then that "Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about things that matter."

What matters in New London is the education of our children. We should ask ourselves:

Where have you been, members of the City Council?

Where have you been, members of the state legislature?

Where have you been, the leadership and members of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut?

Where have you been, members of the Southeast Connecticut Ministerial Alliance and other faith leaders in New London County?

Where have you been Board of Education members?

Where have you been, all of you, when we need you to stand up and publicly support creating outstanding schools for our kids.

Notwithstanding the silence of our leaders, New London, under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Fischer, has made great strides in addressing the inequalities of "zip code" education. Dr. Fischer has converted thought to action and potential to realization.

New London has adopted a literacy standard for graduation.

New London schools have a higher GPA requirement for participating in sports and other extra curricular activities. Do our leaders know that under conference rules it is now possible to be a varsity athlete for four years while achieving six credits less than what is needed to graduate and have a .5714 GPA?

Under Dr. Fischer's leadership, city schools have established one of the best and most respected teacher evaluation systems in the state and are holding teachers accountable.

New London Public Schools have made great strides in closing the so-called "achievement gap" in test scores at the high school.

Dr. Fischer has built a diverse team, with African-Americans and Hispanics as principals and administrators.

Notwithstanding the cat calls of our neighboring districts, and, yes, our own citizens, the commissioner of education has commended our system for its improvement.

By your silence, negative perceptions are allowed to fester.

It is under Dr. Fischer's watch that all of these improvements have been made. Yet our Board of Education is squandering time, energy, tax dollars and momentum by failing to renew his contract at the end of the school year and is instead preparing to replace him. New London schools need continuing structural change, not another knee-jerk reaction by special interests when they don't get their way. New London kids deserve our full commitment to improvements over the long haul.

Where are you, our leaders, our champions for children? Where have you been?

Your silence is deafening.

William White lives in Waterford and works in New London as a convalescent home administrator.

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