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Letter: Noted Republican Weighs In on School Board

GREENWICH, Conn. – Here is a letter from a former Republican Town Committee chairman in Greenwich, John Raben, about the Board of Education election:

To the editor:

Two former Board of Education chairmen have weighed in on this year's BOE election. During the time I was chairman of the Republican Town Committee , I had the opportunity to interact with each former chairman. Voters should evaluate their judgment before accepting their BOE election recommendations.

Nancy Weissler told me she was delighted at the selection of Betty Sternberg as schools superintendent. Choosing an ideologue who had never run a school, no less a school system, was a doomed experiment that reveals both lack of judgment and due diligence by the then BOE membership, which also included Steve Anderson , current BOE chairman.

While chairman, Sandy Waters introduced a gag rule prohibiting BOE members from publicly disagreeing with board decisions, however ill considered. (Needless to say, the town attorney later invalidated this illegal rule.) Leave aside for a moment the arrogance of elected officials attempting to silence other elected officials, what it truly reveals is the rigid mindset of the schools "establishment." And it was on Ms. Waters' watch that an agreement was signed without any public discussion to have Greenwich students participate in a Stamford interdistrict magnet school, much in the same way that her protégé Mr. Anderson signed IB documents without his fellow board members' and the public's knowledge. And this same protégé recently attempted to resuscitate the repudiated gag rule with a "Code of Conduct."

The attempt to stifle dissent, and the presumption by the schools "establishment" that it is acceptable for our elected BOE members to make decisions behind closed doors without public input, have no doubt contributed greatly to the declining recent performance of our school system.

We cannot sit idly by in this election, and be bullied by the very establishment that has brought us indefensible results and successive failed superintendencies. The entire town will benefit from more, not less, public discussion of BOE decisions so that the problems the school system faces and the proposed solutions are thoroughly and responsibly vetted. This election comes at a critical time for our schools - the same old business as usual recommendations of the schools "establishment" are unacceptable.

John Raben, former Greenwich Republican Town Committee chairman

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