Last week Andrew Mulvihill was elected Vice President of the New Jersey State Board of Education, with Kathy Goldenberg as President. He shared with me his remarks upon his election, prefacing them by noting that he is “looking forward to a fresh, new approach to how the board operates. With what limited power we do have I plan on pursuing an agenda that focuses on standards and accountability because that’s what’s best for New Jersey students.” Here are his remarks.
Thank you for the honor to serve as your Vice President
I will do all I can to assist President Kathy Goldenberg in her well-deserved leadership role as President of this board. Kathy is a smart, hard working and dedicated servant to the children of NJ.
And I want to thank outgoing President Arcelio Apponte, a tireless servant who stepped up when called upon, a tremendous leader of strong integrity. Thank you, Arcelio.
I look forward to working with Commissioner Repollet and his Department. In the short time he has been here I feel I am making a new friend.
When I was appointed to this Board there were many who claimed I was unqualified.
It is true that I am not a former teacher, administrator, or member of any union, organization, or special interest group associated with education.
But what I am is a servant to our clients.
I am not beholden to any politician, union, or organization
Instead, I am beholden to the students of NJ and their parents and will conduct myself by consistently asking whether the actions we are taking are in the best interest of NJ students.
I have served on this board for a number of years now and here’s what I’ve learned:
We have some great schools and many of the best teachers in the country.
Unfortunately we also have some of the worst schools and teachers.
The key to success is to put great teachers in front of our children.
We need to ensure that great teachers are well-compensated and poor teachers are retrained; when they are unable to perform, they must be dismissed.
To do so we need accountability.
The key to accountability is rigorous standards so that a high school diploma signifies readiness for post-high school success.
We must provide parents with choice where they send their children to school in order to provide students with equity of opportunity.
When I first was appointed to this Board, over and over I heard the phrase “achievement gap” and how minority, poor, inner city children in such towns as Newark were provided poor education while others in Milburn, Princeton and Madison were provided world class education
We struggled with reform after reform for years to address this inequity.
Well, I’m here today to tell you we have found a way to fix this problem: With the introduction of choice, rigorous standardized tests, and charter schools, we have seen an amazing transformation in Newark. In fact, Newark charter schools are now outperforming the average New Jersey school.
When you provide standards, choice, and accountability, miracles happen for children.
I assure you that these are the goals that will guide my decisions:
Only do what’s in the best interest of NJ parents and children;
Expand public school choice and public charter schools;
Hold the line of accountability and rigorous standardized testing;
Reduce unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy and let locals run their schools with as little state intervention as possible.
I recognize the State Board’s role and authority is limited. Let’s not spend our time on issues we have no control over. But be assured I will join you in using this bully pulpit to call out any and all decisions or policies that don’t serve our clients — the parents and children of NJ.
I look forward to working with Commissioner Repollet and the DOE, our president and my fellow board members.
Again , thank you for this honor.