Birks Vows “Open Door”

Christopher Peak PhotoFresh from being narrowly selected as the city’s next schools chief amid an outpouring of public opposition, Carol Birks vowed Wednesday to work with her critics.

Birks issued a public statement declaring that her “first action” as superintendent will be to “listen and learn.”

“I recognize that the next few months won’t be easy for anyone. I know there will be challenges as we heal and clear the path forward. I am up to doing the heavy lifting necessary for this challenge,” she was quoted as stating.

The full text of her statement follows:

I am excited and humbled by the historic opportunity to lead the New Haven Public School district. I am aware of the emotional display at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, but I see it as an opportunity to listen, learn and empower us to build inclusive partnerships for all of our learners. 
I set out on the path towards being New Haven’s next superintendent because of my commitment to service and educational equity.  I know it will be an uphill battle to help the community heal and thrive, but I remain impassioned.

My gratitude extends beyond those who voted in my favor, but also to the board members and families who are strategizing next steps.  I know everyone wants what’s best for New Haven’s children and I want to work with you to achieve those goals.

I am grateful to have been selected your next superintendent, and I know the success of my work can only be defined by my ability to collaborate, build and improve. That’s why, every step along the way, my administration will work with families, students, educators, and community members to ensure that those who felt unheard are heard, and those who felt unseen are seen.

The first action of my Superintendency will be to listen and learn.  Since this moment in New Haven’s story is wrought with disagreement and distrust, building a strong foundation in transition will require honesty, transparency, and cultivating relationships. So I invite all families, students, educators and community members to work with me, learn more about my beliefs, and help inform my leadership vision and theory of action for New Haven.

My door will always be open, and parents and families will have an opportunity to engage. I will make students’ voices a priority and parent outreach a commitment.

We get better when we work together and we’re going to need the collective strength of everyone in the community, especially educators, keep New Haven on a path of continuous improvement for each student. High achievement is only one aspect of developing an inclusive school system. The other aspect is making sure that students who are in the most need do not fall between the cracks.  We must see that they receive the services needed for them to be successful in their school environment.  I am wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that every child has a strong opportunity for success.

I recognize that the next few months won’t be easy for anyone. I know there will be challenges as we heal and clear the path forward. I am up to doing the heavy lifting necessary for this challenge.  I have an obligation to educate and empower students and to build the capacity of the adults who are entrusted with their care.  As we embark on the path towards progress in this district, I ask you to give me feedback, provide me with your input, offer your insights and ideas and work with me to ensure New Haven has what it needs to succeed and thrive.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 22, 2017  5:20pm

I would not worry about the open door.You better worry about the back room deals that will becoming.

posted by: Brutus2011 on November 22, 2017  5:42pm

I would like to see Dr. Birks prioritize funding the classrooms, libraries, and nurse’s offices before spending a dime on administration and outside contractors.

I realize that certain contract obligations may cause this shift in priorities to begin slowly but this is the only way to truly put “Kids First.”

If 10K+/month managers want to maintain their lifestyles then I suggest they try their luck in the private sector.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on November 23, 2017  12:24am

I would probably never meet Superintendent Birks.  However, thus far, you have to be impressed with her approach regarding her forthrightness to meet those who publicly and privately opposed her. 

Full disclosure, I supported Mr. Highsmith.  But I am hoping and praying that she does a tremendous job.  Because if she does, along with my help at home; my three adorable grandchildren will hopefully benefit from her success.

So to the board members who selected her, I trust that you seen something in her qualifications that stood out remarkably.  Therefore, I hold you blameless, but rather congratulate instead. 

Again, I am willing as a parent to help her achieve success in anyway I possibly can, for not just my kids, but for your kids too.  Simply put, she’s going to need everyone’s help to succeed.  And for those who offer nothing, say nothing.

For those who may find my comments flummoxed because of my initial support for Gary.  Know this, I was raised by a mother who taught me to remain sanguine regardless of an outcome.  There’s no need for me to be bitter or melancholy because the person I lobbied for lost.  This is an exuberant moment for the entire city.  So when you see the new superintendent, show the sister some love, because I sure will if I ever meet her.