Michael Hyman (D)

Stamford Board of Education

Managing Consultant, The Equity Institute

I believe that we can succeed at just about anything we set our minds upon. But first, we must fix the corrosive bickering and toxic relations on our BOE with mature adult working relationships. Another 4 years of what we have seen will shred out district of a professionally functioning board and the leadership sorely needed at this time.

Schools are not just buildings. Their essence comes from students and educators and their common cause for being there—to educate and connect our children to our past, present, and the future that they will build for themselves. My priorities are to improve both the human and facilities infrastructures of our schools, ensuring an environment that supports, and engages ALL children in a rigorous restorative academic environment. We can do this by developing needed long -range plans for new and existing facilities, and the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest educators. Our plans should require that we reach out and listen very closely to the community. Our children and teachers deserve world-class facilities. It is critically important that we be mindful that the location of new schools offers Stamford an opportunity to inspire community pride and a sense of belonging with many of our families. I know that we have the capacity to do this as we center Equity in our outreach to parents, educators, and Stamford’s taxpayers. We must communicate and listen very closely as we jointly develop those plans and vision for Stamford Schools.
Stamford Schools is a vital link of personal, community, human investment, and interest in our schools by our community. I don’t doubt that many of us see ourselves as stewards of our district. We are prepared to assist and vigorously debate for what we believe is right. These two years have shown how deep that well of caring truly is. Covid’s brutal assault on our district brought out the very best in Stamford. Ironically, the health crisis showed that our district could not only react, but it could respond and learn to anticipate. Our strength showed in excellent leadership from the superintendent’s office, the cabinet and principals, and most importantly, heroic teachers with the will to make it work and keep our system open. SPS also called on a cadre of community partners. Strong relationships such as these should never be taken for granted. The strength of working together allowed us to meet the needs of families through providing meals at school and community sites around the city, in-school and hybrid model instruction, and success at providing 1:1 technology. These 3 features alone were put in at lightening speed. This past year of managing education under a health crisis has not been perfect by any means, but we should not ignore the successes and more important, what we’ve learned about our district’s resilience. Our greatest strength should be and is that we are unafraid to care and to act on behalf of our children.
Coordination with other city boards, and the mayor’s office and cabinet, is not just nice to do, it is a necessity. For example, my first presentation to the Board of Representatives was in 2000 on behalf of SPS’ School-to-Career program seeking approval to allow paid high school interns to act as IT aides at our schools. Over the years on numerous occasions I have addressed, lobbied, and worked with members of the Zoning, Planning, Finance, the BOR on community projects. I will bring that background and experience to the table as a member of the Board of Education.
An Equity-Centered school district is an important priority for me. I worked with members of the BOR on the passage of their resolution on Equity. I would continue that work to strengthen those alliances in search of the means to ensure that we implement that courageous step within SPS and the City.
A successful effort to renovate or rebuild our schools will require that BOE members view the other city boards as partners. There is no other option. We must get this important task accomplished. Specifically, I would err on the side of “over-communicating” and building working relationships with the members of other boards. We must understand the issues/concerns they have and acknowledge their roles in representing city interests as well. I pledge to sustain working relationships with other city boards. Advocacy for a strong Stamford school district does not begin or end at the 5th floor BOE board room.