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In the spring of my first year in New London, Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen spoke to the academy's graduating class and said, "leadership is not about telling people what they want to hear, it's about telling them what they need to hear." I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear, I'm here to tell you what you need to hear.
U.S. News and World Reports recognition of New London High School as one of the outstanding high schools in the United States is recognition of New London as a community, its students and families and certainly the work of every one who works at and takes pride in New London High School. New London is a community of great people.
The last five years have seen dramatic improvements in student achievement of which everyone can be proud. What must be said is that in addition to a total community effort, what makes New London High School outstanding is the honesty of its community members about the work that lies ahead. We know we can do better and we will.
We have been about acting on the belief that in public schools you get what you expect. Students have risen continuously to the higher bar that we have set and look forward to continuing challenges.
We believe that students in New London are as capable as any students in the United States. U.S News and World Reports recognition of New London High School is an affirmation of that capability.
And now comes the adult leadership of the City of New London, public and private. It is time to start believing in the young people of New London. It is time to start believing in their parents and their families.
It is time for the leaders of this community to stop slapping its young people and families in the face by saying in public statements that New London has the worst schools in the State of Connecticut. It is time for those leaders to ask themselves, what have you done to make them better?
It is time for leaders and community members to get to know our wonderful young people, the successful and the troubled, for the young people that they are, young people with dreams and hopes and aspirations, yearning to find out how to be successful.
It is time to go out and build the secondary schools to which the young people and families are entitled, and stop making the excuse that "the voters will never support it." So what? It's our job as adults to make the case, to risk failure, to keep coming back until our young men and women get the schools to which they are entitled, the schools they deserve.
We must support the children and families of New London in their Pre-K to 12 journey to adulthood. This journey is only in very small part about test scores - for those will soon be forgotten - it is about assuring that all students have the skills and knowledge they need to have choices, to be successful in their lives as adults.
It is an honor and privilege to work in, work for and lead the New London Public Schools. Congratulations to the students and staff of New London High School.
Dr. Fischer is superintendent of New London schools. He made these comments last week during a ceremony marking the school's achievement. New London High School was awarded a bronze medal as part of U.S. News & World Report's "2014 Best High Schools" rankings. The magazine recognized the high school for raising its Connecticut Academic Performance Test scores in the 2011-12 school year.