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Meet the Candidate: Cheryl Greenberg

Cheryl Greenberg. Submitted photo

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running for election on Nov. 7, 2017.

Compiled by Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in West Hartford’s Nov. 7, 2017, municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all major party candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.

As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist West Hartford voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.

If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] by Oct. 18.

Name: Cheryl Greenberg

Age: 59

Party, position seeking:Democrat, Board of Education

Family information:Married to Dan Lloyd; daughters Rianna and Morgan, both graduates of West Hartford Public Schools

Other occupation, if applicable:Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History, Trinity College, where I teach and write on African American history, 20th Century U.S. history, and race relations.

Political experience: Current Board of Education chair

Other relevant experience:I have held offices in several professional academic organizations such as the American Council of Learned Societies, American Jewish Historical Society and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society; I have served on the boards of a number of non-profit institutions including the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and the Noah Webster House; I’ve been a diversity trainer, an Advanced Placement consultant, and I speak to civic, religious and academic organizations in the U.S. and abroad on African American history, American Jewish history, free speech issues on campuses, teaching and learning, and civic engagement.

Why are you running for office? As a teacher, I believe education is the single most important task we undertake as a community. As a parent of two children with very different needs, I am committed to a school system that is student-centered and makes sure that every student has an opportunity to learn and to thrive. And as a citizen, I believe schools are more important than ever to communicate values of civic engagement, civility, critical thinking, respect, and diversity (of all kinds) as a positive good.

What issue(s) are your primary area of focus?

  • Our school system seeks to reach and engage every child. This requires varied and creative programs and curricula that serve a variety of needs. How can we maintain that in an era of financial constraints?
  • We have begun to address achievement gaps among racial groups and economic levels, as well as with English language learners and children with disabilities. How can we do more, with the goal of closing these gaps entirely?
  • I applaud the administration’s ongoing efforts to embed diversity in all its forms within the curriculum, to infuse those values into each classroom and, indeed, our entire school system. I want to help further these efforts.
  • I am thrilled at the high achievement of students in our schools, the increasing numbers taking AP courses, the high test scores and college success rates, and want to improve even further. But I am also concerned that we meet the needs of children who might feel these academic pressures are too stressful, or whose aspirations or needs are different. I would like to see even more attention paid to students’ mental and emotional health and well-being.

Several topics are likely on the minds of West Hartford voters this year. Please provide a brief statement regarding your opinion about:

  • The Town of West Hartford budget – As a Board of Education member, I am concerned with the school budget specifically. There, I am concerned that our budget is already quite lean, thanks to efficiencies of size, collaboration with town services, and thoughtful pruning of programs. There is always more to be done, of course, but at this point, a dramatic loss of funds like the governor is putting forward cannot be absorbed without direct impact on programs we consider important and effective. We can and will look for new sources of funding and revenue, but massive cuts will hurt our ability to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to flourish.
  • The State of Connecticut budget situation – I am hoping this will be resolved before my responses even appear! The financial pressures are real, and honest long-term solutions very difficult to find and will in some cases be painful to implement. I am grateful for the strong leadership of our town’s representatives to the State House and Senate, and for their strong commitments to our vibrant and inclusive community and to education.
  • Regionalism – In many ways, West Hartford itself is a region, in its size as well as its economic, social, linguistic, racial and ethnic diversity. As a result we already enjoy many of the financial benefits regionalism would bring, although of course regionalism may well bring greater savings in some areas. (For example, although it is not relevant to education, I have heard about the advantage to centralizing 911 call centers.) But I do believe regionalism is important in a different way as well, which is that our fate as a community is tied with those around us and we must be committed to working together to address challenges affecting our region. It’s not “us” and “them” – in so many ways we are all “us.”

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? Maintaining our vibrant and inclusive community, and our enthusiastic embrace of diversity, in the face of both severe funding cuts by the state, and greater (and sometimes more hostile) political polarization across the nation.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? My background and experience in education, and my long practice in writing and speaking to broad and varied audiences. What I also bring to the table is shared by all the candidates, and that is a passion about education and a love of our community and our schools.

Anything else you would like to share?I am so grateful for the support the community has already shown by electing me to the Board and by in so many ways helping us fight for our great schools. I hope I have earned your support to continue doing this important work.

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