The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 1999


Silber will speak at Ed Forum

Carlisle Public Schools is honored to welcome John Silber, former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education, as the guest speaker at the fifth annual Carlisle Education Forum on Saturday morning, March 27. The Education Forum offers the community an opportunity to explore ideas in education and how they apply to the Carlisle Schools. This year, Dr. Silber will get the discussion going with his presentation, "The Present and Future of Education Reform: If Ed Reform is Not Revolutionary, It Cannot Succeed."

Dr. Silber has had a long and varied career in education. A Texas native, Silber studied philosophy at Trinity University (B.A.) and at Yale University (M.A., Ph.D.). After teaching at Yale, he joined the philosophy department at the University of Texas at Austin where he eventually became dean of the college of arts and sciences. In Texas, he was a leader in working to abolish capital punishment, to integrate the University of Texas, and to found Operation Head Start.

In 1971, Silber became president of Boston University, where he has emphasized the attainment of academic excellence and financial stability. Under Silber's leadership, BU has increased its sponsored research tenfold, has sextupled its net worth, and has built its endowment from $19 million in 1971 to $492 million in 1997. BU's SAT scores have steadily increased along with its faculty standards. Under Silber's direction, BU has worked to improve pre-college education by contracting to operate the schools of Chelsea, Massachusetts, and by opening Boston University Academy, a new private high school.

Currently, Silber is chancellor of BU, as well as university professor, professor of philosophy and law, and professor of international relations. He has written widely on philosophy, education, and social and foreign policy. His book, Straight Shooting (Harper's, 1989) has been published in German and Japanese. Among a long list of distinguished positions, Silber is vice president of the United States Strategic Institute, and has served on the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, and the National Advisory Board on International Education. Silber was the 1990 Democratic nominee for the Governor of Massachusetts, in a lively contest against William Weld. John and Kathryn Silber have seven children and 24 grandchildren.

In January, 1996, Governor Weld appointed Silber chairman of the state board of education. Silber stated his job priorities: improve early-childhood education, ensure that children can read well by second or third grade, develop academically reliable curricula, reform teacher certification and recertification, increase time in school devoted to academic core disciplines, review system budgets to devote more funds to teaching and less to administration, and ensure safe schools for all children and teachers. Silber recently resigned from his post in a bitter political stalemate over the appointment of the new commissioner of education so that James Peyser, Silber's candidate for commissioner, could replace him as chairman of the board of education instead.

Silber has often sparked controversy with his direct "no holds barred" approach to education reform. Although many may disagree with some of his ideas and methods, few would deny that Silber has brought public education to the forefront in Massachusetts. Carlisle Public Schools has welcomed his emphasis on the necessity to continuously elevate standards: for students through improving the curriculum, and for teachers through improving professional development. Carlisle also welcomes the chance to exchange ideas with Silber and the community on how education reform can best prepare children for their future. It is certain to be lively.

The Education Forum will be held at Corey auditorium at the Carlisle Public Schools, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with check-in and registration beginning at 9 a.m. To ensure a seat and to facilitate planning, please return the registration forms mailed to each home in Carlisle, or send your name and address with a check for $5/person (made out to "Town of Carlisle") to the Carlisle Public Schools, 83 School Street, Carlisle, MA 01741.

Silber's recommended reading list

Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning by Jacques Barzun

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito