The Sondermann Group
Strategic Marketing & Communication
312 East 7th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80203
November 10, 1997
Having been gone a bit since last week's election, I wanted to use this opportunity to belatedly convey my admiration for your service, your intellectual honesty and rigor, and the good fight you waged. It was a pleasure to finally have the chance to meet you at the election night Party (wake?).
While the evening was a disappointing one, I was nonetheless impressed with the energy, spirit and camraderie in the room. I have been to victory parties - including some with those on the other side of the educational divide - where there was less spunk and passion on display. This is a tirbute to your coalition, and the values and commitment which bind you together.
Though our engagement came late, and we were unable to alter the fundamental dynamics of the election, I was pleased to be associated with Stephanie Hult's campaign. As you well know, I worked the other side of this street for several years. (Having particpated in the concerted effort to isolate and ostracize you and Stephanie, I particularly appreciated the irony of a campaign by the old establishment centered on the notion of "civility".) But my thinking evolved, and there came a point when I decided to devote more of my energies to issues in which I believe, regardless of their political correctness or professional consequence.
With particular respect to Boulder Valley, I became increasing appalled by the manner in which "excellence" and "egalitarianism" were regarded as incompatible, polar opposites, and with the lack of accommodation offered to those who legitimately sought high standards and opportunites for high achievers. So that's how we came to be aligned - and I am proud of it.
Do not under-estimate the impact which you and Stephanie made. Voters clearly grew weary of the noise, commotion and bitterness. And the other side skillfully, if cynically, exploited this as a campaign theme. But while you were shown the door, you fundamentally and permanently altered the debate. No longer will issues of educational excellence and high standards be anywhere but at the core of the public agenda. Witness the remarks of Linda Shoemaker at the first meeting of the new Board.
Sure, there will be back-sliding. Sure, there will be counter-veiling pressures. But though the pendulum swung back the other way, your efforts dramatically moved the center. Remember Admiral Rickover's line: "No movement without friction."
I wanted to express my respect for what you accomplished. Be proud of it. While we did not get to know each other during the course of your tenure, I hope there will be some other opportunity for us to collaborate on down the road. And if you're ever in Denver for a day, give me a call. I would welcome the chance to meet for lunch or a cup of coffee.
Eric W. Sondermann