William Phillis was recognized as the 2015 Hicks Executive in Residence.
Introduced by Dr. Barbara Hansen from Muskingum University and Battelle for Kids and Dr. Richard Murray, CORAS Executive Director, William Phillis was recognized for his 57 years as an advocate for Ohio students, schools, families and communities. Phillis who began his career as a teacher in Ross County, then moved to become a high school principal, local school superintendent, County Superintendent (Currently ESC’s), and JVS Superintendent before becoming Assistant of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education, specializing in legislative relations. In 1992, Mr. Phillis became the Executive Director of The Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding where he continue to work today.
In his remarks, Mr. Phillis stressed the importance of Public Education and identified lessons learned from the DeRolph litigation. They are: David can still beat Goliath; Litigation is sometimes necessary; State officials often must be prodded; and finally, there is a new Goliath — one that is more dangerous, onerous and more difficult to fight. He then went on to outline five major state policy issues/tactics and one federal policy that must be addressed. They are: 1.) Restore the Sate Board of Education to an all elected membership via a constitutional amendment; 2.) Keep the Thorough and Efficient Clause in the Ohio Constitution; 3.) Predicate state funding on the elements of a high quality education; 4.) Repeal the high stakes testing programs and establish an educational -sound accountability system; 5.) All schools that use public funds should be required to follow the same, laws and regulations; 6.) For profit education management companies must be prohibited from doing business in Ohio. Phillis concluded his remarks with the following statements: “Being a public school administrator and/or educator is a profession, a passion, a sort of calling. The public common school system is a concept and institution that we must totally embrace, nurture and sustain. It is an institution that is truly American, totally engrained in the fabric of our social order. To the extent that the public common school system is undermined or lost, likewise, America is undercut or vanquished. Go forth and save the public common school system and American democracy!”