December 1, 2004
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I write to express my deep appreciation for the opportunities you have given me to serve my country, and to advise you of my desire to resign my position at the end of January 2005.
Over four years ago you began a journey that would transform the culture of American education. Your unswerving dedication to reforming education, made real through the No Child Left Behind Act, has given birth to a new era in education in this country. Today, every child in every public school in America counts. Today, parents and taxpayers know more about the performance of their schools than ever before and are therefore better prepared to make informed judgments about those schools. Today, the character of the conversation about education in our Nation has changed. We talk about accountability and results. We speak about options and choices. We confront the achievement gap instead of closing our eyes to it. We talk about making the promise of America real for all of America's children.
I will be forever grateful that you asked me to contribute to this noble cause. As I have traveled across America, I have seen firsthand the impact the reforms are having. I have met teachers who have discovered a new sense of enthusiasm and purpose. I have talked with parents who feel their children are no longer being ignored. I have come to know hundreds of students whose lives will be changed forever because of your determination to put the interests of the children above those of the system.
I am fortunate to have served under a U.S. Secretary of Education whose experience, integrity, decency and courage made him the right man, for the right job, at the right time.
I am grateful, as well, for having had the opportunity to know and to work with the men and women at the U.S. Department of Education, in state and local education agencies, and in classrooms and on college campuses all over America. They take seriously their responsibilities and care deeply about their students. Surely we have had our differences, but their dedication to America's students is beyond question.
It is rare in public life for one to get the chance to work on an issue that has the potential "to change everything, forever." For these last few years, I have had that chance.
Please know that I remain committed to this cause, which you have challenged America to fulfill, and willing to do whatever I can from wherever I am to advance it. The next generation of America will benefit tremendously from the work you are doing. Thank you again for allowing me to be a part of that.
Eugene W. Hickok