The past few months have ushered in a great sense of urgency and need to develop and support k-12 systems that are nimble and flexible, as well as create learning environments and spaces that support success for all students. As governance team leaders you have grappled daily with the ever-changing landscape that is defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and are now working to prepare to begin the new school year in the face of reductions in funding. In a few weeks GSBA will be issuing a document with recommendations for consideration as you plan to open; we have worked together as staff and with our sister state associations across the nation in the development of these recommendations.
In addition to COVID-19, this state and country have been rocked by events that have exposed anger, hurt and frustration among many, especially the black children and children of color we serve. These events have also greatly impacted our teachers, administrators and staff who represent people of color. As school governance team leaders, we are provided with an opportunity to focus more intentionally on stubborn disparities that plague public education. If we are paying attention, we are being provided an opportunity to lead our school communities in discussions on perceived longstanding and entrenched policies and practices that might serve as barriers for some of our most vulnerable students’ success.
Over the past five years, GSBA has provided training and support to many of you as you have engaged in work around equity within your districts. In the face of recent events, I am hopeful you can see the value of that work. Don’t underestimate the significance of this moment in time, see it in the larger context of educating all children. At GSBA our work in supporting you in the development of an Equity Focus in your districts is about assisting you in helping your students thrive in a diverse world that is bigger than race, socio-economic status, political party affiliation, or gender.
So, as you prepare to reopen and make your plans for going back to school, I hope you will continue the work you began with us towards a more equitable public education for your district. If you have not begun that journey, I hope you will consider it; your students, teachers, administrators and staff are depending on you.
I hope the recent events will lead you to listen, learn, and work together on behalf of Georgia’s 1.7 million students.