Jacinto Ramos on stage with a student graduating

Photo credit: Fort Worth ISD

Our schools are the heart of our communities. As a child, I learned from my parents how they saw our local schools and how important it was to them that my siblings and I received the best quality education possible. My parents believed in our local schools and their role in building a strong community.

Today, I have the honor to serve my community as president of the Fort Worth Independent School District. Over the past few years, I have worked to diligently address issues from student equity to school board member training. Recently, I was elected as chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE). I am honored that my colleagues would entrust me to serve in this position and help advocate for the needs of urban students, parents, teachers, and our schools.

As I approach this position, I am very aware of the daunting task that lies before urban school board members across our nation. Our diverse students and their families are searching for educational opportunities that will provide a secure future and a path to the American Dream. Our students, parents, teachers, administrators, and board members must work together as a team to address student equity, new curriculum standards, standardized testing, and cultural diversity.

At the same time, for many of our urban students, their school sites serve as a safe place where they can focus on being themselves. Our urban schools serve as a community builder, where students receive daily support and so many additional services such as social and emotional learning. Without a strong urban school system, we will never be able to reach the full potential of our urban cores. The success of our urban schools will determine if the next generation will be the future leaders and problem-solvers that America needs.

The question we have as school board members is how we will respond. Will we be able to work together and focus on the needs of our communities? Organizations such as CUBE are positioned to help answer those questions. CUBE is working diligently to provide guidance and proven insights on best practices that board members across the nation can take and implement locally.

As many of our districts prepare to kick off the new school year, it is my belief that we as board members can keep in mind the impact our schools have in each of our communities. It is my hope that CUBE can continue to be a brave space where urban school board members can come together and share their experiences and provide those seeking advice with direction on how to move forward. By working together, we can help create the strong schools our communities need.

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Originally signed into law in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the main federal statute governing special education for children. Today, IDEA protects the rights of over six million students with disabilities (approximately 13.5 percent of students) to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment. NSBA urges the federal government to modernize and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Act. We've recently launched a new initiative to highlight this critical need and help ensure our country’s students with disabilities receive the access and supports they need to succeed.

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NSBA today announced that Stuart “Chip” Slaven has joined the association as Chief Advocacy Officer. Slaven will lead the Federal Advocacy & Public Policy group, which represents state school board associations and their members before the U.S. Congress and the Administration. Slaven is a government relations veteran who brings passion and extensive experience to drive our vision for public education forward.