As we usher in a new year, a new president, and a new administration, I, like many of you, am eager to see what the future holds. One thing that we know for sure is that the nation, and the world, must continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and its challenges.

School board leaders know many of the obstacles all too well. The nation’s schoolchildren and our communities have been affected in ways large and small by the COVID-19 crisis, from lost learning time, to the damage on physical and mental health, to the financial pressures of operating schools safely.

Not all constituents agreed with the reopening plans adopted by their local school boards. They made their opposition clear at board meetings and at rallies with protest signs in hand. Often, the dissent was passionate, pointed, even personal. At times, the arguments seemed to strain the better angels of our nature.

I am inspired by the school board members across the country who, despite the complexities before them, stayed focused on the work necessary for our schools. Time and again, these local officials exemplified the very best in public service.

We know that the hard work and harsh words that many of you faced continues. Please know that your commitment to the well-being of your students, teachers, and school staff is appreciated. We are counting on you to stay the course. We are counting on you to galvanize the country around what is most important–the safety and success of our students.

Your state school boards associations are here to assist you with the training, policy, resources, and programming needed to support quality public education in your community. At the national level, NSBA continues to press for expanded assistance from Congress to aid states and public schools. We have given our recommendations to the new administration on issues that we feel need to be addressed around public education support and funding.

With our new Public School Transformation Now! initiative, NSBA is focused on the reinvestment needed in our schools to reimagine and improve learning for the 21st century. And the NSBA Savings Center continues to highlight cost-containment services and resources to reduce expenses and improve operations in districts as you respond to unexpected fiscal challenges.

As optimistic as I am for the new year, I steady myself for the uncertain road ahead by finding inspiration in these words of wisdom:

“I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.” –Law professor Thuli Madonsela

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Anthropologist Margaret Mead

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

And I take comfort in the 90,000 school board members who commit themselves to work on behalf of the nation’s schoolchildren and ensure that they flourish to their fullest.

Around NSBA

a boy being tutored at a desk

Black Students in the Condition of Education 2020

The Center for Public Education selected relevant data from the Condition of Education to help school leaders not only monitor the educational progress of Black students, but also rethink what public schools can do better for Black students.