NSBA CEO Gentzel encourages boards to Stand Up

Providing tens of millions of children with a world-class education every day is a daunting responsibility, but our schools are making “incredible progress” in meeting the challenge thanks to committed and innovative problem-solving school leaders across the country. That was the message that NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel shared with attendees at Saturday’s General Session on the opening day of NSBA’s 77th Annual Conference in Denver.

“I know this because I see it as I travel across the nation—so many examples of public education helping students achieve great outcomes,” Gentzel said.

For all the progress, much more remains to be done because of the incredible challenges facing public schools, he said: “Our schools are educating the most diverse student population in history, a student population with too many children who live in poverty, who struggle to learn English or to be accepted, and who, too often, face challenges at home that pose real obstacles to learning at school.”

Add to that, the “enormous headwinds” buffeting public education in the form of budget cuts, privatization efforts and “too often, a lack of support state and federal officials,” Gentzel said.

Despite this, public schools “gladly accept the charge we have been given,” he said. “Not only to welcome every child every day, but to educate them at levels no previous generation even attempted to achieve.”

As evidence, Gentzel pointed to closing achievement gaps, rising graduation rates, increasing numbers of students taking Advanced Placement courses, and schools offering more options to help prepare students for college, careers, and life.

One of the fairest criticisms directed to public school leaders is the failure to adequately “tell our own story” of successful and accomplished teaching and learning, he said. And NSBA is determined to help change that.

Gentzel announced that the association’s national public awareness campaign, Stand Up 4 Public Schools, has been refreshed and, starting today, relaunched. The campaign’s theme, “No Ordinary Day,” is designed to “remind people that public schools take on immense challenges — and meet those challenges every day with innovation, creativity, and a dedication to do what it takes to educate students,” Gentzel said.

“We want to put a face on public education—or, more accurately, hundreds, hopefully thousands, of faces of the students who are thriving in public schools. We must set the record straight because we need public support to do our job, and to protect public education.”

Information about the campaign is available at






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