the cover of ASBJ's december issue, which depicts a board room and the text "pressure points"


From the Editor: Messy and Essential
The latest from ASBJ Editor-in-Chief Kathleen Vail.

Leadership Matters: Increase Awareness of School Boards' Role
NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven discusses the importance of work-life balance for students and school leaders.

President's Perspective: Expanding the Definition of Student Safety and Security
NSBA 2021-22 president Viola Garcia discusses how student safety and security have had to evolve to encompass whole child safety needs.



Pressure Points
Public discourse and communication with parents and community members are essential to school board governance. However, the scenes at board meetings over the past several months show that the goal of many speakers is not to participate in reasoned debate. Instead, it is disruption, intimidation, and threats of violence, often for a social media audience.

School Safety Evolution
The pandemic has changed the way districts approach security and safety plans. Zac Rantz, chief communication officer and safety coordinator of Missouri's Nixa Public Schools, explores how school leaders can take a multilayered approach to school safety.

The Misuse of Testing
American educators have been employing standardized tests in essentially the same ways for more than a century. So, given this reality, why is there any need to be concerned now about the ways we have been using those tests—even if the pandemic may have caused some educators to reconsider many of their traditional practices? The answer may be unnerving, but it can’t be overlooked.

Learner, Teacher, Leader
NSBA President Viola Garcia has spent decades serving students as a school board member, teacher, principal, and college professor. She says her personal, professional, and volunteer life have all been interrelated, and at the core of them all has been education.

A Cautionary Tale of Two Districts
Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, there is currently an adequate supply of high-quality alcohol-based hand sanitizer. However, many school districts continue to utilize surplus stock donated or purchased at the beginning of the pandemic, when products with unknown impurities and efficacy were readily available, and in many cases, were the only ones obtainable.



Districts Welcome Afghan Refugees
In September, the Biden administration requested funding from Congress to help settle 95,000 Afghan evacuees expected this year and next. The first wave of those school-age evacuees has begun arriving in U.S. schools.



Communications: Community Connections
Austin Independent School District is one of 400 districts that uses an app to dispatch parent inquires to the appropriate office, offering first-class customer service across the district’s 125 schools.

Research: Safety in Numbers
Using data from 338 school districts, the Center for Public Education examined COVID infection rates, COVID vaccine hesitancy rates, and face mask policies in rural communities.

School Law: Protecting District Data
School board leadership plays a crucial role in cybersecurity and preventing attacks on school district data.

Equity: Trauma-Insensitive Schools
While some schools have made progress in understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how to support students, far too many schools are the source of ACEs for some students. Institutional racism in education can lead to trauma.

Business of Education: Safety, Focus, and Security
NSBA recently partnered with Kajeet—a leading provider of secure and controlled wireless experiences—to close the homework gap. In an interview with ASBJ, Kajeet CEO Daniel Neal discusses the company and digital inclusion.


Urban Advocate

Top Urban Boards
ASBJ features this year's winners of the 2021 Award for Urban School Board Excellence: South Carolina’s Richland County School District One and Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools.

Luminous Eagle Award Honors Two Former Chairs
Former AIAN committee chairs Rodney Schilt of Oklahoma and David Snyder of Wyoming are winners of the 2021 Luminous Eagle Award.

Get Your Jerseys Dirty
2021-22 CUBE Steering Committee Steve Gallon III delivers words of inspiration and conviction to school board leaders.



Q&A: Rural Teacher of the Year
2021 National Rural Teacher of the Year Laurie Smith discusses teaching and relationship building with ASBJ's Michelle Healy.

Book Review: Common Sense Evidence
Doctoral student Rahnda Ford reviews a new book written to help educators use data.