“Unprecedented” is no doubt the most overused word of the 21st century. It seems like we are perpetually living in unprecedented times. As an editor and a writer, I’m sorry to say that I cannot come up with a word that better describes what school leaders are going through right now.

I’ve been doing this for a long time. I remember the controversy over Common Core state standards. The evolution battles. The reading wars. I even remember the contentious outcomes-based education debates (Google it).

Public schools in the U.S. are hyper-local. School districts within a few miles of one other can and do approach how and what they teach very differently. Final decisions rest not with the hired experts but with a group of people elected by their community. Local governance is the essence of our democracy.

But, as they say, democracy is messy. And it’s particularly messy right now. In our cover story this month, “Pressure Points,” Glenn Cook writes, “School boards are feeling the brunt of public anger over vaccine and mask mandates, policies involving LGBTQ policies and anti-racist curriculum, and distrust fueled by the contentious 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.”

In “School Safety Evolution,” Zac Rantz, chief communication officer and safety coordinator of Missouri’s Nixa Public Schools, writes about how the pandemic has necessitated a change in your district security and safety plans.

I’m thrilled to welcome W. James Popham back to the pages of ASBJ with his article, “The Misuse of Testing.” Popham is the founding editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the journal of the American Educational Research Association. The author of more than 30 books, he is a well-respected authority on student assessment and educational evaluation. He most recently appeared in the December 2020 issue with his article, “Expanding Assessment Literacy.”  

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Until next issue. . .

This issue marks the end of our 130th anniversary celebration as the longest-running education magazine in the U.S. Watch our anniversary video online at https://nsba.org/ASBJ.

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2020 State of the Association

Full of challenge and change, 2020 was like no other year. NSBA's State of the Association provides a snapshot of the association's advocacy and member services work as well as our ongoing transformation.