Happy New Year! This is my first column in American School Board Journal since taking the helm as executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in November.
My background gives me a unique perspective on our work here at NSBA. I started my career as a history teacher and government teacher. I served as a building administrator and then as a superintendent for three districts. Most recently, I was the executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
I arrive at NSBA at a difficult time for the association. We can no longer allow our association to be defined by others. We know who we are as an organization. Our members know who we are and what we stand for. NSBA has a long and proud history of national and federal advocacy for public education to support and enhance the work of our member state school board associations.
The Delegate Assembly, our policymaking body, reinforced and strengthened our commitment to our members in 2021 by stating NSBA’s core purpose: To work exclusively for our member state school board associations in carrying out their missions in a full partnership to ensure each student everywhere has access to an excellent and equitable public education where they live, governed by high-performing school board leaders.
Going forward and looking forward, we will continue to provide our members with opportunities to learn and formalize their collective will on issues affecting our nation’s public schools. Services and opportunities will be tailored to our members’ unique needs.
We offer our members and the school leaders they serve national perspectives and ideas at NSBA’s annual conference. Our conference is the only gathering of school leaders from all parts of the U.S., where they take advantage of networking and hearing solutions to the problems and issues they face.
Working for our members, we will continue to be effective advocates for public education in Washington, D.C. Our federal efforts have brought additional and much-need pandemic relief funds. We continue to push for the elimination of the Homework Gap and the full funding of IDEA.
Working with our members, we will coordinate, facilitate, and implement a united, national movement in pursuit of equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. We will focus on 1) advocating for and defending high-quality public education and school board governance before the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government; and 2) positively influencing public opinion regarding such matters.
Working with our members, we will raise awareness about the important role that parents, families, and communities play in students’ success, and strengthen our relationships with leading family and community engagement organizations.
We will regularly assess, adjust, and align our work and services to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our members in alignment with our core purpose.
We know there are challenges ahead. As school leaders and advocates, we are not afraid of hard work. Stay tuned!
John Heim is the executive director and CEO of NSBA.