Dear Fellow School Board Members and Supporters of Public Education,

On January 6--a day that will live in infamy--, as a nation, we witnessed a tragedy and disgrace—the breaching of the U.S. Capitol by a lawless mob committed to do violence, not just violence to people, property, and physical structures but violence to our republic and democracy.

This was heartbreaking. That is the only word I can conjure for it: Heartbreaking because so many have given their lives to protect liberty, freedom, and justice; heartbreaking because the act so vividly represented the division and fractures now present in our society; heartbreaking to see symbols of hate on lurid display in what should be a beacon of democracy and hope to the world; heartbreaking to have this occur in the midst of a global pandemic and as racial injustice persists; heartbreaking to see our Constitution, the rule of law, and the will of the people so undermined and under direct attack; heartbreaking to see the racialized, double-standard response by law enforcement.

Each of us comes to our work as school board members and supporters of public education for different reasons, with varying purposes. But we remain united in our common mission.

At the core of our mission is uplifting and protecting the rule of law. Law, we know, is the invisible architecture that undergirds society. It is our responsibility—as locally elected school board members—to serve at all times as guardians of these principles: of democracy, of liberty, of equality, of civility and community, and of the Constitution and the rule of law.

I am often reminded of the words of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who so keenly observed: “The practice of democracy is not passed down through our gene pool. It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.”

As school board members, that is our duty and privilege: to model and to teach about the good of democracy, to promote civility and nurture community, and to ensure that the rule of law protects all, not just some, in society.

At this troubling moment in our nation’s history, I hope we will all take to heart that duty. I hope that, as locally elected public officials, we will rise to the challenge to make our schools, our communities, and our nation better. That, indeed, is what motivates and inspires me each morning: knowing the good each of you will do in the world with what you model and share in your school district and in your community.

I hope we will all be there for each other. I hope we will redouble our commitment to listening to each other—to hearing each other, to understanding each other, to using what we learn in our schools and beyond to influence society for the better, heal division, and sow unity.

Please be safe and help take care of each other.

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.