These are unprecedented times. You are returning to work this week to begin a school year like none other, under conditions we never would have chosen. With so little clarity around what is to come, educators and stepping back into the year ready to model the the compassion and creativity required of all of us right now.
For almost everyone, teaching in COVID times has been the most challenging moment in our professional lives. Last spring, we witnessed the profound inequities of online learning firsthand. We saw what worked, and we saw many things that didn’t. We know that in order to find real solutions for our students, educator expertise and first-hand experience should be guiding District decision-making.
In all the upheaval, there is so much at stake and so much possibility when we consider the future of our public schools. For years we have been talking about the need for small class sizes; for better air-quality and sanitation in our buildings; for greater focus on social-emotional supports and personal connection, and less on data-production and standardized tests. Right now, the whole world is recognizing how crucial these issues are, and that the value of public education is far greater than what can be delivered through a screen. As we move through this crisis and into the whatever comes next, we have the opportunity to carry these truths forward.
Rather than simply survive this pandemic, we want to ensure our schools and communities come out the other side stronger. To do that, we are going to need hold tight to our values and demand the things that our community has always deserved: for fully-funded schools that give each child the opportunities and attention they need; for Black Lives to Matter in every classroom, every neighborhood, and every policy that governs us; for every member of our community to have access to housing, healthcare, and hope for the future. We must remember that these are reasonable and achievable demands.
These are stressful times, so let’s also remember the power we have as to lift one another up and support each other. Thank you for all that you’re prepared to do this fall to support your students and colleagues, and please make sure to take equally good care of yourself and your loved ones.