Good evening, Brothers & Sisters.
Welcome back to a new school year like nothing we have ever experienced before. Undoubtedly, this year we will experience more and more challenges in our “new normal” serving the students of the best in the nation. That’s right, in every benchmark, our students continue to prove that having the best educators ensures that our schools are successful no matter what challenges lay in our path.
This is indeed a unique and challenging moment for our nation and our state. There is a palpable sense that things cannot go on as before. In fact, we have had many examples of how resilient we are, and when we believe in something we stick to our plan, and we reach our goals. This last year alone has proven that when we work together, great things will happen.
When Covid-19 threatened our schools or colleges this past spring, literally overnight, we went from our brick and mortar buildings to virtual learning. We certainly had a few bumps in the road as we navigated the digital divide, but we did our absolute best to make sure every student had what they needed to succeed and we did an amazing job!
The learning that used to happen in classrooms had to move to living rooms and kitchen tables. Teachers learned new technologies, adapted lessons and learned how to engage students in new ways, while working hard to make sure everyone was connected and accounted for. It was hard work, but we did it.
We came together and made it work, whether we were perched on dining room tables, drawing in chalk on our drive-ways, and even using shower stalls and washing machines as makeshift white boards. You all are amazing!
And, as we begin this new year, it has to be said, we can’t do more with less. We can’t close expanding gaps in equity with inequitable and inadequate funding. We can’t accept the undercutting of safety for educators and students by trying to defund public schools. We need to rise to the moment and give all students the support they deserve. So far, we have the support of our governor and legislature, but, rest assured that all of us will continue to step up in this new year; we hope that our elected officials, at all levels, will do so as well. But, more on that later.
Protests continue across the United States (and in many cities around the world) against police violence, and the racist legacy of slavery and colonialism. Black Americans continue to be disproportionately harmed by a discriminatory enforcement of unjust laws, including the prohibitions exercised under the War on Drugs, and critical work remains to undo the damaging systems that uphold white supremacy and prevent far too many of our neighbors and loved ones from pursuing lives full of health, freedom, and joy.
The fight against racism isn’t only about combating individual racism. It’s also about acknowledging and dismantling institutional racism wherever it exists. It’s about removing racism from within our schools by addressing the inequities that exist both in how students are treated and the opportunities they are given. It’s about dismantling the school to prison pipeline. It’s incorporating curriculum that integrates many voices of experience, using Amistad, Holocaust and LGBTQ+ curriculum, for example. We must lift the voices of our Indigenous, Black, and People of Color, and wherever we can, we must continue to encourage school districts to hire staff that is representative of the student population.
In this new era of Covid-19 anxiety and sickness, our lives – in some cases literally! – depend on one cure: the ballot. Yes, voting for a president and congress that has our best interest in mind is the only way we can get our country back on track, in every area from education to immigration to saving the environment to slowing and controlling the spread of COVID-19.
In my opinion…. to save America from this racist, authoritarian nightmare, we need to beat #45 by such an enormous margin that his entire toxic approach to politics is discredited forever. We all understand that our country can’t afford four more years—or even four more minutes—of Trump. This is no longer about party politics, no longer Republican versus Democrat. No, in fact, this election is about our moral imperative. This election is a battle for the soul of America.
Donald Trump is down in the polls, and that’s good news. There are still two months until the election. And it’s not enough for Trump to just lose…Trump needs to be buried in a historic landslide.
You see, if Trump loses by only a small margin in the Electoral College, and Mitch McConnell keeps control of the Senate, Republicans will decide Trump’s losing was just bad luck. They’ll blame the corona virus, the economy, and the liberal media—and so they’ll continue with Trump’s formula of racism and division.
The best way to defeat Trumpism is electing someone to the oval office that believes in America, believes in the success of public education, and believes in the importance of labor unions.
During the 2020 Virtual National Education Association 99th Representative Assembly, the body of 8,000 delegates from around the country, voted to endorse Former Vice President Joe Biden to be our next President of the United States. Biden addressed the delegation, stating, “You are the most important profession in the United States. You are the ones that give these kids wings…We need to ensure that you and your students get treated with the dignity that you deserve. When we win this election, you’ll get the support you need and the respect you deserve.”
We don’t just want Joe Biden as President, we need Joe Biden as President. This is someone who truly believes in the success of our great public schools and he is determined to walk the talk.
The fight for justice is challenging: even when we’re not facing a pandemic, economic recession, and escalating anti-Black racism and inequality. Achieving success takes hard work and a belief that we’re capable, deserved, and respected for the impact we make every day on the lives of our students, their families, and their communities. I thank you for being a part of this rewarding profession, and I look forward to our year of continued success. Welcome back!