“For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future.” Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman elected from the deep south, spoke these
words on July 12, 1976. The uncertainties then were not unlike our uncertainties now.
From the lack of information about how to mitigate the risks of a novel virus, to a contentious presidential election season, to the realization that decades of injustices have, once again, reached a boiling point, history is repeating itself, and tomorrow holds so many questions.
This isn’t the end of the school year any of us expected. The distance has been difficult, and the fears have been very real. In an effort to support the needs of our
students, staff, and families, we unearthed stark realities about just how much of our community suffers from inequities.
Early on, committees began meeting and task forces were formed, and yet so many questions are still unanswered. When will we return to school? What will it cost?
How will our budget be affected? Why are there so many disparities? When will everyone be equal? These seem to be the million-dollar-questions on many hearts
and minds right now.
The work we’re committed to today will help us answer them, but it will take creativity, innovation, and courage. We have to make the difficult decisions needed
to not only move us forward, but also to ensure we don’t revisit the challenges of yesterday or, even today.
Our students must be our motivation in every way imaginable. As much as we are anxious to understand what’s ahead, we have to pause and evaluate where we
are right now. Our students’ worlds were turned upside down, and it’s important we acknowledge the lack of closure with which they’re entering the summer.
When the world seemed to come to a screeching halt, students were left with unfinished classroom projects, canceled field trips, sports seasons, plays, and
performances cut short, and friends whom they have yet to hug. I am immensely grateful for our teachers, staff, parents, and community volunteers, including
the business community, who made the shift on March 13, with minimal notice, and began the arduous task of supporting our students through online lesson plans;
well-check phone calls; free meals; material support; monetary donations; technology; counseling support; virtual recesses, workouts, and school dances; art, music, and maker space lessons; online graduations, pop-up graduations, and so much more.
Many of them were finally adjusting to the new normal of social-distance measures, face coverings, and the possibility of eating out again, when conversations about police brutality and civil rights became the primary topics of discussion in many homes. Images of protests and demonstrations interrupted regular programming, and the revolution became televised.
Most of our children are looking to the adults to make it make sense, but not all. Many of our students are becoming the teachers. They are organizing, advocating, and speaking out. They have rallied their peers and challenged the status quo.
The first law of thermodynamics is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change forms. We’ve all shifted and become something different during
these difficult times. When there is a breakdown in systems, there is opportunity for rebuilding. None of us expected this to be our reality, but this pivotal time
can set the stage for better systems, more support, increased communication, and unprecedented collaboration. Now is the time to transform concepts like equity,
inclusion, restorative practices, cultural responsiveness, and social-emotional learning into our immutable core practices.
The uncertainty of our budget should not be an excuse. Budgets are statements of value, and our values must focus squarely on our students and those who support their learning. We must care more about their well-being than we do their test scores.
Our students have lived through a lot over the last few months, and some have been living through challenges their entire lives. It’s important we care for them and ourselves. I hope we’re all able to take some time this summer to recharge our bodies and minds. And with reinvigorated spirits, we must remember that the uncertainty of the future is not just a challenge but also an opportunity to reimagine our education system to the benefit of every CCUSD student.
As Barack Obama says, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Let us be the change that our students seek.
from Culver Currents