Many of the challenges we face locally in education are the same challenges our colleagues face across the country. Addressing these challenges requires leadership at the national, state, and local levels.
I have the privilege of serving as one of Maryland’s representatives on the AASA (school superintendents association) Governing Council. Twice a year, representatives from every state in the nation gather to discuss federal legislation, AASA’s work in supporting districts and leaders across the country, and challenges we are facing in our regions. This helps to inform the AASA’s advocacy and program offerings.
The Governing Council is divided into seven regions to facilitate small group discussion for key topics and pending decisions. Maryland is part of Region 6, along with Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Geographically similar, there are many differences in the size and structure of our local districts and the political leadership in our states. Yet, we all grapple with funding challenges, teacher shortages, and our students’ mental health needs.
I listen to my colleagues in West Virginia discuss the impact of teacher strikes. Pennsylvania districts are pushing back on cyber-charter schools that are failing students and draining precious resources. We all face requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and it is interesting to hear the subtle differences in how each state implemented this law.
As the full Governing Council reconvenes, we listen to an update from each region. The similarities in reports are striking. Participating in these discussions helps me to grasp the magnitude of what public education does for our country and the serious challenges that we must work to address. And while I recognize there are many issues we must confront, I also feel hopeful as I observe dedicated leaders from every state who truly believe in the promise of public education and work tirelessly for students.