Welcome Back to School

Dear AFSA Family,

As Labor Day approaches, that back-to-school buzz is in the air. You’ll be excited to see your students and staff again. You’ll get a kick out of watching your kids meeting up with their friends after a long summer and checking out their new teachers. The first day of school always feels a lot like New Year’s Day. Even now we feel some excitement, though we still feel the aftershock of the pandemic, and continue to experience its impact on student learning. At the same time, we hear members of Congress proposing the elimination of Title II funding for education, which is the only federal program that provides school leader-specific professional development.

Your gift for balancing your enthusiasm and concerns fills me with respect. I couldn’t be more admiring of you veteran school leaders who continue to transform teaching and learning, and those of you who are new school leaders who wholeheartedly embrace the same mission. Together, we can help each other take charge of our destiny. If you’re a new school leader, reach out to your more experienced AFSA family members, both active and retired, for counsel and guidance. Contact your local AFSA president to help arrange for a mentor or adviser. Longtime AFSA members will enjoy partnering with you. 

On Labor Day, I can’t help but reflect on the unprecedented union expansion of the last few years, and see it as a clear indicator of our solidarity. The labor movement is thriving at AFSA and everywhere else. During the last school year alone, AFSA added one state and one regional federation and five locals. Increasingly, school leaders are attracted to the fellowship of a national union that functions under the powerful auspices of the AFL-CIO. When threatened or attacked, we can count on the support of other unions. In turn, they can count on us—which is evident now as we endorse the courageous efforts of the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, whose issues reflect some of our own.

As the school year progresses, I plan to have ongoing conversations with you about topics we’ve touched on before, including AFSA’s letters to President Biden, urging him to implement a revolutionary vision for public education that addresses declining National Assessment of Educational Progress scores. Some 60-odd years ago, when we discovered we’d fallen behind in the space race, we brought together our greatest scientific minds and became the first nation on Earth to land on the moon. I am talking now about creating a kind of education moonshot to reimagine our schools for highly successful learning. We’ve had four productive meetings with the White House so far and have another scheduled. We will update you soon on those. We’ll also be discussing with you other critical education and labor topics as they arise, not the least of which is the impact of artificial intelligence.

I wish you a happy Labor Day and a successful school year marked by optimism and camaraderie. Welcome back—and best of luck this year!

Be well, stay well.