President’s Corner

The Cornerstone of Our Freedom

by David Gee

Each year, AASA’s incoming president is asked to develop a theme that shapes the agenda for his or her term. Presidents spend much time and thought developing captivating phrases that set the tone for the year ahead. I am no exception.

As I contemplated the enormous leadership challenges before me, I, too, devoted considerable time and thought to what I would propose as our agenda during the next 12 months. After reflecting with pride on the association’s past efforts to be the “voice in the dark” proclaiming that our children, all our children, are our most valuable resource, I realized the theme, Stand Up for Public Education,™ developed under the leadership of John Lawrence several years ago, continues to be our association’s call to action.

Stand Up for Public Education was initiated during an unsettling time when education faced much criticism and weathered call after call for major reform. We needed to be reminded that our children really were our most important resource.

My friend and colleague, Don Kussmaul, AASA’s immediate past president, realized this battle was not over and there were still too many critics of public education. Therefore, he continued this theme last year, but expanded on it by emphasizing that public education is really the heart of our democracy.

I know that our national organization has come a long way over the years, for we are no longer the lone voice of educational reason and prudence. We remain one of the most active and responsive organizations when it comes to defending and supporting the needs of our children. Time and time again we have voiced opposition to ill-conceived ideas and quick fixes and we have vigorously supported initiatives that put our children first. But this is no time for us, as a national organization, to sit on our laurels. There is still much work ahead. Not nearly enough of us have pledged to Stand Up for Public Education.

Providing a quality education for all children is one of our country’s greatest responsibilities. It is the best way to ensure that we maintain our freedom. Therefore, as your incoming president, I have decided to continue this major initiative and focus my efforts on stressing that public education has been and will continue to be the foundation of our American society.

To support this theme, AASA must play a leadership role in providing you, the education leaders of the country, with the tools and skills you need to successfully implement change and continuous improvement.

AASA’s long-standing mission has been and will continue to be to develop effective school system leaders dedicated to the highest quality of public education for all children. We must help unite all education’s stakeholders--administrators, parents, community leaders, business leaders and our elected officials--to give our children the education they deserve. It is their right and our responsibility.

Nationally, the association must focus our efforts on three fundamental principles:

  • Preparing children for school;
  • Redesigning and transforming our schools’ organization, teaching and learning practices, and leadership strategies to meet the needs of every student; and
  • Developing our children into young adults who are prepared to play a productive role in our democratic society.

In the months ahead, this association and its leaders will expand its efforts to offer you the resources and assistance necessary to provide a quality education for all children.

Public education has been and will continue to be the foundation for our society. I ask each and every one of you to join me in this battle and to “Stand Up for Public Education: The Cornerstone of Our Freedom.”

David Gee is president of AASA.