Although this blog is usually written by Kevin Brown alone, he co-authored this with TASA leaders who also actively serve as school superintendents.
Dear TASA Members:
As educational leaders, we have devoted ourselves to public education because we believe in the unlimited potential of every human being, in the promise of our democracy, and in the role that public education plays in preserving and strengthening that democracy. We love our country, and therefore we want it to fulfill the ideals of its foundation.
The promise of America is articulated in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We have seen our failure to live up to that promise play out in extreme ways in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Such senseless and tragic deaths are heartbreaking; they make us feel sad for the families, angry at the injustice and its perpetrators, and concerned about the fear they instill in our fellow Americans.
In addition to persistent racism in our country, this global pandemic has forced us to take a hard look at the inequities in our society. All children do not have the same support or resources at home; many lack internet access or computers to make at-home learning possible. While schools have done a remarkable job of providing meals for low-income children, children still go hungry in America every day.
We, your TASA leadership, are sending this message to all TASA members because only discussion, self-reflection, and action – not silence – can begin to address these inequities and injustices.
Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, giving everyone, regardless of background, the opportunity to pursue the American dream. Our nation will never reach its full potential until every child has the full benefits of an exceptional education. When every child achieves his or her full potential, it benefits our economy, our communities, our democracy, and our humanity.
Sometimes, though, our own students are the victims of discrimination at school. We must confront those instances when they occur. We must teach our children to treat each other with love and respect, model civic discourse, and practice active engagement as ethical citizens. As the great Frederick Douglass once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
In our own organization, we want every TASA member to feel that they belong. We want to have an inclusive, diverse membership that is representative of the students we serve. We want every voice to matter. We recognize that we have fallen short of this at times, but we are committed to acknowledge and address inequities that exist in our own organization.
We are working to ensure our committees have more diverse memberships, including our Executive Committee. We actively provide assistance and support to partner organizations such as the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE), the Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (TALAS), the Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE), and the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents. We have worked to improve our Aspiring Superintendents Academy, First-Time Superintendents Academy, and our superintendent mentor program so that they support and encourage diversity among Texas’ school leadership ranks. And in all of our endeavors, we strive to ensure members from the various regions of our state are represented, whether rural, small town, suburban, or urban.
Additionally, we will soon name a standing committee on Race, Equity, and Diversity that will advise school districts and TASA about what actions we can take to proactively address these persistent issues of racism and inequity. If there are other ways that we, as TASA leaders, can make your organization more welcoming or supportive, we are listening. We want you to hold us accountable, so please don’t hesitate to speak up. TASA is our organization, and together we mold and shape it into what it needs to be.
Although this is an incredibly challenging time for our nation as we grapple with continued acts of racism and violence, a global pandemic, a serious economic recession, widespread protests, and division among our people, we must remember our nation’s promise. Every American should feel safe and free in our society. Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. And every member of TASA should feel welcomed and valued.
We want to end this message with gratitude and hope. Your leadership throughout this difficult time has been nothing short of remarkable. Thank you for the work you have done to serve the 5.4 million children in Texas during the worst of times. Although we face huge challenges, if we work together and remember our country’s ideals, we will emerge stronger as a more just, equitable, and unified nation because of exceptional leaders like you.
Thank you for the role you play in helping to ensure a brighter future.
Superintendent, Northside ISD
Superintendent, Sunnyvale ISD
TASA Vice President
Superintendent, Fort Bend ISD
TASA Past President
Superintendent, Clear Creek ISD
Superintendent, Elgin ISD
TASA Executive Director