Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.
Every good leader knows how difficult it is to bring about meaningful, positive, school-wide, or district-wide change, especially related to educational equity and excellence. The status quo did not show up on our doorsteps overnight. As well, the status quo won’t leave just because we’re ready for it to go. Leaders must determine what needs to change in order to bring about real changes in outcomes for students, especially those students we have not served well historically. As well, leaders must be able to convince stakeholders (e.g., teachers, administrators, support personnel, parents, community members, and students) that they should invest their time, energy, and resources in support of a coherent set of actions that will advance educational excellence for every student. Additionally, leaders must be able to convince those same stakeholders that they will benefit from an abundance of support as they endeavor to change the status quo. Unfortunately, most education conferences do not even begin to address these challenges.
In contrast, the National Center for Urban School Transformation’s annual America’s Best Urban Schools Symposium places the spotlight on schools and districts that are demonstrating real success in addressing these challenges. This year’s virtual symposium (on March 1-4, 2021) will feature schools where all racial/ethnic/income/language groups of students are demonstrating outstanding outcomes across a wide array of indicators. Teacher leaders, school leaders, and district leaders will share their stories about how they worked together to influence meaningful, positive changes that are helping change the trajectories of students’ lives. Sessions will be structured to provide attendees outstanding opportunities to interact, ask questions, and engage in practical dialogue concerning the very real challenges leaders face as they seek to change the status quo.
Schools and districts should consider ways to use this year’s America’s Best Urban Schools Symposium as a hub for professional development, reflection, and growth. Leaders can use this inexpensive event as a tool for engaging their stakeholders in challenging the status quo, envisioning greater equity and excellence, and refining their combined efforts to ensure the success of all the children they have the privilege to serve.
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