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The Big Leap: Risks and Rewards in New Times

Conventional wisdom and reasonable actions have proven themselves inadequate.

The spotlight of 2020 made it plain that our society is dependent on a vibrant system of schools. A system that adapts to every child’s unique assets, so the American Dream is a reality, not a myth, for all.

Uncertainties cloud the future. Yet we must forge ahead with courage, confidence, skill, and will…We must leap to get to solid ground.

We’ve been in moments of great pain and problems before. And people like us transformed moments into movements, pushing aside fear and “what ifs” with the fortitude to establish a better future.

Despite innovative work, scores of children remain underserved by our education systems, and far too many of us have allowed inequitable outcomes to be our status quo. A given. The very notion that millions of talented and gifted children remain vulnerable to learning loss and in danger of being left behind is unconscionable. Amid the nation’s trauma and reckoning, we can no longer afford cosmetic fixes for terminally ill realities. It’s time to be bold. We must invest in school systems, empower educators, and give agency to our students. It is time for a relentless effort to ensure schools provide our young people with pathways to a lifetime of success.

All of this is coming together at a critical moment. Movement is now our imperative.

While we are hopeful that the new Secretary of Education, along with the Biden-Harris administration, will provide leadership in responding to students’ and educators’ extraordinary challenges — waiting for others to effect change isn’t an option. “We the People” must pursue and enable outsized changes.

Schools can be a key for transformation. It’s up to us to support and position them as centerpieces of thriving communities.

And that’s why I’m so pleased to welcome you all to the Big Leap — New Teacher Center’s spotlight on those pushing forward to meet challenges head-on with grace and care.

Why The Big Leap?

Educators feel increasing pressure to ignite the minds of students of all ages and backgrounds against absurd odds. The list of once-in-a-lifetime events we’ve all experienced continues to grow.

Teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate and recruitment efforts can’t match the demand. All are happening while students face months of learning loss. Trauma is affecting and following us all. The experience of inequity in schools is visceral. We can’t afford the risks and consequences of inaction; it tips the balance even further to conditions that will become unbeatable if ignored.

But NTC is working alongside teams of people, from frontline educators to partners, to design something better. Together, we’re building a coalition of optimism, experience, diversity, research, and best practices, all aimed toward transforming outcomes. We’re going to meet the needs of this moment and the movement. We’ll do all of it with love and compassion, ensuring humanity is not lost in a rush to tackle the challenges ahead.

The Big Leap will elevate critical topics and provide community, conversations, and resources for action. We’ve heard you. In this period of instability and challenge fatigue, we’ll share lessons learned and tools for impact.

What to Expect

Through a series of webinars and blogs, we’ll spotlight big leaps that accelerate students’ and educators’ success and well-being.

The Big Leap will focus on:

  • Anti-racist practices in leaders
  • Curriculum-aligned coaching
  • Dynamic instruction

Join me on Thursday, March 4 (10:00 am PST / 1:00 pm EST) for a special kick-off session with superintendents from around the country.

Our roundtable will be raw and real, sharing perspectives on why these issues matter. We’re excited to feature Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee (DC Public Schools); Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins (Orange County Public Schools); CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises (Baltimore City Public Schools); and Area Superintendent Geovanny Ponce (Houston ISD).

Will you join us? Register today!

Desmond K. Blackburn, Ph.D, is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Teacher Center (NTC). NTC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to disrupting the predictability of educational inequities by supporting all educators, from the classroom to the boardroom. Prior to joining NTC in 2018, he spent twenty-two years as a math teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of school improvement, area superintendent, chief of school performance & accountability, and superintendent. He can be reached at dblackburn [at] newteachercenter.org.

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