Anne L. Bryant
Executive Director, Emeritus, National School Boards Association (NSBA)
There are never just five things.
Learning is a continuous process. To try to condense it to a simple list is an exercise in frustration!
A high quality education is the key to a young person’s future.
An education is an asset that can never be taken away. It is the greatest economic equalizer in our society. As Horace Mann said, “A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.” We are closer today to understanding what truly works than ever before. Our challenge is to focus on the delivery.
I love being proven wrong.
I’ve found that creative solutions can come from the most unlikely situation or source. Those of us in education need to be open to answers or advice from people and places we may have not considered. For instance, I’ve watched school board members who were underestimated—perhaps they were new or hadn’t taken on a lot of high-profile assignments—who navigated a budget shortfall or worked with the community to create a redistricting plan in ways that others had not considered.
Busting myths is really fun.
There are a lot of misconceptions about public education and school boards. I’ve seen public schools—working with strong teacher-leadership teams—overcome some of the most challenging cases of children whose lives were against the odds. In some of these cases, it was giving principals free rein with clear goals set by the school board that achieved strong results.
School boards can be the drivers for change.
When I look at some of the most successful districts in the country, I almost always see that school board members are asking the tough questions and demanding strong results. I also see those boards working hand-in-hand with key district staff to set goals and achieve the end goal of improving student learning. Having the right people with the right talents in the right places is the first step. As management guru Jim Collins says, leaders of companies that go from good to great “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Right now we see technology as the biggest game changer in how we deliver 21st century learning. There are challenges in front of us on how best to use a variety of tools—on how to integrate them into best teaching practices and make teaching and learning engaging for our 21st Century learners.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Anne L. Bryant is the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership working with and through their state associations. Bryant has written widely on K-12 education, volunteer-staff leadership issues, and the role of the federal government in public education. She holds an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts and a B.A. from Simmons College.