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I ’VE NEVER BEEN happier to change the calendar in my life.

2020 was a trying year, especially for educators. Forced suddenly from our classrooms by an invisible enemy that threatened all our lives, we adjusted on the fly to a new learning environment (as educators and parents), organizing remotely to defend the health of our school communities and fighting to ensure classrooms physically reopen #OnlyWhenItsSafe.

We grieved together for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other victims of police violence and systemic racism, taking to the streets enmasse to demand justice and proclaim that Black Lives Matter. We led the fight for equity in our schools, as the raging pandemic exacerbated disparities in our communities, exposing that life during COVID-19 is a vastly and glaringly different experience depending on where one lives. We endured horrific wildfires that polluted our skies for days and destroyed many of our homes.

We won a historic election, and we lost one, too. The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president of the United States ushers in a return to believing in what we can accomplish together as Americans, and a renewed commitment to education by the White House. But our joy and excitement are tempered by the narrow defeat of Proposition 15 here at home, which stings a little more because of how close we came to winning for our schools and communities.

We went toe-to-toe with the wealthiest corporations in the world, matching their hills of cash and mountains of misinformation with the power of our solidarity, commitment to all students, and belief in the promise of public education. While it’s obviously heartbreaking to come up short, I’m so proud of our combined efforts to make real change for our schools and communities. We will never stop fighting for our students and the resources they deserve!

“We will never stop fighting for our students and the resources they deserve!”

Though 2020 is finally over, the many challenges we face are still just as real, dangerous and daunting in 2021 — the uncontrolled spread of COVID, systemic inequity and racism, economic uncertainty, the climate crisis, and bitter political polarization. It’s going to take a lot of effort to overcome these crises and more when we’re already so tired, but we know that many hands make light work, and there are 310,000 of us who believe in better. I urge you to make some time for
your own renewal, and to replenish yourself spiritually, physically, emotionally.  Self-care is imperative for us to move forward and thrive, and to continue to care for others. See our story on page 51 for ways to take care of you.  As the great Victor Hugo said, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” From the bottom of my heart, thank you for fighting with all your might through the darkness and uncertainty. Let’s rise together for a new dawn of building back better.

Our students, communities and our very nation are depending on us.

E. Toby Boyd


Photo: Elizabeth Douglas Photography