Courageous Conversations Had at NASBE Conference in Atlanta

By: Jack Jacobson, Vice President and Ward 2 Representative

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the National Association of State Boards of Education Annual Conference, where State Board of Education Members from around the country gathered to discuss important education policy issues, build relationships with other policymakers from around the country, and learn about emerging education issues confronting students in Washington and around the country.

For me, the most impactful session I attended was a breakout session titled “Courageous Conversations”, led by presenter Courtlandt Butts. His presentation focused on a conversation compass with four points, representing four areas into which individuals fall when discussing controversial or difficult issues: Feeling, Believing, Acting, or Thinking. It helped me reexamine how I approach issues both with my colleagues and with the constituents I serve.The highlight for the Washington group was when former State Board of Education At-Large Member Mary Lord was presenting the 2017 Distinguished Service Award. Ms. Lord was a constituent of mine in Ward 2, and I a constituent of hers as an At-Large Member. The District State Board was thrilled she was able to join us to receive NASBE’s highest honor.

Finally, I had an opportunity to speak with U.S. Virgin Islands Board of Education Member Mary Moorhead (pictured). A very dear friend of mine from college is a teacher in St. Thomas at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. For weeks, students at the school were eating only packaged Spam for lunch, the only meal many of them were eating each day. Conditions have improved marginally, with students now getting rice and meat, but breakfast is still unavailable and conditions in the schools are still grim. I was able to discuss with Ms. Moorhead the challenges the Virgin Islands continues to face, and connect Ms. Moorhead directly with teachers who are working to provide quality education to students who lack adequate housing, clothing, and food following this year’s devastating hurricanes. The conversation impacted me greatly, and reminded me once again that Washingtonians must stand as one with our fellow second-class citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories to fight together for parity, equity, and equality for our residents.




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