David Pickler, NSBA’s 2013-14 President, gave an overview of his year at the Second General Session on Sunday at NSBA’s Annual Conference.
“We said, nearly a year ago, that if we did not have a seat at the table, we could find ourselves on the menu,” he said. “We realized the power of our board members and stakeholders to stand up for public education and proclaim the real truth about public schools and the essential role of school board governance.”
He recalled the beginning of the Army of Advocates, which started out with about 3,700 members a year ago and now has more than 1 million members. “We have built a foundation to be a leading advocate for public education in America,” he said. “We are just getting started.”
Part of that foundation is NSBA’s national public advocacy campaign, “Stand Up 4 Public Schools“. Celebrity spokespeople such as Sal Khan, Montel Williams, and most recently, Magic Johnson, have brought the campaign to national prominence.
“Together, we will show the world the real voice of public education,” he said. “The power of partnership will become the power of possible.”
He pointed to NSBA’s partnership with the filmmakers of “12 Years a Slave” to distribute the movie to 30,000 high schools nationally at no cost to the schools. This partnership led director Steve McQueen to wear the signature Stand Up 4 Public Education red wristband while receiving his Academy Award for Best Picture.
State school board associations are recruiting their own local celebrities to personalize the campaigns for their states.
Pickler told the audience that NSBA was the only K-12 education group invited to testify in front of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on the 2015 federal budget.
“We were truly at the table, engaging in direct dialogue with elected leaders who determine the budget,” he said. “This invitation is recognition of NSBA growing in influence and importance. It established this federation as the leading advocate for public education in the U.S.”
He reaffirmed his belief that publication education is a civil for our children. “It is the great equalizer. It makes sure our children can make a living and lead a life of limitless potential.”
Pickler closed with his signature line: “Together we can. Together we must.”