Hope is Not a Strategy – But it Feels Good!
This week the first doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines are being given to healthcare workers and the FDA has endorsed the Moderna vaccine for emergency use. FDA approval of vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, and other drug manufacturers are likely to soon follow. Distribution of vaccines during the months ahead is a priority for the new administration. The news has bolstered the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the milestone 30,000 mark and the country is becoming more optimistic over life during 2021! We all long for good news and the initial distribution of the vaccines offers a promise that the New Year will be different than the last.
There does not seem to be a consensus on who first used the “Hope is Not a Strategy” statement. Some attribute its initial use to the military as early as the middle of the last century. As school district leaders face the reality of the current situation in our communities, we understand that hope will only get us so far. We cannot just wish away the challenges that we continue to face. Communities are divided by individual preferences for in-person or remote learning, children are “opting out” of virtual learning in the largest districts, families are relying on school systems to get needed meals, health agencies are issuing conflicting guidance to school districts, staff are expressing concerns about health risks associated with in-school learning, families are losing employment and income, districts are receiving insufficient funds to support increased operational demands, the public-in-general is demonstrating Covid-19 fatigue and not adhering to recommended precautions, and soaring infection rates are creating more fear and consternation. We recognize that there needs to be a concentrated and coordinated effort to address these problems to accomplish the desired results. School district leaders have forged plans with their stakeholders to address what can be managed by school personnel and continue to modify those plans based upon evolving information and day-to-day events.
Now, as 2021 approaches, we indeed are hopeful that our lives will be changed, that the spring of 2021 will be the time that we can return to some semblance of the normal we knew and lost - nearly a year before. School leaders, just as their staff and school families, have been engulfed in the struggle of 2020 and have borne the challenge of leading the way in designing and implementing a new learning paradigm and addressing the needs of students, staff, and families. And we need hope. Without it there would only be despair.
Hope may not be a strategy, but it fills our soul with the promise of the positive outcomes we can visualize and the future we desire. Educational leaders are in so many ways charged to make that vision a reality. And we can do so because we have planned.
Colleagues, I and the entire NJASA staff offer you the best possible wishes for joy during the holidays with your families and friends, no matter how distant we might remain. We shall work with you to make the New Year one of accomplishment and celebration for all.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu
Richard G. Bozza, Ed.D.
NJASA Executive Director