Leading ACSA has been an honor of a lifetime
From the ACSA President Erin Simon
May 29, 2023
It’s been one year since I took office, having enjoyed your overwhelming support to lead as ACSA president. But the time has come for me to begin the transition into the coveted past-president role.
During my presidency, I hope that I have been able to make my views known on many issues, specifically around advancing academic equity and access, and dismantling the systemic inequities that continue to result in harmful and negative outcomes for many of our students, specifically those furthest from justice. However, it has been the tradition of former presidents to try to impart some last-minute wisdom to ACSA membership, which includes the president-elect, and I propose to do the same.
Let me begin by communicating how privileged I feel to have had the opportunity to serve you, ACSA members, in all 19 regions. It has been one of the greatest honors of my lifetime to serve as your ACSA president. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to serve as your president and especially to the Board of Directors for their encouragement and confidence in me.
I am most excited to pass the torch to the amazing president-elect, Mrs. Parvin Ahmadi. Her presidency mission is in line with ACSA’s resolve to advocate at an elevated level for students, particularly those who need a level playing field, and to elevate professional learning and development as I mentioned in my campaign manifesto. Mrs. Ahmadi, I am so proud of you and I look forward to serving alongside you as past-president.
When I started my term as president, clearly I was fascinated by this prestigious organization, its membership and staff. An organization that is deeply rooted in its mission which is to serve as the driving force for an equitable, world-class education system, and the development and support of inspired educational leaders who meet the diverse needs of all California students.
I come from humble beginnings. For that reason, I found my involvement in issues rooted in diversity, access and inclusion, a most stimulating experience. I’ve certainly grown professionally and personally as ACSA president. And I believe that ACSA has grown, too. Without a doubt, ACSA is a very different organization from the one that I joined in 2007.
We are becoming an organization that is attempting to put its political and personal differences aside for the betterment of all students, in an effort to ensure each student has the necessary resources to thrive in school.
We are becoming an organization that is having courageous conversations about race in order to make significant, lasting progress on enhancing cultural and racial awareness in education. This year alone, we have joined three of California’s public school leadership organizations —California Association of Asian and Pacific Leaders in Education, the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, and the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators — to launch a multi-year collaborative effort prioritizing community and policy work that supports the state’s most vulnerable students. Collectively, we are locating the eye of the storm — that still point in the center, that place of clarity amid the swirling crosscurrents and emotional stir of misnomers surrounding positive academic outcomes and equal access for all students, specifically students of color. We are building a joint guiding framework addressing the most immediate and urgent long-term issues impacting students and families of color.
“...One part of a very challenging and illuminating experience is coming to an end, one that I will treasure, respect and honor for the rest of my life.”
Dr. Edgar Zazueta has been at the forefront of supporting a bill that would require more public notice before school boards can terminate a superintendent without cause.
We’ve advocated at a higher level to secure more funding for small and rural school districts and special education.
But we still have much work to do.
I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to the high quality of our ACSA staff. I have always been impressed by their depth of knowledge and understanding, be it at the Board of Directors meetings, when they are replying to directors’ questions, conferences, workshops, or in other fora. I salute your dedication and professionalism which have no equal. ACSA staff have proved the belief that if you take care of the staff, they will take care of you.
As for me, one part of a very challenging and illuminating experience is coming to an end, one that I will treasure, respect and honor for the rest of my life.
In closing, let us rise up with a greater sense of urgency. Let us stand with a greater determination to close opportunity gaps, provide better access for each student and ensure our school buildings are cultivating conditions for each student to thrive. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge and resistance to make education what it ought to be.
ACSA, “I have run with perseverance and have finished the race.” Whether I have finished the race successfully or not is not for me to say — I will leave it to you and my constituent members to be the judge.
Thank you. Keep moving forward.
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