December 23, 2020

Jess Deutsch Grateful to Have Been Part of PPS Board of Education

To the Editor:

No one said that being on a Board of Ed would be easy. It shouldn’t be and it isn’t. Often, it feels like you are stuck in a Three Bears story on repeat – You spent too much, you didn’t spend enough. You did that too early. You did it too late. You said too much. You didn’t say enough.…  Very rarely do you get to the part where things are just right. The struggle, if it is focused on what is in the best interest of our kids and community, is worthwhile and necessary. Excellence will exist in some places no matter what anyone does. Disparity is a call for introspection and action on everyone’s part.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this Board. I think my favorite moment of service was the night that we honored Dorothy Mullen, because her work, and our school gardens, reflect the best in our district’s values — joy and purpose, respect for teachers, and also wellness and a genuine concrete version of equity, sometimes as simple as every kid tasting a new herb.  

I am grateful to my colleagues who will continue serving, and to our teachers and administrators. I am excited for Jean Durbin to join the BOE. I hope strong, caring, diverse voices — especially those who have felt unseen or unheard in our community and who are focused on understanding the complexity and thinking creatively about what our schools can be — will be added to the Board in the years to come. I wish, for our Board and the community, that you stay in the struggle with a focus on what matters — our kids, our schools, and our community. I hope you will keep pushing to define what you mean by equity so that there is a chance to get there. I hope you will look harder at what is flawed in standardized tests and get away from the idea that something is missing in kids. As we search for new leaders, I wish for the school district all the “guideposts” that Brene Brown offers in The Gifts of Imperfection: Cultivating authenticity, compassion, resilience, gratitude, trust, creativity, play and rest, calm, meaning, and laughter. 

Whoever might be reading this letter, I hope you join me in holding our public officials to the highest standards, and offering each other more compassion. We need to be on the same team, on behalf of the kids who are counting on us. I hope you know that while I was on the Board, I was aware of my own imperfection, and sincerely motivated to contribute in the ways I could. The work continues. Thank you so much for the chance to have been a member of this Board. 

Jess Deutsch
Riverside Drive