I just found out that one of the most courageous and inspiring educators I have ever met, Dr Joe Rella, passed away. At a time when every powerful politician in New York State was pushing Common Core aligned state tests to rate teachers schools and entire school districts as well as students, and when they were forcing special needs and ELL students to to take tests that were developmentally inappropriate, Dr Rella mobilized his entire Long Island district to refuse to take the tests. In doing so, he inspired thousands of parents and teachers, first throughout Long Island and then throughout the state, to follow his example! In so doing he helped build the most important Opt Out Movement in the nation, one that brought people from all points of the political spectrum together in a way that the state, and perhaps the nation, had never seen before. As this movement grew, I had a chance to speak from the same podium as Dr Rella on several occasions. He was as kind and compassionate and caring as he was courageous. He genuinely loved his students and that love motivated him to stand up to powerful forces which were humiliating them and jeopardizing their futures. He also had a spiritual force that made everyone around him a better person. I will miss his smile, his sense of humor, his boundless courage and his ability to bring Conservatives and Liberals, Republicans and Democrats together to protect everyone’s children. I will miss him terribly Never more than now do we need inspirational, unifying figures like Dr Joe Rella.