On Friday, January 16, Seattle Teacher Residency Mentor Rachelle Moore’s first graders had a special guest. United States Senator Patty Murray visited their classroom and read them King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub.
She later addressed a group of grown-ups to discuss a decidedly less funny topic – the state of education in our state and nation today. In her role as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. Murray has been vocal about the need to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind.
Rachelle Moore was invited to speak with Sen. Murray. Both spoke about the need to expand opportunities for every student – starting with fixing No Child Left Behind. Because of NCLB, Sen. Murray said, the parents of students at Madrona and every other school in Seattle received letters saying that their schools are failing.
“Failing” is a relative term. No Child Left Behind set impossibly high standards without offering the resources that would allow schools to meet them. Those schools with more resources have a better chance of meeting those standards, perpetuating existing inequities across the system. As Rachelle pointed out, the tests that measure those results don’t measure intangibles, such as the individual challenges and adversities that each child faces.
Sen. Murray said that parents and teachers have shared their stories about overtesting that doesn’t serve the needs of students. She also stressed that Congress recognizes the many shortcomings of NCLB and that she will work on a bipartisan solution to replace both the law and any redundant and unnecessary testing.
Rachelle reinforced the necessity of using multiple forms of student data, including test data, to drive instruction and assessing the needs of every student.
She also took the opportunity to stress that a key part to fixing education is to ensure that teachers are stepping into their classrooms prepared to address student needs and outcomes. The Seattle Teacher Residency, she said, is a powerful tool for novice and veteran teachers alike. While it creates a pipeline of well-qualified teachers for high-needs schools, it also allows Mentor teachers the opportunity to improve their own practices.
It’s so exciting to see that the excellent educators involved in the Seattle Teacher Residency are being recognized nationally, not only for the great work they do in the classroom, but for the thoughtful leadership they provide on behalf of the education community.
Rachelle made a great case for more support of teacher training programs like the Seattle Teacher Residency. Congratulations, Rachelle!