My four year term on Seattle School Board ended in December, 2015. We accomplished far more than I ever dreamed possible. I’ll include the complete list in another post. There are a few issues I will continue to be involved with. One is the switch to later start times for middle and high school. Huffington Post contacted me and asked me to blog on that topic. I’m posting those here too.
The second issue is the re-authorization of ESSA, or the latest version of the Federal No Child Left Behind act. This highly significant legislation is giving much more control back to the states. WA will be free to change laws around standardized testing, standards and how that’s used to evaluate students and teachers.
In my opinion this is the biggest opportunity we’ve had in decades to course correct and move away from education driven by testing. If we think this through and get it right we can put students back in the center of teaching and learning. We can remember that children are not standardized, and teaching everyone the same thing at the same time ignores all the obvious differences between children. Standardized testing sets our most disadvantaged learners up to fail repeatedly and does nothing to improve teaching and learning. We need to focus our resources and attention on engaging students in ways that motivate them to think, learn and create. We need to asses the progress of every student in ways that recognize and reward it.
We must also shift away from the misbegotten notion that schools are akin to Fortune 500 corporations and teachers are a sales force, to be motivated by puny rewards for boosting test scores. This model has failed public education across the US and needs to be scrapped. Teachers are responsible for educating every child in our communities, no matter what their gifts or disadvantages. They need support, resources and recognition for the work their jobs demand. They need to be an integral part of all decision making that ultimately impacts what happens in their classrooms.
I will continue to support the Seattle School Board in their efforts to engage with legislators on issues around ESSA. It’s urgently important that we take the lead in changing laws so that we can ensure that our limited resources are truly supporting all our students.