02.03.15

Murray at NCLB Roundtable: Supporting Innovation in Education is a National Priority

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks at a HELP Committee roundtable on Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students. In her opening statement, Murray explained that supporting innovation in education is a national priority, and highlighted the federal government’s role in supporting schools, districts, and states as they develop innovative solutions to help all students succeed.  Murray stated that as Congress works to fix No Child Left Behind, she’ll be looking for better ways to spur innovation and give schools the resources they need. 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“As we look for ways to fix No Child Left Behind, I’ll be looking for better ways to spur innovation and give states, districts, and schools the resources they need at the federal level. I’m proud that that my state and our country have a history of leadership in innovation. And we need to find ways to continue bringing that leadership into our classrooms. For this reason and many others, I hope we can have conversations about a truly bipartisan approach in the HELP Committee to fixing this broken law.”

“Across the country, teachers, school leaders, community partners, and entrepreneurs are designing new ways to ensure that every student can graduate from high school college-and-career ready. They’re designing new literacy programs to reach our youngest learners. They’re leveraging community resources to provide wrap-around services to address the unique challenges students and families face. And they’re giving students real-life experience working in the STEM fields.   Supporting innovation in education is a national priority. And we have a responsibility at the federal level to make sure states, districts, and schools feel empowered to design, implement, and scale up innovative solutions. Because we do have some major challenges to overcome.”

“The federal government has an important and unique role to play in encouraging innovation by helping schools, districts, and states identify challenges, building partnerships between schools and community groups, and developing and scaling solutions to meet the needs of students and communities.”

“As we look for ways to fix No Child Left Behind, I’ll be looking for better ways to spur innovation and give states, districts, and schools the resources they need at the federal level. I’m proud that that my state and our country have a history of leadership in innovation. And we need to find ways to continue bringing that leadership into our classrooms. For this reason and many others, I hope we can have conversations about a truly bipartisan approach in the HELP Committee to fixing this broken law.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander, for holding this roundtable today. Our topic is innovation, and true to that, we are doing things a bit differently today with the seating and format.  I want to thank our Members and, of course, all of our participants for being here in this roundtable discussion.

“In our country, every student should have access to a quality public education, regardless of where they’re from, how they learn, or how much money their parents make. If we’re serious about making progress on that goal, we can’t get stuck doing the same things we’ve done in the past.  It’s going to take some new approaches and increased investments to make sure today’s students are ready to take on the jobs of the 21st century. 

“Across the country, teachers, school leaders, community partners, and entrepreneurs are designing new ways to ensure that every student can graduate from high school college-and-career ready. They’re designing new literacy programs to reach our youngest learners.

“They’re leveraging community resources to provide wrap-around services to address the unique challenges students and families face. And they’re giving students real-life experience working in the STEM fields. 

“Supporting innovation in education is a national priority. And we have a responsibility at the federal level to make sure states, districts, and schools feel empowered to design, implement, and scale up innovative solutions. Because we do have some major challenges to overcome.

“We still see significant achievement gaps between groups of students. According to the NAEP, 30 percent fewer students from low-income backgrounds reach ‘proficiency’ or higher on assessments, compared with their peers from more affluent backgrounds. We know we’re not training enough students with the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century, particularly in the STEM fields.

“My home state of Washington boasts the highest concentration of STEM jobs in the country. But I hear from employers who are having trouble filling jobs in those fields. And by 2017, unless we act, employers in Washington won’t be able to find workers with the right kinds of skills to fill an estimated 45,000 jobs.

“We also know that too many children across this country live in poverty. Students from low-income backgrounds often don’t have access to high-quality early learning opportunities, or the health care and nutrition they need.

“In the face of these challenges, teachers and schools, along with districts and states across the country – are designing solutions every day to meet students’ needs and to help them succeed.

“For example, in 2012, 12 school districts in Washington state teamed up and won a federal grant to improve education from cradle-to-career. That project is opening doors for more kids to attend preschool, so they can start kindergarten ready to learn, no matter how much money their parents make.

“Another program in my home state, called STEM-LIT, is aimed at increasing students’ interest and achievement in STEM subjects. I know our participants here today will be able to share more details on projects they’re working on to help our highest-needs students succeed.  So, I look forward to our conversation. 

“The federal government has an important and unique role to play in encouraging innovation by helping schools, districts, and states identify challenges, building partnerships between schools and community groups, and developing and scaling solutions to meet the needs of students and communities. For example, the federal government can help invest in innovation that simply wouldn’t be possible at the state or local level. 

“In many places, states and districts are already feeling tight budget constraints. Without dedicated funding for innovations in STEM, literacy, arts, physical education, or other priorities, there’s no guarantee that states would invest in solutions that can help close achievement and opportunity gaps.

“Another important federal role is helping to scale up the innovative solutions that work. The federal government can and should help other schools, districts, and states learn about innovations across the country and help them adopt successful ideas to meet their own community’s unique needs.

“As we look for ways to fix No Child Left Behind, I’ll be looking for better ways to spur innovation and give states, districts, and schools the resources they need at the federal level.

“I’m proud that that my state and our country have a history of leadership in innovation. And we need to find ways to continue bringing that leadership into our classrooms.

“For this reason and many others, I hope we can have conversations about a truly bipartisan approach in the HELP Committee to fixing this broken law.

“Thank you.”

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