Q&A - Watch

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee (HELP) on ESEA reauthorization examining school turnaround, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned the expert witnesses on the best ways to support struggling rural school districts as they work to turn around. This is a critical issue for rural school districts in Washington state, and Senator Murray is committed to ensuring they have the resources and support they need to help their students succeed.

Murray also focused on how we can help high schools prepare their students for 21st century careers, and discussed her bill Promoting Innovations to 21st Century Careers Act. Murray asked the expert witnesses about efforts across the country to put in place career pathways for students as a way of keeping them engaged and succeeding in school.

Rural Schools

Question directed at Timothy Mitchell, Superintendent of Schools, Chamberlain School District 7-1, Chamberlain, SD

Senator Murray: Dr. Mitchell, thank for coming today to share your experiences as a superintendent in a rural district.

I know that rural districts in my home state of Washington are facing serious barriers to turning around their lowest-performing schools.

At the same time, we know that in many schools where student achievement has not improved for a long time, major changes in student instruction are needed – and tough decisions have to be made.  

There’s not just one right way to turn a school around, and in rural districts, options are often very limited.

What do you think the most significant obstacle to turning around rural schools?

How did Chamberlain school district overcome this challenge, and how can the federal government help rural schools and the students they serve overcome this challenge?

Mr. Mitchell: Listen to Answer  (0:45)

High Schools

Senator Murray: I applaud the efforts of all of our witnesses to turn around our nation’s dropout factories. I believe that, under current law, we are not doing enough to support our low-performing high schools.

You are all well aware of the negative effect not having a high school diploma has on a student’s future career prospects. And you know how crucial it is that we make sure the students who do graduate are prepared to move into 21st century jobs.

I believe that an important part of that preparation is providing our students with career pathways – giving students a chance to experience what it’s like to work in career fields while they are still in high school. These programs get students actively engaged in their education, and we know that students who are engaged are less likely to drop out.

In your experience, what role do career pathways programs play in turning around low-performing schools and increasing high school graduation rates?

Mr. Mitchell: Listen to answer  (4:02)

See more information on Senator Murray's Career Pathways Bill