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Murray cites a central Washington high school as example of the need to fix badly-broken No Child Left Behind law
 
*Video of the speech here*

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) told the story of a Zillah High School teacher on the floor of the U.S. Senate, as she urged her colleagues to fix the nation’s badly-broken education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Sen. Murray wants to replace the broken law with the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, written with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Their bipartisan bill, being debated on the Senate floor this week, would help make sure students in Washington state and across the country have access to a high-quality public education, address high-stakes testing, give states and local districts more flexibility by eliminating the one-size-fits-all provisions of No Child Left Behind, and maintain federal protections to help ensure students graduate from high school college-and-career ready. (Read more about the bill here.)

 

In her speech, Sen. Murray spoke about Jeff Charbonneau, who teaches high school science and engineering at Zillah High School and was named the 2013 National Teacher of the Year. Zillah High School graduates more than 95 percent of seniors, yet, because of the flawed NCLB law, the school is labeled as failing. Sen. Murray’s bill would end the broken system that has led to Washington state losing the federal waiver needed to implement education policies and having 88 percent of Washington schools labeled as failing. 

 

The Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Murray’s bill this week.

 

Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

 

At Zillah High School in my home state of Washington, Jeff Charbonneau teaches science and engineering classes. Nearly half of the students in his school are struggling with poverty or come from low-income backgrounds.  But despite the challenges that poverty can present for students, Jeff and his colleagues engage their students and work tirelessly to help them succeed.  And that dedication has paid off.

 

Zillah High School graduates more than 95 percent of its seniors. And Jeff was named National Teacher of the Year a couple years back. But despite all of that success, today, Jeff’s school is labeled as failing. The reason? Last year, Washington state lost its waiver from No Child Left Behind’s requirements. And that means most of the schools in my home state are listed as failing.

 

M. President, that’s not fair to the teachers like Jeff who pour their energy into making sure students can succeed. That’s not fair to Washington state parents who are still facing a great deal of uncertainty about their child’s school. And it’s not fair to students who deserve better than the current K through 12 education law.

 

M. President, it’s time to finally fix No Child Left Behind.  I’m working hard to fix this broken law for teachers in my home state, like Jeff. I’m working to restore certainty for parents in Washington state and across the country. Because they want to feel confident in the school where they send their child.

 

And I’m working to make sure all students can get a quality education at our public schools, no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.

 

Senator Murray’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

 

Thank you, M. President.

 

At Zillah High School in my home state of Washington, Jeff Charbonneau teaches science and engineering classes. Nearly half of the students in his school are struggling with poverty or come from low-income backgrounds.  But despite the challenges that poverty can present for students, Jeff and his colleagues engage their students and work tirelessly to help them succeed.  And that dedication has paid off.

Zillah High School graduates more than 95 percent of its seniors. And Jeff was named National Teacher of the Year a couple years back. But despite all of that success, today, Jeff’s school is labeled as failing. The reason? Last year, Washington state lost its waiver from No Child Left Behind’s requirements. And that means most of the schools in my home state are listed as failing.

 

M. President, that’s not fair to the teachers like Jeff who pour their energy into making sure students can succeed. That’s not fair to Washington state parents who are still facing a great deal of uncertainty about their child’s school. And it’s not fair to students who deserve better than the current K through 12 education law.

 

M. President, it’s time to finally fix No Child Left Behind.  I’m working hard to fix this broken law for teachers in my home state, like Jeff. I’m working to restore certainty for parents in Washington state and across the country. Because they want to feel confident in the school where they send their child.

 

And I’m working to make sure all students can get a quality education at our public schools, no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.

M. President, the Every Child Achieves Act is our chance to finally fix the current law. It gives states more flexibility, while also including federal guardrails to make sure all students have access to a quality public education. And I look forward to making this good bill even better.

 

That’s why I’m disappointed with the Majority Leader’s decision last night to file cloture and move toward ending debate on this bill. We still have several important issues to address. Senator Franken has an amendment to help protect LGBT students from bullying and discrimination at school – and I think that is an absolutely critical issue. When students don’t feel safe at school, we have failed to provide them with the educational opportunities they deserve. And I hope all of our Senate colleagues agree we need to protect LGBT students from bullying and discrimination.

 

We also have an amendment to expand access to high-quality early childhood education from Senator Casey.  Making sure kids can start kindergarten ready to learn is one of the best investments we can make to help them succeed in school and later in life. And I look forward to having that debate on the Senate floor.

 

M. President, we also need to improve accountability. Our bipartisan bill already includes federal guardrails to help students get access to a quality education.

 

But there is more we can do to strengthen those measures, and make sure all kids – especially our most vulnerable students – are able to learn, grow, and thrive in the classroom.

 

So we have many issues to still work through before concluding debate on this bill. Getting this right could not be more important for students across the country. And providing a quality education isn’t just good for students today.It’s an investment in our future workforce. It’s an investment in our future economy. And it will help our country grow stronger.

 

Around the country – and in my home state of Washington – parents, students, teachers and communities are looking to us to fix No Child Left Behind. We can’t let them down.

Thank you, M. President. I yield the floor.