I hope this email finds you well and that you have been enjoying the autumn colors of the Pacific Northwest. As we transitioned from the relaxed pace of vacations and outdoor gatherings to the more autumnal rhythms of our daily lives, I want to take a moment to update you on the work and activities that have been keeping me busy over the summer and the past few months!
These past months have been filled with progress, and important milestones as I, along with some of our state’s leaders in K-12 education conducted my annual tour–a time wherein we visit schools and technical institutes across Washington. Every year we get to learn what’s needed in our schools straight from the teachers and students here in Washington.
Please, read below for more!
The Parent’s Bill of Rights
One of the most powerful pieces ever to emerge from my office has been the Parent’s Bill of Rights that we produced last session. It’s a comprehensive booklet that lists, in a readable and accessible way, all of the rights that Washingtonian parents are afforded in and around the classroom. The feedback we have received has been tremendous.
I have heard from teachers, parents, admin and educational leaders across the state–people love it. For those who have not yet had a chance to check it out, you can summon nearly all applicable laws and RCW pertaining to parents and students in Washington state here in the document or by clicking the front page photo below. The biggest outstanding question is why we didn’t think of it sooner!
Bringing Washington State to the World
Every year we get to learn what’s needed in our schools straight from the teachers and students. Last year I was honored with a personal invitation that took my school touring all the way to Finland. This year, we took our learning tour to Malta.
Finland is leading the world in big ways when it comes to education. They are championing both technology AND mastery-based learning in schools; a newer, better system of instruction that puts students at the core of their own learning experience. This, I believe, is how the future will look and we’ve already seen over 60 schools in Washington based on mastery and professional learning communities of teachers. it’s important that Washington is poised for that transition.
Malta’s education system was equally as riveting. Put on by the European Union (EU), the conference was a training symposium that brought together educators with expert trainers, thought leaders and industry players to learn, share and network on the future of education in Europe. We learned from world leaders how gaming and AI could be reimagined and utilized effectively in education. We also learned that Computer Science AND Coding will be required of all students for graduation.
Local Listening Tours
Every year after the dust settles from the legislative session I visit K-12 classrooms, technical schools and facilities all over the state. This year we chose to learn from La Connor Middle-High School, Quileute Tribal School, NW Career & Tech Academy in Anacortes, Vanguard Academy in Moses Lake, and Yakama Nation Jr./Sr. High in Toppenish. Over 400 miles of driving, it was beautiful to see the state and inspiring to meet with students. We learned much from our boots-on-the-ground educators and admin. We have a lot of good work to get started on and/or continue.
I’ll be releasing a full report on this later this year. But here are a few of my favorite photos in the meantime.
Minneapolis: The Education Commission of the States (ECS)
The ECS serves as a partner to state policymakers and provides personalized support helping education leaders come together to learn from one another. It’s a coalition of experts that help policymakers gain the insight and experience needed to create effective education policy and they invited ME to give the rundown on our special education formula here in Washington state! I was honored.
I spoke about our incentivizing inclusive classrooms where special education students spend 80% of their time. I told them how we fund transportation for students too fragile to ride the school buses and the support from the wonderful paraeducators we couldn’t function without.
Las Vegas: Code.org
Code.org is a non-profit organization and educational website founded by Washington’s own Hadi and Ali Partovi aimed at K-12 students. It specializes in computer science. The website includes free coding lessons, sounds, and many more things used to help students code fluently. Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Computer Science leads from 5 Washington Education Service Districts and I learned about the state of technology and planned investments and advancements for our students to prepare them for the digital economy they will move into.
If you haven’t seen it, check out my short video on the future of education. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6_8x2k-IJ4
As always, please feel free to reach out should you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
I look forward to hearing from you and as always, I am honored to serve as your state senator.