NASBE: Continuing with the Opening General Session

Stephen Wright, Connecticut State Board of Education, introduces Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). 

Senator Murphy: Proud product of public school system. Received graduate degree at public university. Our two kids attend public schools. I'm just so proud of this country, this innovative idea to provide public education. It's an agile system - may not feel that way - but I'm reminded, in my mind, it's rooted in the work that you and our teachers do. NCLB sucked the joy out of teaching and learning. Hopeful about ESSA to change that. Felt that the Department of Education was going to help schools, districts. "Untested idea" about what Departments can do regarding regulations. But, the law is still the law. Choose to be bold. You have discretion. Up to you as to what you choose. Challenge your schools. Look at non-academic measures that can be measured. Not like NCLB that the federal govt is going to tell you what you will do. the challenge is about the future potential of our public schools. The proposed Budget is catastrophic. It's a preview of what is going to come, if we aren't successful. Setting the bar too low will feed the idea that you don't need the Depart of Ed. They want to say that the public education system cannot deliver and give support to privatized education. I hope I hope I hope you will build high standards. Happy to take any questions.

Nebraska: Very interested in your mental health bill. Very concerned about funding for teachers for tiered 3 mental health support.

Murphy: It's a really important conversation. Some schools have full mental health clinics and some have almost none. In CT, it seems like we haven't decided where the mental health system will sit - within the schools, or outside of them. We need to make the decision, one way or the other.

Ohio: Thank you for your work on mental health, gun safety. When you talk about mental illness, get to toxic student stress similar to PTSD, and the importance of art, music, recess, social workers...what can we do to help you to help us help our children?

Murphy: Clearly, the measuring of non-academic skills can be part of state ESSA plans. How to make the school a really welcoming place. Title I dollars availability on this end, flexibility for how to use them on your end.

Utah: Want government to get out of the way of family role. (Speaks to Opt-Out and Data Privacy). How do you ensure that we don't replace the family role and how do we protect student data and health privacy.

Murphy: Those are great questions. The reason the government is involved is because of Civil Rights. Kids were being discriminated against. Required a federal role. Discrimination is still real and rampant in our schools. I don't have an answer for you on the data privacy, but if you do, please let us know.

Virginia: Congratulate you and everyone who helped bring us ESSA. We feel we're very ready in VA. We've eliminated some tests and looking at some of those other non-academic areas. VA is part of the massive resistance in this country. Help us persevere! Addresses poverty, hunger, homelessness. We are far from having "equity" in our Commonwealth. Schools need some capacity for mental health.

Murphy: I'm sincere that you all think big about this. The question is where is it best housed? Also, we need to be attacking poverty. Wealth and inequality "shrinks" with access to education.

That's a wrap.