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New state education head seeks more opportunities for students, less testing

Larry Delayney is a math teacher at Lakewood High School, and was recently elected president of the Washington Education Association. He joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss the state of teachers’ wages and his distaste for standardized tests.

“We fought long and hard for fair compensation, professional compensation for educators across the state, and there’s probably some pockets out there around the state that didn’t make the gains,” he said. “We’re in a much better place than we were 10 years ago, five years ago, one year ago, and there’s going to be cost of living adjustments that have to occur. But with that, we believe that we have the ability now to recruit and retain the best educators.”

Seattle teachers recently approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement. The raise that Seattle teachers and classified employees were fighting for is expected to be 11.1 percent. Teachers will see a 5 percent pay raise in the first year, a 2.1 percent increase in the second year and 4 percent in the third year.

The bump would increase teachers’ salaries to between $63,000 and $124,000 by the fall of 2021.

Delinking graduation from standardized tests

For Delayney, standardized tests force education into a narrow rubric that ultimately restricts learning.

“When we force educators to teach to test some arbitrary standards, that really hamstrings and we lose the richness of education,” he said. “We’re in a better place right now in public education in Washington, because now we provide multiple pathways for students to exit. Standardized assessment is simply one of those pathways.”

What can religious schools like King’s High School demand of staff?

“There is AP testing, IB testing, the SAT … One of the concerns that we do have with this current model is that there’s multiple pathways for high achieving students, college-bound students. We still need to work on providing more pathways for students who might not be as high achieving or might not be college bound.”

Delayney wants students of all interests to understand that there are multiple pathways to the workplace.

“We believe that every child should continue their education after school … and we want to provide the basic education that allows each child, each student to figure out where their strengths lie and pursue that after school,” he said. “For some students, that’s going to be college. For some students, that’s going to be immediately into the workforce. Might be the military. For others, trade schools.”

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What he appreciates most is the ability for teachers to impact others’ lives, and relishes those moments when you run into former students.

“I’ve been in this profession now for 27 years, and this is my first year completely out of the classroom, and I have the same experiences. It’s interesting when you run into people who are now 40 years-old and they’ll still say to me, ‘Hi Mr. Delayney,’ and that’s just so odd.”

“I say, ‘You can call me Larry, that’s okay.’ And they say, ‘No, I can’t. You’ll always be Mr Delayney.'”

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