Secretary Duncan and Senator Patty Murray visited Aviation High School in the Highline School District (south of Seattle) where they saw a robotics demonstration and participated in a STEM panel.

WA doesn’t have charters, but Aviation is a school of choice with some autonomy.  Kids come from 22 cities to attend STEM-focused Aviation which has a variety aviation and aerospace partnership.

Most interestingly, the panel discussed the importance of failure and the learning opportunities it provides.  Dean Allen, CEO of  McKinstry complimented Aviation for “being brave” and trying things.  Young engineers attending Aviation smiled when they talked about learning from failure.

Duncan was inspired by kids that obviously knew their stuff and worked well in team.  He encouraged the audience to think about how to create 100 more Aviation high schools around the country.  Duncan plugges Race to the Top (RttT) and other efforts to scale great new schools.

Highligh Superintendent John Welch is raising private money to build a new building at the Museum of Flight at the King County Airport.  He needs another $20m to get started.

Speaking of money, the Q&A focused, not surprisingly, on school funding and pending teacher layoffs.  Sen. Murray said they’ll find a way to get the supplemental appropriation done.

The AFT, which is meeting in Seattle, organized a little welcoming party for the secretary.  I think they borrow some ‘right not a race’ signs from the NEA meeting last week.  WA has submitted a RttT proposal but has no chance of winning.  Fortunately, there are pockets, like Aviation HS, where great things happening for kids in WA.

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Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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