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Superintendent Semler to run for state’s top education post
November 30, 2007
"I am seeking the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction." With those words, Dr. Richard Semler, superintendent of the Richland School District, officially announced that he will run for the state's top education post next year. The announcement came at last night's (Tuesday) meeting of the Richland School Board.
"My professional life has been focused on doing what's best for students and teachers," said Semler. "I've searched my soul about this and decided that I'm not ready to retire and go out to pasture. My work is not yet complete. I will use my skills in managing people, improving systems and forming partnerships to improve the educational system in Washington state."
"I am ecstatic that Dr. Semler has decided to run for the position of state superintendent," said Rick Jansons, president of the Richland School Board. "He's a leader who knows how to motivate others. He's a man of vision, high standards and integrity. Dr. Semler knows the problems teachers and students face every day. Most importantly, he knows how to fix problems and move ahead."
Dr. Semler has worked in the public education field for 37 years, all in Washington state. He has served as Richland superintendent since 1997 and will retire in June 2008. Before coming to Richland, Dr. Semler was assistant superintendent of the Issaquah School District and superintendent of the Vashon Island School District. He began his education career as a teacher at the elementary and middle school levels. He earned his doctorate from the University of Washington in 1994.
"If elected, the students, parents and educational professionals of Washington state will be my clients. I will serve them," said Dr. Semler. "My years in education have given me a maturity and breadth of experience which will enable me to work cooperatively with all stakeholders. Together, we can solve complex problems.
"I'm an optimist. I believe we can create an environment which nurtures, supports and encourages teachers. We can attract the best and brightest to teaching and keep them in the profession. The result will be improved student learning."
Dr. Semler and the Richland School Board have been out front the last two legislative sessions lobbying for changes in the state's assessment system, primarily the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test. They have testified several times before legislative committees in Olympia.
"The WASL is expensive to administer. Schools across the state lose many hours of instructional time administering the test," explained Dr. Semler. "The results are known months later so the data is not timely and can't be used effectively to guide and plan instruction. And certainly, we shouldn't use the results from one test to determine whether a student graduates from high school. The good news is that there are alternative assessment tools which are more effective than the WASL."
"We've been blessed to have Dr. Semler as superintendent of the Richland School District," said Phyllis Strickler, vice-president of the Richland School Board. "The District now has a consistent curriculum adoption cycle, a diagnostic testing system that gives timely feedback to teachers and students, a sound financial structure and a preventive maintenance program for facilities. He's done an extraordinary job."