Charla Bear

Education Reporter

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.

Charla's most memorable public radio moment: “Sitting alone in a room with a convicted murderer who had just been paroled. The only thing between us was a microphone, as he told me how he had transformed his life and become a priest.”

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:00 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Why is Seattle such a white city?

Seattleites don’t like to admit it, but this is a pretty white city.

In fact, the latest census figures show it’s the fifth whitest of the 50 biggest cities in the country. That means there’s a higher proportion of Caucasian people here than in Denver, Oklahoma City, or even Minneapolis.

So why are there so few people of color in Seattle?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
6:00 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Why are we such gear freaks in the NW?

Museum of History & Industry and Charla Bear

In the Pacific Northwest, we know that yoga pants, polar fleece and hiking shoes are great for grocery shopping. But when we head into the great outdoors, we love to pile on the high-tech gear.

Sure, the weather here demands a certain level of protection from the elements. But what is it that compels people in the Pacific Northwest to want every piece of equipment out there?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:45 am
Fri May 18, 2012

What's with all of the totem poles in Washington?

Replica of a Tsimshian pole in front of the Burke Museum. Carved by Bill Holm, Curator Emeritus of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the museum, after the originals were destroyed in a fire.
Charla Bear KPLU

With all the totem poles in Washington State, it might surprise you to know the cedar monument isn’t from this region.

Though some local tribes now carve them, they didn’t originally.

In fact, the first one here was pilfered from another state.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Did Jesus Christ make Seattle under protest?

Illustration by Justin Steyer KPLU

You might say Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. Or, Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure.

Either way, this provocative statement is a big help when you’re trying to get around downtown Seattle.

It's a mnemonic device, a sentence that helps you remember the names and order of the city’s streets. The first letter of each word corresponds to a pair of streets between Pioneer Square and Belltown. Jesus starts with a "J" which means Jefferson and James come first. The "C" in Christ signals that Cherry and Columbia are next, and so on.

You might've already known that, but do you have any idea where the memory trick came from? Or, why it remains so popular?

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I Wonder Why ... ?
3:08 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Why do Utilikilts appeal to many in the Northwest?

"It’s only a skirt if you’re wearing underwear."

A Seattle guy set out to liberate men from their pants – his solution?

The Utilikilt.

If you’ve ever seen a Utilikilt, chances are you haven’t forgotten it.  Maybe you thought it was cool to see a Scottish-esque kilt with cargo pockets. Maybe you had a more visceral reaction ...

Whatever your feelings about them, they are part of the Northwest. The idea was born here. They’re manufactured here. They even have their own store in Seattle’s Pioneer Square Neighborhood. Why, then, are they so polarizing in their own hometown?

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Education
12:37 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Aberdeen paying $100,000 to bullied student

Russell Dickerson III (right) sued the Aberdeen School District for not protecting him from racial and sexual harassment. He will get $100,000 in a settlement with the district.
Charla Bear KPLU

An African-American man who was bullied when he was a student in Aberdeen has won a major settlement from the school district. Russell Dickerson III sued the district in federal court for not stopping his classmates from harassing him throughout junior high and high school. 

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Memorial Service
3:34 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Memorial pays tribute to park ranger killed on Mount Rainier

Family, fellow law enforcement officers and top government officials paid their respects to National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson at a memorial today. She was fatally shot on Mount Rainier on New Year’s Day after putting up a roadblock to stop a man who blew through a mandatory checkpoint.

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Higher Education
3:53 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Some 2-year degrees trump bachelor's degrees for jobs, income

Thinking about life after college: “A lot of young people think if they just go to college and get a degree in anything they’re ticket is punched and that’s not always the case."
o5com Flickr

We've heard a lot of stories lately about the struggles of young, unemployed people with college degrees. A Washington State agency says the reason for that is a lot of students are choosing the wrong majors for this economy.

If they spent less time and money on school, they might have an easier time getting a job and make more money, at least in the short term.

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Education
1:10 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Dogs, once-homeless kids share a love of reading (and each other)

Kids and dogs enjoy books (and each other) at the Brettler Family Place, a housing center in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood.
Charla Bear KPLU

Some of Seattle’s most at-risk students are getting help with their reading skills, but not from people.

Once a week, service dogs lend their ears to formerly homeless children as they read aloud. It’s become a learning experience for both the kids and canines.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
12:20 am
Fri December 23, 2011

A 'Rain City' mystery: Why don't people in Seattle use umbrellas?

Seems like Seattle has never been big on umbrellas. We wonder why.
MOHAI

A lot of people in the “Rain City” take pride in the fact that “real” Seattleites don’t carry umbrellas. But, I walk around town with a portable roof over my head. 

The result? I stay dry, my hair doesn’t get tousled, and I can use my iPhone while I wait for the bus. I also get dirty looks. Granted, my umbrella isn’t small. I actually call it my yurt. That might have a little to do with it, but the reality is this region is anti-umbrella.

Why? Is it weather denial? Affinity for wet jeans? An attachment to rain jackets?  

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

K-12 Education
2:01 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Hundreds of high school students ditch school to protest state budget cuts

More than 100 Ballard High School students walked out of their classrooms Wednesday afternoon to join a protest at UW against cuts to education.
Katie Kennedy

Hundreds of high school students are rallying at the University of Washington in protest of cuts to education. They walked out of their classrooms this afternoon and marched or rode buses to the University District. 

Students from at least five high schools, including Ingraham and Nathan Hale - and even a few students from Tacoma - have banded together for the protest. 

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K-12 Education
1:31 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

iPads are key to teaching some students, educators say

Christine Dunbar works with Parkwood Elementary students Jeffrey Coe and Shahiira Harrison on phonemic awareness skills using a tic-tac-toe game on the iPad.
Faye Rasmussen Shoreline School Distict

iPads are probably on a lot of people’s wish lists this holiday season, including teachers. Educators say the tablet devices allow them to reach students with learning difficulties in ways they’ve never been able to before. 

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Science
10:19 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Native Americans lost half of population in European conquest, new research shows

A new study used the DNA from Native American women in North and South America to show the indigenous population decreased by about half in the centuries following European contact.
miracc Flickr photo

A new study is shedding some light on a long-debated question about Native Americans. Just how much smaller was the indigenous population in North and South America after the European conquest? 

Clues can be found in DNA, according to research conducted at the University of Washington and University of Goettingen in Germany. 

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Public Safety
10:19 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Youth violence decreasing in Seattle, new report says

According to a recent report, efforts in the city of Seattle to deescalate youth retributions after violent encounters has helped bring down the number of violent incidents.
Dave Knapik Flickr

Young people in Seattle are committing fewer violent crimes than they did a couple of years ago – especially in areas that, historically, have had the most juvenile offenses, according to a new city report.

The drop could be the result of a citywide effort to combat the problem.

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K-12 Education
9:10 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Teachers across state to protest budget cuts as special session begins

Teachers across the state plan to protest cuts to public schools on the first day of the legislature’s special session to shore up the budget.

Hundreds of educators will rally in Olympia on Monday, Nov. 28. Even more teachers will deliver their concerns virtually.

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