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.”

Ways To Connect

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?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

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?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

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.

Read More on I Wonder Why ... ?

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?

Read more on I Wonder Why ...?

"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?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 ... ?

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Richard Wohl-Corbin

"...There are ideas out there other than cutting.”

College students will descend on Olympia today as the legislature kicks off a special session to tackle the state’s budget shortfall. Nearly a dozen schools have banded together to send busloads of students to the capitol. 

montchr / Flickr photo

The ability to smoke a cigarette on college campuses is becoming a subject for the history books.

Several colleges in the Pacific Northwest have banned smoking – not only in and around buildings as required by law – but everywhere on school grounds.

Kevin P. Casey / Associated Press

Occupy Seattle demonstrators are back at Seattle Central Community College this morning after a largely peaceful protest in the University District last night.

About 600 people, including labor union members and students, came out in support of the “National Day of Action.”

Seattle Police Department

Have you ever wondered what a Seattle police officer does all day? You’re not alone.

The department says it typically has long waiting lists of people who want to ride along on patrols. Now it’s offering a way to virtually give everyone a chance to see the action.   

It’s been more than a quarter century since high school graduation requirements changed in our state. Now, the board of education has voted to increase credits in certain subjects. 

Some school administrators say the move is a step backward for other learning opportunities.  

Charla Bear / KPLU

Now that voters have kicked the state out of the liquor store business, some people are looking forward to changes in how they buy booze. Others, though, say the decision is not cause for celebration. 

Charla Bear / KPLU

Thousands of students across the state are taking the SAT this weekend.

The college entrance exam plays a big role in admissions, but a lot of students are poorly prepared for it. Some educators say an easy way to change that – and get students to gear up for college earlier – is to pay for sophomores or juniors to take a preliminary version of the test. 

King County Metro

If you rely on the bus to get around Seattle, Shoreline or South King County, changes could be coming to your route. Metro is proposing reducing or redirecting more than 60 bus lines. 

The shifts are part of a plan to use revenue from King County’s car tab fee to preserve bus service.

Associated Press

Climate experts have predicted a colder and wetter than normal winter on the way for Washington, thanks to a second year in a row of La Nina’s effects. 

While some people in the area will be happy about a surge in showers, a lot more are probably disappointed or worried.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seattle has selected a contractor to build its new fleet of streetcars. The city is gearing up to start construction of a route through First Hill. 

Officials say it could be the beginning of many more streetcar possibilities.

As people across Washington face the deadline to pay their property taxes – Seattle is asking homeowners to consider shelling out even more next year.

The Families and Education levy is up for renewal on the November ballot … at double the cost to taxpayers. 

The unemployment rate for teens and young adults in Washington is one of the highest in the nation – and it’s especially tough on high school dropouts. That’s why state education leaders are trying to ramp up an effort to help students get diplomas and jobs or college placements at the same time.

The so-called "Carmageddon" in Los Angeles this summer was a bust — but its Seattle-based sequel "Viadoom" is being billed as the real deal.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct shuts down at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, nearly 90,000 drivers will face detours and delays. Transportation officials have been encouraging commuters to ditch their cars during the nine day closure. Otherwise, they say roads through the city will be total gridlock.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Members of King County’s labor council rallied today to call for job growth in the Seattle park that’s been home to Occupy Seattle protests. Labor leaders say they did not want to co-opt the grassroots movement but saw a rally in Westlake Park as an opportunity for both groups. 

The labor council was originally planning to hold its rally in a park near Pike Place Market. Apparently, that spot was so three weeks ago. With all the recent attention on Westlake, they quickly switched gears.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Students in a Federal Way Public School taught a Hollywood actor a little about STEM education. Danny Glover visited a science, technology, engineering and math school to learn about innovations in public education. 

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