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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Japanese Culture
8:00 am
Fri April 1, 2011

Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival strives for balance of celebration and solace

The organizers of Seattle's Cherry Blossom Festival say this year's festival will inform attendees about recent events in Japan while still celebrating spring.
Gray Davis KPLU

The Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival starts today. This year, the annual event isn’t just a celebration of spring. Organizers say it’s also an opportunity to work through feelings about the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month.

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Environment
3:39 pm
Tue March 29, 2011

Organic farming down in Washington despite growing demand for organic foods

Picking organic Gala apples near Royal City.
David Granatstein Washington State University

As sales of organic foods continue to climb across the country, organic farming in Washington has decreased. That surprised some researchers for a state that's one of the country’s top producers of organic produce.

While people in the agriculture industry expect certain crops to go through challenging cycles now and then, an annual study of the state’s organic farms shows "significant" declines in the past year, according to David Granatstein. He's sustainable agriculture specialist at Washington State University.  Granatstein co-authored a new study that found decreases in the number of organic producers, acreage and farm gate sales. 

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K-12 Education
5:22 pm
Mon March 28, 2011

Seattle schools win math textbook appeal

High school students in Seattle will continue to use a controversial math textbook after an appeals court affirmed the school board's decision.
Seattle Office for Education

Seattle Public Schools will get to keep using a controversial math textbook. An appeals court struck down a challenge to the "Discovering" math curriculum by a group of parents and local residents who call it “mathematically unsound.”

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Education
11:39 am
Mon March 28, 2011

Seattle's Families and Education Levy expands goals, money requests over the years

Nearly half of the 2011 Families and Education levy proposal focuses on early learning. It would also increases support for elementary school children and college and career preparation.
Seattle Office for Education

As schools and family service providers across the state struggle with budget cuts, taxpayers are being asked to help out more. In Seattle, the city council is gearing up to put the Families and Education Levy back on the ballot. Voters have renewed it every time it’s come up since former Mayor Norm Rice created it in 1990, but some people might not realize how much it’s changed. 

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Video Games
9:06 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Nintendo 3DS launch could be good for local headquarters

Analysts expect the new Nintendo 3DS to help the company rebound to highs of a couple of years ago.
Jon Jordan Flickr image

Nintendo’s handheld 3D game player hits shelves this weekend. Analysts expect it to mean big things for the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond.

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K-12 Education
10:02 am
Thu March 24, 2011

Bonuses aren't attracting teachers to low-income schools, UW researchers find

Hundreds of public school teachers in Washington are working toward their National Board certification, a highly rigorous program. Some, like Seattle School teacher Drea Jermann, pictured in 2009, teach in schools termed "challenged."
Gary Davis KPLU

Money is not enticing Washington’s top teachers to move to low-income schools, according to University of Washington researchers. They studied a state program that gives bonuses to teachers who go through a rigorous evaluation process called National Board Certification.

Supporters of the program, however, say it's successful because more teachers at struggling schools now have the high level proficiency endorsement.

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K-12 Education
4:52 am
Mon March 21, 2011

Kids develop math stereotypes in second grade, UW study finds

Students in a second grade class tackle math problems. A new UW study shows people form their math stereotypes at this age.
AP Photo

Girls start to think math is a boys’ subject when they’re just 7 or 8 years old. That’s what University of Washington psychologists found when they studied children’s stereotypes. They say those beliefs could play a major role in the choices kids make as they get older.

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K-12 Education
5:08 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

City panel could soon oversee ethics at Seattle Public Schools

Seattle school and city leaders want the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to take over the school district's ethics complaints.
Charla Bear KPLU

An independent watchdog committee could soon take over ethics investigations at Seattle Public Schools. The move is an effort to rebuild public confidence after an audit exposed questionable spending and a lack of oversight at the school district.

When state auditors investigated nearly $2 million in misspent funds by school district employees, they say an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation” was one reason whistle-blowers didn’t come forward. 

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Parenting
9:04 am
Thu March 17, 2011

How to deal with teens, 'tweens, and become a better adult

Author Michael Riera says adults often misunderstand teens and should be the ones to change if they want to improve relationships.
c-reel.com Flickr photo

Adults often get frustrated with the way teenagers behave. One minute they’re caring and communicative, the next they’re self-absorbed and impossible to connect with. I asked Michael Riera, who’s a parent, head of a school in California, and author of several books about deciphering teenagers, for suggestions on how to deal with them. He says teens aren’t likely to change, so adults have to make the following adjustments…and more:

  • Stop judging teenagers based on stereotypes
  • Don’t think you understand teens just because you were one
  • Modify your sleep schedule
  • Apologize if you lose your temper
  • Let teens teach you a few things

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K-12 Education
4:53 pm
Wed March 9, 2011

Lettuce shortage hits school lunches in Western Washington

Kids have a good excuse for not eating salads right now. They've been taken off the school menu in Kent because lettuce is in short supply. Schools in Seattle, Redmond and elsewhere in Western Washington are also scaling back on serving romaine, iceberg and other leaf lettuces.

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K-12 Education
8:43 am
Wed March 9, 2011

Get to know interim Seattle schools superintendent Susan Enfield

Interim Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield on her 3rd day on the job, March 7, 2011.
Charla Bear KPLU

Most people know very little about the new head of Seattle Public Schools. After Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was fired over financial irregularities last week, the school board named Susan Enfield interim superintendent. Enfield had only been with the district for a year and a half as Chief Academic Officer. KPLU education reporter Charla Bear sat down with her to find out what she brings to Seattle schools besides an impressive resume...and dozens of rubber duckies.

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Unemployment
7:53 am
Mon March 7, 2011

Worker retraining programs run dry at community colleges

David Puki, left, helps inspect a drum brake with Hal Glade, at South Seattle Community College. Puki, a laid-off Boeing worker, is studying to be an auto mechanic.
Ralph Radford AP Photo

Unemployed workers are facing yet another obstacle as they try to get back on their feet. A lot of community colleges have run out of money to retrain them for in-demand jobs. 

It’s hard enough for most people to find work right now, let alone those whose fields have been pummeled by the recession. Changes in the job market have driven more workers than ever to take advantage of grants for retraining. So many, that even though the state spent $17.6 million to train an extra 3,784 people this year, it hasn’t been enough.

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K-12 Education
9:45 am
Mon February 28, 2011

Parent launches Snoqualmie school bond recount

If you’ve ever wondered if one vote really makes a difference, consider a school bond measure in Snoqualmie. The proposal to build a new middle school in the rapidly-growing city was recently defeated by a single ballot. That doesn’t mean it’s dead. A parent decided the vote was too close to concede.

A majority of Snoqualmie residents supported the new school, almost 60-percent. Trouble is, when it comes to King County elections, almost doesn’t cut it.  

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Higher Education
8:11 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Budget cuts could mean fewer spots for Washington students, faculty at state universities

University of Washington's president says fewer in-state students will be accepted if lawmakers cut higher education budgets further than the governor's 2011-2013 budget proposal.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

More than 3,100 Washington students might not get into the state’s largest universities in the next couple of years. Hundreds of faculty and staff could lose their jobs. That’s what university presidents say will happen if the legislature slashes higher education funding beyond what the governor has already proposed.

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K-12 Education
3:40 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

Alleged fraud in Seattle Public Schools could mean staff changes, criminal charges

The Seattle School Board says it will review all managers' potential involvement in recent fraud allegations, including Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson.
Gary Davis KPLU

The Seattle School Board could soon decide whether some district employees should lose their jobs over alleged fraud within the school system. This week, the board expects to receive the results of an investigation into $1.8 million dollars in contracts for services that might have never been completed, or even started. 

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