Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Sound Effect Host / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KPLU moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

Ways To Connect

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Some prominent education officials, including the top dogs in Seattle and in Washington State, want voters to reject a ballot measure that would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is announcing his opposition to Initiative 1240 Thursday morning, the day after Seattle School Board members voted unanimously to oppose the ballot measure. Seattle Superintendent Jose Banda recently reiterated his personal disapproval of the initiative as well.

Auburn Police Departmemt

Vandals targeted eight schools over two nights this week in Auburn. The spree left some 265 windows shattered at elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the district’s pool and several vehicles.

School staff discovered the first wave of damage Monday morning. Vandals apparently armed with pellet guns had shot out windows at schools and district facilities across town. That night, the vandals appear to have struck again, doing even more damage. Auburn High School principal Richard Zimmerman says more than 50 windows were destroyed at his school.

jdnx / Flickr

A record number of cruise ship passengers shoved off from Port of Seattle this year, according to Port officials. Hitting a new height of 933,900 passengers aboard 202 ships. Each of those ships generates $2.1 million for the local economy, according to the consulting firm Martin Associates, including everything from taxes to tourism to stocking the galley.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

If Washington voters approve a ballot measure this fall legalizing marijuana, it would bring big changes – not just in the justice system, but in our communities. In our series “If It’s Legal: Five Ways Legal Pot Could Affect Your Life,” we consider some ways things could change for all of us, even people who never smoke pot. We begin with a basic question: would legal marijuana lead to more danger on the roads?

U. S. Geological Survey

What would you do if you knew a major earthquake was about to strike in 10 seconds? Some scientists say even a few moments’ warning could save lives, and they’re setting up a system that might soon give Washingtonians time to act before the shaking starts.

Ed Troyer / Pierce Co. Sheriff's Department

GRAHAM, Wash. – Dozens of horses were seized Wednesday from a Pierce County property where authorities said they were living in squalid conditions.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department took 39 sick or starving horses from the property in Graham. Among the horses recovered were a dozen Arabians and some stallions.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters next year to approve more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, and this week the public will have two chances to weigh in on the district's proposal and its priorities.

City of West Hollywood / Flickr

Medical cannabis advocates and some local officials say the federal government should leave marijuana businesses alone, even if they sell near Seattle schools. The advocates decried a recent wave of enforcement, framing it as an assault on patients and law-abiding businesses.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Washington state auditor has uncovered another batch of questionable spending by Seattle Public Schools in recent years, widening a scandal that cost a former superintendent her job. The new investigation found that former district official Silas Potter, Jr. made even more inflated payments than was previously known, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on work that was never done or grossly overpriced.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

After more than 12 years of waiting, the Seattle neighborhood of Belltown is getting a community center. The Belltown Community Center got underway in 1999, when voters approved a Parks levy to pay for it. After years of setbacks and delays, a dead-end partnership and scarce real estate, the city landed on a rental property. It’s an old auto shop on the corner of 5th Avenue and Bell Street, full of exposed beams, big windows and loft aesthetics.

Jonathan Caves / Flickr

King County needs to hit the reset button on how it deals with the use of force by its sheriff’s deputies, according to an independent report presented to County Council members.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

School districts are often encouraged to make sweeping changes in order to lift up low-achieving schools. Shutting a school down and overhauling it or replacing most of the staff are among the solutions favored by federal officials these days. But one struggling school in Tacoma is taking an opposite approach: they’re doubling down on the teachers they already have.

CAIR

A civil rights group is calling for the FBI to investigate what they say was a hate crime against nine Seattle-area Muslims.

On Sept. 1, Philip Brown and eight other young Muslim friends set out for a jet skiing trip to Lake Chelan, driving a Toyota Prius and a rented BMW 3 series sedan. After an afternoon in the freezing cold water, they say they returned to the parking area to find the BMW covered in racist slogans.

“Doon coons,” and another anti-Muslim slur that includes the “N-word” were scrawled in permanent marker, along with scratches and vulgar images.

USDAgov / Flickr

The recession has brought a major spike in the number of Washington families who experience hunger, according to data from advocates and federal officials. Hunger has gone up all over the country, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that Washington has fared worse than the country overall.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

As students around Puget Sound begin a new school year, administrators are pushing hard to close disparities in student achievement.

Washington students have made some gains on standardized test scores. Math scores ticked up in nearly every grade tested, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Superintendent Randy Dorn says he’s encouraged by the steady improvement, and credits an intense focus on math and science.

Great Beyond / Flickr

Seattle public libraries are closed this week, in an effort to cope with budget cuts. That inspired some locals to take matters into their own hands, establishing a temporary, outdoor “People’s Library.”

This is the fourth year Seattle libraries have taken a furlough week to save money, stranding would-be readers, internet users and stir-crazy parents. Among the exasperated were University of Washington graduate student Yates Coley and her friends.

MMWR / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fewer Washington parents are opting their children out of vaccinations, giving the state one of the biggest drops in vaccine exemptions in the country. Two years ago Washington had the highest rate of vaccine exemptions in the nation, with 6.2 percent of kindergartners taking a medical, religious or philosophical pass on getting one or more immunizations.

biologycorner / Flockr

Washington students did a bit better last year on one of the major standardized tests measuring college readiness. Just about one in five Washington seniors takes the ACT – the SAT”s slightly less famous cousin – but that group saw modest gains over the previous four years.  Thirty-eight percent of test-takers met the college readiness standard in all four subjects tested: English, reading, math and science, up from 34 percent year before.

sea turtle / Flickr

For the first time in its 47-year history, the Head Start program is introducing some tough accountability measures. That’s left three Washington providers fighting for their lives, including a Seattle program with a storied history.

Via Office of U. S. Sen. Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks hit the Olympic Peninsula Thursday, trying to sell locals on a plan to designate more wilderness there. They say their latest bill is a grand compromise, and they’re hoping to convince Olympic Peninsula communities that fought earlier versions.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Fifty years ago a group of Seattle students were asked to make predictions about the “classroom of the future,” as part of the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair. They came back with a mixed bag: phones that fit in your pocket? Check. Flying cars? Still waiting. (None mentioned high-stakes tests, Lunchables or Wikipedia.)

This year as part of the fair’s 50th anniversary, the Seattle Center asked students to make their own predictions about what school will look like 50 years from now.

Sikh communities around the Puget Sound region say they’re dismayed and saddened by the mass killing at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday, and they’re appealing for more education and outreach to the broader public.

Arkdog / Flickr

Police officers working in schools can’t necessarily search a student without a warrant, even though a teacher usually can. That’s the upshot of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court out Thursday, in a case involving a student at Robinswood High in Bellevue and the murky legal realm of cops in schools.

The Bellevue Police Department has five officers working exclusively in the schools. In this case, one of them caught the student with a bag of marijuana, arrested him, and then searched his locked bag without permission.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle’s new superintendent of schools won’t be voting for the charter schools initiative on the November’s ballot. He doesn’t care much for “site-based management” that gives lots of autonomy to individual schools and he’s leery of letting schools more easily opt out of controversial curricula, such as “discovery math.”

C4Chaos / Flickr

There are many more homeless children and young adults in King County than previous tallies have found, according to a new count out this month. The count found more than 140 children on the streets, in shelters or in unstable housing, and another 530 or so young adults 25 and under. Volunteers and social service agencies conducted the second annual one-night count in May, targeting homeless youth.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The city of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice have struck a deal on how to reform Seattle’s police department. The agreement heads off a threatened civil rights lawsuit against the city.

melissajonas / Flickr

Seattle recently spent a big chunk of money to improve services for homeless families with children, but city officials are at odds over whether it was spent solving the right problems. They grappled with it at a public meeting Wednesday, where homeless mothers told members of the city council that many were without a place to sleep that night.

A child who is 11 years old today could be paying more than $20,000 by the time he or she enters state school, according to an actuarial report prepared for the state's prepaid tuition program.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

A Seattle non-profit is trying to help homeless youth back up their important documents. Why does that matter? Well, try getting a job, government benefits or any number of other things necessary to get your life back on track, without proper paperwork. It’s an especially difficult challenge for homeless kids, who have no safety deposit box, no locked file cabinet, maybe not even a safe drawer somewhere.

Steve Albertson of Springwire, a non-profit that began by providing free voicemail service to homeless people, says often the young people just have a bag with everything in it, including their ID, work permits and phone numbers.

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