K-12 Education

Colin Fogarty

Cursive handwriting may soon go the way of the card catalog and the film projector. Schools are moving to new curriculum standards that put more emphasis on typing skills. But not everyone is ready for the cursive alphabet to become a relic. Jessica Robinson reports the Idaho legislature is considering a statewide cursive mandate.

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. 

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.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Federal Way's attempt to push kids to the next level may have had some impact. Recent results of exams in advanced courses, the school district says, shows more kids did take the tests without lowering the percentage of passing scores.

Bottom line: More kids in advanced classes + more kids taking the exams and passing = more students who can handle harder classes than they might have taken on their own.

The district hopes that also means more kids will go to college.

rytc / Flickr

When kids in Seattle head back to school in a few weeks, you might notice a lot more of them getting there on foot.

Some Seattle students who took yellow buses last year won’t have service this year. Others could have to wait at new stops, up to a half of a mile away from their homes. 

Charla Bear / KPLU

More than 300,000 kids who qualify for free or reduced breakfast in Washington are not eating it.

Participation in the state’s early morning meal program is so low, educators and children’s advocates have launched a new effort to get schools focused on the issue.

Seattle Public Schools

Some students with the lowest test scores in Washington have made big gains over the past few years, while others have fallen farther behind.

Researchers found a mixed bag when they looked at the Title I program, a federal effort to help disadvantaged kids.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools will shut down for a day just before school starts this fall. It will also close early on a later date during the school year.

Lesley Rogers, chief communications officer for Seattle Public Schools, says asking most of its staff to be gone on the same day sends a message to the state.

Despite facing the steepest budget shortfall in the past 3 years, Seattle Public School officials say class sizes will not get any bigger next fall. The district's school board unanimously approved a plan last night to close a $45.5 million gap with considerable cuts to school supports and jobs, but teachers were largely spared.

Issaquah School District

Hundreds of teachers throughout Western Washington are unsure if they’ll return to their classrooms next year. Many districts have had to layoff instructors to balance their budgets as support at the state level dwindles. Even districts with the most resources are feeling the pinch.

Most schools are used to working with children whose native language isn't English. In most of the Northwest and the nation, that means Spanish.

But in Spokane, immigrants from a remote set of South Pacific islands have sent schools scrambling to find translators for a language most of us have never heard of. It's called Marshallese. Turns out,  people from the Marshall Islands are leaving their tropical home for the Northwest in large numbers.

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.”

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. 

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. 

A proposal to base teacher layoffs on performance - and not seniority - has died in the Washington legislature. The bill's demise is a victory for the state’s teacher's union, but a frustrating defeat for some lawmakers. 

Currently, when school districts reduce staff newer more junior teachers typically lose their jobs first. A bipartisan proposal in the Washington legislature would have changed that.

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.  

Washington State PTA (WSPTA)

Hundreds of families will rally in Olympia today to send a message to the legislature. Despite budget challenges facing the state – they say lawmakers need to keep their hands off school funding. 

The recession is forcing Washington families to make tough decisions about their children’s education. As incomes have dwindled, so has attendance at private schools. In the past few years, the schools have lost nearly 3,000 kids, according to data reported to the state. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

As schools across the state grapple with huge budget issues, administrators in Seattle say they need to cut elementary counselors, programs for struggling students and full-day kindergarten classes. Those are some of their final recommendations after months of pouring over options.  

Administrators did manage to shave more than $1.7 million from the budget gap, but they still face a nearly $35 million shortfall.   

Save our home: Henry Foss High School facebook page

Foss High School students, parents and community supporters will line the streets around the school today in an effort to save it from temporary closure.

The superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools has proposed mothballing Foss and some small elementary schools for at least three years to reduce the district’s budget deficit. He says closing the high school could save $2 Million next year. 

Eric Gay / AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools' latest plan to shore up its budget deficit could mean some students won't have bus service next year and most will have to get up earlier. Families can get more details and voice concerns on these changes and more at a series of meetings starting tonight:

Nearly a third of children in Washington don’t appear to be ready for kindergarten.  And more than half aren’t likely to have necessary language skills.  The findings come from the state’s first attempt to assess some of its youngest students. 

The assessment, called WaKIDS, includes evaluations of four domains:

Gary Davis / KPLU

Updated Jan. 27, 2011 to correct projected Seattle Public Schools projected deficit for 2011-12 as $36.6 million, rather than $50 million. KPLU regrets the error.

As the Seattle School District deals with a giant deficit, district officials say they’re going to get tough when it comes to collecting money from families.

Parents have to pay $207 a month to send a child to full day kindergarten. But the district is waiting for hundreds of checks to arrive in the mail.


Making headlines around western Washington this morning:

  • Another 787 Delay
  • A Break in Flooding
  • Potential Hits to K-12 and Community College Construction
  • Huskies Drop in Polls

Kim Trick / Hyla Middle School

Not all kids are enjoying a day off thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Teachers and administrators at Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island see it as the perfect time to give students a new perspective on the civil rights leader.  

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seniors who graduate from Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle have a new price for their first year of college – free.  The president of South Seattle Community College says it’ll give one-year tuition scholarships to any student who gets a diploma and fills out a couple of forms. 

Via Tacoma Public Schools website

Half of Tacoma's middle schools now rank among the lowest-performing in the state. Baker Middle School is the fifth to land the dubious distinction.

The bright side? Low-scoring schools become eligible for federal grants intended to help turn things around. 

The News Tribune's Debbie Cafazzo reports Baker's student scores may reflect their challenges at home:

Rachel Solomon

The Mercer Island High School marching band weaves and dances through the streets. They’ve been practicing since 7 a.m.,even though it’s winter break, and a lot of their friends are sleeping in.

A hue and cry has erupted in response to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal to slash billions more in anticipated state spending. The Democrat Wednesday unveiled her plan to close a $4.6 billion budget shortfall.

A student gets help with his schoolwork in a Seattle program for at-risk youth
Seattle Office for Education

Washington is finally making progress on closing the achievement gap between different groups of students, but researchers say it’s not all good news.  A new report found that the gains mean some students will still lag behind for more than a century.