Youth & Education

Stories about education focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Youth & Education reporter, Kyle Stokes.

Talking to some Hong Kong residents, you might think their territory was under siege. Their press is censoring itself. Its judiciary is required to be "patriotic." Even their mother tongue, Cantonese, is under assault, some believe, from Mandarin speakers to the north.

Now add academic freedom to that list, as pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps have rushed to take sides in an ongoing battle over leadership of the territory's oldest institution of higher learning, the University of Hong Kong.

Before he arrived in Omaha as a doctoral student in computer science, Jason Jie Xiong says, "I didn't even know there was a state called Nebraska."

Jie Xiong, 29, who hails from a small city outside Shanghai, had landed a full scholarship at the University of Nebraska to teach and do research. He says he only knew "more famous states like California and New York."

He admits he found the program initially "by randomly checking information," but he's quick to add that he's happy there.

Erika Christakis' new book, The Importance of Being Little, is an impassioned plea for educators and parents to put down the worksheets and flash cards, ditch the tired craft projects (yes, you, Thanksgiving Handprint Turkey) and exotic vocabulary lessons, and double-down on one, simple word:

Play.

Americans have about $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And there's yet another survey out that shows students in this country are confused about their loans, in the dark when it comes to knowing what they've borrowed, uncertain about how to pay them back.

"Squat! Squat! Squat! Higher! Faster!"

In the basement of the Duane Physics and Astrophysics building at the University of Colorado Boulder, a science demonstration is going on, but it looks more like a vaudeville act.

One by one, students balance precariously on a rotating platform. Then they are handed what looks like a spinning bicycle wheel, holding it by two handles that stick out from either side of what would be the hub of the wheel. When you flip the wheel over, like a pizza, your body starts rotating in the opposite direction.

Acting U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. wants states and districts to focus on streamlined, higher-quality tests in a broader effort to win back some classroom time.

And here's the kicker: The feds will actually pay for (some of) the transition.

 

There are more than 35,000 public school students who are homeless in Washington state. That’s according to the state Office of Public Instruction.

More than 35,000 public school students in Washington were homeless last school year, according to new figures released Tuesday.

About 3.3 percent of Washington students are homeless.

More than two-thirds of those kids are in families that are doubled up with other families. The number of kids living in hotels and in shelters continues to rise, as well.

The state counted more than 1,600 kids living completely without shelter, up from 1,036 in 2011.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

 

From the Methow Valley to Seattle and everywhere in between, school districts will be going directly to voters on February 9 to ask them to say “yes” to higher taxes so that schools can keep paying for teachers' salaries, supplies and so that new buildings can be constructed to ease overcrowding.

 

Recent government sanctions against predatory for-profit colleges that preyed on veterans by using inflated job promises have opened the window on the wider challenges of helping veterans transition from service to higher education.

What's 12 divided by 302, 532?

It comes out to 0.00003967 or 0.003967 percent. That's the percentage of students in the entire world who took the test and earned a perfect score on the infamously difficult college-level Advanced Placement calculus exam last year.

Cedrick Argueta, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, was in that tiny fraction of perfection, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Participation in the academic program many credit with spurring a turnaround at Seattle's long-troubled Rainier Beach High School continues to increase.

This spring, more students will be taking the year-end exams attached to the rigorous college prep curriculum — the International Baccalaurate, or "I.B." — that Rainier Beach first began offering in 2013. More students are also pursuing the I.B. Diploma, a credential many colleges recognize.

For Some Schools, Learning Doesn't Stop On Snow Days

Jan 26, 2016

For kids up and down the East Coast, the snow that piled up over the weekend translates into a day or two without school. But in other parts of the country, snow days are taking on a new meaning.

Students in Delphi, Ind., are expected to log onto their classes from home when schools are closed for snow.

The seniors in Brian Tonsoni's economics class at Delphi Community High School are no strangers to technology — everybody has an Internet-connected laptop or smartphone in front of them in class as they work on business plans.

The Washington House has pledged to take action next year to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. The vote Monday also directs the 2017 legislature to fully fund competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.

Picture your favorite college professor. Here are some adjectives that might come to mind: Wise. Funny. Caring. Prompt. Passionate. Organized. Tough but fair.

Now, are you thinking of a man or a woman?

A new study argues that student evaluations are systematically biased against women — so much so, in fact, that they're better mirrors of gender bias than of what they are supposed to be measuring: teaching quality.

The Los Angeles Unified School District welcomed a new superintendent who represents a first for the nation's second-largest school district on Jan.11.

Michelle King is the first African-American woman chosen for the job, heading more than 900 schools in the district. She is also an insider — she has worked in the system for three decades — unlike the string of outsiders who held the job before her.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Nate Bowling is running out of space on his awards shelf.

In 2014, the social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma won a Milken Award — the "Oscar of Teaching," as one publication put it. Last fall, Bowling became Washington state's Teacher of the Year. Just last week, Bowling was named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

President Obama has increased college aid by over $50 billion since coming into office. And he's trying to do more.

Acting Education Secretary John King announced two new proposals today that would expand the Pell Grant program, the biggest pot of federal money for students with financial need:

  • Year-round Pell. Currently, students are only eligible for two semesters of Pell grants in a school year. Today's proposal would allow students to get extra money to cover a third session of, say, summer courses.

Things to know about Stephen Ritz, one of NPR's 50 Great Teachers:

He and his students made bow ties out of Scrabble tiles.

His Bronx classroom, a refurbished school library, has more plants than desks.

He calls the room his National Health, Wellness and Learning Center. It's got tower gardens, gleaming cabinets and counters, an industrial sink and a new, mobile cooking station.

"In this class, we go from seed to tower to table to plate in 20 feet," Ritz says.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A panel of state lawmakers weighed their options for keeping charter schools open long term in Washington during a meeting in Olympia on Tuesday.

Senate Education Committee members are considering two different bills with two different approaches to restoring and retooling the charter school law the state Supreme Court invalidated last year.

Education funding was front and center Monday as the Idaho and Washington state legislatures convened for their 2016 sessions.

Just because a toy's packaging says it's educational doesn't make it so. That's the finding from a new study in JAMA Pediatrics that found some toys being marketed as language promoters got in the way of learning.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After spending years debating possible ways out of the quagmire of state education funding, lawmakers from both parties and both houses announced Friday they may have a plan to fix the way the state pays for education.

Four years after the Supreme Court ruled the way the state pays for education is unconstitutional, the Washington Legislature is still debating how to finish responding to the court. They are working under a contempt order and a daily $100,000 fine until they do.

"What are some of the things that the monsters like to eat in this story?" teacher Marisa McGee asks a trio of girls sitting at her table.

McGee teaches kindergarten at Walker Jones Elementary in Washington, D.C. Today's lesson: a close reading of the book What Do Monsters Eat?

"They like to eat cake," says one girl.

"I noticed you answered in a complete sentence," McGee says. "Can you tell me something else?"

"Stinky socks!"

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

A second legislative proposal to preserve Washington's charter schools emerged Thursday, with its authors promising to reconstitute even more of the system invalidated by the State Supreme Court than another bill filed earlier this week.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A former state lawmaker from Gig Harbor announced Thursday he'll enter an increasingly-crowded field in the race to replace Randy Dorn in Washington's top elected education office: the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Former Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, joins three candidates already in the race: State Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater; Tacoma Public Schools administrator Erin Jones and current Assistant State Superintendent Gil Mendoza.

Here's a stark fact: Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it's even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn't include time spent using devices for school or in school.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Two Spokane state senators have floated a plan they hope will preserve charter schools in Washington state, which currently face an uncertain future after the state Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional last fall.

Ahead of the legislative session that begins next week, Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Michael Baumgartner filed a bill that would allow any local school board to continue to create and oversee charter schools within its district's boundaries.

In 2015, Khan Academy, which pioneered free, online video tutorials and lectures that have reached millions of students around the world, sought new ways of reaching new people.

It had already partnered with everyone from NASA to the Museum of Modern Art, and this past year Khan joined forces with the SAT's overlord, the College Board. The goal, in the parlance of our times, is to disrupt the billion-dollar test prep industry.

Jordan Shapiro drew a lot of attention this year with his four misconceptions about the future of education. As with much of his work, he tries to take a cattle prod to the conventional education narrative.

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