Youth & Education

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

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Garfield High School's administration submitted a staffing plan to Seattle Public Schools Thursday that's strategically designed to prevent a teacher from moving out of the building for the second half of the school year, according to a leader of the school's PTSA.

District officials had asked the school's administrators to identify the equivalent of one full-time teacher who would move to another school at the end of the first semester. They said Garfield High School's final enrollment numbers came in well short of predicted levels and the teacher is needed elsewhere.

But instead of identifying one teacher, Garfield High School PTSA co-president Kirk Wohlers said the school named five teachers who could each leave the school for one class period each.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday proposed pumping an additional $1.3 billion into Washington's K-12 schools in the next two-year budget, which he says would allow the state to meet a high court mandate to fully-fund basic education a year early.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle School Board members offered the district's open superintendent job to the current interim, Larry Nyland, at a special meeting Wednesday night, aiming to slow years of staff turnover in top administrative positions.

Seattle Public Schools

  If it's possible to not seek and yet still find, Seattle school leaders hope they have their man in interim superintendent Larry Nyland.

School board members appear poised to strip the "interim" tag from Nyland's title with a vote at a special meeting Wednesday night that would open up talks to keep him at the district's helm for two and a half more years.

Wes Chapman / Flickr

The issues of race and class currently fueling protests around the U.S. manifest in a different way in the classroom, says Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian.

"Many of our students feel they're being set up," said the educator-activist and advisor of Garfield's Black Student Union who led the school's testing boycott in 2013.

Hagopian says the setup exists in the standardized tests policymakers across the nation have increasingly used to measure the gap in academic performance. The gap, he says, too often separates students of color from their white peers, and hold teachers and school leaders accountable for closing it.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Hawi Ali wonders what went on behind closed doors as a grand jury deliberated the case of a Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager last summer.

Then again, Ali suspects she doesn't have to wonder at all.

"Since it's such a repetitive pattern, I don't think it's about the discussions they have," said Ali, a junior at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School. "I really think it's blatant racism."

Seattle Public Schools

One item on Wednesday night's Seattle School Board agenda drew a lot of attention when it was posted on the night before Thanksgiving: a proposal to open up talks to hire interim superintendent Larry Nyland on a permanent basis.

Ahead of Wednesday night's meeting, two board members floated another plan: extend Nyland's temporary contract into 2016, keeping Nyland at the district's helm on an interim basis for another year.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

Nearly four out of five Tacoma high school students graduated on time in 2014 — the highest graduation rate the district has posted in the decade Washington state has officially tracked the figure, district leaders announced Tuesday.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

On a day when frenzied holiday shoppers will pay a significant sum in state sales taxes, a group of teachers is organizing a protest near the Redmond campus of a corporation that they wish paid more taxes: Microsoft.

The teachers' planned the Black Friday protest to urge state lawmakers to put corporate tax breaks, not social services, on the chopping block in their effort to find at least $2.5 billion in new funding for schools.

"Many of the families of our students can't afford the Christmas gifts they want to buy unless they go to those sales on Black Friday. They are going to be paying a lot of sales tax on Black Friday," said protest organizer and Renton teacher Julianna Dauble. "We chose it to highlight [the fact] Microsoft will not be paying taxes on Black Friday."

This January, Washington State University plans to ask lawmakers for permission to open a medical school in Spokane.

The question is whether the University of Washington will oppose that effort. It currently runs the state’s only school for doctor of medicine degrees.

Seth Weinig

State child welfare workers have outlined plans to implement new training and data management practices, hoping to finally push Washington's foster care system into full compliance with a decade-old legal agreement.

But state officials also say they'll realistically need nearly $7.8 million more from lawmakers' next two-year budget to hire back the staff they need to meet all 21 benchmarks for improving foster care laid out in the 2004 settlement of the Braam v. Washington case.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

City officials and Seattle Public Schools educators "share the responsibility" for Seattle children's academic performance, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a speech to assembled municipal and school district leaders Monday night.

And, Murray added after his remarks at the State of the District event, city officials ought to "become more integrated" and "collaborative" in efforts with Seattle Public Schools leaders to close a stubborn achievement gap between white kids and students of color.

"We can collaborate together," Murray said in his speech. "We can produce game-changing, transformational results. We can do it without fears about control or governance, or turf. This is about our children. This is about closing an opportunity gap. This isn’t about turf."

Colin Archer / AP Photo

Students receiving special education services in Washington public schools are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school and more likely to end up suspended or expelled, and in many cases, their disabilities are not to blame, according to a new state report.

In the report, the independent state office that handles disputes between parents and public schools calls on state lawmakers to empower a blue ribbon commission to determine how best to remove "unnecessary divisions between 'special education' and 'general education.'"

Hope for Gorilla/Flickr

Should Seattle schools adjust their start times to let middle- and high school students get more sleep?

It's a riddle that's vexed Seattle Public Schools for the last six years, and a 30-member district task force kicked off a months-long process Thursday night of solving it.

Some parents and sleep experts have lobbied district leaders to let the district's schools, most of which currently start classes at 7:50 a.m., begin their school days at a later hour. One way to accommodate that change, they say, is for elementary schools, which currently begin their days at either 8:40 or 9:30 a.m., to start classes earlier.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How often does a ballot initiative in Washington state garner 60 percent support or better in public opinion polls before Election Day, only to wind up losing?

Pollster Stuart Elway can count the times on one hand. But now, there's a real possibility he could add a statewide class-size initiative to the list. 

Two October polls showed voters supported Initiative 1351, which calls for hiring thousands of teachers in an effort to reduce public school class sizes, by wide margins. Yet the vote count as of Thursday afternoon showed the initiative trailing by 12,171 votes, or 0.86 percentage point. An automatic recount occurs if the margin is 2,000 votes and less than one-half of a percentage point.

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