Youth & Education

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

Forget the debate over participation trophies. The starkest divides in American parenting have less to do with warring philosophies and more to do with money, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The poll of more than 1,807 parents finds that income and family structure powerfully shape parents' concerns and children's opportunities.

But first, some bright spots:

Gun control. Climate change. Donald Trump. Affirmative action.

The first presidential primaries are just weeks away and with all these debates and issues in the headlines, there's no question that students are going to want to talk about them.

But how should teachers handle these discussions?

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Jocelyn Alexander Shaw wants her students to stop settling for less than their best work.

Children's personal information isn't supposed to be an online commodity. But whether kids are using Google apps at school or Internet-connected toys at home, they're generating a stream of data about themselves. And some advocates say that information can be collected too easily and sometimes, protected too poorly.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

State educators want to know more about why certain kids get trapped in a cycle of discipline at school. They’re hoping new data out Monday will help cut down on suspensions and expulsions.

Statewide, discipline rates have gone down the past few years. But for some groups of students, that’s not the case. State officials won’t get specific, but they’re trying to figure out how principals and teachers think about different groups of rule breakers when they mete out punishment.

Every morning, the familiar routine plays out in hundreds of thousands of classrooms: A teacher looks out over the desks, taking note of who's in their seats and who isn't.

On any given day, maybe there are one or two empty chairs. One here, one there. And that all goes into the school's daily attendance rate.

But here's what that morning ritual doesn't show: That empty desk? It might be the same one that was empty last week or two weeks ago. The desk of a student who has racked up five, 10, 20 absences this year.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Incidents of tampering with a set of standardized tests were probably the result of intra-office quarrels rather than an attempt to get away with inflating scores, according to an independent investigation into the suspicious test results at Beacon Hill International School in Seattle. KPLU obtained the report through a public records request.

First thing Friday morning, Bill Florence is getting his two kids, Chloe, 11, and Austen, 8, ready to head out the door.

"Did you guys brush your teeth?" he asks. "Yes," they moan.

Monday through Thursday, Chloe and Austen catch the bus to Peralta Trail Elementary School, but today, their dad scoots them into the family's silver Honda.

Courtesy Act Now for Washington Students Facebook Page

Washington state's charter schools will get one last regular infusion of state money — for their November operating expenses — before a state Supreme Court decision shutting off their current funding source takes effect next month, state education officials confirmed this week.

Jasperdo / Flickr

Western Washington University administrators called off all classes Tuesday after getting word of "hate speech targeted at Western students of color" on social media.

WWU president Bruce Shepard said in a statement there was "no threat to general campus safety," but that he canceled classes in order to give the Bellingham campus time "demonstrate our outrage, to listen to each other, and to support each other."

The two births that would change everything for Taylor Delhagen were due to occur 24 hours apart. If all went according to plan, his school would come into being one day, and his first child would arrive the next.

The baby boy's impending arrival had Delhagen contemplating the gravity of his role as a teacher opening a charter high school in one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods: Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

UPDATED — Washington state Supreme Court justices have denied a request from charter school advocates to reconsider an earlier ruling that ends state funding for charter schools.

A spokeswoman for the court said justices original ruling will become effective Dec. 14.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Seattle School Board members issued a vote of confidence in the district's top administrator Wednesday night, approving a five percent raise and a one-year contract extension for Superintendent Larry Nyland by a 6-1 vote.

But Nyland surprised the board room by saying he would donate the amount of this year's increase in his base salary — more than $13,800 in total — back to Seattle Public Schools' general fund.

Hope for Gorilla/Flickr

Starting next year, all Seattle high schools will push their start times later — most of them by almost an hour — and most elementaries will start significantly earlier under an overhaul of the district's bell schedule school board members approved Wednesday night.

The board's 6-1 vote puts Seattle Public Schools on a relatively short list: by one count, only 70 districts nationwide have pushed back high school start times in an effort to match students' natural sleep rhythms with their school schedules.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Congressional leaders have emerged from closed-door negotiations in Washington D.C. with a preliminary deal to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, raising hopes that lawmakers might be able to finally pass revisions for a federal law that's crucial to students and schools.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

A lengthy investigation into who altered Beacon Hill International School students' answers on standardized tests has come up empty, Seattle Public Schools officials announced Tuesday.

Last fall, state officials threw out all of the elementary school's 2013-14 test results after Beacon Hill saw an unusual jump in its scores and a district review found "heavy erasure marks" in students' exam booklets.

If you want to go to college to learn how to design, build, fly or fix a drone, your time has come. Many institutions of higher learning around the Northwest are recognizing that unmanned aircraft could become a key technology of the future.

 

The Seattle School District faces some ongoing challenges. This was one of the messages of the “State of the District” address delivered by Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

After an outcry from parents, Seattle Public Schools administrators delayed Wednesday's school board vote on proposed changes to the policy that broadly explains how students are assigned to the district's 97 schools.

District officials had insisted the changes were meant to streamline the Student Assignment Plan, a fundamental document they said had become unwieldy and self-contradictory.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Four years ago, Marty McLaren took on a well-funded Seattle School Board incumbent and won on a promise to question the district establishment.

Now, early results of Tuesday’s vote show she herself is in danger of losing to an insurgent challenger, Leslie Harris, who says McLaren has become too much a part of that establishment.

rytc / Flickr

UPDATE — Seattle Public Schools superintendent Larry Nyland has asked school board members to delay their vote on proposed changes to the district's Student Assignment Plan. KPLU's original story, originally posted Tuesday morning, follows here:

Already fired up by a teachers strike and a district-wide staffing shake-up, Seattle Public Schools watchdogs are sounding the alarm yet again — this time, over proposed changes to an arcane-sounding policy: the Student Assignment Plan.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Many of the parents angry at Seattle Public Schools are not likely to see Marty McLaren as the insurgent school board candidate she once was.

To many of them, after one term on the board, McLaren's now a part of the district's edifice.

Poor mothers often spend way too much time hunched over a washboard. What if they could use those hours to curl up with their kids and read a book instead? A group of friends at Oxford University plans to find out by developing a combination childhood education and laundry services center, a concept they've dubbed a "Libromat."

Today, President Obama and the Department of Education released a Testing Action Plan, calling on states to cut back on "unnecessary testing" that consumes "too much instructional time" and creates "undue stress for educators and students."

Kyle Stokes / KPLU News

Teachers will be pulled from seven Seattle schools and reassigned to new buildings next Monday, as part of a district-wide staffing shake-up officials announced Thursday.

Five other buildings gained teachers in the shuffle, but another 17 schools had to close vacant positions, voluntarily reduce teachers' hours, or find money to pay for teachers whose jobs can no longer be supported due to lower-than-expected enrollments across the district.

John Froschauer / AP Photo

Washington state's top elected school official, Randy Dorn, announced Thursday he will not run for a third term as Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016.

But Dorn said he would remain involved in policy discussions. The statement announcing his decision said, "neither the Governor, the Legislature nor the Court have provided … leadership" in an ongoing debate over school funding.

rytc / Flickr

 

The Seattle School Board is considering a plan that could lead to teenagers and tweens being more rested and ready to learn. A proposal is going before the board which calls for a later start time for middle schools and high schools.

Mark Noltner, who lives in suburban Chicago, heard about McTeacher's Nights when he found a flier in his daughter's backpack last year.

"There was a picture of Ronald McDonald [on the flier]," he says, and it was promoting the school fundraiser at a local McDonald's.

During McTeacher's Nights, teachers stand behind the counter at McDonald's, serving up food to their students who come in. At the end of the event, the school gets a cut of the night's sales.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU News

Fired up over school district administrators' proposed staffing shake-up that would remove teachers from as many as 24 schools, a group of roughly two-dozen parents briefly shut down a Seattle school board committee meeting Wednesday night.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The future of Washington state's charter schools may be up in the air, but for now, they are still receiving public funding.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled last month charter schools violate Washington’s constitution, state education officials sent regular funding payments to the schools at the end of September, according to Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

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