Youth & Education

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

Eric E Castro / Flickr

As evidence mounts that harsh discipline policies in U.S. schools make students more likely to drop out or even to end up in jail, Washington state has not been able to explain why most students are getting in trouble.

More than half of the suspensions and expulsions handed down in Washington schools were not for drugs, alcohol, weapons or violence, but for "other behavior." The category has been a catch-all for a range of misbehaviors — from talking back in class to cheating on a paper, to sexual harassment.

Christos Tsoumplekas / Flickr

Seeing what's on the white board in front of the classroom doesn't mean you can read the textbook in front of your nose, so say lawmakers who are pushing a bill to have more comprehensive eye exams for students in Washington public schools.

The problem, as those supporting the bill see it, is that school eye exams are only required to measure distance vision, not near vision.

Sequim School District

After getting a drubbing at the polls in April 2014, when just 44 percent of Sequim voters supported a $154 million school construction bond issue, Kelly Shea says he got the message: "You guys are biting off more than you can chew."

Cactusbone / Flickr

A bill dividing Seattle Public Schools into two separate districts took another step forward in Olympia Thursday after House Education Committee members sent the proposal to the full chamber by a 16-to-5 vote.

Though it doesn't mention Seattle by name, the bill would bar any Washington school district from enrolling more than 35,000 students at the opening of the 2018-2019 school year. Only Seattle Public Schools currently fits that description.

The University of Washington

 

Why do women make up only 18 percent of the computer science majors at colleges and universities? And what can be done to increase their numbers?

These questions drove researchers at the University of Washington to look at how gender stereotypes prevent many young women from entering this male-dominated field. Over the course of two studies, researchers discovered some surprisingly simple solutions to bridging this gender gap.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The process of vetting new charter schools will look different during the next round of applications, the head of the Washington State Charter School Commission has now said.

It's one of the lessons the commission says it's learned as it raises new questions about the academic and financial health of Seattle's First Place Scholars school, the first charter to open its doors in Washington.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Even as low-income populations south King County's suburbs have surged, seven school districts in these communities have seen modest gains on key standardized test scores over the past five years, according to a new report.

But the report also highlights the stubborn achievement gap between socioeconomic groups. That gap will be very difficult to close within five years in the ethnically-diverse region, where one in five students is still learning to speak English.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

UPDATED — Seattle Public Schools has fallen short in bidding for a vacant downtown building, meaning the district’s search for a downtown school site has hit another dead end.

The district did not win the former Federal Reserve building in a government-run online auction that closed Saturday afternoon, officials confirmed.

I5design / Flickr

Idaho lawmakers are considering a proposal to make more room for Idaho students in a University of Washington med school program.

Idaho doesn’t have its own medical school, so the state instead works through a UW partnership known as WWAMI. It stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — the five states that participate in the program.

Courtesy Highline Public Schools

Highline Public Schools leaders are once again pushing for a property tax hike to build several new school buildings. A similar measure fell just 215 votes short in November. 

District officials have sent a $376 million bond issue back to Highline School District voters who have until next Tuesday, Feb. 10 to return their ballots in a special election.

Courtesy of U.S. Deaprtment of Education

If you are in high school and you want to go to college, almost every school you apply to will require you to have taken at least two years of a foreign language.

A representative in Olympia says prospective college students should have the option to skip Spanish or Chinese and take two years of computer science instead.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

University of Washington President Michael Young will become the next president of Texas A&M University sometime this spring, A&M's governing board has announced.

Jessica Robinson

Starting salary for Idaho teachers is lower than in Washington, Oregon and three other surrounding states. Superintendents in Idaho border towns say that has left them with shortages.

The salary for a first-year teacher in Idaho is around $31,000. It doesn’t help that St. Maries, a school district in north Idaho, is only 30 miles from Washington, where the teacher starting salary is 15 percent higher and teachers move up the pay scale much faster.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The role of Seattle's mayor in the city's education system will be up for debate in Olympia this week.

A House Education Committee will take public testimony at its meeting Tuesday on a bill that would give Seattle Mayor Ed Murray the power to appoint two of the seven members of the school board.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Garfield High School will apparently not lose a full-time teacher to another short-staffed Seattle school when a new term starts next week, district officials confirmed Monday.

Both principal Ted Howard and a leader of the school's parent-teacher organization said Monday they do not expect district officials will force the school to send five Garfield teachers to another school for one-fifth of the day.

Joseph Rodriguez / AP Photo

Washington schools enrolled more than 32,000 homeless students during the last school year, the highest count recorded since the state's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction began collecting data, according to a new report.

The OSPI report also shows students from minority groups make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population. For instance, though only one out of 20 students in Washington schools is black, one out of 10 homeless kids in the state is black.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will ask the legislature to amend a new voter-approved class size measure. That was the word this week from the governor’s budget director.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools officials will enter an auction for a vacant building downtown, the first significant step the board has taken toward opening what would be the first public school in the neighborhood since 1949.

School board members voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize the district to enter a bid for the former Federal Reserve Bank building.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran as part of our new show, “Sound Effect,” which airs on Saturdays at 10 a.m.

As a seventh grader, "Jennifer" lost count of the number of times she was suspended from school. Back then, she had an attitude and a big mouth and she wasn't going to mince words — even with her teachers.

"'Don't talk back to me,'" Jennifer remembered them saying. "And I'm like, 'I'm just being honest.'"

Over and over, different versions of this drama would play out in her classes. Sometimes teachers would kick her out for talking back. Sometimes Jennifer would get angry over some small thing and kick herself out of class.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools leaders are once again actively pursuing a vacant downtown building as the future site of a new public school. 

School board members will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize a district bid for the building, once home to Seattle's Federal Reserve Bank branch, in a public auction set to close on Jan. 28. The discussion comes just months after the district passed on the chance to take over the property.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

After years of false starts, an effort to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act appears to be picking up steam in Congress, and Washington state's senior U.S. Senator could play a key role in the debate.

Sen. Patty Murray is the top Democrat on the Senate committee that will oversee the overhaul of the outdated 2001 law that mandated schools to, among other things, ensure every single kid nationwide could pass a standardized test by last year. (That, of course, didn't happen.) 

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Washington state's publicly-funded preschool programs may be high-quality, but too few students have access to it.

That's the takeaway from newly-released ratings of state preschool programs from the magazine Education Week. Washington received a D grade and the third-worst rating of any state in the publication's Early Education Index.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

Plans to open an emergency shelter and crisis center in Tacoma to serve homeless teens and young adults are slowly moving forward.

City and Pierce County officials have jointly selected Olympia-based Community Youth Services as the operator of a proposed shelter with 20 or more beds for homeless 18- to 24-year-olds at night. The shelter would also offer access to services like mental health care, job training and education during the day.

Provided by Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle School Board members approved a contract through the 2016-2017 school year for new superintendent Larry Nyland

The terms board members approved during Wednesday's meeting set Nyland's base salary at a little more than $276,000 annually, roughly $6,000 higher than former superintendent José Banda's base salary.

"Our strategy in our discussions was to continue with the contract we had previously used [with Banda]," board president Sherry Carr said.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Supporters of a sweeping plan to reduce K-12 class sizes in Washington public schools cheered its passage in November, hailing it as not only an opportunity for schools to hire badly-needed staff but also as a chance for the state to fix a broken revenue system.

Yet Initiative 1351 has landed with a thud in Olympia. The Senate's GOP leadership will attempt to garner the votes to suspend the class-size initiative. Top House Democrats say they can't cover its massive $2 billion price tag. And the budget Gov. Jay Inslee released Thursday only covers a portion of it.

But Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn warned last week this chilly reception won't satisfy Washington state Supreme Court justices, who've already held lawmakers in contempt over school funding.

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.

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