Youth & Education

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

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The standoff over a series of tests mandated by Seattle Public Schools heated up Wednesday, as another high school joined a growing boycott of the tests and district leaders threatened protesters with suspension.

Teachers say the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, assess material not covered in class, give poor results and swallow up teaching time. Four schools have rebelled against the tests, with Chief Sealth High the latest to join. Superintendent Jose Banda made clear Wednesday what the consequences of that boycott could be: up to 10 days' suspension without pay.

Idaho is starting to see the education gap narrow for Latino students. That's according to the state's Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Latinos are the fastest growing segment of Idaho’s school system.

The commission's director Margie Gonzalez told a legislative panel the days of double digit drop-out rates for Hispanic kids are gone. More Latinos are enrolling in college. And last month, a national assessment of vocabulary showed huge gains among Hispanic students in Idaho.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Not every student thrives in a traditional classroom, but changing technology and new research on learning mean Washington kids have more alternatives than ever. They can homeschool part-time or go to class online, even if it means enrolling in a district clear across the state. But that’s allowed a whole raft of questionable practices, and set up a dilemma for policymakers.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The staff of a prominent Seattle high school is in full revolt over a district-mandated standardized test. Teachers at Garfield High School say the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, is nothing short of a waste of time. They say it’s not aligned with state standards, it sucks up classroom time and resources, and gives shaky results. So, they voted almost unanimously to refuse to administer the test.

School personnel and law enforcement around Seattle are stepping up school security in light to this Friday’s shooting in Connecticut. School officials say they know of no threats, but in an abundance of caution they’ve been taking some extra measures.

Lance Cheung / USDA

Another list ranks Seattle #1.  This time the data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and the ranking has to do with moms and dads volunteering their time.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools is set to stop busing students to schools outside their neighborhood next year, but that move might cost more money than it saves. The situation dates back to Seattle's move to a system of neighborhood schools instead of district wide school choice. The district continued to give some kids rides to their old schools during the transition. 

A pack of King County school districts has won of slice of the federal government’s Race to The Top fund, worth $40 million dollars over four years. Seven districts applied for the grant together, as the Road Map District Consortium. They said they’ll use the money to beef up preschool programs, enrich science and math learning in the primary grades, and offer training and testing subsidies to high schools.

Han Shot First / Flickr

When you think healthy eating for kids, you might not picture a Happy Meal. But local McDonald’s franchises and the Washington PTA are teaming up to encourage kids to make healthy diet choices. That’s touched off controversy among some parents.

dblackadder / Flickr

In just a few days, smoking marijuana won’t be much different from drinking a glass of wine, as far as state law is concerned. But in what may be the place most associated with pot-smoking – the dorm room – it will still be banned.

In Istanbul, major public transit projects are back under way after years of paralysis. The problem wasn't a lack of financing, but the layer upon layer of ancient artifacts that turned up every time the earthmovers started their work.

The excavation began eight years ago on projects intended to ease Istanbul's notoriously clogged traffic.

The job included building a tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait and linking it to a rail and subway network. When the dig was stopped several years ago, eyes rolled and shoulders shrugged.

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is asking state lawmakers to cap cost of living pay increases for public sector retirees. 

PULLMAN, Wash. – A 19-year-old man is at least the fourth Washington State University student to fall out of a campus building this school year.

Police say alcohol likely played a role in three of the falls.

The latest incident occurred early Sunday morning, when a student who had been drinking fell from a fraternity house balcony. Griffin Healey was in a Spokane hospital with head injuries.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Many jobs of the future will be in fields that go by the shorthand “STEM”: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But these are precisely the subjects where many American students are falling short. Educators are responding by creating STEM-focused schools, and in Seattle officials are breaking ground by pushing that emphasis back into younger classes, all the way to kindergarten.

Principal Shannon McKinney is in charge of figuring out how to build one of the first STEM elementary schools in the Northwest. K-5 STEM at Boren, as it’s awkwardly named, is in West Seattle, but any elementary student in the district can apply for a spot here.

As the school wraps up its first semester, McKinney and her team are still working out what a STEM education for Seattle’s youngest learners should look like.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Now that charter school backers have declared victory, opponents are readying possible legal challenges to the new law established by Initiative 1240.

State superintendent Randy Dorn has been warning for some time that he doesn’t believe the charter school law would be constitutional. Dorn’s office is charged with overseeing public schools in Washington, while the new charter schools would largely skirt his authority.

A Pac-12 spokesman said the athletic conference does not have a timeline for completing a review of the WSU football program. Over the weekend, university president Elson Floyd asked for outside help to investigate claims by a player of abusive behavior by the coaching staff. Meanwhile, a sports ethics expert is praising the player for speaking out. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

As voters in Washington continue to mail in their ballots this week, a group of distinctly smaller citizens is weighing in online. Students across the state are voting in a pair of mock elections, giving democracy a dry run.

At Seattle’s Chief Sealth International High School. politics isn’t exactly front and center for a lot of students. Many do have opinions about the presidential race, or whether to legalize marijuana, but what about these guys Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna?

“No one really talks about that stuff at school,” said ninth-grader Janelle Barlow.

cdsessums / Flickr

One item on the November ballot might look familiar to Washington voters, an initiative to allow charter schools. The deja vu could be because charter school measures have already gone before voters three times, most recently in 2004. 

But there’s a key difference this time that could have some far-reaching effects, and that’s what parent Steve Nesich wanted to talk about when he testified before the Seattle School Board about Initiative 1240.

About a thousand more international students are hanging out on the University of Washington's Seattle campus this fall. But university officials say that doesn't mean they have cut back on the number of in-state students at the state's most selective public university.

America's Facebook generation is reading strong

Oct 23, 2012

In what may come as a pleasant surprise to people who fear the Facebook generation has given up on reading — or, at least, reading anything longer than 140 characters — a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals the prominent role of books, libraries and technology in the lives of young readers, ages 16 to 29. Kathryn Zickuhr, the study's main author, joins NPR's David Greene to discuss the results.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Some prominent education officials, including the top dogs in Seattle and in Washington State, want voters to reject a ballot measure that would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is announcing his opposition to Initiative 1240 Thursday morning, the day after Seattle School Board members voted unanimously to oppose the ballot measure. Seattle Superintendent Jose Banda recently reiterated his personal disapproval of the initiative as well.

The story of the birth of accounting begins with numbers. In the 1400s, much of Europe was still using Roman numerals, and finding it really hard to easily add or subtract. (Try adding MCVI to XCIV.)

But fortunately, Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) started catching on, and with those numbers, merchants in Venice developed a revolutionary system we now call "double-entry" bookkeeping. This is how it works:

MOSCOW, Idaho - The "world's most comprehensive collection" of opium smoking paraphernalia has a new home; it's at the University of Idaho. A writer and collector, originally from San Diego, donated the exquisite antiques.

It's taking weeks to carefully unpack and catalogue all the opium smoking implements and accessories. Collector Steven Martin estimates he donated at least 1,000 pieces... ceramic opium pipe bowls, ornamented heating lamps, traveling kits, scrapers, old photographs and mug shots.

A school district in southwest Idaho says the book “Like Water for Chocolate” is inappropriate for high school sophomores. It’s banning the book from the curriculum.

The 1989 book by Mexican author Laura Esquivel includes vivid descriptions of sexual arousal. Nampa School District spokeswoman Allison Westfall says over the weekend, administrators reviewed the passages after receiving complaints.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters next year to approve more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, and this week the public will have two chances to weigh in on the district's proposal and its priorities.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Washington state auditor has uncovered another batch of questionable spending by Seattle Public Schools in recent years, widening a scandal that cost a former superintendent her job. The new investigation found that former district official Silas Potter, Jr. made even more inflated payments than was previously known, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on work that was never done or grossly overpriced.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

School districts are often encouraged to make sweeping changes in order to lift up low-achieving schools. Shutting a school down and overhauling it or replacing most of the staff are among the solutions favored by federal officials these days. But one struggling school in Tacoma is taking an opposite approach: they’re doubling down on the teachers they already have.

The latest community college enrollment numbers may hold a clue to what’s happening in the Northwest’s economy. Some two-year institutions in the region are seeing the first decline in class registration since the recession.

At the bookstore at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, the piles of textbooks students buy are kind of like a bar graph for the local unemployment rate.

The principal of rural Toppenish High School, south of Yakima, has been named national high school principal of the year and will be honored in Washington, D.C. in a few weeks.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

As students around Puget Sound begin a new school year, administrators are pushing hard to close disparities in student achievement.

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