Youth & Education

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

As Seattle Public Schools begin their final week of classes, the district is turning to technology to rescue some summer school programs it cut last year. SPS will offer online courses at Franklin and possibly another high school, and three others plan to extend their school-year virtual learning into the summer. Cleveland and Rainier Beach high schools will have limited classroom programming.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

You might say the Dalai Lama was his guidance counselor.

When Choega Thundrup dons his cap and gown Friday, it will be thanks to the spiritual leader who set him on his path, and people who risked their lives to help him get there.

With report cards mailed out and lockers scrubbed clean, it's time to say goodbye to school and hello to summer camps. Many working parents have spent months scrambling to fill their kids' idle time this summer. Seattle writer Tim Haywood can relate to this and all the complications that go with it.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

It wasn’t on the school board agenda, but members of Susan Enfield’s cabinet paid her a surprise tribute during her final school board meeting Wednesday. Enfield is leaving Seattle Public Schools this month after 16 months as interim superintendent.

Enfield wiped away tears as a string of her deputies praised her, beginning with Enfield’s number-two, Interim Deputy Superintendent Bob Boesche.

“So my word is motivator. There wasn’t a meeting ever, an encounter ever with you, where I didn’t walk out [feeling] motivated to do my best,” Boesche said.

The University of Washington Board of Regents has approved a 16 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students. With the increase, tuition and mandatory fees for the 2012-13 academic year will total $12,401. That's a $1,564 increase. The regents also voted Thursday to allocate 30 percent of the increased tuition dollars to financial aid. The tuition increase is equal to the amount allocated in the state budget for the current biennium. Lawmakers OK'd double-digit tuition increases to make up for similar cuts in state dollars going to the university.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle school counselors say they’re getting hit harder than ever by budget cuts, and a pack of them turned out at Wednesday’s school board meeting to protest the latest round of layoffs.

It all stems from a change three years ago to how Seattle Public Schools funds counselors in elementary schools. The district stopped paying for them as regular employees, and instead gave schools a choice: use your discretionary money, or let them go. Now, almost two thirds of elementary schools don’t have a counselor, and the district has sent pink slips to a dozen counselors at middle-and high schools.

Courtesy of David Hunter and Etsy

So, when the zombie apocalypse comes, where will you flee? Should you hunker down on a remote island or blend into the urban landscape? Will the undead funnel onto bridges and viaducts?  Do they like low ground or high ground?

So many questions … now don’t you wish you’d paid more attention in geography class?

"Zombies" in the news

Washington’s new teacher evaluation law may be too weak to satisfy the federal government. The U. S. Department of Education did not free the state from the strictures of No Child Left Behind today, leaving Washington schools open to harsh sanctions in two years.

Courtesy of Seattle Central Community College

Seattle Central Community College may be well known for Occupy Seattle protests and antiwar activism. But school officials are trying to make the campus more friendly to returning members of the military.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington teachers are woefully underpaid. That’s the conclusion of a draft legislative task force report. Now a key Washington state lawmaker says teachers and other school employees deserve at least a cost-of-living pay raise next year.

Twelve years ago, Washington voters approved Initiative 732. It requires annual pay increases for K-12 employees. The initiative didn’t come with any funding.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

 It used to be if you can't go to a four year school, go to community college.  Now, it's like what are you supposed to do if you can't go to community college?   

  Daniel Jean Baptiste, South Seattle Community College student 

Tuition will go up at the state's public two-year colleges by an average of 12 percent this fall.  For a full-time student, tuition will go from $3,542 to $4,000--a 13 percent increase.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges voted on the increase to help offset $110 million in state cuts to the community and technical colleges. 

Many students, already struggling to afford school, say it threatens to put higher education out of reach.

The nuclear industry faces a generation gap. A lot of the people who run nuclear power plants are nearing retirement. Now the Obama Administration has awarded $6.3 million to Northwest universities to help train the next generation of nuclear leaders.

Donald Wall directs Washington State University’s Nuclear Radiation Center in Pullman. The reactor is surrounded by the university’s golf course.

“I like to joke that WSU features probably the only golf course in the world that has a nuclear hazard.”

FinAid.org

The dark clouds looming over higher education in the nation and Washington may have a silver lining, but so far it’s been hard to find and the recent spate of news has been pretty bad for college students.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on building in a silver lining, but first the details.

Award-winning children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak has died at 83. He shot to fame in 1963 with his picture book 'Where The Wild Things Are'. He published several more books, including 'In The Night Kitchen', 'Outside Over There' and most recently, 'Bumble-Ardy'.

Family friend Lynn Ceprio confirmed his death. The New York Times reports his cause of death was complications from a stroke he'd recently suffered.

Updated

The Seattle School Board is asking Anaheim School Superintendent Jose Banda to lead the Seattle school district.

The district says Board President Michael DeBell contacted Banda Sunday night, and he expressed his willingness to take the job.

SALEM, Ore. - Rare, once-lost historic records about pioneer Chinese immigrants to the Northwest have found a new life online. The digital archive is hosted by Oregon State University. A Chinese-American civic group hopes the document trove can help families locate ancestors gone missing early in the last century.

All 3 candidates for Superintendent of  Seattle Public Schools have classroom as well as superintendent experience.   The finalists will be in Seattle next week for interviews.

The finalists are:

Jose Banda, 55, is a former high school principal who now heads the Anaheim City School District, a district that just includes elementary schools.  84 percent of the students in the district are Latino and Banda  is bilingual. 

EDMONDS, Wash. — Classes at a high school in the Edmonds School District have been canceled following threats to student safety.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state lawmakers have approved changes to health insurance benefits for K-12 school employees that will improve transparency and help those who pay the most for coverage but may not bring down costs.

A new national report released Tuesday says Washington preschool programs that receive government dollars are among the best in the country. But the researchers also believe too few kids benefit from the $54 million Washington spends on preschool each school year.

SEATTLE — The Seattle School Board has told the district that classroom instruction is important — and it needs to make up all three days lost to a snowstorm in January.

Western Washington University is offering summer session classes for the first time in King County starting this June. The classes will be held at North Seattle Community College.

Paul Cocke, Director of university communications, says the goal is to help students graduate in a timely manner.

Researchers at the University of Washington say the federal school turnaround program is mostly failing in Washington state, even though teachers and administrators are trying their best to make a difference for kids.

The federal government is spending more than $3 billion nationwide to help districts turn around their worst-performing schools.

Gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee are praising a new law that passed the state Legislature this year making evaluations a part of how teachers are judged.

(Video of incoming PLU president Thomas Krise by journalists at PLU's The Mooring Mast student newspaper.)

Pacific Lutheran University has a new president. Thomas W. Krise takes the helm at the private university this June.  He replaces Loren Anderson, who’s retiring.  

Krise comes to PLU from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he’s been the dean of the school of arts and sciences. Krise, an Episcopalian, is the first non-Lutheran to head PLU since it was founded in 1890.

Donna Gordon Blankinship / Associated Press

The good news in this week's new Washington state revenue forecast has drawn the attention of everyone who wants some money for their department or program.

But in a statement put out by Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Dorn says the state Constitution and the Supreme Court give Washington only one choice: pay for education first.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state senate has approved a new four-tier teacher evaluation system. The bill that passed Tuesday also creates a mechanism for firing under-performing teachers who don't improve.

School kids are graded A through F. But not teachers in Washington. For the most part they're still evaluated on a pass-fail system. But that's changing.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Forty one states allow charter schools. But not Washington. Opponents in the legislature recently killed a bipartisan proposal to allow a limited number of under-performing schools to convert. But supporters of the idea haven't given up.

For the legislature it was high drama. A stand-off in the Senate Education Committee. A coalition of five Republicans and two Democrats had the votes to advance the charter school bill.

Despite signs that the state economy is improving, finding money to send children to college is still becoming more difficult.

More students received financial aid last year, but even more families aren't getting the help they need, according to a new report from the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Charla Bear / KPLU

An African-American man who was bullied when he was a student in Aberdeen has won a major settlement from the school district. Russell Dickerson III sued the district in federal court for not stopping his classmates from harassing him throughout junior high and high school. 

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