Youth & Education

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

Charla Bear / KPLU

Tacoma schools will be closed again Friday after teachers voted on Thursday to stay out on strike. Friday will be their fourth day on the picket lines, despite a court order to return to their classrooms.

The teachers say that without a resolution to the basic contractual issues in the conflict, returning to class now would only prolong the turmoil, possibly for years.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

Teachers in Washington state's third-largest school district have voted overwhelmingly to remain on strike, in defiance of a judge's order that they return to work.

Some 93 percent of the nearly 1,600 Tacoma School District teachers meeting in the Tacoma Dome arena today said they wanted to continue picketing. The teachers walked out Tuesday.

SALEM, Ore. – Negotiators have averted a potential strike at Oregon's seven public universities, at least for now. The Oregon University System and the union representing nearly 4,000 front-line employees agreed on a tentative two-year settlement early Thursday morning.

As the clock ticked past midnight, SEIU lead negotiator Marc Nisenfeld says it was clear the momentum was there for an agreement. So the bargaining team did everything they could to stay awake.

(Go here for the latest developments of this story.)

Tacoma's striking teachers have decided to go back to the picket lines this morning rather than directly to their classes to decide on their next action, a union official clarified last night. (Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated the teachers were rejecting the judge's orders. It's still unclear whether they will return to class or not.)

Tacoma Education Association (TEA) "certificated members should meet at their regular picket line locations as scheduled Thursday morning, as you heard from your picket captains," TEA president Andy Coons said in an email to union members.

Leaders of the Tacoma teachers’ union say they will leave it up to the striking teachers to decide what to do with a judge’s order to return to the classroom tomorrow morning.

Andy Coons, president of the union, told teachers at a rally this afternoon that he would be contacting them possibly later today with options for them to decide on.

Krug6 / Flickr

Washington students appear to be acing one test, the SAT test. 

Average scores were the highest in the nation among states where more than 50 percent of eligible students take the college-entrance exam.

Associated Press

More than 28,000 kids are still locked out of their classrooms today, while school district officials head to court to force teachers back to work.

(Twitter feed at bottom of story.)

TACOMA, Wash. — Teachers in Washington state's third-largest school district have begun picketing, hours after they overwhelmingly voted to walk away from the classroom.

The strike keeps 28,000 students at home.

Tacoma Education Association

"It really had to come down to a strike ..." 

Tacoma schools will be closed to students tomorrow. Teachers voted to go on strike at their union meeting tonight. They expect to start picketing first at Lincoln High School at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

“I’m so proud of our teachers – 87 percent of our teaching membership voted to strike. It’s that important to them to have a fair contract,” said Adrienne Dale, VP of Tacoma Education Association. “It’s very difficult for teachers to leave their classrooms because they’re in it for kids. So, it was a very powerful moment when the numbers came back.”

SALEM, Ore. - Workers at Oregon’s seven state universities are nearing a possible strike authorization vote on Thursday. The union representing nearly four thousand higher ed workers issued a report Monday blasting the state's university system.

The SEIU accuses the Oregon University System of being top-heavy with administrators. The union also says the schools have gone on a building spree that means money that could fund services is now going to pay off construction debt.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Federal Way's attempt to push kids to the next level may have had some impact. Recent results of exams in advanced courses, the school district says, shows more kids did take the tests without lowering the percentage of passing scores.

Bottom line: More kids in advanced classes + more kids taking the exams and passing = more students who can handle harder classes than they might have taken on their own.

The district hopes that also means more kids will go to college.

Erin Hennessey

Seattle writer Tim Haywood of Reflections of a shallow pond fame has the jitters. His youngest daughter is about to start middle school.  That brings up  memories of his own journey, 35 years ago, from elementary school to junior high. 

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Most people can remember a favorite teacher – the one who got you love a certain book or made science class exciting. But you may also remember that bad teacher – the one who made your life miserable. And according to the studies, those teachers may have had just as big an impact on your education.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. - An old proverb goes like this: "Each one, teach one." It means that everyone is responsible for passing along knowledge to the next generation. That's true in many professions. A senior surgeon will demonstrate a high-stakes operation to a young medical student. A veteran fire-fighter will show the ropes to a fresh-faced rookie.

Tacoma students will head back to school today, despite their teachers having no contract.

Teachers voted on whether to strike last night, but fell about 30 votes short of the majority needed to boycott the district, according to a letter sent to teachers by Andy Coons, president of the Tacoma Education Association.

More than a thousand schools in Washington state are failing to make adequate progress under federal law. But a handful of others are beating the odds and improving enough to work their way off the growing list of failing schools.

Among Seattle Public Schools, the improved schools are Greenwood Elementary School, Middle College High School, Sacajawea Elementary School.

With school scheduled to start tomorrow, Tacoma teachers are still without a contract.

The teachers and the district bargained late into the night last night but couldn’t reach an agreement before their three-year contract expired at midnight.

Bill S / Flickr

Math appears to be less of a problem than it used to be for Washington students trying to graduate from high school. More than two-thirds of them passed new state tests required to get their diplomas. Some students could even clear the hurdle before they finish middle school. 

Bill S / Flickr

Washington’s students have made some gains on math and science tests. More kids passed state exams in those subjects last year than the year before, according to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn.

The first day of school for Tacoma students is just a few days away, but their teachers might not show up.

They have yet to reach an agreement over their contract with the school district. That leaves many families worried that a strike could be on the horizon.

Results from earlier this summer showed fewer Oregon students met federal benchmarks last year, than at any time since Congress passed the No Child Left Behind act.

Now, more detailed test results demonstrate what officials claimed at the time: that students were improving at Reading and Math – but that fewer students were passing because the required minimum score went up.

The new test results show double-digit gains on many measures, especially in high school.

EVERETT, Wash. — Police say no one's going to be arrested following a scuffle at an Everett School Board meeting this week, but misdemeanor charges are possible.

Charla Bear / KPLU

School starts up again in a couple of weeks and a lot of kids have just begun to think about the coming year.  Kindergarteners in Kent, though, are already mulling over higher education.

The school district is trying a unique approach to helping students get to college.

The Environmental Protection Agency says hazardous contaminants that most schools have gotten rid of remain in more than 160 government-operated tribal schools. That includes six in the Northwest. A new settlement aims to bring schools in Native American communities up to standards.

EPA inspections of tribal schools between 2005 and 2008 found violations of seven environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Members of Oregon’s largest public workers' union have approved a new two-year contract. It's the first time state workers have agreed to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.

Members of SEIU Local 503 voted to ratify the contract 77% to 23%. The agreement means that many state workers will pay around 5% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. Employees will also have to take unpaid furlough days. They'll also get cost of living pay increases.

"No I’m not out of order, you’re not the boss of me here I’m sorry ..."

EVERETT, Wash. — A disagreement at an Everett School Board meeting got so heated, police were called to intervene.

(Video and partial transcription inside.)

rytc / Flickr

When kids in Seattle head back to school in a few weeks, you might notice a lot more of them getting there on foot.

Some Seattle students who took yellow buses last year won’t have service this year. Others could have to wait at new stops, up to a half of a mile away from their homes. 

Associated Press

Students are adding a high-tech touch to a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a new Aviation High School at the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field at Seattle.

The new school year at Washington State University has brought with it a record class of freshmen in Pullman, with about 4,200 first-year students on campus.

"This class is highly competitive, this class represents the largest population of color than we’ve had in the history of our university, and we’ve been doing that at a time in which we’ve been more fiscally challenged than ever before," said WSU President Elson Floyd.

Charla Bear / KPLU

More than 300,000 kids who qualify for free or reduced breakfast in Washington are not eating it.

Participation in the state’s early morning meal program is so low, educators and children’s advocates have launched a new effort to get schools focused on the issue.