Youth & Education

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

Bridgeport High School is one of just three schools left in a contest to have President Barack Obama speak at graduation. 

Shortly after the announcement came from the White House this morning, principal Tamra Jackson jumped on the intercom to let her students know:

Charla Bear / KPLU

It’s official. The University of Washington’s next president will be Michael K. Young. The Board of Regents says the current president of the University of Utah is the right person to lead UW at a time of shrinking state financial support. / Bridgeport High School

Do you remember who delivered your high school graduation speech? If the students of Bridgeport High School get their wish, they almost certainly will.

The State Senate has approved a controversial proposal to base teacher lay-offs on performance - not seniority. The vote late Tuesday triggered a heated debate on the Senate floor and split majority Democrats. Senator Rodney Tom is a suburban Seattle Democrat. He led the charge for performance-based lay-offs:

“Why in the world would you ever lay-off a second year or third year or fourth year teacher of the year in lieu of maybe an eight or ninth year teacher who is on probation? It just makes no sense.”

Gary Davis / KPLU

A lot of low-income kids are missing out on Washington's offer to pay their way through college. In South King County, a new campaign is underway to change that. 

Charla Bear / KPLU

Across the country, schools are trying to get more students to take classes that prepare them for college. Some offer special tutoring programs. Others just offer to pay students who do well. School officials in Federal Way say the trouble with those strategies is - it leaves is up to students or teachers to decide who’s sharp enough to take those classes.

Courtesy Washington OSPI

If you listen to the numbers, there's no need for any change in the way teachers and principals are evaluated in public schools here in Washington State. 

Data is in from a first-ever statewide survey about their performance. It says very few teachers are a problem: not even 500 were rated unsatisfactory in all of Washington.

That's less than three quarters of one percent (.75%) of the state's public school teachers.  And even fewer principals – only 41 of nearly 3,000 – got a bad write up.

Seattle Office for Education

Seattle Public Schools will get to keep using a controversial math textbook. An appeals court struck down a challenge to the "Discovering" math curriculum by a group of parents and local residents who call it “mathematically unsound.”

Seattle Office for Education

As schools and family service providers across the state struggle with budget cuts, taxpayers are being asked to help out more. In Seattle, the city council is gearing up to put the Families and Education Levy back on the ballot. Voters have renewed it every time it’s come up since former Mayor Norm Rice created it in 1990, but some people might not realize how much it’s changed. 


A longtime University of Washington economics professor has quickly found himself in a lead role with fellow Libyans fighting to defeat ruler Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces. 

Shortly after Ali Al Tarhouni returned to Libya weeks ago, he was named finance minister for Libya's opposition movement, according to a statement Wednesday from the University of Washington press office.

Gary Davis / KPLU

Money is not enticing Washington’s top teachers to move to low-income schools, according to University of Washington researchers. They studied a state program that gives bonuses to teachers who go through a rigorous evaluation process called National Board Certification.

Supporters of the program, however, say it's successful because more teachers at struggling schools now have the high level proficiency endorsement.

Rachel Soloman / KPLU

Writing a research paper should be easy for students today. They’ve got libraries, online databases and all of Google at their fingertips.

But an ongoing study out of the University of Washington’s Information School is finding that college students find it tougher to do research today than in the past—even with access to more sources than students have ever had before.

AP Photo

Girls start to think math is a boys’ subject when they’re just 7 or 8 years old. That’s what University of Washington psychologists found when they studied children’s stereotypes. They say those beliefs could play a major role in the choices kids make as they get older.

Charla Bear / KPLU

An independent watchdog committee could soon take over ethics investigations at Seattle Public Schools. The move is an effort to rebuild public confidence after an audit exposed questionable spending and a lack of oversight at the school district.

When state auditors investigated nearly $2 million in misspent funds by school district employees, they say an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation” was one reason whistle-blowers didn’t come forward. 

Kids have a good excuse for not eating salads right now. They've been taken off the school menu in Kent because lettuce is in short supply. Schools in Seattle, Redmond and elsewhere in Western Washington are also scaling back on serving romaine, iceberg and other leaf lettuces.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Most people know very little about the new head of Seattle Public Schools. After Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was fired over financial irregularities last week, the school board named Susan Enfield interim superintendent. Enfield had only been with the district for a year and a half as Chief Academic Officer. KPLU education reporter Charla Bear sat down with her to find out what she brings to Seattle schools besides an impressive resume...and dozens of rubber duckies.

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

Unemployed workers are facing yet another obstacle as they try to get back on their feet. A lot of community colleges have run out of money to retrain them for in-demand jobs. 

It’s hard enough for most people to find work right now, let alone those whose fields have been pummeled by the recession. Changes in the job market have driven more workers than ever to take advantage of grants for retraining. So many, that even though the state spent $17.6 million to train an extra 3,784 people this year, it hasn’t been enough.

Majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature are working to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap. But they're not likely to implement a change the State Auditor says could save $180 million over the two-year budget cycle, as the idea runs afoul of the powerful teacher's union.

ErikaJSchultz / Twitpic

Seattle's school board fired Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Don Kennedy, the district's chief financial officer, Wednesday evening, as was widely anticipated. The votes were unanimous.

The action was swift retribution following revelations of a financial scandal that drew the anger of board members and the public. The board then voted 6-1 to appoint Susan Enfield as interim superintendent.

Governor Chris Gregoire is making another push to create a cabinet-level Department of Education. The idea appears to be faltering in the Washington legislature.

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, which received $595,000 from Seattle Public Schools, insists taxpayers got their money's worth despite a state audit report calling the payments of questionable value.

Gary Davis / KPLU

A financial scandal will likely force an abrupt end to the tenure of Seattle Public Schools superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. The school board will vote Wednesday evening on a motion to terminate her contract.

A proposal to base teacher layoffs on performance - and not seniority - has died in the Washington legislature. The bill's demise is a victory for the state’s teacher's union, but a frustrating defeat for some lawmakers. 

Currently, when school districts reduce staff newer more junior teachers typically lose their jobs first. A bipartisan proposal in the Washington legislature would have changed that.

If you’ve ever wondered if one vote really makes a difference, consider a school bond measure in Snoqualmie. The proposal to build a new middle school in the rapidly-growing city was recently defeated by a single ballot. That doesn’t mean it’s dead. A parent decided the vote was too close to concede.

A majority of Snoqualmie residents supported the new school, almost 60-percent. Trouble is, when it comes to King County elections, almost doesn’t cut it.  

Gary Davis / KPLU

New details emerged today over allegations of internal fraud and management 'failures' within Seattle Public Schools, and they may cost Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson her job. Her firing is one of the options the school board is considering in the wake of reports delving into financial mismanagement of a district contracting program.  

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 3,100 Washington students might not get into the state’s largest universities in the next couple of years. Hundreds of faculty and staff could lose their jobs. That’s what university presidents say will happen if the legislature slashes higher education funding beyond what the governor has already proposed.

Gary Davis / KPLU

The Seattle School Board could soon decide whether some district employees should lose their jobs over alleged fraud within the school system. This week, the board expects to receive the results of an investigation into $1.8 million dollars in contracts for services that might have never been completed, or even started. 

Washington State PTA (WSPTA)

Hundreds of families will rally in Olympia today to send a message to the legislature. Despite budget challenges facing the state – they say lawmakers need to keep their hands off school funding. 

The recession is forcing Washington families to make tough decisions about their children’s education. As incomes have dwindled, so has attendance at private schools. In the past few years, the schools have lost nearly 3,000 kids, according to data reported to the state. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

As schools across the state grapple with huge budget issues, administrators in Seattle say they need to cut elementary counselors, programs for struggling students and full-day kindergarten classes. Those are some of their final recommendations after months of pouring over options.  

Administrators did manage to shave more than $1.7 million from the budget gap, but they still face a nearly $35 million shortfall.