Youth & Education

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

Christine Gregoire says she had an "aha moment" last summer about why Washington's education system isn't getting any better.

The governor made a rare appearance before a legislative committee Wednesday to talk about her proposal to create a new cabinet-level Department of Education that would oversee all the state's education efforts, committees and boards, from early learning to college.

Some talented staff at West Seattle's Denny International Middle School have a hit, of sorts, on their hands.  Students are giving them high marks for their work in a video that's getting some viral tread: some 7,500 hits this past month.

"Teach Me How To Study," is a rap video parody of the popular "Teach Me How to Dougie" by the group Cali Swag District.

Eric Gay / AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools' latest plan to shore up its budget deficit could mean some students won't have bus service next year and most will have to get up earlier. Families can get more details and voice concerns on these changes and more at a series of meetings starting tonight:

Nearly a third of children in Washington don’t appear to be ready for kindergarten.  And more than half aren’t likely to have necessary language skills.  The findings come from the state’s first attempt to assess some of its youngest students. 

The assessment, called WaKIDS, includes evaluations of four domains:

Despite opposition from the local teachers' union and a lawsuit from parents and community groups, Teach for America has announced it will return to public schools in the Seattle area in the 2011-12 academic year.

Gary Davis / KPLU

Updated Jan. 27, 2011 to correct projected Seattle Public Schools projected deficit for 2011-12 as $36.6 million, rather than $50 million. KPLU regrets the error.

As the Seattle School District deals with a giant deficit, district officials say they’re going to get tough when it comes to collecting money from families.

Parents have to pay $207 a month to send a child to full day kindergarten. But the district is waiting for hundreds of checks to arrive in the mail.

Kim Trick / Hyla Middle School

Not all kids are enjoying a day off thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Teachers and administrators at Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island see it as the perfect time to give students a new perspective on the civil rights leader.  

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seniors who graduate from Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle have a new price for their first year of college – free.  The president of South Seattle Community College says it’ll give one-year tuition scholarships to any student who gets a diploma and fills out a couple of forms. 

Via Tacoma Public Schools website

Half of Tacoma's middle schools now rank among the lowest-performing in the state. Baker Middle School is the fifth to land the dubious distinction.

The bright side? Low-scoring schools become eligible for federal grants intended to help turn things around. 

The News Tribune's Debbie Cafazzo reports Baker's student scores may reflect their challenges at home:

Courtesy of Holly Wolfe

As people remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti last year, some Washington residents will get an up close look at the hardships survivors still face.  Today, anyone who walks through the middle of the UW Tacoma campus can see a refugee camp like those many Haitians live in.  

Washington voters elected him state superintendent of public schools. Now Governor Chris Gregoire wants to takeover his portfolio. Randy Dorn is fuming over the Governor’s proposal to create a cabinet-level Department of Education.

Seattle Office for Education

Now that Seattle schoolchildren have settled in to the new student assignment plan, some changes are on the way.  The effort to place kids at neighborhood schools this year has hit a few bumps. 

Governor Chris Gregoire says she has a plan to make higher ed funding more stable and boost the number of students who earn degrees, but it could be a long shot.

The governor's plan would let schools decide when to increase tuition and by how much.  She says colleges and universities know best what they’re worth. 

Kids read at a preschool program in Seattle
Seattle Office for Education

A new project just launched at the University of Washington could give Head Start teachers a boost.  The effort aims to redesign how instructors for the federal early learning program are trained.

The number of homeless students in Washington during the past school year is 5-percent higher than the previous year.  More than 21,000 homeless students now go to school in Washington state, according to new figures released by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

During the 2005-06 school year, districts reported half as many homeless students.


A UW Bothell education research group finds the "last hired, first fired" formula when public school teachers are laid off can be detrimental to student achievement. Such policies are staples of teacher union contracts. The findings are drawing criticism from a national teacher's union, according to The Associated Press.

A group of Seattle parents and community members has filed a lawsuit to stop Seattle Public Schools from bringing Teach for America to the city.

What's one way to end the terror of junior high?  Members of a Bethel School District committee think the answer is to create middle schools. 

The group of residents and staff from Pierce County’s third-largest school district voted Wednesday night to support switching the junior high configuration to a middle school model, reports the Tacoma News Tribune.

A student gets help with his schoolwork in a Seattle program for at-risk youth
Seattle Office for Education

Washington is finally making progress on closing the achievement gap between different groups of students, but researchers say it’s not all good news.  A new report found that the gains mean some students will still lag behind for more than a century. 

The Washington Supreme Court has dealt a blow to a dozen school districts across the state that sought more money for special education.  Today, the court said the districts did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the state underfunds the programs, a violation of its constitution

The number of poor children on the waitlist for preschool in Washington has tripled over the past three years. And now the problem may get worse. Governor Chris Gregoire’s across-the-board budget reductions threaten to cut more than 100 kids who are already enrolled.

Gary Davis/KPLU

It was a mistake that led to misinforming the public, says Seattle schools chief Maria Goodloe-Johnson.  She apologized at last night’s Seattle School Board meeting.  Goodloe-Johnson says she wants to assure the public that changes have been made to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 

Gary Davis/KPLU

A major effort launches today to help low-income students in South King County and South Seattle.  It’s a new approach to a decades-old problem – how to help disadvantaged kids succeed in school and beyond. 

The Urban League helps African American kids do well in school
The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

African American kids are more likely than any other students to start their educations in Seattle’s worst public schools.  That’s according to a new report from University of Washington researchers.  Community groups and school district administrators say it means schools are disproportionately failing kids who already face big hurdles to education. 

AP (Elaine Thompson)

Washington State University is getting the biggest donation in its history – from its most famous drop-out.  Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, is giving $26 million, to support the new School for Global Animal Health.  Allen’s donation is just a little bigger than one given by his old Microsoft pal Bill Gates two years ago. 

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle is considering yet another school closure, along with re-assigning some students away from popular but overcrowded schools. Closures and assignment changes caused conflict within the city’s public schools over the past few years.  That was supposed to be finished last year. 

But the Seattle Times reports some schools are under-enrolled and some are over-enrolled.  Alternative School #1 is battling to stay open. 

Flickr photo by Rutlo

Cornish College will welcome its first woman president since the arts school was established by Nellie Cornish in 1914.  Dr. Nancy Uscher will leave her position as provost of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and join the Seattle arts school in August next year.

Seattle students work on math
Seattle Office for Education

This year’s high school freshman and sophomores might have fewer graduation tests to dread if Randy Dorn has his way.  

Kids participate in a preschool program funded by the Families & Education Levy
Seattle Office for Education

It’s been less than a month since the last election, and already Seattle officials are unveiling a measure for next fall’s ballot.  This week, the public will get its first glimpse at the next Families and Education Levy.  

Gary Davis/KPLU.

Teach for America is coming to Seattle Schools.  The school board voted overwhelmingly Wednesday evening to approve a contract for 20 to 25  positions starting next year. Teach for America places top college graduates in underperforming schools.