Youth & Education

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

Washington State University's Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan Friday to establish a medical school in Spokane. It has the potential to generate 120 new doctors every year in the Northwest. But the move also tees up a fight between Washington's two largest public universities.

Austin Jenkins

In an unprecedented move, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state in contempt of court in the McCleary school funding case. However, the justices will wait to impose sanctions until after the 2015 legislative session to give the legislature time to "purge the contempt."

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle school leaders will convene a task force to review the district's handling of sexual assault cases, acknowledging in a statement late Wednesday that "substantial work is required to bring the district into compliance" with federal laws designed to protect victims of sexual violence in schools.

The move is Seattle Public Schools' latest response to criticism of how district employees handled the case of a Garfield High School student who alleged a classmate raped her during a school field trip in 2012.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Rainier Beach High School teacher Colin Pierce projected an image of a mortarboard — the flat, black graduation cap — onto the screen in front of his English class.

This week, many high school seniors across western Washington are beginning their final year of pursuit of this "silly little hat," as Pierce called it. He asked his class full of upperclassmen to describe what the mortarboard symbolized to them. Senior Danny Segi was the first to raise his hand.

"The first thing that comes to my head is 'success,'" Segi said.

"Adulthood," another student added. "College." "Goals." "Improvement." "Work hard, play hard."

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

A longtime Seattle private school will re-open its doors Wednesday as a charter school, the first to do so under a new state law that lets nonprofit organizations use state dollars to run public schools.

The conversion of First Place Scholars School is just the beginning of Washington's experiment with charter schools, which voters set in motion by passing a closely-contested initiative allowing for up to 40 charters to open statewide before 2019.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

An appeals court has affirmed that a pair of early education ballot measures will appear on the ballot not as two yes-or-no votes, but as a multiple-choice question.

The ruling upholds an earlier decision, which established that Seattle voters who support expanding preschool can’t vote “yes” on both the measures before them in November. Instead, they’ll have to pick which one they like best.

It’s a victory for the city, which has proposed a small preschool program as a step toward universal pre-K. That plan will now go head-to-head with a union-backed measure to create a training institute for educators and hike their pay.

AP Photo
S.C. Johnson Wax

Childcare costs in King County are among the highest in the nation, according to a recently-released analysis.

The report shows King County's costs are high even by the standards of Washington state, one of the ten least-affordable states for childcare. Someone earning the median income for single mothers in King County could sink more than half of her salary into the $17,300 average annual cost for infant childcare — a cost already $5,000 higher than the state average.

David Goldman / AP Photo

The impact of Washington's loss of a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act came into sharper focus Wednesday as nearly nine in 10 of the state's schools officially received failing labels despite little change in students' performance on statewide standardized tests.

Just 260 of the state's nearly 2,200 schools met their required yearly progress goals under the outdated federal law, state officials said as they denounced the impractical standard they say Washington schools must now meet.

Matthias Rietschel / AP Photo

Toddlers use intuition for probability to their advantage, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Washington.

The researchers don't contend children as young as age 2 understand statistics, but they do wonder about potentially tapping into the intuition to help prepare children for concepts older students often struggle with, like fractions.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Three-year-old Kai Semke has all the trappings of a future soccer star: speed, stamina, awesome shorts — and as if that weren't enough, he boasts, "My feet are super-hard, and I kick it super-hard." (Competitors, take note.)

With not much yard at his family's Wallingford home, though, Kai normally lacks a regular space to have a kick. But that's not the case this summer.

Neighbors shut down a residential street a short distance from Kai's home as part of a new city initiative, turning a block of North 39th Street into a temporary soccer pitch — or basketball court, or scooter racetrack, or general public play space — one evening every week this summer.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Amid a fresh wave of public frustration over Seattle Public Schools' response to a 2012 incident on a Garfield High School trip, district officials outlined a plan for addressing future allegations of sexual violence against students.

The parents of a former Garfield High School student say district administrators failed in their legal duty to investigate their daughter's allegations that a fellow student sexually assaulted her during the school trip two years ago.

But at Wednesday's school board meeting, as a dozen protesters decried the district's handling of the case, interim superintendent Larry Nyland pledged the district would do better. He said district officials have undergone new training and implemented new procedures for handling "critical incidents."

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

A union-backed advocacy group for Seattle childcare workers has appealed a lower court ruling that pits a voter initiative the group favors, Initiative 107, against a city-endorsed pre-kindergarten proposal on the November ballot.

The advocacy group, Yes for Early Success, asked the state Court of Appeals to review a King County judge's decision that states Seattle voters cannot cast votes in favor of both I-107 and the city's proposed preschool plan.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Come November, voters can choose one or neither of the two ballot measures that deal with childcare — but not both, according to a King County judge's ruling.

Judge Helen Halpert on Friday shot down a legal challenge designed to allow Seattle voters a chance to approve both measures, namely a pilot program to fund low-income kids' preschool tuition and a minimum wage hike for the city's more than 4,000 childcare workers.

Jessica Hall / AP Photo

Just days before he died in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis scrawled three words in a first-grader's uncertain hand on the family's kitchen chalkboard: "nurturing, healing, love."

"Those three words were, of course, phonetically spelled," his mother Scarlett Lewis remembered, "because he was in first grade, just learning to write."

Why her son wrote those words at all remains a mystery to Lewis. But since his death, Lewis has dedicated herself to instilling "nurturing," "healing" and "loving" practices in American schools — a mindset she believes would've stopped 20-year-old Adam Lanza from shooting and killing 26 students and staff members, including her son, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Five small colleges across the Pacific Northwest are attempting to find ways to work together on projects they might not be able to pull off on their own.

The schools' most recent stab at collaboration: a food systems course that sent a class of college students traveling hundreds of miles across the region, tracing the region's food chain from its beginning — the fields and orchards of eastern Washington — to its very, very end.

The students' environment changes day to day. After watching combines comb wheat from an industrial-sized farm field in the Palouse the week before, 10 students from three of the colleges took their summer study of agriculture and food systems to the waste treatment plant in Tacoma that turns the city's biosolid waste into soils for lawns and gardens last Tuesday.

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