Youth & Education

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

Kyle Stokes

At first, Julianna Dauble balked at the idea of protesting against the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We've all gotten Gates money one way or another," said Dauble, a fifth-grade teacher in Renton. "I don't know a single teacher who has not gotten Gates money for computers, different grants, small schools initiatives — all the things he's done in the Seattle area, especially."

In fact, the Gates Foundation sends more money to K-12 education causes around the U.S. than any other philanthropy, and some teachers have come to regard that influence as a threat.

Kyle Stokes

Two proposals dealing with early childhood learning will appear on Seattle ballots this November, but only one can win.

That's the electoral scenario Seattle City Council members set up Monday with their vote to put a proposed preschool pilot program on the November ballot, formally asking voters to hike property taxes to join cities like Denver and Boston in funding an early childhood education program aimed at low-income families.

But voters will have to make a choice. They can approve either the pilot program or Initiative 107, a union-backed citizens' initiative that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour for more than 4,000 childcare workers and creates a training program for early childhood educators. 

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

It's the kind of case that walks into the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center maybe once a week:

Imagine a single mother, trying to hold down multiple jobs to hold her family together, turning to a neighbor for help taking care of her kids while she works. But that neighbor ends up assaulting one of her children.

And then the neighbor "gives [the child] the message, 'If you tell anybody, I won't be able to help your family anymore, you'll be taken out of your home and your mom won't believe you,'" said King County Sexual Assault Resource Center's executive director Mary Ellen Stone.

Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda expects to leave his post before the end of July after being named the only finalist for a superintendent position in Sacramento, California.

The Sacramento City Unified School District's school board could confirm Banda's hire as soon as July 17.

Free College For All: Dream, Promise Or Fantasy?

Jun 19, 2014

"Free" is a word with a powerful appeal. And right now it's being tossed around a lot, followed by another word: "college."

A new nonprofit, Redeeming America's Promise, announced this week that it will seek federal support to make public colleges tuition-free. That effort is inspired by "Hope" and "Promise" programs like the one in Kalamazoo, Mich., which pays up to 100 percent of college tuition at state colleges and universities for graduates of the city's public high schools.

Charla Bear / KPLU

The Seattle City Council on Monday delayed a vote on a proposed preschool expansion plan following last week's announcement that a separate referendum had gained enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray asked the council to hold off and study how Initiative 107, a "potentially competing proposal," would impact the chances of the preschool pilot program city leaders had also hoped to put before voters in the next general election.

Eric Gay / AP Photo

Seattle City Council members appear ready to approve two preschool-related ballot items for this November's ballot. 

The council will likely vote at its Monday meeting to ask Seattle voters to approve a package Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess has been pushing for the past year: a preschool pilot program funded by a four-year, $58 million property tax hike.

But council members will also likely certify that a separate, union-backed initiative has received enough signatures to go to the voters. If approved, Initiative 107 would hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour for more than 4,000 childcare workers and create a training program for early childhood educators.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A frustrated Washington Supreme Court appears ready to hold state officials in contempt.

The high court late Thursday ordered the “state” to appear at a hearing in September to address the lack of a plan to fully fund basic education.

Judy Baxter / Flickr

Seattle School Board members bucked the advice of a district-led group charged with picking a new math textbook for the district's 27,000 elementary students, choosing instead, by a 4-3 vote Wednesday night, to formally pick a different set of materials.

But Seattle Public Schools staff estimates the move will come at a cost, nearly doubling the purchase price for the textbooks and the additional teacher training that comes with them.

AP Photo

Most Seattle elementary students will likely be using new math textbooks next year, and if a few members of the school board have their way, they might not all be the same textbooks.

Seattle School Board members will vote Wednesday on whether to allow school principals to decide between two sets of math textbooks, worksheets and materials rather than mandate which one to use.

When she was much younger, Tacoma high school senior Lauren Budd had no trouble convincing her parents to start recycling. But more recently, swaying them to eco-friendly light bulbs was another story.

"No, it costs too much," Budd, 17, remembered her parents saying. "And I'm like, 'It won't, in the end for, like, our power bill.'"

Budd doesn't always win with her parents, who still throw away a soft drink can on occasion, but it's clear she's not the only teen to grasp the importance of these small, cross-generational battles.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

With summer approaching, families who rely on school lunches have to make plans for how to fill the gap. United States Sen. Patty Murray says the answer is to subsidize their grocery shopping.

There’s already a big federal program – the Summer Food Service Program – to serve lunches to kids who qualify for food subsidies. Speaking at a Central Area elementary school, Washington's senior senator said those programs can be hard to access, as families have to bring their kids to designated locations during certain hours. Her office said just 10 percent of Washington children participated in 2012.

Sen. Murray wants to put a debit card in the hands of each of those families that they can use to buy food, much as one would use food stamps.

rafael-castillo / Flickr

Another 1,300 children will pack into already-crowded Seattle Public Schools next year as the district rides a wave of population growth that, if trends hold, could swell enrollment to more than 60,000 students by the end of the decade.

Projections district administrators released Tuesday show enrollment growing to more than 52,300 students next school year — an increase of more than 7,000 students from seven years ago, when enrollment bottomed-out after a decade of decline.

Cliff Owen / AP Photo

Most Seattle parents put their kids in preschool, but only one-third of the city's children attend full time and — according to results of a citywide survey of 1,300 parents released Tuesday — black and Latino families especially struggle to afford pre-K services. 

The results of the city-commissioned poll come less than a week before City Council members get their first look at legislation that would place a four-year, $58 million property tax question before voters this November that would eventually fund 2,000 pre-K slots in the city if approved.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Here's a bitter pill preschool teachers must often swallow: they could probably make more money by teaching kids who are just one year older.

The average Washington state preschool instructor makes $28,400 annually — half of what he or she could earn teaching kindergarten. In public school settings, a kindergarten teacher takes home $53,800 every year to a pre-K teacher's $44,700. It makes it harder to lure the best teachers into preschool jobs, or keep them beyond their first few often-rocky years in the classroom.

"I think early childhood is often more attractive than the higher grades for many [teachers], and the pay is so low it still keeps them away," said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research.

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