Youth & Education

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

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools' efforts to educate students with disabilities of all sorts are "in need of urgent, substantial and significant improvement," according to a scathing report released Tuesday, faulting district staff from the administrative offices all the way down to individual schools.

The report itself was commissioned by the district office's special education team as part of an effort to correct, as the authors call it, "an obvious and chronic lack... of urgency" around special education — and to bring Seattle Public Schools back in the good graces of both state officials and of federal law.

Provided by Seattle Public Schools.

The Seattle School Board has named former Marysville School District Superintendent Larry Nyland as its interim superintendent.

The board made the announcement following a special meeting Friday.

The Seattle School Board will hold a special meeting on Friday to select an interim superintendent, district officials said.

The 4:15 meeting, which will be streamed online, will be followed by a news conference around 5 p.m., officials said.

The superintendent position is being vacated by José Banda, who has accepted a superintendent position in Sacramento, California. His appointment was finalized Thursday.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Look past the clunky antiques that once made the now-empty building at Second and Spring a working bank — brass teller windows, secured loading docks, a two-story vault with heavy metal doors to match — and it's not difficult to dream about what the vacant property could become.

A group of advocates for the homeless did just that. The Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness drew up a nearly $18 million plan to transform what was once the Federal Reserve Bank branch as a comprehensive service center for the homeless, putting a range of services from mail to primary health care under one roof.

Photo courtesy of the Kent School District

Students do better in school when their parents volunteer and have a relationship with teachers and staff, decades of research have shown.

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

High school students in Washington will soon be able to drop up to two courses if they encounter "unusual circumstances" and still earn their diplomas under new state rules, which will also lift the number of required credits from 20 to 24.

But should schools be allowed to waive credits in subjects like English, math or science? The State Board of Education said no Thursday, voting 8 to 5 to approve rules marking 17 "core" credits as off-limits to these waivers. The board's decision mean districts can only excuse a student from elective or world language credits.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

Earlier this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to lose its reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now, Seattle Public Schools wants to become the first district in the nation to regain that flexibility on its own.

Superintendent Jose Banda sent a letter Wednesday asking for a Seattle-specific waiver from the outdated federal law.

Eric Risberg / AP Photo

An effort to commit south King County teens to a state program that guarantees fully-paid college tuition in exchange for good grades and good behavior through high school has reported its most successful sign-up campaign yet.

Organizers at the Road Map Project, which supports seven King County school districts, say a record 96 percent of eligible eighth-graders signed up for Washington's College Bound Scholarship this year.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle school officials will officially ask to move into a vacant, federally-owned building in the heart of the city, offering advocates for downtown interests a shot at something they've long sought: their own public school.

By a 5-to-2 vote, Seattle School Board members passed a resolution Wednesday night, authorizing the district's application to take over the 119,000-square foot building that, for decades, housed the Seattle branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank, located on Second Avenue between Spring and Madison streets.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Supporters of a statewide ballot initiative directing Washington lawmakers to provide enough funding to drastically decrease K-12 class sizes are confident they've gathered enough signatures to send their measure to voters in November.

More than 320,000 people have signed petitions to put Initiative 1351 on the ballot this fall, Class Size Counts campaign manager Mary Howes said Monday. The number is well over the required 246,000 valid signatures, which must be turned into the secretary of state's office by Thursday. 

Courtesy of George Wing.

When voters approved Initiative 502, one part of the law that appealed to parents was that recreational marijuana would only be available to people 21 and older.

What many parents don’t realize is that it’s possible for a healthy teenager, with the help of an unethical medical provider, to obtain authorization for medical marijuana, which then gives them access to hundreds of dispensaries in the Seattle area. 

Meanwhile, Seattle Public Schools officials say marijuana use by students is on the rise, and students say it is easier to get than alcohol. Where is the supply coming from? Parents and school officials suspect medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Photo courtesy of Mayor Ed Murray's Office

The idea of pitting two questions about early childhood education against each other on the November ballot doesn't appeal to Laura Chandler.

"I don't like it, I wish it wasn't like that," said Chandler, a teacher at Small Faces Child Development Center. She supports a union-backed initiative to create a broader training program and raise wages for childcare workers.

But Sattl1e Mayor Ed Murray officially sent a second question to the ballot Friday, signing off on the Seattle City Council's plan asking for voters' approval of a $58 million property tax hike to pay for low- and middle-income kids to attend preschool.

Flickr / Education, Labor & Workforce Committee Democrats

More than 150 skeptics of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation protested in front of the philanthropy's Seattle headquarters on Thursday, objecting to the foundation's support of, among other things, the Common Core academic standards.

On the afternoon before that protest, a top Gates official told KPLU that the foundation has been open to teachers' concerns about the new standards.

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. 

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