Youth & Education

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

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

If Seattle voters approve a property tax hike to expand preschool access, the program would start small, paying for a handful of providers to teach a little more than a dozen classrooms of students in its first year.

How will the city choose those few providers? Those teaching preschool kids in multiple languages have a better chance of getting picked.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has proposed a property tax levy to increase low-income children's access to preschool.

Murray is asking voters to approve a four-year, $58 million property tax hike to enroll 2,000 children in 100 classrooms by the year 2018. The plan would cost the average homeowner $43.36 per year, or $3.61 per month, the mayor said.

"I believe that giving all of our children a fair and equal chance to thrive in school, to live productive and prosperous lives, is, again, the most important thing I will ever do as mayor, and it's the most important thing my fellow council members will do as council members," Murray said during a Thursday press conference. 

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Rainier Beach High School senior Puja Niroula hopes to study science in college. But she's still a bit squeamish when it comes to netting tiny bugs from a creek bed in Olympic National Forest.

"I wonder if this is poisonous. Do you think so?" Niroula, 18, asked another student with more than a hint of trepidation as she picked larval mayflies from the net.

Niroula and 25 other biology students from the south Seattle school are spending this week conducting experiments on a fast-changing ecosystem at the heart of one of the century's most significant environmental projects: the Elwha River.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

The number of preschoolers enrolled in state-funded early childhood education programs is dropping nationally. A national study released Tuesday shows that Northwest states are holding steady in terms of overall enrollment but continue to rank near the bottom in some key areas.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington may be the only state to lose control over millions in federal education funding over its failure to pass a new teacher evaluation system, at least in the near future. 

Less than a month after Washington state became the first state to lose its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, the feds are showing leniency to other states, according to a report by Education Week. Those states passed laws creating teacher evaluation systems that they're now struggling to implement. 

But state officials say that leniency will not extend as far as Washington, which failed to pass a similar law.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The school day at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School is about to get longer and the curriculum, some staff say, is about to get a lot more rigorous.

Rainier Beach is one of 13 Washington schools state officials selected Thursday to receive a share of a $24 million grant over the next three years — money federal officials earmarked for helping schools with some of the state's lowest test scores and graduation rates.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

If the state's recent loss of its waiver from the No Child Left Behind law means the feds will label almost every Washington school as "failing," which schools are actually struggling enough to receive formal help?

Washington's top elected school official answered that question Tuesday, releasing lists of more than 280 struggling schools — more than twice as many as last year — that will receive $11 million worth of help in the form of state-aided planning and teacher training.

Eric E Castro / Flickr

Parents and teachers of a student who's been expelled from a Washington school will likely have to meet together before the student is allowed to attend classes again, according to new state rules up for public review Monday.

"You would think it was happening before, but it absolutely wasn't happening before," said Linda Mangel, education policy director for the ACLU of Washington, who noted the new guideline comes as part of a change in state law.

Washington State University

Washington State University and the University of Idaho are among the schools under investigation over their handling of sexual assault cases.

Ted S. Warren / AP File Photo

A lawyer who argued a landmark education funding case before the Washington Supreme Court says state lawmakers are still dragging their feet in meeting the mandate justices set out: develop, by this week, a "complete plan" to pump billions of new dollars into the state's public schools.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

State lawmakers aiming to meet an April 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court have delivered a report detailing its efforts to increase school funding from levels that justices have ruled are inadequate.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

When federal education officials revoked Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, they hung a cloud of uncertainty over the early childhood education programs Tacoma School District offers.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Five-year-old Serenity Johnson has been eager to start preschool since she was 2½ years old.

"She said 'Mommy, I want to go to school,'" her mother, Shantia Johnson, said. "I said, 'You can't go to school until preschool, and we have to pay for preschool. ‘So I needed to find a preschool we didn't have to pay for."

Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a controversial federal education law, helped Serenity get exactly what she wanted. The waiver freed up federal money Tacoma Public Schools officials used to expand its publicly-funded preschool programs to Stafford Elementary, the Johnsons' home school.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pulled Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act on Thursday, making it the first state to lose flexibility from the outdated law.

The move revokes Washington school districts' flexibility in spending nearly $40 million in federal funding tied to the law, and replaces many of the 2001 law's most stringent rules designed to hold schools accountable for students' test scores.

"Today’s news from Secretary Duncan is disappointing but not unexpected," Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "I hope districts will work to mitigate impacts on students. I know that despite this setback Washington teachers remain fully committed to serving our students."

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington's top elected school official is urging state lawmakers to think bigger as they craft a court-ordered plan to increase education funding for the state's K-12 schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn this week unveiled a plan to increase education funding by $6.7 billion by the 2017-2018 school year. That's nearly twice as much as the amount state legislative analysts estimate is needed to comply with the landmark McCleary decision. In the 2012 case, the state Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to fully fund K-12 schools by 2018. 

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