Youth & Education

Stories and features about education in the Pacific Northwest. Including stories from Washington state and the United States. 

Ways to Connect

Cathy Renna

This week, about 1,500 people are gathering in Seattle to take part in the 16th annual Gender Odyssey conference, which brings together transgender kids, adults and their families and gives them an opportunity to talk about issues they face.

Among them will be Joe Maldonado, a 9-year-old transgender boy from New Jersey who successfully challenged the Boy Scouts’ ban on accepting trans kids.

Krissy Venosdale / Flickr

The Edmonds School District and the teachers union say they have reached a tentative agreement, but bargaining is still underway in many other parts of the state, including Kent, Mercer Island and Puyallup.

Mercer Island teachers are planning to rally on Thursday before the school board meets.

Canadian Pacific / Flickr

Getting from Seattle’s waterfront to downtown can be a challenge. It involves crossing under the Alaskan Way Viaduct and hoofing it uphill or climbing tall flights of stairs.

Howard Wright, who owns the tour company Emerald City Trolley and is chair of Seattle Hospitality Group, has come up with a temporary fix.

Since the mid-July, his company has been running minibuses in a loop along the waterfront through downtown and then back. The service is called Seattle Waterfront Connex.

courtesy of the Summer Academic Challenge / University of Puget Sound

On Friday morning, about three dozen middle schoolers will gather at the Museum of Flight in Seattle to take part in an unusual competition. They’ll get to watch as an astronaut on the International Space Station controls robots using computer code the kids have developed.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

 (Updated at 3:20 pm on Aug. 11, 2017 to clarify oversight of charter schools and the status of the latest lawsuit.)

The first day of school is still a few weeks away for most kids in Seattle, but in the Rainier Valley neighborhood, doors will open Monday at a brand-new charter school called Rainier Valley Leadership Academy. It will serve sixth graders initially, then add seventh and eighth grades in subsequent years.

City Year / Flickr

Almost two years ago, Congress scrapped the No Child Left Behind Act, which was despised by a lot of people who thought it was too punitive toward schools that were deemed to be failing. Congress replaced the law with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Washington schools are making progress in reducing the use of suspensions and expulsions as discipline, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. But officials said racial minorities and kids with disabilities are still being disciplined at higher rates than their peers.

Elaine Thompson / AP

In a filing to the state Supreme Court, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the education funding plan passed by the legislature in June fulfills the state’s constitutional duty. Ferguson is asking the high court to end the long-running McCleary lawsuit.

cmh2315fl / Flickr

The Seattle school board has adopted a budget for the coming school year. They managed to plug holes to fill a deficit once projected to be $74 million, but a district official said that she’s concerned that in the long term, the state’s new education funding plan doesn’t go far enough.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Since last year, Amazon has provided the nonprofit group Mary’s Place with space for about 65 homeless families to sleep. Now, the company is trying to inspire kids from Mary’s Place shelters to choose careers in science or technology.

Courtesy of AutoCognita

A Bellingham woman has teamed up with computer scientists in Hong Kong to develop literacy applications. The group, AutoCognita, has now advanced to the semi-final round in two multi-million-dollar contests.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Teachers have been in short supply in Washington state in recent years. In a survey of school principals last fall, 20 percent said they were in a crisis mode in terms of hiring certificated teachers, and another 70 percent said they were struggling but getting by.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Across Washington, school officials are putting their own math skills to work as they try to figure out what the state’s new school funding plan means for their budgets. For guidance, they’re turning to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who said he’s still working through the numbers himself.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Lawmakers released an education funding plan for the state of Washington at the end of June. The plan allocates $7.3 billion to K-12 public schools throughout the state over the next four years.

But there are still a lot of questions about whether this goes far enough to satisfy the state Supreme Court ruling known as the McCleary decision.

Abe Beeson

George Fulton is a 14 year-old student from Seattle, WA. He is a tenor sax and clarinet player and will be entering Roosevelt High School in the Fall.

Today we're going to update a story we first brought you back in 2004. That September, NPR set out to document what may be the most important day in any young child's life — the first day of kindergarten. For parents it's a day filled with hope, anxiety and one big question: Is our child ready?

The answer back then, as far as 5-year-old Sam Marsenison was concerned, was, "No, no, no!"

Waylon Faulkner, a 12-year-old from Jersey City, N.J., is headed off to a sleepaway camp in upstate New York this summer.

Neuroscience isn't on many elementary school lesson plans. But this spring, a second grade class at Fairmont Neighborhood School in the South Bronx is plunging in.

Sarah Wechsler, an instructional coach with wide eyes and a marathoner's energy, asks the students to think about the development and progress that they've made already in their lives.

Over and over again, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos deflected a barrage of pointed questions with one answer:

"Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law."

Stanford physics and education professor Carl Wieman won a Nobel Prize for his innovative, break-through work in quantum mechanics. Wieman has since levered the prestige and power of that prize to call attention to the need to transform undergraduate teaching, especially science education.

This week saw a remarkable collision of free speech, toxic Internet culture and more, unfolding at one of the world's most prestigious universities.

At least 10 admitted Harvard students in the Class of 2021 had their admissions offers rescinded after a group exchange of racist and sexually offensive Facebook messages, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported this week.

Spencer Campbell spends much of his days walking the halls of Elk Ridge Middle School, checking breezeways for kids playing hooky, redirecting foot traffic between classes and checking on substitute teachers.

Campbell is one of two assistant principals at Elk Ridge, a school just south of Salt Lake City, Utah. It's his first year in the role and he looks the part. He's in his late 30s, sharply dressed, walks briskly and carries a walkie-talkie on his belt.

Angel Vazquez is 9 years old, has hearing loss in both ears, has trouble speaking and struggles to concentrate in class. He's a year behind in school, just learned how to read and is still learning English. For nearly two years, his mom, Angeles Garcia, tried to get him evaluated for special education at his elementary school in Houston.

Garcia sent the school three letters, pleading for an assessment. She even included medical documents describing some of his disabilities, but she says the school ignored her.

If you know anything about New Orleans public schools, you probably know this: Hurricane Katrina wiped them out and almost all the schools became privately run charters.

Many of those schools subscribed to the no excuses discipline model — the idea that if you crack down on slight misbehavior, you can prevent bigger issues from erupting.

Pankaj Rayamajhi hears something. Senioritis?

The director of school logistics and operations has a kind of sixth sense about that unique Spring affliction as he roams the hallways of Columbia Heights Education Campus, a public middle and high school in Washington, D.C.

Rayamajhi quickens his pace, walkie-talkie in hand, and turns a corner into a stairwell. Yep, senioritis. When they see him, the small group of students loitering on the stairs scatters back to class.

There were few fireworks Wednesday as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before a House appropriations subcommittee on the Trump administration's 2018 budget proposal. DeVos deflected much of the skepticism she received and continued to push the administration's support of school choice.

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation's children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group — are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

Seattle City Council

As it becomes more expensive to live in Seattle, the racial and economic disparities in public schools become more glaring. Researchers from a Pacific Northwest think tank say the antidote may lie in updating Seattle’s zoning laws – the rules that determine what types of housing can be built.  

Dorothy, of Spring Hill, Fla., has a 15-year-old son with spina bifida and developmental delays, and her 13-year-old daughter is, she says, "mildly autistic." Neither was happy at public school.

"My son was in a lockdown classroom with gang members. It was a bad situation. I was afraid he was going to get hurt," Dorothy says. "My daughter was getting bullied because she spoke out of turn or would get upset easily. Twenty kids in a classroom was a lot for her."

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