Youth & Education

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

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DeVonte Kirkland is in his second to last year of school at Center Point High in Jefferson County, just outside of Birmingham, Ala. When he graduates next year he wants to head to Alabama State University.

DeVonte also wants a car, so he's taking some serious time to learn how to work on them. Every day, he rides a school bus 25 minutes, each direction, for an auto tech class at Gardendale High, another school on the south side of the district.

Will James / KNKX

Members of the Satanic Temple don't actually believe in Satan.

They're more like atheists who follow ethical precepts and embrace the devil as a symbol of independence -- and as a bit of a provocation aimed at organized religion. 

If you got 13 percent back on your investments every year, you'd be pretty happy, right? Remember, the S&P 500, historically, has averaged about 7 percent when adjusted for inflation.

What if the investment is in children, and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family?

Monica Spain / knkx

Washington is adopting the state’s first set of standards for teaching computer science in public schools. By adopting computer science standards, Washington is addressing the skills gap in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Right now, only one in 10 schools in the state offers classes that teach students more advanced computer skills that deal with problem solving, such as robotics, creating websites and writing software. Computer instruction has been considered an “extra” in schools, with funding coming from local levies.

There's a lot of attention right now on improving attendance in schools — making sure kids don't miss too many days. But what about the littlest students — those 3 and 4 years old? New research shows that if kids miss a lot of preschool, they're way more likely to have problems in kindergarten or later on.

At 8 a.m. sharp, just hours after Donald Trump was declared president-elect, the hallways at Harrisburg High's SciTech campus were buzzing. There were tears, but also a few subtle nods in approval of the results. But mostly the students expressed their deep desire for Americans here in Pennsylvania and around the country to come together.

An 8-year-old named Ben is sitting quietly by himself in a bean bag in a classroom in Mountain View, Calif. He's writing in his journal, an assignment he created himself.

"This one was, 'What I Wish We Would Have More Of,' " Ben says, reading to me from his notebook. "I hope we have more field trips." He stops and looks up. "I have more entries, but I don't want to share them."

There are rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes and doctors. So why is it so hard to compare providers of child care?

Part of the reason is that there are no nationally agreed-upon standards for what determines the quality of child care. The standards that do exist are formulated in each state, and they vary widely.

For example, some states require that child care workers have a teaching certificate. Others require certain college courses. Some have strict ratios of how many caregivers are required per child.

Our Tools of the Trade series is exploring some of the icons of schools and education.

It was made of shiny, bright pink plastic with a Little Mermaid sticker on the front, and I carried it with me nearly every single day. My lunch box was one of my first prized possessions, a proud statement to everyone in my kindergarten bubble: "I love Ariel."

(Oh, and it held my sandwich too.)

Whenever you surf the web, sophisticated algorithms are tracking where you go, comparing you with millions of other people. They're trying to predict what you'll do next: Apply for a credit card? Book a family vacation?

William Bowen, a scholar and former president of Princeton University, died last week. He is associated with one of the key explanations for just why a college degree keeps getting more and more and more expensive.

Bowen, who was President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and before that, led Princeton from 1972 to 1988, died Oct. 20 at the age of 83.

Faculty members at more than a dozen Pennsylvania public universities went on strike on Wednesday. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties represents educators at 14 public universities. The strike comes after negotiations broke down between the union and Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

Parents and teachers are worried.

They believe that today's kids are growing up in an unkind world and that learning to be kind is even more important than getting good grades. But, when it comes to defining "kind," parents and teachers don't always agree.

Add to the list of worrisome economic trends what economists call "NEETs" — young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Their numbers are growing, now 40 million in the 35 member countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And two-thirds of them are not actively looking for work.

The figures come from the biennial OECD report, Society at a Glance 2016.

Two years ago, William McNeil lost his retail job at Sears and was looking to improve his life. Around the same time, he got a bunch of emails promising a path to a new career from ITT Technical Institute, the for-profit college chain.

So, McNeil, who's 55, signed up online to get more information about the school and got several calls from an ITT recruiter. Desperate to get back on track, he decided it was worth the $20,000 in government-backed loans to pursue an associate's degree in networking technology at the school.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

Sheila Edwards Lange, the current president of Seattle Central College, stares out her fourth-floor office window at a changing city. From this building on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, she can see the Space Needle, Key Arena, Puget Sound and some mountains off in the distance.

But she can also see cranes – symbols of a booming city and all the change that brings with it.

Trigger warnings, the heads-up that college professors give to students to let them know disturbing content is coming, have gotten a lot of attention as the school year has unfolded. When a University of Chicago dean wrote a letter to incoming freshmen this fall rejecting the idea of those warnings, it sparked a nationwide debate on the use of advisories in the classroom.

45 CFR Chapter XIII RIN 0970-AC63.

That's the official name of the newly-revised government standards for running a Head Start program.

If the name doesn't grab you, this should: The Department of Health and Human Services says it's the first "comprehensive" revision of Head Start rules since they first published them in 1975. And the changes are, in a word, big.

Oh, middle school. The land of pantsing. Mean girls who won't let you sit with them in the cafeteria. And, these days, cryptic taunts posted on social media, where parents and teachers can't always see them.

According to a new report from a state task force, the ratio of students to school nurses has more than doubled in the past five years in Oregon.

You're at a cafeteria, you've got your lunch ... and then you just don't know where to sit. You don't want to sit alone, but you also don't know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She's an 11th-grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.

Hampton recently spoke about the app with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.

The good news: There's an uptick in the hiring of new teachers since the pink-slip frenzy in the wake of the Great Recession.

The bad news: The new hiring hasn't made up for the teacher shortfall. Attrition is high, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen some 35 percent over the past five years — a decrease of nearly 240,000 teachers in all.

Parts of most every state in America face troubling teacher shortages: the most frequent shortage areas are math, science, bilingual education and special education.

College presidents from High Point, N. C., to Laie, Hawaii, are sitting up a little straighter, because the 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings are out today. Published every year since 1983, they've become perhaps the most famous and influential college rankings. But they're no longer the only game in town.

They read a book quietly under their desks, pester the teacher for extra credit, or, perhaps, they simply check out and act up.

Every classroom has a few overachievers who perform above their grade level and don't feel challenged by the status quo. A new report suggests they are surprisingly common — in some cases, nearly half of all students in a given grade.

It's a pivotal moment in any young person's life — that point at which you turn from the home you've known all your life, breathe in deeply and leap into the vast unknown of the world beyond.

It's a moment that young adult authors know well, and not just because they write for these young readers. They've experienced it themselves, and they've come out the other side, pen in hand.

University of Puget Sound

Freshman move-in day at Tacoma’s University of Puget Sound looks like you might expect.

Parents study maps under old, shady trees on this 128-year-old campus. Students wear their new keys on lanyards around their necks as they carry bags, pillows and blankets across bright green lawns toward their new dorms. There are hugs, greetings, introductions and a little crying, stifled and otherwise.

The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state is heading back to court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the Washington Supreme Court.

This story is part of a series from NPR Ed exploring the challenges U.S. schools face meeting students' mental health needs.

Every year, thousands of children are suspended from preschool.

Take a second to let that sink in.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions.

Part of our NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

Every Monday morning at Harvie Elementary School, in Henrico County, Va., Brett Welch stands outside her office door as kids file in.

"The first thing I'm looking for are the faces," says Welch, a school counselor. She's searching for hints of fear, pain or anger.

"Maybe there was a domestic incident at the house that weekend," says Welch. "That's reality for a lot of our kids."

For nearly a half-century, the professional educators organization Phi Delta Kappa has released a poll this time of year to capture the public's attitudes toward public education.

This year, by far the most lopsided finding in the survey was about a controversial reform policy: school closures. By 84 percent to 14 percent, Americans said that even when a public school has been failing for several years, the best response is to keep the school open and try to improve it rather than shut it down.

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