Youth & Education

Stories about education focused on the Pacific Northwest and the nation. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District welcomed a new superintendent who represents a first for the nation's second-largest school district on Jan.11.

Michelle King is the first African-American woman chosen for the job, heading more than 900 schools in the district. She is also an insider — she has worked in the system for three decades — unlike the string of outsiders who held the job before her.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Nate Bowling is running out of space on his awards shelf.

In 2014, the social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma won a Milken Award — the "Oscar of Teaching," as one publication put it. Last fall, Bowling became Washington state's Teacher of the Year. Just last week, Bowling was named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

President Obama has increased college aid by over $50 billion since coming into office. And he's trying to do more.

Acting Education Secretary John King announced two new proposals today that would expand the Pell Grant program, the biggest pot of federal money for students with financial need:

  • Year-round Pell. Currently, students are only eligible for two semesters of Pell grants in a school year. Today's proposal would allow students to get extra money to cover a third session of, say, summer courses.

Things to know about Stephen Ritz, one of NPR's 50 Great Teachers:

He and his students made bow ties out of Scrabble tiles.

His Bronx classroom, a refurbished school library, has more plants than desks.

He calls the room his National Health, Wellness and Learning Center. It's got tower gardens, gleaming cabinets and counters, an industrial sink and a new, mobile cooking station.

"In this class, we go from seed to tower to table to plate in 20 feet," Ritz says.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A panel of state lawmakers weighed their options for keeping charter schools open long term in Washington during a meeting in Olympia on Tuesday.

Senate Education Committee members are considering two different bills with two different approaches to restoring and retooling the charter school law the state Supreme Court invalidated last year.

Education funding was front and center Monday as the Idaho and Washington state legislatures convened for their 2016 sessions.

Just because a toy's packaging says it's educational doesn't make it so. That's the finding from a new study in JAMA Pediatrics that found some toys being marketed as language promoters got in the way of learning.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After spending years debating possible ways out of the quagmire of state education funding, lawmakers from both parties and both houses announced Friday they may have a plan to fix the way the state pays for education.

Four years after the Supreme Court ruled the way the state pays for education is unconstitutional, the Washington Legislature is still debating how to finish responding to the court. They are working under a contempt order and a daily $100,000 fine until they do.

"What are some of the things that the monsters like to eat in this story?" teacher Marisa McGee asks a trio of girls sitting at her table.

McGee teaches kindergarten at Walker Jones Elementary in Washington, D.C. Today's lesson: a close reading of the book What Do Monsters Eat?

"They like to eat cake," says one girl.

"I noticed you answered in a complete sentence," McGee says. "Can you tell me something else?"

"Stinky socks!"

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

A second legislative proposal to preserve Washington's charter schools emerged Thursday, with its authors promising to reconstitute even more of the system invalidated by the State Supreme Court than another bill filed earlier this week.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A former state lawmaker from Gig Harbor announced Thursday he'll enter an increasingly-crowded field in the race to replace Randy Dorn in Washington's top elected education office: the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Former Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, joins three candidates already in the race: State Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater; Tacoma Public Schools administrator Erin Jones and current Assistant State Superintendent Gil Mendoza.

Here's a stark fact: Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it's even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn't include time spent using devices for school or in school.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Two Spokane state senators have floated a plan they hope will preserve charter schools in Washington state, which currently face an uncertain future after the state Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional last fall.

Ahead of the legislative session that begins next week, Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Michael Baumgartner filed a bill that would allow any local school board to continue to create and oversee charter schools within its district's boundaries.

In 2015, Khan Academy, which pioneered free, online video tutorials and lectures that have reached millions of students around the world, sought new ways of reaching new people.

It had already partnered with everyone from NASA to the Museum of Modern Art, and this past year Khan joined forces with the SAT's overlord, the College Board. The goal, in the parlance of our times, is to disrupt the billion-dollar test prep industry.

Jordan Shapiro drew a lot of attention this year with his four misconceptions about the future of education. As with much of his work, he tries to take a cattle prod to the conventional education narrative.

Inslee Proposes Pay Hike For Washington Teachers

Dec 17, 2015

The starting salary for public school teachers in Washington state would rise to $40,000 a year under a proposal unveiled Thursday by Governor Jay Inslee. 

Forget the debate over participation trophies. The starkest divides in American parenting have less to do with warring philosophies and more to do with money, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The poll of more than 1,807 parents finds that income and family structure powerfully shape parents' concerns and children's opportunities.

But first, some bright spots:

Gun control. Climate change. Donald Trump. Affirmative action.

The first presidential primaries are just weeks away and with all these debates and issues in the headlines, there's no question that students are going to want to talk about them.

But how should teachers handle these discussions?

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Jocelyn Alexander Shaw wants her students to stop settling for less than their best work.

Children's personal information isn't supposed to be an online commodity. But whether kids are using Google apps at school or Internet-connected toys at home, they're generating a stream of data about themselves. And some advocates say that information can be collected too easily and sometimes, protected too poorly.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

State educators want to know more about why certain kids get trapped in a cycle of discipline at school. They’re hoping new data out Monday will help cut down on suspensions and expulsions.

Statewide, discipline rates have gone down the past few years. But for some groups of students, that’s not the case. State officials won’t get specific, but they’re trying to figure out how principals and teachers think about different groups of rule breakers when they mete out punishment.

Every morning, the familiar routine plays out in hundreds of thousands of classrooms: A teacher looks out over the desks, taking note of who's in their seats and who isn't.

On any given day, maybe there are one or two empty chairs. One here, one there. And that all goes into the school's daily attendance rate.

But here's what that morning ritual doesn't show: That empty desk? It might be the same one that was empty last week or two weeks ago. The desk of a student who has racked up five, 10, 20 absences this year.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Incidents of tampering with a set of standardized tests were probably the result of intra-office quarrels rather than an attempt to get away with inflating scores, according to an independent investigation into the suspicious test results at Beacon Hill International School in Seattle. KPLU obtained the report through a public records request.

First thing Friday morning, Bill Florence is getting his two kids, Chloe, 11, and Austen, 8, ready to head out the door.

"Did you guys brush your teeth?" he asks. "Yes," they moan.

Monday through Thursday, Chloe and Austen catch the bus to Peralta Trail Elementary School, but today, their dad scoots them into the family's silver Honda.

Courtesy Act Now for Washington Students Facebook Page

Washington state's charter schools will get one last regular infusion of state money — for their November operating expenses — before a state Supreme Court decision shutting off their current funding source takes effect next month, state education officials confirmed this week.

Jasperdo / Flickr

Western Washington University administrators called off all classes Tuesday after getting word of "hate speech targeted at Western students of color" on social media.

WWU president Bruce Shepard said in a statement there was "no threat to general campus safety," but that he canceled classes in order to give the Bellingham campus time "demonstrate our outrage, to listen to each other, and to support each other."

The two births that would change everything for Taylor Delhagen were due to occur 24 hours apart. If all went according to plan, his school would come into being one day, and his first child would arrive the next.

The baby boy's impending arrival had Delhagen contemplating the gravity of his role as a teacher opening a charter high school in one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods: Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

UPDATED — Washington state Supreme Court justices have denied a request from charter school advocates to reconsider an earlier ruling that ends state funding for charter schools.

A spokeswoman for the court said justices original ruling will become effective Dec. 14.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Seattle School Board members issued a vote of confidence in the district's top administrator Wednesday night, approving a five percent raise and a one-year contract extension for Superintendent Larry Nyland by a 6-1 vote.

But Nyland surprised the board room by saying he would donate the amount of this year's increase in his base salary — more than $13,800 in total — back to Seattle Public Schools' general fund.

Hope for Gorilla/Flickr

Starting next year, all Seattle high schools will push their start times later — most of them by almost an hour — and most elementaries will start significantly earlier under an overhaul of the district's bell schedule school board members approved Wednesday night.

The board's 6-1 vote puts Seattle Public Schools on a relatively short list: by one count, only 70 districts nationwide have pushed back high school start times in an effort to match students' natural sleep rhythms with their school schedules.