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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

January 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Guests: To help more kids succeed, serve breakfast after the bell

Corrected version

This piece was written by Sara Levin and Katie Mosehauer.

When a student ends up in the school office because of a fight, “Did you have breakfast?” is probably not the first thing a principal asks. But maybe it should be. Kids who start the day hungry are nearly twice as likely to have conflict with peers and to fall into behaviors like fighting, unruliness and bullying that disrupt school for everyone.

Today, one in four Washington families struggles to keep enough food on the table, and teachers report record numbers of students showing up hungry for class.

The answer might seem straightforward: Get kids into existing school breakfast programs. After all, those in free-and-reduced-price lunch programs already qualify. But school breakfast programs reach only a third of eligible children in Washington, putting us a dismal 41st out of 50 states.

Why is this? In Washington, breakfast is usually served before school in the cafeteria, and if you’re “one of the poor kids” who takes part, there can be stigma. Plus, kids would naturally rather be outside with others socializing and having fun.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: breakfast after the bell, nutrition, United Way

January 31, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Round-up: State’s first charter school will open this fall, bill focuses on summer learning loss

State’s first charter school will open this fall in Seattle: A privately-funded elementary school for homeless children will be the first charter school to open in Washington state. First Place Scholars was among seven schools approved by a state commission on Thursday.

Editorial: Pilot program would help end summer learning loss: A proposed state senate bill would provide funding for 10 high-poverty school districts to add 20 days to the academic year in an effort to bridge learning gaps between low-income and more affluent students. Times editorial columnist Lance Dickie wrote in support of the idea Thursday, calling summer learning loss “a documented problem that has drawn serious academic attention.”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

January 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Many parents feel they have little say in school decisions, poll finds

A new telephone poll of parents in seven school districts suggests that most feel welcome at their schools and have the knowledge they need to support their children’s learning.

But when it comes to influencing school and district decisions, fewer than half believe they have those opportunities.

The pollsters questioned a representative sample of 2,051 parents in Seattle Public Schools and six districts in South King County about their relationships with their schools. The poll was sponsored by the Road Map Project, an effort to significantly increase the number of students who go to college.

The districts and community groups involved in the project want to work more closely with parents to help them reach that goal.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: parent engagement, parent involvement, parent participation

January 30, 2014 at 4:18 PM

State Senate introduces REAL Hope Act — what’s your reaction?

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP's REAL Hope Act will "make college a reality" for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP’s REAL Hope Act will “make college a reality” for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

State Senate leaders made a surprising shift Thursday afternoon by announcing they had reached agreement on Washington’s version of the “Dream Act.”

Called the “REAL (Real Educational Access, Changing Lives) Hope Act,” Senate Bill 6523 is nearly identical to House Bill 1817, which the Democrat-controlled House voted to approve on the first day of the 2014 session.

The measure would require applicants to have lived in Washington state for at least three years before receiving their high school diploma and to fall under the federal requirements for deferred action.

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Comments | More in Poll, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Dream Act, financial aid, higher ed

January 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Round-up: Senate leaders agree on state version of ‘Dream Act'; Utah school throws out lunches

Republican Senate leaders agree to state version of ‘Dream Act’In a surprising shift, majority leaders in the state Senate have agreed to authorize college financial aid for students who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children. The Democrat-controlled House voted to approve their version of the bill on the first day of the 2014 session.

Investigators call on feds to better track school sex abuse (AP): Congress’ Government Accountability Office is urging federal agencies to do a better job of tracking the systemic prevlance of sex abuse involving children and school personnel. The review follows a 2010 report that detailed 15 cases where people with histories of sexual misconduct were hired or retained at public or private schools.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

January 30, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How Boston’s preschools went from mediocre to outstanding

Corrected version

Preschool has a high profile these days, with many government leaders, from President Obama on down, pushing for more — and better — early childhood programs.

The Seattle City Council, for example, is considering joining a handful of other municipalities across the nation that make preschool available to every 3- and 4-year-old, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

As part of the city of Seattle’s discussions about preschool, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess has organized a hearing next week where two researchers will discuss their recent studies on the value of preschool. One of those studies focuses on the program in Boston Public Schools, which Burgess and others see as possible model for Seattle. To date, Boston’s program has seen some of the best success in preparing students for school, the researchers say.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Boston Public Schools, early ed, early-childhood education

January 29, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Round-up: Maryland OKs new discipline rules, Obama praises Race to the Top

State of the Union emphasizes Race to the Top, early education (Education Week): President Obama called for Congress to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds and improve job training programs during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. He also made an indirect reference to the Common Core standards and credited Race to the Top with improving student performance in some states.

Maryland approves school discipline changes (The Washington Post): The Maryland State Board of Education on Tuesday approved a sweeping set of policy changes for school discipline. Under the new rules, principals are still able to suspend students, but they have been encouraged to drop zero-tolerance policies.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

January 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Quiz: Are you smarter than a middle-school science whiz?

Yesterday on the blog, Claudia Rowe wrote about a group of Eastside middle-school students who are traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete in the National Science Bowl this spring. The students will go head-to-head with other whiz kids from around the country, racing to answer 17 rounds of grueling, quiz-show style questions.

Wondering how you would stack up against the competition? Try out some sample questions in this five-question quiz:

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Comments | More in Math and science

January 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Western states at the bottom in per-student spending

Mark Weber / Op Art

Mark Weber / Op Art

A new report by Education Week provides a look at the big growth in school spending since the 1970s.

Across the nation, nearly all states doubled or tripled the amount of money spent on public schools from 1970 to 2010, with even the lowest growth, in Utah, going from $3,344 per student to $6,237 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

But the growth has been uneven, the national newsmagazine reported.

Per-pupil spending has increased most in nine states and the District of Columbia, and seven of those states are in the northeastern United States. Seven of the 10 states where spending has grown the least are in the West, and Washington is one of them.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: education funding, McCleary decision, NAEP

January 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

Education highlights from Obama’s State of the Union address

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

The following are some education-related highlights from Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, delivered Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol. The excerpts are from a full text version of the president’s prepared remarks, as distributed by the Associated Press.

Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.

Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math.

Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, higher ed, Obama

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