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Education Lab Blog

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

July 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Math teacher-turned-activist says Olympia needs more schooling

The battle to improve American education falls, roughly, into two camps: those who favor more evaluation of teachers (based, in part, on student scores), and those who insist educators need freedom to direct classwork as they see fit. The trouble is, both approaches pretty much leave teachers to sink or swim on their own. “In America,…

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July 30, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Round-up: For-profit colleges get billions from GI Bill, teacher tenure heats up in NYC

For-profit colleges get billions from GI Bill (AP): As one troubled chain of for-profit colleges prepares to sell or close all its U.S. campuses, a new report from the chair of the Senate Education Committee finds for-profit schools received $1.7 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits in the 2012-13 school term. The sum represents about a quarter of the total amount paid out in GI benefits that year.

Teacher-tenure battle brewing in New York (The New York Times): Teachers in New York City are fighting back after two parent groups filed lawsuits in the wake of California’s landmark teacher-tenure ruling. The educators say tenure protects against unjust firings; critics say the laws make it difficult to remove subpar teachers from the classroom.

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July 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Guests: The critical role of doctors in early learning

Jill Sells

Jill Sells

Mary Ann Woodruff

Mary Ann Woodruff

Equal opportunity is at the heart of many civic discussions, from preschool to the minimum wage. Rarely is it emphasized that a child’s chance to reach his or her potential is greatly impacted by what happens before he or she utters a word.

The stark reality is that inequities related to both economics and race are present in infants. Brain and economic research unequivocally demonstrate that the earliest experiences matter the most.

As pediatricians, we’ve shared the joy as families welcome newborns into their lives. We’ve helped them understand that babies are wired to learn, innately attracted to their parents’ voices and faces, and actively engaged with the people around them.

The latest University of Washington study from Patricia Kuhl at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) demonstrates that “babies practice speech long before they can talk.” Helping parents support their child’s learning from birth should be among the highest of our priorities as pediatricians. Children’s doctors are trusted by families and are uniquely able to support parents through each stage of their child’s development.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: early learning

July 30, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New group’s mission: when parents speak, schools listen

Probably no one in the state has worked harder to boost parent involvement at schools than Adie Simmons, who helped found the family engagement office at Seattle Public Schools, and was the first education ombudsman in the governor’s office.

Adie Simmons

Adie Simmons

Now she’s launched a new nonprofit one she hopes will help her use all she’s learned in the past 28 years to build the kind of parent-school relationships she’s always dreamed about. It’s called the Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust.

Simmons envisions schools where working with parents is part of the day-to-day routine, not a perk offered in some places but not others. She also wants to build a bigger cadre of parents ready and willing to voice their views on education and child welfare in Olympia, as well as in their school districts and cities.

That’s similar to the goals of the Logan Square Parent-Mentor program in Chicago, which we wrote about earlier this year.

For years, Simmons said, she’s heard parents say “we are just parents, nobody listens to us.”

“We need to change that paradigm.”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Adie Simmons, parent engagement, parent involvement

July 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Round-up: Banda’s departure raises questions, most Corinthian students still stuck with debt

Banda’s departure raises questions about fractious school board: José Banda is Seattle’s fifth schools chief in a decade, and his departure to Sacramento has left some concerned about the relationship between the superintendent and board members. Former Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland will serve as interim superintendent for a year starting Aug. 1.

Corinthian students still stuck with student-loan debt (Bloomberg): For-profit Corinthian Colleges is closing campuses across the country — including a handful in Western Washington operating under the name Everest — but most students will still have to repay their student debt. Under federal law, students must pay back their loans unless they attended a shuttered school within 120 days prior to its closing.

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July 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Preschool for all kids? Business leaders get campaign preview

Anh Tuan Ta, 4, second from right, and Jimwel Pelaez, 3, far right, lay out plans before they construct their "spiky space needle" during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

Children participate in an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times.

In a preview of what’s to come this fall, three high-level speakers debated Seattle’s proposal to pay for universal preschool in front of a roomful of business leaders.

Voters will weigh in Nov. 4 on whether to fund a four-year pilot providing high-quality pre-K education to 2,000 4-year-olds. Total cost: $58 million, to be paid through property-tax increases.

The effort would align Seattle with numerous cities and states funding early-learning initiatives, from San Francisco to Florida. All are responding to compelling evidence about the benefits of preschool for young children. But many are also wrestling with significant questions about the staying power of those gains.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, pre-K, preschool

July 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Round-up: Assessing the need for a WSU med school, class-size initiative makes ballot

Assessing the need for a WSU med school: Some local and regional higher education experts are questioning whether there is enough demand to warrant a second medical school in Washington state. WSU wants to open a school in Spokane, but some say the shortage of hospital residency spots is a more pressing issue.

Class-size initiative will appear on November ballot (AP): A state initiative that would require smaller class sizes at all levels will appear on the general-election ballot this fall. A similar measure was passed in 2000, but the Legislature has suspended it several times because of budget concerns.

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July 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM

More for your money: UW-Bothell ranked best in the state

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

A new national ranking of college quality scrambles the usual rating of Washington state’s colleges and universities, making the University of Washington-Bothell the top-rated school in the state.

The ranking, by Money magazine, aims to tell students and parents which schools give the best value for the money, and looked at metrics such as the quality of the education, affordability and outcomes, which were based in part on how much graduates were making five years after they left school.

The UW-Bothell ranked above the main campus because it “dramatically outperforms its peers on graduation rates and alumni financial success indicators,” the magazine writes. Although UW-Bothell isn’t particularly selective, more than two-thirds of freshmen go on to graduate, and earn salaries averaging about $52,000 within five years of graduating.

In the survey, UW-Bothell came in 37th in the nation overall, earning an A- for value. The main UW campus in Seattle ranked 47th in the nation, getting a B+ for quality. The Seattle campus appeared to rank slightly lower than the UW-Bothell because the average annual salary within five years was slightly lower ($49,300) and the school is more selective.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, rankings, UW

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free textbooks: New website helps profs find best e-books and videos

The OPEN Washington website

The OPEN Washington website

Building on several years of work with free textbook development, the state’s community college board has created a website that highlights the best available free- and low-cost textbooks and other educational resources from around the country.

The website is called OPEN Washington, and its aim is to help professors and college instructors find free or low-cost online textbooks, videos, curricula and other resources from a wide variety of sources.

It was created by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Along with everything else in higher education, textbooks have zoomed in price in recent years; some studies suggest that the average college student spends as much as $800 to $1,000 per academic year buying textbooks. And students are often stuck with books that they can’t sell back to the bookstore because versions change from year to year.

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July 25, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Round-up: Seattle students talk about school stereotypes, Texas college moves into old J.C. Penney

Rainier Beach, University Prep students discuss stereotypes (KUOW): Two students from south Seattle’s public Rainier Beach High School and north Seattle’s private University Prep took to KUOW’s RadioActive youth program to talk about stereotypes and interview their peers about what it’s like to attend each school. For more on what Rainier Beach is doing to defy stereotypes of the school, check out this guest opinion column by teacher Colin Pierce.

Austin Community College settles into former J.C. Penney store (KUT): A community college in Texas has found an unlikely building for its next campus: a former J.C. Penney department store. Students say they like that the revamped building offers ample room for informal study groups.

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