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

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January 30, 2015 at 2:45 PM

New bids extend auction for former fed bank downtown

Going once, going twice… still going: The online auction for a former bank building Seattle Public Schools would like for a downtown school will continue though at least Saturday afternoon. The top bid was $9.6 million with about an hour to go early Friday afternoon when a bidder pushed it to $9.7 million, which re-set the…


Comments | More in Seattle Public Schools | Topics: Downtown school, Seattle Public Schools

January 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Lawmakers want guidelines for social, emotional skills

We often expect students to check their emotions at the classroom door, so they can knuckle-down on an algebra problem with cold reason like Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

But a growing body of research shows that thinking and feeling are two sides of the same coin — inseparable ingredients for memory and learning — which means students must learn to integrate social and emotional skills with academic skills to get the most out of school.

Lawmakers in Olympia are considering companion bills (HB-1760 and SB-5688) that would add social and emotional skills to the list of things students should learn in school to reduce bullying, dropouts and disciplinary problems.

Such skills include making responsible decisions, controlling impulses, handling stress, persevering against adversity, forming healthy relationships, empathizing with others and respecting social differences.


Comments | More in News | Topics: 2015 legislative session, social and emotional learning

January 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM

The growth of language/social skills may start with parents’ gaze

Somewhere around 10 months of age, babies begin watching their parents’ eyes, following the direction of their gaze so that they can look at the same things.

It goes like this: Baby looks into mother’s eyes, mother looks at the kitty cat, so baby follows her gaze until they’re both looking at the kitty cat together.

That’s long been considered an essential skill for later social and intellectual development — and it’s one of the things doctors check for when diagnosing autism. But it has been unclear how the ability is linked to everything else unfolding in a young child’s brain.

Now researchers at the University of Washington are beginning to connect the dots between gaze-following at 10 months of age and skills that emerge later such as language and the ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences

January 20, 2015 at 5:00 AM

On the agenda: free conference to help parents speak up for kids

Whether it’s speaking up for kids in Olympia, challenging a district’s disciplinary policies or making sure a child with disabilities gets the right services, parents must sometimes tangle with bureaucrats. The polite word for that is advocacy and parents who want to get better at it might check out a free, day-long conference on Jan. 24 at…


Comments | Topics: parents, school funding, special education

January 16, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Teens’ brains are not fully wired but plenty capable of self-control

Illustration by Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

True or false: Adolescents’ brains aren’t wired for responsible behavior until they’re well into their 20s, so parents and teachers should give them a free pass.


The idea that teenagers lack the ability to control their impulses is “Neuromyth #4″ on a list published online this month by the Dana Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes a greater public understanding of brain research.

Like most neuromyths that sometimes show up in education discussions, this one is based on a grain of truth — risky and impulsive behavior spikes during the teen years and subsides in early adulthood.

It’s also true that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is associated with “executive” tasks such as controlling emotions, weighing risks, solving problems and making plans, isn’t fully wired until at least the mid-20s.

But it’s too simplistic to chalk up bad decisions in the teen years to immature frontal lobes.


Comments | More in News | Topics: neuroscience, self-control

January 8, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Washington’s preschool program has good results, low participation

From left, preschoolers Emily Cortes-Gonzalez, Daisy Rojas-Pineda and Paloma Castro converse together during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill. Photo by  Marcus Yam / 2014.

Seattle preschoolers interact with each other during an open-ended activity session at the Denise Louie Education Center in the Beacon Hill. Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times 2014.

Washington state’s preschool program is boosting achievement in math and reading in elementary school, but the state lags behind most of the country in signing children up, according to two recent reports.

Washington ranks 47th among states on several measures of preschool enrollment included in the annual “Quality Counts” report by Education Week, the national newsweekly.

In that report, released today, Washington earns a D grade because of lower-than-average enrollment in preschool overall and in the federal Head Start program, as well as a yawning enrollment gap between rich and poor.

For example, almost two-thirds of kids growing up in households bringing in $100,000 or more a year attend preschool in Washington. But only 4 in 10 kids from households making less than $20,000 are enrolled, according to Education Week.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, preschool, school funding

January 3, 2015 at 9:00 AM

On the agenda: Free early learning event, school funding forum

Two upcoming events:

On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Tom Ahearne, attorney for the consortium that filed the landmark McCleary school-funding case will speak at a meeting sponsored by the Seattle Council  Parent, Teacher and Student Associations, the League of Women Voters and the Seattle Education Association. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Seattle Public School headquarters, 2445 Third Ave. S., Seattle.

Along with Ahearne, the event will also feature speakers who will talk about options for new revenue for schools, and the Council will talk about how its members can advocate for more education funding.

The event is free, but seating is limited.  RSVP at:

On Wednesday, Jan. 7, nearly 300 King County  elected officials, educators and representatives of  agencies, organizations, businesses, and parent advocacy and faith-based groups will meet to talk about how they can work together to make early learning a county-wide priority.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, Neuroscience and education

December 26, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Governor seeks money to train special ed leaders

It’s hard to imagine a more complex and demanding responsibility for a school district administrator than overseeing the education of children with disabilities.

Such leaders are in high demand; Seattle Public Schools’ new special education director, Wyeth Jessee, is the ninth person to hold the job in 10 years.

A new two-year master’s degree program to train future special ed directors has begun meeting that demand, graduating its first group of 10 students last summer. All the graduates, who already had at least five years experience in special education, received job offers.

The program, Enhancing Capacity for Special Education Leadership, is run by the University of Washington Bothell and Washington State University.

Graduates receive a UW Bothell Master’s degree in Education with emphasis in Educational Leadership.

State and federal dollars pay 90 percent of the cost for each scholarship in the program. Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed $2.3 billion education plan includes $800,000 to pay for 20 new slots and also to create a central location for “best practices” in special education at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.


Comments | Topics: special education, University of Washington Bothell, Washington State University

December 11, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington state misses cut for new federal preschool dollars

Washington State fell short in a competition among states to win new federal money to expand the availability of subsidized preschool, according to state and federal officials who announced the winners on Wednesday.

Washington was one of the 36 applicants for the grants, but was not among the 18 selected.

The grants, totaling more than $226 million, were part of more than $1 billion of public and private investment in early childhood education announced by President Obama during his White House Summit on Early Education on Wednesday.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, Federal funding, preschool

December 11, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Harvard experts on families and learning offer apps guide for kids

Please don’t scroll down to the end of the this post because there’s a monster at the end of this post.

Well, as fans of the Sesame Street classic “The Monster at the End of this Book” know, the only monster waiting on the last page is good old lovable Grover. But now kids can enjoy the digital version of Grover’s anguished pleas to stop turning pages on their iPhone or iPad.

The e-book for preschoolers is among the free or low-cost educational apps, online games and e-books recommended by the Harvard Family Research Project for families to put those smartphones, tables and game consoles to good use over the winter holidays.

The Harvard researchers suggest that parents choose digital activities that are engaging, encourage rich exploration, stimulate language development and offer children a new way of experiencing the world.


Comments | More in News | Topics: digital media, early learning, educational apps

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