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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: Poll
June 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Poll: Do you support teacher-tenure laws?

A Los Angeles judge has struck down California’s tenure laws for K-12 teachers, saying such protections are disadvantageous to minority and low-income students.

From the Associated Press:

In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in ruling that students have a fundamental right to equal education.

Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, he ruled that California laws on the hiring and firing of teachers have resulted in “a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.”

He agreed, too, that a disproportionate share of these teachers are in schools that have mostly minority and low-income students.

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May 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Poll: Would you support a four-day school week?

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Two school districts in North Dakota are taking an unusual step to cut costs and provide teachers with more days for professional development. Starting this fall, the Dunseith and East Fairview school systems will shift to four-day school weeks.

The Associated Press reports classes at Dunseith will be held Monday-Thursday, and that Fridays will be reserved for teacher training and to allow students to come in for extra help. Each class will be lengthened by 10 minutes.

A dramatic drop in federal funding is one reason Dunseith officials decided to pursue the schedule change. Officials hope the switch will save the district, which includes 425 students, about $250,000 annually in energy costs and other expenses such as running school cafeterias.

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April 29, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Poll: Will you opt your child out of Common Core testing?

Illustration by Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Boo Davis / The Seattle Times

This spring, thousands of students across Washington are testing out the new Common Core exams. Common Core is a set of federal standards that stipulate what students should learn at each grade level.

Next year, the official Common Core tests will officially be administered throughout the state.

In the Tri-Cities area, where 30 schools are participating in this year’s trial run, some teachers are encouraging parents to opt out of the tests, saying the field tests “are putting an unnecessary burden on students, who sometimes break down in the classroom because of the stress.”

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April 2, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Senior projects: Worthwhile or a waste of time?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Gov. Jay Inslee is set to sign a bill next week that would change a state law requiring high-school students to complete senior projects prior to graduation.

The measure originated after lobbying from Yakima-area state Rep. David Taylor and his 17-year-old stepdaughter Tiffany Stewart, who decided to do her senior project on the topic of ending senior projects.

The change was passed as an amendment inside another bill. It would make senior projects an optional graduation requirement for school districts.

Stewart argued senior projects take up a lot of class time and that some students do the bare minimum, baking cupcakes or making quilts to meet the requirement.

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Comments | More in Poll, Your voices | Topics: graduation, high school, senior project

March 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Poll: New names for Seattle’s community colleges — what do you think?

The three schools collectively known as Seattle Community Colleges are about to get new names that officials say will better reflect the schools’ range of degree offerings.

The word “community” will be stripped from the schools’ titles sometime before this fall, the colleges announced Friday. From then on, the institutions will be known as North Seattle College, Seattle Central College and South Seattle College.

Readers who commented on the Friday story left mixed reviews of the name change:

I don’t think the name change is necessary, but it’s not my decision. I say just make sure that you keep the education affordable and practical, regardless of the name.

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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 24, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Poll: Is it worthwhile to major in the liberal arts?

Liberal arts majors aren’t destined to a lifetime of low earnings, according to a new report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

Researchers looked at Census data and found that workers who studied the humanities or social sciences as undergraduates make about $2,000 more per year during their peak earning ages — defined as between 56 and 60 years old — than their peers who majored in professional or pre-professional fields.

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December 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Poll: How much do you value college rankings?

A new ranking from U.S. News & World Report attempts to measure schools’ value and efficiency by weighing their overall score in the publication’s Best Colleges ranking against the amount of money they spend per student. The Best Colleges list often stirs up controversy, in part because the highest-ranked universities tend to have the highest price tags. Could…

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December 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Poll: Are tablets replacing books in your household?

Yesterday on the blog, we weighed the pros and cons of using technology as a learning tool for toddlers:

Not much is known about how such media experiences affect infant brains, according to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, director of the Infant and Child Lab at Temple University, who spoke on a recent online panel sponsored by Child Trends, a nonprofit research group.

What they do know: Done well, digital experiences can enhance children’s knowledge and skills. Done poorly, they can hurt.

Also on Wednesday, The Atlantic published an article about children reading on electronic devices. The headline: “Tablets make it nearly impossible for kids to get lost in a story.”

The post went on to cite a study from the UK that found more children are now reading on screens than reading physical books. Learning-based apps, the author argued, are focused on interactivity, making it difficult for children to easily follow long narratives and “fall in love with reading.”

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Comments | More in Poll | Topics: reading, technology

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