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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: Question of the Week
October 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Your voices: Readers’ opinions, concerns on expanded pre-K

As part of our three-part series on early learning, Education Lab recently asked readers to share their thoughts on the idea of expanded pre-K and whether a city-sponsored program would meet the needs of their families.

We received dozens of thoughtful responses to our call out. What follows is the two questions that appeared on the questionnaire, and a selection of reader answers. Some responses have been edited for length or clarity.

Q: Do you agree preschool should be a universal offering, available to all families regardless of income? Why or why not?

Yes, as long as it is actually universal. I do not believe in the middle class subsidizing the poor while still having to pay full or marginally reduced price for my own children. I have 3-year-old twins, and this is of great interest and importance to me. I will most likely vote against the subsidized pre-K initiative.

 Scott Jeffries, Seattle

No. I think we should spend our taxpayer money on boosting the quality of our elementary through high-school education instead. We need smaller classrooms and more individual help for students who need it  too many are falling through the cracks. We should still keep Head Start for the under-privileged.

 Lisa Stultz, Anacortes

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: early learning, pre-K

September 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Tell us: Do you support universal pre-K? Would you sign up?

Juan Martinez, left, and Katherine Gaytan, enrolled in Community Action Project's Disney School, play with magnetic building pieces in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Juan Martinez, left, and Katherine Gaytan, enrolled in Community Action Project’s Disney School, play with magnetic building pieces in Tulsa, Okla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

This fall, Seattle voters will consider two ballot measures that seek to improve early education programs in the city, and make them affordable to all families.

One measure sponsored by the mayor and city council would focus on 3- and 4-year-olds, and include free tuition for families who earn less than 300 percent of federal poverty level. A competing plan, backed by two child-care unions, would cover children from infancy through age 5.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: early education, pre-K, preschool

August 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Tell us: Is hazing a problem at your school?

edulab_icon_perspectivesA year after seven students were suspended in a freshman hazing incident, Garfield High School in Seattle has set up a mentoring program to help new students feel welcome and supported by their peers.

Are you a student, parent or educator? Do you have any experience with hazing? If you were in charge, how would you help ninth-graders make the transition to high school?

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: hazing

June 19, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Your voices: Is it time to rethink student dress codes?

A group of New Jersey parents and students are pushing for a change to their school dress code, arguing rules about skirt length and tank tops unfairly target female students and promote stereotypes about gender and sexuality.

Echoing the sentiments of the #yesallwomen Twitter campaign, some are using the hashtag #iammorethanadistraction as a rallying point for those who feel that school dress codes are “normalizing the notion that girls’ bodies are a distraction.

“We begin to associate these ideas of girls: bad, need to cover up, (and) boys: animalistic, can’t control themselves,” student Sofia Petros, 16, says in a BBC America video report. The full video is posted here:

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: dress codes, your voices

June 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Your voices: What does STEM mean to you?

Armando Bravo

Armando Bravo


STEM for me is an opportunity for success.
What better way to experience the work field or major you would like to be in? Consider taking a STEM class — you won’t regret it.

Armando Bravo, Toppenish High School (Toppenish)

Daniel Doan

Daniel Doan

STEM is unity. It is that awareness of knowing who has what to offer — and everyone has something to offer. Simply put, it’s this idea of coming together as a whole to contribute that final product or that final play or that final grade.

—Daniel Doan, Cleveland High School (Seattle)

christinalindberg4

Christina Lindberg

STEM is the part of my education that is preparing me for the real world. As science expands, so should the material being taught in order to make kids ready for future jobs. It doesn’t help to teach the same curriculum they had 10 years ago because science has expanded since then, and so should the curriculum.

—Christina Lindberg, Inglemoor High School (Kenmore)

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: STEM, Toppenish High School, your voices

May 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Tell us: How did you figure out which career was right for you?

Many students begin college not knowing what sort of career they’d like to pursue after graduation. Many schools, meanwhile, lack the resources to help them figure it out or direct them to the appropriate coursework.

To combat low degree completion rates, Walla Walla Community college, the focus of our front-page Sunday story, has implemented a system that helps students zero in on their interests and stick to a strict academic schedule so they can quickly earn the credentials they need.

Our question this week: How did you figure out which career you wanted to pursue, and how to get the necessary training? Was college a pivotal point for this decision making, or did the process continue after you graduated? If you did not attend college, how did you end up with the job that you have?

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Community colleges, higher ed, Walla Walla

April 27, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Tell us: What’s the best way to help struggling students catch up?

Para-educator Stephanie Hedrick works with a  "walk to reading" group at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn. "Walk to reading" is a program to help students improve their reading skills. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Para-educator Stephanie Hedrick works with a “walk to reading” group at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Teachers and administrators at Gildo Rey Elementary School in Auburn have spent 10 years testing out new instructional methods in the hopes of improving student test scores, even as its poverty rates were rising.

Teachers there use various methods, from breaking into small groups for focused math and reading lessons, to a call-and-answer approach commonly known as direct or explicit instruction.

Eventually, their hard work paid off. Last year, 90 percent of Gildo Rey third graders, 95 percent of fourth-graders and 88 percent of fifth-graders passed the state math test, with the rates in reading not far behind.

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March 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Students: How have guidance counselors helped you?

As more and more young people set their sights on higher education, high-school guidance counselors continue to serve an important role. For many students, they are the only people available to help walk them through college applications, standardized tests, financial-aid forms and personal essays.

In an upcoming story, Education Lab will examine the growing workload of high-school counselors and how certain programs are working to give students more one-on-one attention. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to current high-school students and recent graduates to get their take on the current role of the guidance counselor:

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: counselors, high school, higher ed

March 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

How do you save money on textbooks?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

The high cost of college textbooks is nothing new, but technology could be making it easier for students to pursue cheaper alternatives.

On Sunday, reporter Katherine Long wrote about how college students in Seattle and Tacoma are pushing their professors to seek out free or low-cost online versions of textbooks.

Several readers offered their own advice on how to avoid paying full price for textbooks. From online commenter “drthompson”:

“To save students money, I required the previous edition of the text that can often be found on eBay or Amazon for less than $20 rather than the $140 new version. So many basic topics don’t really change, so there’s no reason to line the pockets of the publishers simply because they decide to ‘update’ textbooks every two years!”

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: e-textbooks, higher ed, textbooks

February 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Taken AP courses? Share your experience with Education Lab

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Have you ever taken an Advanced Placement class, or a similar high school course for college credit? Education Lab wants to hear from you.

Our next story examines a new way of teaching AP courses that is being developed in partnership with the University of Washington. The new approach uses project-based learning as an alternative to a more traditional version of AP instruction focused on memorization and test preparation.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Advanced Placement, AP, high school

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