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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: Uncategorized
January 28, 2015 at 5:41 PM

Downtown school update: Federal Reserve bid deadline extended

The deadline for bidding on a vacant bank building that Seattle Public Schools hopes to turn into a downtown school has been extended.

The auction for the former Federal Reserve building was originally slated to be finished Wednesday, but under federal auction rules the bidding continues until the highest bid goes unchallenged for 24 hours. The Fed can also choose to decrease that time frame.

As of early Wednesday evening, six bidders were vying for the property and the high bid was $7.6 million. The online auction started Dec. 5, but the auction’s website shows the first bid was cast on Jan. 24th.  Earlier this month, the General Services Administration, which is running the auction, lowered the starting bid from $5 million to $1 million.

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Comments | Topics: Downtown school, Federal Reserve, Seattle Public Schools

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…

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Comments | Topics: parents, school funding, special education

January 16, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Murray defends annual tests, quiet on score use in evaluations

Sen. Patty Murray, who will be one of her party’s principal players as Congress works to reauthorize the law known as No Child Left Behind, talked about the law in Seattle on Friday, following her speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate earlier this week.

After reading to some first-graders at Seattle’s Madrona K-8 School, Murray basically reiterated what she said in the other Washington — including not revealing her views on whether student test scores should be part of teacher evaluations.

While Murray said she thinks the No Child law is “badly broken,” she continued to stay quiet on the contentious issue of using student test scores to help gauge teacher effectiveness. Last year, Washington became the first state to lose its waiver from the No Child law’s requirements because lawmakers here refused to require school districts use test scores as part of teacher evaluations.   Many states have been granted waivers from most of the law’s requirements since 2007, after Congress failed to reauthorize the law on schedule.

When asked whether she supported requiring school districts to use test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations, Murray said that’s a decision for state legislatures.

“But really, the answer to your question is we need to fix No Child Left Behind, so that those issues are not what we have a dividing line (over),” she said.

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Comments | Topics: No Child Left Behind, Patty Murray, teacher evaluations

January 15, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Seattle arts-in-schools program to double its reach in 2015

A program meant to correct historic gaps in art classes across Seattle will nearly double in size next fall, adding art and music classes at 10 more schools, city and school district leaders announced Thursday.

The Creative Advantage Initiative, a program paid for by the city of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools and the private Seattle Foundation, this school year helped 1,659 students in about 12 schools — mostly in the central part of the city — who wouldn’t otherwise have received regular music instruction.

Next year, the group will help 10 more schools offer arts and music classes. In general, schools in the program are able to hire more arts teachers and buy supplies, but they also get about $7,500 a year to hire artists or connect with organizations from the community, like the symphony or ballet.

Speaking at a press conference at Leschi Elementary on Thursday afternoon, Seattle schools chief Larry Nyland said art has historically been an important subject in schools, adding that his father taught art as a Seattle Public Schools employee.

“Then, for the last two decades, we’ve been focused on test scores and we’ve had financial crises,” Nyland said. “And so arts have been pushed out somewhat, certainly more than we would like.”

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Comments | Topics: arts education, creative advantage, Seattle

December 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Roundup: Garfield’s Black Student Union finds renewed purpose; ex-UW student deported

Garfield’s Black Student Union finds renewed purpose: Garfield High School’s Black Student Union has been around since the 1960s, but student and staff leaders say the group has found a renewed purpose amid the national outcry over recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. “This is our time, as youth, to speak,” student Issa George said.

High-school guidance counselors overworked (The New York Times): Guidance counselors across the U.S. face an average caseload of 500 students, a number that has remained virtually unchanged for the past 10 years. An April Education Lab story focused on this issue and explored how nonprofit groups are helping to fill the gaps in some cities.

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Comments | Topics: roundup

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.

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

December 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Inslee’s budget calls for all-time biggest boost to early learning

Among a slew of education proposals announced during Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget rollout last week, Inslee suggested a hefty boost to the state’s Department of Early Learning — $177 million over the next two years, more than doubling the amount of money the department gets from the state today.

The governor hailed that increase as the “largest-ever state investment in early learning.”

He is right.

Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee

As far as the 8-year-old Department of Early Learning is concerned, the $177 million increase would be the department’s biggest ever, said Mike Steenhout, its chief financial officer. Among other child care and early learning services, the department runs Washington state’s preschool program, called the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, or E-Cap, which currently provides preschool to about 10,000 low-income students statewide.

If adopted, Inslee’s suggested $177 million increase would be nearly three times greater than the next largest funding spike in the department’s history, which came as it was ramping up around 2007. Inslee proposed adding $2 million for home visits, $4 million for early intervention with special needs toddlers and providing $70.5 million in state dollars for the Early Achievers child care rating and improvement program, which is today almost entirely funded by a one-time federal grant.

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Comments | Topics: early learning, Jay Inslee

December 23, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Roundup: Ruling paves way for adjuncts to unionize; accessibility to Catholic colleges questioned

Labor ruling gives PLU adjuncts right to unionize: A decision by the National Labor Relations Board found Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma could not bar its adjunct faculty from forming a union. The ruling could clear the path for adjuncts at other private colleges to unionize.

Catholic colleges among most expensive for poor students (The Hechinger Report): Half of the 10 U.S. colleges with the highest net cost to the poorest students are Catholic, according to a report from the New America Foundation. Critics say the lack of significant financial aid packages conflicts with the church’s teachings on social justice.

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Comments | Topics: roundup

December 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Homeless students: More each year and younger than you think

Homeless kids aren’t only in big cities. Map courtesy CLS.

You could see them every day and never know it. They might be sitting next to your son in math class, or singing alongside your daughter in the holiday pageant.

An estimated 30,600 kids in Washington’s public schools — or about one child per classroom — do not have a stable place to sleep when they leave each day, according to data released last week by Columbia Legal Services. And because of the stigma involved, many more homeless youth might not let anyone know.

“I never talked to an adult when I was homeless,” said Trai Williams, who spent 10 years on the streets, starting at age 13, and now does outreach through the Mockingbird Society Youth Network.

Williams reflects one of the more troubling aspects of this research: the majority of homeless students are under 14, and overall their numbers are growing. Between 2006-07 and 2012-13, the total population of homeless kids nearly doubled in Washington. Part of the increase was due to the recession, researchers suggest, the rest to more accurate counting.

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Comments | Topics: homelessness

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