December 19, 2013 at 4:56 PM
NASA has announced the Pacific Science Center will be one of a handful of educational museums to get money to build on their informal science-education program.
The Seattle museum has won more than $800,000 for a five-year project to enhance teen and adult knowledge of remote-sensing technology. They want to raise awareness of the way airplanes and satellites take photographs and collect data to aid research in fields such as environmental science.
The new programs are aimed at encouraging students in grades three through 12 to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Pacific Science Center is one of six museums and four NASA visitor centers sharing nearly $7.7 million in grants or cooperative agreements.
December 19, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Update: to read full story, go here.
Students and faculty at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish protested this morning after learning their popular vice principal resigned after school officials learned he had married his male partner.
The protest spread via Twitter and text messaging to other students at area Catholic high schools.
At at least one — Seattle Preparatory School — students showed solidarity with a similar sit-in protest.
Officials at Seattle Prep notified parents that staff members had discussed the situation at Eastside Catholic with students.
“Diversity Director, Heidi Kim, moderated a discussion with our students,” according to the statement to Seattle Prep parents. “Following that, Principal Maureen Reid asked students to return to class, where they were able to take up the discussion with their classmates and instructors.”
According to an online blog, Eastside Catholic vice principal Mark Zmuda married Dana Jergens at a ceremony at the Golf Club at Newcastle last July — seven months after same-sex marriage became legal in this state.
One student at Eastside Catholic said the entire student body was protesting; students either walked out of class or never went. Many were crying along with their teachers.
Students said they were told the decision to fire Zmuda was made by the Archdiocese of Seattle. They said they and students from other Catholic schools within the diocese planned to collect and submit signatures hoping to win Zmuda his job back.
Mike Patterson, spokesman for Eastside Catholic, said that by entering into a same-sex marriage, Zmuda violated teachings of the church, which he had agreed to follow.
Teachers at Catholic schools, Patterson said, sign contracts that they will abide by the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which opposes and forbids same-sex marriage.
“We just learned about it,” Patterson said of Zmuda’s marriage. “He understood he could no longer be employed there because of his current circumstances.”
At a rally at Eastside Catholic, one student questioned the decision, given Pope Francis’ recent statements regarding homosexuality.
“Just because I’m Catholic doesn’t mean I need to believe every rule the Church has,” freshman Sophia Cerino said. “We think the rule over gay marriage is totally unfair. Everyone seems to think the same thing – that we should all be treated equal.”
Zmuda holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He has been a mathematics teacher, department chair and handled a variety of administrative roles at the middle- and high-school levels over the past 13 years, according to an online biography. Before joining Eastside Catholic, he taught at Cardinal Gibbons School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Cerino said Zmuda, who was also the high-school swim coach, was a kind person who cared about the students.
While students were protesting on the street, she said, Zmuda came to talk to them about what had happened. “He told us he had gotten fired because he is gay and married. He told us to grow up, get a job and find true love. He was crying and told us what we were doing meant a lot to him.”
December 18, 2013 at 9:02 AM
The Associated Press
BOSTON — The attorney for a Mukilteo man accused of making a bomb threat to get out of a final exam at Harvard University says his client was under a great deal of pressure and seems remorseful.
Twenty-year-old Eldo Kim is being released on $100,000 bond Wednesday into the custody of his sister, who lives in Massachusetts, and an uncle from North Carolina. Attorneys aren’t saying where he will stay.
Under the conditions of his release, he cannot enter Harvard’s campus without prior approval of Harvard and the federal court.
Federal public defender Ian Gold says Kim was dealing with finals and the third anniversary of his father’s death.
Gold says Kim became a naturalized U.S. citizen in fifth grade and renounced his South Korean citizenship.
Under the conditions of his release, Kim cannot enter Harvard’s campus without prior approval of Harvard and the federal court.
Kim did not enter a plea during an earlier hearing Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston alleges Kim sent hoax emails Monday saying shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings on Harvard’s Cambridge, Mass., campus. The emails came minutes before he was to take a final exam in one of the buildings.
The buildings were shut down for hours before investigators determined there were no explosives.
Kim attended Kamiak High School, graduating in June 2012, Andy Muntz, a spokesman for the Mukilteo School District, said Wednesday.
While there, Kim was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and participated on the tennis and debate teams, Muntz said. His debate coach, Steven Helman, declined to comment this morning.
A cached version of Kim’s LinkedIn profile, which has been taken down, indicates that he did several internships in South Korea.
Harvard said it was saddened by the allegations against Kim but would have no further comment on the investigation. (more…)
December 17, 2013 at 4:54 PM
Washington state produced the largest number of new national board-certified teachers in the country this year.
The state added 516 and now has the fourth largest number of board-certified teachers in the country at 7,333, according to figures released today by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Seattle’s national ranking among districts is 5th or 6th, depending on who’s counting.
The National Board website says Seattle is 6th with 49 new certified teachers.
That number really is 54 because apparently five teachers didn’t indicate their district on the application, but the state knows those teachers are from Seattle, said Kristen Jaudon, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The Highline School District, which did not have the same accounting problem, tied four school systems for 20th place with 21 new teachers receiving the honor.
Other area districts with new board-certified teachers include: Bellevue (19), Federal Way (18), Tacoma (17), Issaquah (16) and Lake Washington (15).
Board certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential.
Candidates must submit a portfolio of classroom teaching that includes samples of student work and video recordings of instruction, which is evaluated by a national panel of peers. Candidates also must pass a knowledge test on the subjects they teach at a computer-based testing center.
Washington regularly ranks among the top five states nationally with the most new board-certified teachers, according to the national board.
The state has promoted the program in a variety of ways.
State lawmakers in 2007 gave teachers an extra incentive to seek certification by awarding a $5,000 bonus to those who receive the credential. Board-certified teachers can earn up to $5,000 in additional bonus money by teaching in “challenging” low-income schools, which are determined by the percentage of children qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch.
A third of the state’s new board-certified teachers work in challenging schools and 31 percent of all Washington board-certified teachers are teaching in a challenging school, according to OSPI.
Candidates also can get help from the state’s conditional loan program, which covers $2,000 of the $2,500 application fee. Loans are repaid using the bonuses teachers earn after becoming certified. Half of the state’s new board-certified teachers received loans and will pay back $506,000 into the revolving fund, according to OSPI.
The Washington Education Association, the state’s teachers union, also promotes national board certification with two training programs that help candidates at the beginning of the application process and again just before the portfolio is due.
In addition, the Seattle Education Association has several specially trained facilitators among its members who help groups of Seattle teachers through the process each year, according to SEA president Jonathan Knapp.
“We are the first union in the state to do this entirely within the union,” Knapp said.
December 16, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Employees at three Washington universities used state-issued credit cards in violation of Washington policy, charging $226,583 worth of alcohol, gifts and other items to the cards, according to a report by the state auditor’s office.
The report from the office of State Auditor Troy Kelley was part of a review of the way credit cards are used at the three largest public four-year universities in Washington — the University of Washington, Washington State University and Western Washington University. The audit report found purchases that were not supposed to be charged to state-issued credit cards at all three schools, with the largest amount — $197,265 — at the UW. The UW is also the largest user of state credit cards among the six four-year public schools in Washington.
In a letter responding to the report, UW officials said the purchases were all made for allowable uses, and the only thing in dispute is that they were made with state-issued credit cards.
The UW receives gifts from donors that “can be used to support the University without regard to certain state rules,” the UW wrote. For example, the university uses donor funds to buy alcohol for fundraising events.
According to the report, the three universities used credit cards to purchase more than $164 million in goods and services in the 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2012. Most of the purchases followed state policy, the auditor’s office found.
December 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Federal agents have searched the home of a teacher at The Bush School after he was arrested by Canadian authorities on charges of voyeurism, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from the Department of Homeland Security said they obtained a warrant to search the home of Jason Paur, 43, a West Seattle coach and substitute teacher at the private Madison Park school, where he has worked for the past 10 years, said ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz.
Munoz said the case was being investigated by Homeland Security’s Child Exploitation Investigations Group. He released no other details, nor did he say what the agents were looking for.
Paur and 11 students on the school cross-country ski team had gone to the Silver Star Resort in Vernon, B.C., this past week as part of a school trip. He was arrested Tuesday after a female student found a video camera belonging to Paur in her room.
The head of The Bush School, Frank Magusin, sent a letter home to parents, explaining what happened and saying that Paur admitted he placed the camera in the room.
Paur is being held in British Columbia.
December 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM
The Associated Press
SEATAC — A Chinook Middle School student has been caught with a stun gun on a school bus in SeaTac.
Highline Public Schools spokeswoman Catherine Carbone Rogers tells KING-TV a grandmother at a bus stop Friday morning thought she saw a student with the weapon and called school officials who called police.
Officers stopped and searched the bus. They found the stun gun and took a student into custody.
No one was injured.
December 12, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Supporters and opponents of Washington’s new charter-school law both saw good news in a judge’s ruling today that found part of the charter law unconstitutional.
Both sides agree King County Superior Court Judge Jean A. Rietschel’s ruling strikes down the part of the law that would have made charter schools eligible for state construction money because they’re not considered “common schools.”
But supporters say that part can be carved out of the law and won’t stop its implementation.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office defended the law’s constitutionality in the case, agrees.
“The court has held the vast majority of the charter schools initiative constitutional, and the state will continue to implement this law,” he said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Opponents believe the finding that charter schools aren’t common schools could affect how the state funds them, said Paul Lawrence, the lead attorney representing the state teachers union and other organizations that filed suit challenging the law’s constitutionality.
Lawrence said charter-school proponents had told voters these schools would be the same as regular public schools, and that the court’s ruling determined that they are not the same.
He said the plaintiffs likely will appeal the case to the Washington State Supreme Court.
A coalition led by the state teachers union filed the suit in July asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control” and “impeding the State’s constitutional obligation to amply provide for and fully fund K-12 public education.”
Lisa Macfarlane, state director of Democrats for Education Reform, which backed the charter-school law, said the 22 charter schools seeking approval are not depending on state construction money.
“We’re thrilled with the judge’s ruling,” Macfarlane said.
December 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM
A coach and substitute teacher at The Bush School in Seattle has been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested and charged with voyeurism and other offenses while on a school-sponsored cross-country ski-team trip to southern British Columbia.
Jason C. Paur, 43, was arrested Tuesday after the discovery of a video camera belonging to him, found by students in a room occupied by girls at the Silver Star ski resort near Vernon, B.C., according to a statement released by the private school and Frank Magusin, the head of school.
Paur was being held in British Columbia in connection with alleged offenses that occurred Monday and Tuesday, Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the provincial Criminal Justice Branch, said Thursday.
Paur was charged with three counts of voyeurism related to observing or recording individuals in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy and to be nude. He also was charged with possessing child pornography, accessing child pornography and three counts of breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offense.
Paur, who has not entered a plea, made his first court appearance Wednesday and is scheduled to return to court next Wednesday. No bail has been set.
December 11, 2013 at 10:50 AM
The University of Washington ranked 13th, and Western Washington University ranked 93rd, on Kiplinger’s annual list of 100 public colleges that offer the best value for the money.
Both schools have regularly appeared on Kiplinger’s list. The UW was 18th last year, and WWU was 74th.
Kiplinger’s noted that the rate of tuition increases is slowing nationwide; in Washington, tuition at all state colleges has been frozen for this academic year and the next one. Nationwide, in-state tuition and fees rose only 2.9% in 2012–13, the lowest increase in more than 30 years, according to the College Board.
The total cost of a year of college at the UW, including room and board, is $24,355, Kiplinger’s reported. But for in-state students, when financial aid is taken into account, the price of a year at the UW for a student who qualifies for aid drops to $10, 355. The UW has an especially generous financial aid program for those who qualify.
At Western, the cost including room and board is $20,920, but when financial aid is taken into account for those who qualify, the price drops to $12,089.
For the 13th year in a row, Kiplinger’s ranked the University of North Carolina no. 1 in the nation for what it described as “a combination of stellar academics, low cost and rich financial aid.”
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and includes stories from The Associated Press and McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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