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

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February 19, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Local tribal agency works to build parenting skills

Washington is one of the states using money from the Affordable Care Act in creative ways to help boost the parenting skills in low-income communities by expanding home visiting programs, according to a new report by two national organizations that support the practice.

Such programs send nurses and other trained professionals to visit pregnant mothers, newborns and young children considered to be vulnerable because of social and economic conditions.

The report, from the Center for American Progress and the Center for Law and Social Policy, highlights a program in Washington State to reach tribal communities.

The tribes are leading the effort in Western Washington, with the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency organizing home-visiting programs in six tribal communities in Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Thurston, Lewis and Pierce Counties.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Early childhood development, parents

February 17, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Sunday story: A look at school-funding showdowns in other states

In the summer of 2005, the Kansas Legislature and that state’s highest court played a game of chicken over state support of public schools.

The Kansas Supreme Court had ordered the Legislature that spring to pony up an additional $285 million for K-12 education or the court would shut down every school in the state.

Lawmakers had come up with about half that money, but the court insisted on the full amount, setting a deadline of July 8.

A few days before, in meetings over the Fourth of July weekend, legislators blinked, approving the rest.

Washington may be headed toward a similar showdown.

Go here to read the full story.


Comments | More in News | Topics: McCleary

February 11, 2015 at 5:00 AM

On the agenda: GOP ed event, parent summit, teen sleep panel

School’s out for Presidents Day on Feb. 16, but education events pick up soon afterward, including these three:

  • Feb. 17: A Twitter and Facebook live conversation with ranking Republican members on education issues in the Washington State House of Representatives.
  • Feb. 21: Parent/family engagement summit at Seattle Public Schools with keynote from National PTA president Ortha Thornton.
  • Feb. 23: Seattle Town Hall, “Start School Later, Let Teens Sleep” panel discussion on teen sleep science.

Comments | More in News | Topics: on the agenda, parent engagement, PTA

February 6, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Beliefs about raw talent can skew academic career choices

Who performs the best: Students who believe they’re naturally smart or students who believe they get smarter through effort?

Research suggests it’s the latter.

Students who think they’re born with smarts are reluctant to jeopardize their self-image with challenging tasks. On the flip side, students who belong to groups stereotyped as naturally inferior may get anxious about those biases and perform below their potential on tests.

A recent study suggests those attitudes may help shape university careers, too.

That study, based on a nationwide survey of academics, shows that women and African-Americans are least represented in the fields where professors believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, according to the journal Science.


Comments | More in News | Topics: growth mindset, higher ed, Science of learning

January 30, 2015 at 2:45 PM

New bids extend auction for former fed bank downtown

Update | 10 p.m. Sunday And the bidding still continues.  At 9:41 p.m. on Sunday, a new bid came in for $12.5 million.  That reset the clock under federal auction rules, under which bidding continues until the highest bid goes unchallenged for 24 hours.  The government can choose to decrease that time frame, but hasn’t done so…


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

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