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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: News
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 18, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Why I Teach: Join us for an inspiring evening of storytelling

Ryan Reilly, a third-grade teacher at White Center Heights Elementary in Seattle, leads students through a reading exercise in 2013. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Ryan Reilly, a third-grade teacher at White Center Heights Elementary in Seattle, leads students through a reading exercise in 2013. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Why teach? Educators today are under more pressure than ever before. Standards are changing, schools are growing, and the pay isn’t getting any better. Even so, talented and passionate individuals are still pursuing the profession, and veteran educators continue their work despite all the challenges.

Next Wednesday, Feb. 25, The Seattle Times – Education Lab, in partnership with the University of Washington College of Education and 88.5 KPLU, will present a teacher storytelling event on the University of  Washington campus in Seattle.

The evening begins with an informal welcome reception with light refreshments from 6:30 to 7 p.m. outside Kane Hall room 220. Storytelling starts inside the auditorium at 7 p.m.

The program will be the third storytelling event organized by Education Lab. The first two events focused on students who had overcome obstacles to get to college. This time, five local teachers will share short personal stories about what led them to education, and what’s kept them going.


Comments | More in News, Your voices | Topics: Lyon Terry, storytellers, Why I Teach

February 18, 2015 at 2:21 PM

Roundup: Franklin HS cuts gender out of graduation; vaccine data missing from 300 schools

Franklin High moves toward gender-neutral graduation ceremony: Starting this spring, male and female students at Franklin High School in Seattle will no longer sit on opposite sides of the room during graduation ceremonies, after a group of students and teachers raised concerns that the tradition could make transgender students feel uncomfortable. Several other high schools in the region conduct similar gender-based ceremonies.

Vaccine-exemption data missing from hundreds of Washington schools: Data from the state department of health show around 300 schools in Washington have not reported their vaccination exemption figures, but several of these schools said they have actually submitted the data to state officials. Vaccine exemptions have become a public concern amid an ongoing measles outbreak that’s infected 141 people in 17 states and Washington, D.C.


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February 18, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Olympia Watch: Should school bonds pass with majority vote?

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

Some lawmakers want to make it easier for school construction bonds to pass in Washington state.

Under a bill proposed by 44 Democrats and one Republican, a school bond on a general election ballot would need only a simple majority to pass — instead of today’s required 60 percent approval.

At least one recent school bond in Highline Public Schools, which gained 55 percent approval in the Feb. 10 special election, would have succeeded if a simple majority was all it took. In the past five years, three bond measures in the Lake Washington School District have also gained more than half the popular vote, but failed because they fell short of the 60 percent mark.

If lawmakers back the idea, voters would ultimately get the final say; lowering the 60 percent supermajority to 50 percent would require a Constitutional amendment, which voters must authorize.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. You can watch live video of the meeting, which starts at 8 a.m., here.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Highline Public Schools, Lake Washington School District, Olympia Watch

February 17, 2015 at 3:10 PM

Roundup: Influx of immigrants in Bellevue schools; Ohio is first state to tackle Common Core tests

Bellevue schools engage influx of high-tech immigrants: Asian-American students now make up 30 percent of students in the Bellevue School District — many of them part of families who moved to the Seattle area for well-paying jobs in the tech industry. Teachers and principals are working to make newcomers feel welcome by hosting informal parent meetings and reaching out to clear up any misunderstandings about school culture in America.

Ohio will be first state to administer Common Core tests (AP): Schools in Ohio will begin administering standardized tests tied to the Common Core curriculum this week, and some are struggling with technology issues. By the end of the school year, students in 29 states — including Washington — and D.C. will complete the computer-based exams.


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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 17, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Interest grows in new model for school discipline and youth justice

Monae Trevino, second from left, is embraced by a fellow student during a restorative justice meeting at Big Picture High School in Burien. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times.

Monae Trevino, second from left, is embraced by a fellow student during a restorative justice meeting at Big Picture High School in Burien. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times.

The paper hanging inside a second-floor classroom at Garfield High School spoke more pointedly than a raft of research articles about student frustration with traditional approaches to school discipline.

Under the question, “Why are you here?” 16 teens willing to devote weeks to getting trained as restorative justice mediators offered their answers:

“Healing harms,” one student said. “Unequal treatment,” added another. “Injustice toward students.”

School discipline in Seattle is so lopsided — with black students suspended at five times the rate of whites — that the federal Office for Civil Rights is investigating. But educators, parents and students, impatient with the slow pace of an inquiry that has been ongoing since 2012, are moving ahead with a solution known as restorative justice, which aims to repair harm, rather than focus solely on punishment.

“Everybody agrees that the system we have is not working,” said Garfield Principal Ted Howard. “We can’t afford to suspend kids for 10 days — do they ever catch up? I’ll tell you, it was a bitter pill for me, as a black man, to look at the data.”

In the past month, the urgency for a better answer has echoed up to the highest levels of King County government. King County Council member Larry Gossett said: “The jury is still out on how well restorative justice projects will lower suspensions and expulsions in our schools. But this holds some solid promise. And I am going to be one of those pushing for it more.”


Comments | More in News | Topics: restorative justice, school discipline

February 13, 2015 at 3:13 PM

Roundup: Interim UW president ready to lead; state bill would tie college tuition to wages

Interim UW president Ana Mari Cauce ready to lead: The appointment of UW provost Ana Mari Cauce as interim president was applauded by various university groups on Thursday. Cauce, who started at the university as an assistant professor in 1986, is popular among students and faculty and has been the university’s second-in-command for three years.

Legislators propose limiting college tuition (The Bellingham Herald): A proposal in Olympia would limit in-state college tuition to 14 percent of the average state wage at research schools like UW and WSU and 10 percent at smaller regional universities. The bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday, but funding for the proposal has not been identified.


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February 13, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Charter commission head: More questions could have been asked

A classroom at First Place Charter School in Seattle. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times 2014.

A classroom at First Place Charter School in Seattle. Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times 2014.

The state board governing charter schools heard an update Thursday on First Place Scholars, the state’s first charter school, which has run into a string of problems since opening in the fall.

Under a new probe launched last week, First Place has until Feb. 17 to supply a long list of documents assuring the state it has enough money to keep its doors open for the rest of the school year and that it is following the educational program it promised when applying for public money. If First Place can’t do so, the commission may close the school.

Steve Sundquist, the commission’s chairman, talked Thursday about First Place and the process the commission uses to vet charters, which are publicly funded, independently run public schools.

While Sundquist said he feels good about how the commission has selected which charter applicants to approve, he also said the commission could have looked closer at First Place, which previously operated as a private school in Seattle for 25 years. The commission did not ask for detailed financial records from the nonprofit backing the school.


Comments | More in News | Topics: charter schools, First Place Scholars Charter School

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