schools and education | KUOW News and Information

schools and education

This school year, the University of Chicago has put the debate over "trigger warnings" on campus back in the news. The University told incoming freshmen that, because of its commitment to freedom of expression, it does not support warnings to students about potentially difficult material.

But amid all the attention to trigger warnings, there have been very few facts about exactly how common they are and how they're used.

Alan Copsey, center, a deputy attorney general for the state of Washington, speaks during a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court regarding a lawsuit against the state over education funding, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Olympia, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Kim Malcolm talks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about this week's state Supreme Court hearing over funding public education in Washington.

Just as the school year begins, the Washington state Supreme Court will get an update Wednesday on school funding efforts in the state legislature. Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers got an earful.

The fall semester has just begun on most college campuses, but tens of thousands of students in 38 states were told Tuesday that, instead, their college is closing its doors.

The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state is heading back to court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the Washington Supreme Court.

School supplies
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW education reporter Ann Dornfeld about why Washington asks its students to help supply their schools. 

Washington requires traditional supplies meant for individual use, like a 24-pack of crayons and some spiral bound notebooks, as well as more unusual supplies meant to be shared by the classroom, like one jumbo pack of napkins, two bottles of hand sanitizer and two reams of copy paper. 

Georgetown University will be offering an admissions edge to descendants of enslaved people sold to fund the school, officials announced on Thursday.

Jesuit priests connected to the private Catholic university sold 272 enslaved people in 1838, to pay off the university's massive debts. The men, women and children were sold to plantations in Louisiana; the university received the equivalent of $3.3 million, securing its survival.

Scantron test sheet
Flickr Photo/COCOEN daily photos (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW education reporter Ann Dornfeld about the most recent Washington State report card.

Students who took the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a statewide test for public school students, did better on average this year. Still, approximately half of elementary school students are not meeting the standard in math, and they're not doing much better in English language arts.

Homeschooling is becoming more common, and studies suggest that military parents are more likely to homeschool their kids.

Portland Public Schools said Thursday it's OK to eat vegetables grown in the dozens of community gardens on school grounds.

That reverses advice from last week telling Portlanders not to eat the school garden produce due to high levels of lead in school water used to irrigate the plants.

A Bothell High School teacher has admitted to police that he made up his report of being attacked on campus earlier this year.


The impacts of population growth are visible all around the Puget Sound area: thicker traffic, rising rents. It's also leading to more crowded classrooms, as some families with school kids know.

North of Seattle, Bothell schools in particular are experiencing growing pains. Schools and daycares are nearly filled to the brim.

The grass is greener ... if you're a student in Detroit, looking across your school district's boundary with the neighboring Grosse Pointe public schools.

Nearly half of Detroit's students live in poverty; that means a family of four lives on roughly $24,000 a year — or less.

In Grosse Pointe, a narrow stretch of real estate nestled between Detroit and Lake St. Clair, just 7 percent of students live at or below the poverty line.

To recap, that's 49 percent vs. 7 percent. Neighbors.

Courtesy of Washington OSPI / Bobbi Stockwell

After Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri two years ago, Nathan Bowling's students came to him for guidance.

Bowling is a teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, where he teaches AP government and politics.

"Mike Brown had just graduated. He's their age. There was just a panic in the room: what if this happens to me? What if this happens to someone we know?" Bowling told KUOW's Bill Radke.

Months after the Obama administration advised school districts that transgender students should be given access to bathrooms based on their gender identity, a federal judge in Texas has blocked the guidance from going into effect — for now.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor has granted a preliminary, nationwide injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas and a number of other states.

Portland Public Schools is putting a virtual “do not eat” sign at the gates to about 75 community gardens. The Oregon Health Authority says it didn’t directly advise Portland, but the district found elevated lead levels in water spigots that may be used for gardening.

Officials at Portland Public Schools are warning against eating produce grown in school gardens. It’s based on advice from state health officials.

kids at play
Flickr Photo/guilherme jofili (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8Gw7aW

Dr. Peter Gray is an evolutionary research psychologist. He focuses on our education system and how children learn naturally. And that’s the rub: Gray points to the many ways our schools impede natural learning, with disturbing consequences.

His research and writing shed light on how the creativity and skills we establish in free play influence learning.

Derek Micheau (bottom) competes in e-sports. He received a scholarship from Robert Morris University for online gaming.
Courtesy of Derek Micheau

Derek Micheau grew up playing baseball in Olympia, Washington. He recently got a sports scholarship to Robert Morris University in Chicago, but not for America’s favorite pastime.

Instead, Derek will be the first student in America to graduate with a  scholarship in e-sports.

Native American students make up only 1.1 percent of the nation's high school population. And in college, the number is even smaller. More than any other ethnic or racial group, they're the least likely to have access to college prep or advanced placement courses. Many get little or no college counseling at all. In 1998, College Horizons, a small nonprofit based in New Mexico, set out to change that through five-day summer workshops on admissions, financial aid and the unique challenges they'll face on campus.

Katie Couric has done it all in broadcast journalism — she's hosted the Today Show and her own daytime talk show, she's anchored CBS Evening News, and has been a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Now, she's working on a brand new podcast.

A group of recent studies on technology in education, across a wide range of real-world settings, have come up far short of a ringing endorsement.

The studies include research on K-12 schools and higher ed, both blended learning and online, and show results ranging from mixed to negative. A deeper look into these reports gives a sense that, even as computers become ubiquitous in classrooms, there's a lot we still don't know — or at least that we're not doing to make them effective tools for learning.

First, a quick overview of the studies and their results:

Coach Joe Kennedy.
Courtesy of First Liberty Institute

Last fall, an assistant football coach at Bremerton High School lost his job for praying on the 50-yard line after games. Now Joe Kennedy is suing to get his job back and to keep a promise he made with God. KUOW's Bill Radke spoke with Kennedy about church, state and the playing field. 

Mayte Lara Ibarra and Larissa Martinez had just finished their senior year of high school when they each decided to go public with their immigration status. Both Texas students came to the U.S. illegally, and they didn't want to keep that fact a secret any longer.

Ibarra identified herself on Twitter as one of the 65,000 undocumented youth who graduate high school in the U.S. Martinez revealed her status in the commencement speech she delivered at graduation.

Their actions sparked support and pointed criticism. That was more than a month ago.

To be human is to be constantly at war between our lofty goals and our immediate impulses.

Future Me wants me to run five miles. Right Now Me wants a cookie.

Unfortunately, that totally understandable tendency is one factor that can stop people from completing their education:

  • Ninety-three percent of high school seniors say they intend to go to college, but 1 in 10 of those never apply.
  • Between 10 and 15 percent of those who are admitted never register for classes.

A Satanist group said it’s planning to start after-school clubs at two Washington schools this fall.

The Satanic Temple said it’s bringing the After-School Satan club to schools across the country that now host the evangelical Christian Good News Club, including Centennial Elementary in Mount Vernon and Point Defiance Elementary in Tacoma.


Amber Hayward and her sons
Courtesy of Amber Hayward

Amber Hayward's kids weren't sold when she started speaking Lushootseed at home. It sounded different and some of the words were hard to say. 

But Hayward kept at it. She made her bathroom, where she gets ready, an English-free zone. From there she hollered at her kids in Lushootseed to guide them through their morning routine: Brush your teeth, get dressed, wash your face. And in time, her kids got on board. 

At These Museums, Tragedy Is A History Lesson

Aug 3, 2016

Last week, NPR Ed rounded up our favorite children's museums — places dedicated to letting kids learn in kid-friendly exhibits. That got us thinking about a different kind of museum: the ones that teach about the toughest episodes of history. How do you explain what happened during the Sept. 11 attacks to a child? What about the Holocaust, or the Oklahoma City bombing? We asked leaders from three memorial museums around the U.S.

The University of Texas dedicated a memorial to victims of a sniper-style attack there 50 years ago on the same day concealed-carry of handguns became legal at Texas public universities.

In an early afternoon ceremony, Gregory Fenves, the university's president, dedicated a granite monument containing the names of 17 people killed by Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student and former Marine, who opened fire from the school's clocktower on Aug. 1, 1966. He killed people both on campus and elsewhere that day.

Think about our planet for a second. Earth has an elliptical — oval-shaped — orbit. That means we're closer to the sun for one part of the year and farther away another part of the year.

Does that fact explain why it's hotter in the summer and colder in the winter?

Lots of kids think it does. Lots of adults think so, too. And they're wrong.*

Philip Sadler is both a professor of astronomy and the director of the science education department at Harvard University, and he is obsessed with wrong answers like these.

At the Democratic National Convention this week, Bernie Sanders announced that his successful rival, Hillary Clinton, had adopted one of his most popular proposals: free tuition at public colleges.

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