schools and education | KUOW News and Information

schools and education

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.

There's a new book out about the student loan crisis, or what author Sandy Baum suggests is a "bogus crisis." Baum, a financial aid expert and senior fellow at the Urban Institute, claims it has been manufactured by the media in search of a spicy story and fueled by politicians pushing "debt free college" proposals.

We had a few questions for Baum about the book, Student Debt: Rhetoric and Realities of Higher Education.

Why can't kids today just work their way through college the way earlier generations did?

The answer to that question isn't psychology. It's math. A summer job just doesn't have the purchasing power it used to, especially when you compare it with the cost of college.

Math is "contemptible and vile."

That's not from a disgruntled student. It's from a textbook.

The author, 16th century mathematician Robert Recorde, nestled the line just after his preface, table of contents and a biblical quote citing God's command to measure and number all things.

Recorde didn't believe in math's awfulness — quite the opposite. He was simply reflecting popular opinion on his way to a spirited defense of math. Why?

Oregonians will vote this fall on whether to fully fund an outdoor education program for the state's fifth and sixth graders. An initiative that would do that qualified for the Oregon ballot Friday.

Seattle University students demanded the dean of the school's humanities-based college resign.

Instead, she's retiring.


Take a look this summer inside some of America's garages, museums and libraries and you'll see that the "maker movement" is thriving.

This hands-on, DIY culture of inventors, tinkerers and hackers is inspiring adults and children alike to design and build everything from sailboats and apps to solar cars.

And this fall, more of these chaotic workspaces, stocked with glue guns, drills and hammers, will be popping up in schools, too.

But the maker movement faces some big hurdles as it pushes into classrooms.

Here's the first big one:

Washington state schools superintendent Randy Dorn filed a lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court against seven school districts for using levy dollars to boost teacher salaries.

Dorn said the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision was clear: Under the state Constitution, teacher salaries must be funded by the Legislature, not levies. 

Oregonians will vote on an initiative that aims to increase the state's high school graduation rate. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Thursday that supporters of IP 65 had gathered enough valid signatures for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

For LGBTQ Students, Author Says, Safety Is 'Not Enough'

Jul 14, 2016

Across the country there are stories like this: In a high-poverty area of Honolulu, a high school social worker helps her Asian-Pacific Islander students talk with their families about being LBGTQ.

At a time when LGBTQ concerns in schools are increasingly visible — and often debated — teachers and administrators are looking for new ways to support students.

Preschoolers huddle beneath a table at Green Tree Early Learning Center in Seattle, which conducts monthly earthquake drills.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about why so many Washington state schools are unprepared for a major earthquake.


Most everyone knows someone adversely affected by student debt: More than 40 million Americans are shouldering a crippling $1.3 trillion in loans.

That burden is obstructing careers, families, dreams, employment and even retirement.

Uncle Sam and Wall Street have made lots of money off the crisis.

I step up to the counter at Willy's Cafe at Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., and order a latte.

There's a powerful scent of fresh coffee in the air, and a group of juniors and seniors hover over a large espresso machine.

Carrie Gilbert, 17, shows how it's done: "You're going to want to steam the milk first," she explains. "Then once you have the coffee, dump it in and use the rest of the milk to fill the cup."

She hands over my order. Not bad.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Tim Burgess chat over playdough with preschoolers at Causey's Learning Center, one of the first Seattle Preschool Program providers.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Parents tend to get sticker-shock when it’s time to pay for child care.

Now it’s the city’s turn.

The city of Seattle is scaling back plans for its subsidized preschool program, one year into the four-year pilot, citing the need to pay providers more than expected.


Summer break for many students is a time to kick back, play outside, and hang out with friends. For a significant portion of public school students in the United States, however, the end of school also brings a familiar question—what's for lunch?

When Lily Shum was little, she dreaded speaking up in class. It wasn't because she didn't have anything interesting to say, or because she wasn't paying attention or didn't know the answer. She was just quiet.

"Every single report card that I ever had says, 'Lily needs to talk more. She is too quiet,' " recalls Shum, now an assistant director at Trevor Day School in Manhattan.

She doesn't want her students to feel the pressure to speak up that she felt.

"Why are traffic lights red, yellow and green?"

When a child asks you a question like this, you have a few options. You can shut her down with a "Just because." You can explain: "Red is for stop and green is for go." Or, you can turn the question back to her and help her figure out the answer with plenty of encouragement.

Tori Zivkovic / KUOW

People sometimes take unlikely paths to get where they're going. This is the story of an unlikely scholar.


Bullying and cyberbullying are major risk factors for teen suicide. And both the bullies and their victims are at risk.

That's according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that urges pediatricians and family doctors to routinely screen teenagers for suicide risks.

It’s the first day of summer vacation for students in Seattle Public Schools.

For a lot of people, "summer" is synonymous with "fun." But the season can take a toll on low-income families, who often rely on schools’ free or low-cost breakfast and lunch. And David Beard, Policy and Advocacy Director for School's Out Washington, says without summer learning opportunities, kids can forget a lot of what they’ve learned over the school year. 

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