Ashley Gross | KNKX

Ashley Gross

Youth and Education Reporter

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat.  She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.

She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.

One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."

Ways to Connect

Ashley Gross

(Updated at 12:50 pm on Oct. 10, 2018, to add information about a new scoring of potential capital projects that was included in the agenda for the Seattle School Board's BEX V work session on Oct. 10.)  

This is crunch time for the Seattle school board to choose which buildings are most in need of replacement. The district aims to get a capital levy on the February ballot and the school board is meeting Wednesday as it works to finalize a short list of projects.

Linda Brooks

Julie Metzger and Robert Lehman have been teaching classes on puberty and sexuality for more than 25 years through their company, Great Conversations. Metzger is a registered nurse, and Lehman is a medical doctor.

The Pair also just released an updated version of their book called Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? Real Answers To Real Questions From Preteens About Body Changes, Sex, And Other Growing-Up Stuff.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

As the city of Seattle asks voters to approve a tax levy in the November election to pay for investments in education, Mayor Jenny Durkan is pointing to a new report that showed progress for kids in the preschool program, which is one of the areas the levy dollars would support.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

In an effort to get young people registered and excited to cast their ballots for this November’s election, a local alternative rock band made up of college students has been traveling around to schools and colleges as part of their “Make Your Voice Heard Loud” tour.

biologycorner / Flickr

The number of schoolchildren experiencing homelessness in Washington state has more than doubled in the past decade. According to a new report, their lack of stable housing takes a significant academic toll.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

New research from the University of Washington bolsters the argument that learning mindfulness techniques can be beneficial. A team from the university's department of psychology investigated whether children's behavior improves when their parents learn skills for staying calm.

Mark Ittleman / Flickr

There are 50,000 parents in Washington state between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, a rate of about 8 percent, according to a new Kids Count policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

That puts Washington below the national average of 10 percent. But a majority of young parents struggle financially and need more support, the report said.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, Denise Juneau, has been holding meetings around the city to hear from parents, students and community members. She met with Somali families Friday evening in the Rainier Valley neighborhood.

She said the input she’s gathering is important as she gets to know the school district and prioritizes issues to tackle.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

(Updated at 7:47 am on Sept. 22, 2018, to correct to say the district has "curtailed" central administration hiring instead of "stopped," and to add comments from Superintendent Denise Juneau.)

Seattle Public Schools is facing an unexpected drop in enrollment, and the Highline and Bellevue school districts also said the number of students enrolled this school year is below their earlier projections.

The Kent School Board said it plans to hire an independent auditor to examine the district's financial transactions for the past six school years, a move the board announced in a letter to two parents who had filed complaints.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The new year will bring some fresh challenges to anyone who commutes into downtown Seattle as the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project heads into its final stages.

Getting rid of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and shifting traffic to a new State Route 99 tunnel has been in the works for years. Now transportation officials are warning that starting Jan. 11, 2019, SR 99 will close for about three weeks between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, to reflect that teachers have approved a salary agreement.

A bitter labor dispute that delayed the start of school in Tacoma by more than a week  has now come to an end.

The Tacoma Education Association, which represents more than 2,400 teachers, librarians, office professionals and other school staff, has approved an agreement with the school district over salaries. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The strike by teachers in Tacoma has gotten increasingly bitter as it’s stretched into a second week. One long-time middle school teacher tearfully announced her resignation in a short video clip posted by a USA Today correspondent on Twitter.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Across the state, there are a lot of kids who struggle with reading. Almost half of third-graders failed to pass the state assessment for English language arts.

That's an important time in school because research has shown that students who struggle with reading at the end of third grade are less likely to graduate from high school.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Teacher strikes in Puyallup and Tukwila have ended after union members ratified contract agreements with their school districts. In Seattle, teachers and other school staff voted to accept a one-year contract that includes an average raise of 10.5 percent.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

(Updated at 4:00 pm on Sept. 6, 2018, to add comments from Evelyn Cook, a middle school teacher in Tacoma, and Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel.)

The first day of school in Tacoma was canceled on Thursday because teachers and other school staff in the state’s fourth-biggest district went on strike.

That comes after the district and the Tacoma Education Association failed to reach an agreement over salary increases for the coming school year. Members of the union voted by about 97 percent to authorize a strike Tuesday evening.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

School was supposed to start in Puyallup and Tukwila Wednesday, but teachers have gone on strike after failing to reach contract agreements.

The Washington Education Association said almost 6,000 educators are on strike in nine Western Washington school districts, including in Centralia and Tumwater.

Tacoma faces a possible strike as well, after more than 2,000 educators voted to authorize a strike if no deal is reached by Thursday.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public-sector unions earlier this summer when it ruled in the Janus case that government employees no longer have to pay fees to their unions.

But labor experts say the high level of teacher bargaining in Washington state right now may help unions avoid some of the negative impacts from that case.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

School in Seattle will start on time after the union that represents about 6,000 teachers and other school staff reached a tentative contract agreement with the state's largest school district, averting a strike.

That will come as welcome news to families who were starting to try to make alternate plans as concerns mounted that members of the Seattle Education Association would walk out. They had taken a strike authorization vote on Tuesday, but the district and the union continued bargaining since then before announcing Friday evening that they had struck a deal. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Schools in Kent started on time this week after teachers approved a last-minute contract agreement. But the contentious negotiations left many union members feeling frustrated and they’ve voted on a resolution requesting that two school board directors resign.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

It was a hot August morning – the height of summer vacation – but two classrooms at Edison Elementary in Centralia were abuzz with activity.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Both the Seattle and Tacoma school districts have said they face future budget shortfalls because the state has set limits on local tax levies. But state Sen. John Braun, a key Republican lawmaker who helped craft the state’s education funding system, defends the levy cap.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

 (Updated at 10:43 am on Aug. 29, 2018, to add that the Tacoma Education Association says the raise the district is offering is 0.6 percent above what's in the current contract.)

Just a day before school is set to start in Kent, the Kent Education Association said on Facebook it has reached a tentative agreement with the school district.

The teachers' union had been at odds with district administration and said the district was trying to use money from the state intended for teacher salaries to plug budget holes. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Seattle teachers will take a strike authorization vote Tuesday afternoon after failing to reach a tentative contract agreement with the school district. Teachers in other districts in the Puget Sound region, including Stanwood-Camano and Kent, have already voted to authorize strikes.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

This is a busy week at the bargaining table for school districts and teachers’ unions. They’re contending with the state’s new education funding system, which one expert says has created some new inequities.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Kent School Board is preparing to vote Wednesday on a controversial extension of the superintendent’s contract that adds language on conflicts of interest and outside consulting work.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Researchers at the University of Washington are gearing up for another year of investigating whether robots can be used to measure stress levels in teens.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Teachers’ unions across the state are pushing for salary increases after lawmakers approved another $1 billion for public education earlier this year. In Seattle, hundreds of educators rallied outside school district headquarters Wednesday.

Logan Ellis / Theatre Battery

Going to see live theater can be expensive, but a theater group in Kent has figured out a model for putting on a professional show with paid actors without charging anything for admission.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

This story is the second in a two-part series about school districts and education technology. You can find the first part here

(Updated at 6:35 a.m. on Aug. 15, 2018 to add that Steve Kupfer said he’s never been affiliated with ERDI.)

Teachers’ unions are scrutinizing school district budgets right now as they bargain for pay increases. Salaries make up the bulk of public education budgets, but districts also make significant technology purchases.

In the Kent School District, some parents are upset about the sole-source purchase of budgeting software that they say exacerbated the district’s budget mess.