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

Fifth graders write during class in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

Washington’s charter school law emphasizes the need to serve at-risk students, including those who need special education or come from “economically disadvantaged” families.

A new performance audit from the state examined how well the voter-approved schools are serving the needs of those students. It found mixed results.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington lawmakers passed a  "student loan bill of rights" earlier this year aimed at helping people with student-loan debt. The law created a new advocate position in the Washington Student Achievement Council, to receive complaints about student loans and help borrowers understand their rights. 

Kent Schools administration building
Ashley Gross / KNKX

Washington state is funneling billions of dollars into K-12 public education over the next few years to satisfy a state Supreme court order in the McCleary school-funding lawsuit. But that influx of money raises questions about accountability for school district finances. Washington, unlike other states, does not require districts to employ internal auditors to monitor spending of public funds.


Such oversight would be welcome in the Kent School District, where financial turmoil has many people reeling, even within the organization. Ashley Gross, KNKX’s youth and education reporter, sat down with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to discuss her reporting on internal auditing in school districts, and the experts who champion the benefits of the additional accountability measure.


Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal is holding two community forums this week – one in Port Angeles and another in Bellingham – to talk with people about school finance and priorities for the state's education system.

Pan American Health Organization / Flickr

The Washington Board of Health has some news that will come as a relief to a lot of parents: the board is rewriting immunization rules with the aim of reducing the paperwork burden.

Bethel School District

Thirteen school districts across Washington state asked voters to approve construction bonds, but it appears that less than a third won enough support. That’s prompting renewed calls for the state to change the 60-percent threshold for passage to a simple majority.

Seattle Public Schools

After an outcry from parents and a contentious meeting, Seattle Public Schools officials said in an email that they’ve decided to “slow down the process” of addressing overcapacity in the new building that houses two schools: Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Licton Springs K-8.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, Nov. 13: After an outcry from parents and a contentious meeting, Seattle Public Schools announced in an email Friday that Licton Springs will stay put for now. Read the full follow-up story by reporter Ashley Gross

The possible displacement of a Seattle option school that has a focus on Native culture and social justice is drawing criticism and outrage among parents.

Wikimedia Commons

Experts on Central America and immigration will discuss the caravan of migrants heading to the U.S. border in a panel discussion Monday evening at the University of Washington. The forum is being sponsored by the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

Tacoma Public Schools

School districts are required to submit four-year budget plans to the state schools superintendent’s office under a new rule approved by legislators last year. In Tacoma, school district officials are grappling with deficits projected through the 2021-2022 school year.

Ashle yGross / KNKX

It can be a daunting process for high school seniors to apply for financial aid in order to go to college. But they can get help at events taking place around the Puget Sound region and across the state.

The Washington Student Achievement Council runs a program called the 12th Year Campaign that aims to help students fill out financial aid forms and college applications.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The city of Seattle is asking voters to approve a seven-year, $619 million property tax measure to pay for a range of investments in education. It combines two expiring levies and adds funding for community college tuition.

Bethel School District

The Seattle, Highline and Kent school districts all had enrollment below their projections this school year. But the Bethel School District in Pierce County has seen an influx of students and the district is making another attempt to pass a bond measure to build and expand schools.

SDOT Photos / Flickr

(Updated at 10:11 pm on Oct. 26, 2018, to add that Seattle Public Schools has reached an agreement with Durham Bus Service to add 15 extra buses.)

Almost two months into the school year, parents in Seattle say there are still a lot of problems with school bus service. On Friday morning, the school district said on its website that 38 buses were late and 11 of them were delayed by two hours. A district spokesman said that number of bus delays is not unusual right now.

Late Friday afternoon, the school district said in a press release that it will bring on an additional 15 school buses starting Monday. The buses will be provided by Durham Bus Service, a separate company from First Student, which holds the contract to provide yellow bus service for Seattle Public Schools.

Ted S. Warren / AP File Photo

A legal battle that threatened the future of charter schools in Washington state appears to be over. A majority of the state Supreme Court ruled that the privately operated but publicly funded schools are constitutional.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

More than 145,000 students in Washington state are eligible for special education services. But those can be expensive, and the state superintendent's office plans to ask the legislature to approve more funding in the next session.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story is part of KNKX's series "Five Voters, Fresh Perspectives." We're looking at the 2018 election through the eyes of five people who are at a turning point in their lives.

When Curn and Nemesio Domingo Jr. go shopping at the Asian food market Uwajimaya in Renton, it’s almost like they’re on the set of the TV show “Cheers.” They know everyone.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A tuition tracking tool released this week shows that low-income students pay less at the University of Washington than at other large public universities in the state.

The tool is called Tuition Tracker and it was produced by The Hechinger Report and Education Writers Association. The Dallas Morning News also contributed.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

A decade ago, enrollment at Rainier Beach High School had dwindled so much that the Southeast Seattle school faced a possible closure. Now Rainier Beach has a graduation rate topping the district average, enrollment has roughly doubled, and it’s just been named one of the highest improving schools in the state.

A recent study from University of Washington College of Education Associate Professor Ann Ishimaru highlighted that turnaround.

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.