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

Curtis Cronn / Seattle Pacific University/Flickr

Washington lawmakers voted to make public college or university tuition free for students who come from families earning less than about $50,000 a year. That will become a guarantee starting in the 2020-21 school year.

They also expanded eligibility for the grant, so students from families that earn up to about $90,000 will qualify for partial tuition assistance.

Officials at private colleges and universities said it’s good news for them, too.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

The Everett School District is in the final stages of choosing a new superintendent to succeed Gary Cohn, who is retiring after a decade in the position. The school board has selected three finalists.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

The high-paying jobs in the Puget Sound region can seem out of reach for a lot of people. Officials from King County and the City of Seattle say they want job training to benefit people who have been left behind as the local economy has grown.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

In recent years, there's been a big jump in the number of public school students experiencing homelessness in Washington. More than 40,000 students were identified as homeless in the 2016-17 school year, an increase of more than 30 percent from the 2012-13 school year.

A new performance audit from the state auditor's office recommends ways that school districts could do more to help those students, who often suffer significant academic setbacks due to their lack of stable housing.

Kent School Board Directors Karen DeBruler (second from left), Ross Hardy (third from left), and Debbie Straus (fourth from left) say they will not run to retain their seats.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, May 20: Updates to say that two people withdrew their names from the race for the Seattle School Board District 2 seat.

The Kent School District, which has contended with budget shortfalls in recent years and criticism from its teachers’ union, will have significant changes on its school board after this November’s election.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

May 17 is the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision that said segregating public schools by race was unconstitutional.

Many public schools in Seattle remain segregated in spite of past efforts to address that, including several decades of busing. A national nonprofit group, Integrated Schools, is hosting an event on Thursday, May 16, examining racial divides in Seattle schools, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked and “how to disrupt segregation now.”

While school districts got some relief from the Legislature in the form of an increase in their levy authority and extra funding for special education, some districts still have to make budget cuts.

Tacoma Public Schools said it’s notifying 31 employees that their jobs will end in August. That includes nine administrators and central support staff, nine certificated employees, including one classroom teacher, and 13 non-certificated school-based staff, the district said in a statement.

A 7th grade science class at Denny International Middle School, which has been using the Amplify curriculum
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle Public Schools is in the final stages of choosing new science curriculum and that process is now embroiled in controversy. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

For high school students with test anxiety, there's good news. Starting next school year, the state will no longer require high school students to pass statewide assessments to graduate.

Washington Superintendent Chris Reykdal
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Going into the legislative session, many Washington school district officials said one of their biggest priorities was to get more funding for special education.

Now that lawmakers passed a two-year budget and adjourned, some district leaders say they're disappointed in how much lawmakers approved for special education services.

A screenshot from the trailer of the Rainier Beach episode of "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas."

Students at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School will be featured on national television Friday evening, as part of an episode of HBO's show "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas."

Now that lawmakers have passed a new state budget, school districts are busy figuring out whether they'll still have to make cuts for the coming school year.

The Seattle school district, which has been facing a $40 million deficit, said it will no longer have to cut librarians, assistant principals and other school-based positions. The projected cuts to schools had totaled about 90 full-time positions.

S Kaya / University of Washington Tacoma/Flickr

Tacoma Public Schools has increased its graduation rate in recent years, though, as KNKX Public Radio has reported, some of the gain is due to a state policy that excludes students in dropout re-engagement programs from the calculations.

Nevertheless, there has been growth in the number of students receiving a diploma. But that's not the case for the number of students going on to college.

A construction crane collapsed on Mercer Street near Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle. The Seattle Times tweeted that several vehicles and a building were damaged.
Chelsea Oughton / via The Associated Press

UPDATE, April 28, 7:15 p.m.: Adds information about the state investigation and more.

A construction crane collapsed in downtown Seattle on Saturday afternoon, damaging buildings, pinning cars beneath it and killing four people. 


This story is the third in our series, “Who’s Counted: Taking a Closer Look at School District Graduation Rates.” The first part of the series examined how dropout re-engagement programs are excluded from district graduation rates under a state policy, and the second part focused on how online schools that enroll students from across the state are also left out of district graduation rate calculations.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story is the second in our series, “Who’s Counted: Taking a Closer Look at School District Graduation Rates.” The first part of the series examined how dropout re-engagement programs are excluded from district graduation rates.

Students who attend dropout re-engagement programs, such as the Learning Center in the Highline School District, are excluded from district-level graduaton rates under a state policy. The programs have low graduation rates.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story is the first in a three-part series called "Who's Counted: Taking a Closer Look at School District Graduation Rates." The second and third stories will examine publicly funded online schools.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on March 10, 2018.   

Gray hair is one of the inevitable timestamps of life, and Ashley Gross has noticed a few springing up on her head lately. Or rather, her kids have noticed, and enjoy pointing them out. This didn't seem like such a big deal, until she noticed that there tend to be relatively few prominent women who let their gray show.

Hair colorants are a multi-billion dollar industry that seems to target women's insecurities about aging. They also reinforce a strain in our culture that diminishes older women.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Many school districts are planning substantial budget cuts for the fall, including Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma. At the same time, they're urging state lawmakers to raise the limit on levies so they can collect more in local property taxes.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Democratic state senators had pushed to amend the Washington constitution to allow school bonds to pass with a simple majority, but they failed to win votes from two-thirds of members as required.

Melanie / Flickr

Parents of children with dyslexia celebrated legislation that passed in Washington last year requiring school districts to screen all young children. Dyslexia is a learning disability that can make it hard to decode words.

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

There's growing understanding that out-of-school suspensions can be damaging to students. This Thursday, a group will hold a one-day training on an alternative approach called restorative justice.

Lois Martin / The Associated Press

The state Supreme Court has sided with a woman who was permanently barred from working in child care because of a criminal conviction.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Lawmakers continue to wrestle with the new education-funding system they put in place in 2017, in which the Legislature increased the state property tax as a way to satisfy the long-running McCleary school-finance lawsuit. The approach limited how much districts can raise through local levies.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Seattle school district appears to have won enough support from voters for both of its local tax measures in yesterday’s election. The first vote count showed about two-thirds of voters approving the capital levy and the operations levy.

Seattle Public Schools

About a third of students in the Seattle school district qualify for subsidized meals. School has been closed so far this week as well as part of last week due to the snow, and that means some kids may not be getting as much to eat as they usually would.

Port Angeles School District

Voters have until Tuesday, Feb. 12, to return their ballots in an election that's important to many Washington school districts. But some school districts are reckoning with the possibility of not winning enough voter approval for their bond measures, and they’ve turned to the state Legislature to try to lower the threshold required for passage.  

Washington State Patrol

A frequent complaint from parents is that their children don’t have enough time to finish their lunch at school. Now, one of the state’s newest lawmakers has introduced legislation to try to figure out the barriers to giving students sufficient time to eat.

Seattle Public Schools

Navigating the public school system can be daunting for families with limited knowledge of English. Some state lawmakers have introduced legislation to help those families get the interpretation assistance they need.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

There's been a big demographic shift in Skagit Valley school districts in the past decade.  For example, these days about 43 percent of students in t­he Burlington-Edison School District are Latino, up from 27 percent a decade ago.

But while the student population has changed, the teaching staff largely has not.