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

Genesee Hill Elementary in West Seattle is one of the schools slated to have a librarian reduced to part time amid Seattle Public Schools budget cuts for next school year.
Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle school district has been warning for about a year that it faces a budget deficit in the 2019-20 school year. Now, the district has laid out its plans for making $39.7 million dollars’ worth of cuts, including removing assistant principals from some schools and reducing some librarians to part time.

Teen migrants wait in line inside the Tornillo detention camp in Tornillo, Texas, last month.
Andres Leighton / The Associated Press

Mandy Manning is using her position as the 2018 National Teacher of the Year to draw attention to the detention of thousands of migrant children in the United States.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Transportation officials have several recommendations to help commuters survive the three-week period between closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and opening of Seattle's new tunnel. Among them: work from home or flex your schedule.

Neither is an option for Charrie Gibson. The West Seattle resident teaches fourth grade at Cascadia Elementary School in North Seattle.

KUOW 94.9 Public Radio / Flickr

The state Public Employment Relations Commission is holding a hearing this week about an unfair labor practice complaint filed by union members at the public radio station KUOW.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee said his budget proposal includes investments in the state's early learning system to help make sure kids are ready for school. But some advocacy groups said it doesn't go far enough.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Commuters to and from downtown Seattle are bracing for the evening of Jan. 11, when a stretch of Highway 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel will close. But transportation officials say drivers also need to look farther ahead to when the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct opens.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

There's been a lot of debate nationally and locally about how to prevent school shootings like the one that left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida, last February.

Republican state Rep. Jim Walsh from Aberdeen said one important prevention tool is to provide resource officers in schools, and he’s pre-filed a bill that would authorize funding from the state to pay for one in each public school.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Two Democratic state lawmakers have pre-filed a bill that would require the development of a model ethnic studies curriculum for grades 7 through 12. Other states, such as California, have already started doing so.

Martin Meissner / AP Photo

UPDATE, 9 p.m.: Adds comment from a media lawyer  on whether students could be held liable for sharing bigoted content online. Corrects to remove inaccurate information about Washington's law on recording conversations.

Schools are increasingly having to deal with the combustible mix that results from students having cellphones and using social media.

That played out in dramatic fashion this week as Hamilton International Middle School in Seattle tried to address the fallout from a student's tweet that went viral and drew the attention of the right-wing conspiracy website, InfoWars.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

As the #MeToo movement continues to shed light on painful stories from women, the careers of the prominent men they accuse have taken a hit. For people in the arts, it's also changed how we view the works they've created, whether it’s comedy by Louis C.K. or movies by Harvey Weinstein.

It's also put high school English teachers in a quandary.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Kent School District's superintendent has faced public criticism for receiving thousands of dollars in stipends to participate in education-technology conferences. Now, the school board has voted against allowing him to take part in one in February.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A growing body of research shows that teenagers benefit when they're allowed to sleep later.

The latest study, from the University of Washington and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, found that students at Roosevelt and Franklin high schools in Seattle got more sleep and better grades after the school district moved the high school start time almost an hour later.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

In recent years, Washington state has been attracting workers from other parts of the country to fill jobs in growing industries such as engineering and computer programming.

But a scholarship created in 2011 aims to help young people from low- and middle-income families in the state land those jobs.

Matt Brown / AP Photo

Parents with kids at Licton Springs K-8, a small school in North Seattle that focuses on social justice and Native culture, got some assurance from Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau that the school won’t be displaced next year.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle's neighborhoods have become more racially mixed since 1990, but its schools have become more segregated, according to a recent study examining the 100 largest cities in the country.

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.