Education | KNKX


Ryan Davenport teaches seventh grade social studies at Keithley Middle School in Parkland. He's welcomed KNKX to follow one of his classes through this unprecedented year.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

At schools around the region, a new ritual has been taking place. It’s the back-to-school, COVID-era laptop distribution, as almost all public schools in the state have begun the year with remote learning.

Jordyn Famimiko (left) and Mary Belay are part of a new student group called the Highline Youth Race and Equity Coalition. The group wants students to have a say in teacher hiring committees.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have sparked a surge of activism among high school students around issues of racial justice.

Students in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and other districts in the Puget Sound region have pushed for police officers to be removed from schools. Now, a new student group in the Highline district, south of Seattle, wants youth to have a say in hiring educators.

courtesy of Kittitas school district

Only a handful of school districts in the state are aiming to hold school in person this fall. One of them is Kittitas School District in Central Washington, near Ellensburg.

Aimee Rodriguez Webb works on her computer reading emails at her dinning room table that she set up as a virtual classroom for a Cobb County school, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Marietta, Ga.
Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press (file)

Because of the pandemic, the Washington state Supreme Court waived the bar exam for new lawyers who were supposed to take it this past July or in September. But new teachers still have to take an exam to get their teaching certificate, and now they’re asking the governor to eliminate that requirement.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

UPDATE, 9:10 pm: Adds information about school board directors' proposal that incorporates outdoor education.

As the clock ticks down toward the fall school year, the teachers union in Seattle said it’s not yet safe to return to school buildings, and three school board directors proposed a model of remote instruction with some outdoor education.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The protests over police killings of Black people have broadened into calls to dismantle systemic racism — including in schools.

In Tacoma, a Black Youth Matters march on Saturday drew hundreds of people of all ages and races. One woman held a sign that said “No Cops in Schools.” Some children wore t-shirts that said “I can’t breathe” in honor of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

In recent years, students experiencing homelessness or housing instability in Washington have numbered in the tens of thousands. A new survey shows that many of those students are struggling with basic needs amid the pandemic.

Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

The statewide school closure to slow the spread of the coronavirus has brought tremendous upheaval to families. Parents are trying to help their children keep up with assignments from home, while many of them juggle work responsibilities or cope with financial stresses stemming from unemployment.

Added to that is a continued lack of internet access for many families that the state and school districts are trying to address — even now, two months after schools were ordered to shut down.

Photo courtesy of Amy Piñon

When schools closed as a result of the pandemic, the local art education organization Arts Corps quickly shifted online. But its teaching artists worried that students without access to internet or art supplies would have challenges continuing their learning online.

So, the organization has been assembling art kits full of various supplies. The kits are distributed at locations mostly in the areas Arts Corps serves, including some school meal pick-up locations.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The kitchen at Denny International Middle School in West Seattle is decked out with strings of twinkling colored lights.

There’s even a “lunch lady chandelier” fashioned out of strands of lights hanging from the bottom of a fan. It’s the work of Doree Fazio-Young, acting kitchen manager at Denny. She has close cropped gray hair, a big laugh, and a catchy nickname: Lunch Lady Doree.   

Volunteers handed out hundreds of boxes of meals to families at Kentridge High School in the Kent school district. The boxes contain five breakfasts and five lunches.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Rosa showed up 40 minutes early to Kentridge High School in the Kent school district on Monday for the weekly school meal distribution. And she wasn’t even the first one in line.

Cars soon lined up behind her, snaking out onto Southeast 208th Street in front of the school — an eye-opening example of the importance of school meals as a lifeline for families right now.

courtesy of Rowan Carrick

In this age of distance learning, educators are trying to figure out the best way to connect with and engage their students. They’re emailing, holding video chats, recording video lessons, and making phone calls.

And some are singing.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee said there will be no more in-person instruction for the rest of the school year, as the state continues to take extraordinary measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 300 Washington residents.

Schools will continue to provide instruction via distance learning, a transformation that district leaders have been trying to pull off in the span of just a few weeks.

Aaron Yoo / Flickr

Amazon said it’s donating 8,200 laptops to students in the Seattle school district to help close the technology gap that’s made it difficult for some students to continue their learning while schools are shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The donation is valued at about $2 million. The machines will be given to students to keep, and the school district said it’s prioritizing giving them to elementary students who lack access to a device at home.

courtesy of Daniela Hall

Washington families have been trying to get up to speed on this new world of at-home schooling. This is the first week remote education is required across school districts since schools were shut down last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

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

With more than one million K-12 students out of school due to the coronavirus pandemic, districts in Washington have faced the task of adapting a school system based on in-person instruction and supports to something that can be done remotely.

State Rep. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland, poses with then-4th-grade students at Elmhurst Elementary, last school year. They and teacher Amy Cole, at right, are hoping to get the Suciasaurus named Washington's official state dinosaur.
Courtesy of Amy Cole / Elmhurst Elementary School

Athena Tauscher is on a quest.

The fifth-grader, and many of her classmates at Elmhurst Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District, would very much like it if state lawmakers passed a particular bill this session. The subject? A dinosaur.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

Amid a school year marked by controversy over the Seattle district’s plans for its advanced learning programs, officials have announced another change that’s drawing criticism and frustration from parents.

District officials recently sent an email to parents saying Seattle Public Schools will no longer offer separate honors classes, sometimes known as Spectrum classes, in middle school.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rise in incidents at schools involving racial slurs and discrimination against students of color in the past few years.

But students are increasingly speaking out. This week, educators and students across the country and in Washington state are taking part in the Black Lives Matter at School week of action, which grew out of a movement that began in Seattle in 2016.

Students from the Highline and Renton school districts shared their stories and concerns as students of color at an equity conference in SeaTac hosted by the Rainier Educators of Color Network. The group includes teachers from the Highline, Renton and Kent school districts.

Tyee High School students Bashar Abokar (left) and Guled Ahmed collected about 600 signatures on a petition asking the Highline district to recognize Eid celebrations as official school holidays.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

New York City and some other school districts on the East Coast and in the Midwest have designated the Muslim celebrations of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as official school holidays.

Both are very important holidays in the Muslim religion. Eid al-Adha marks the culmination of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Fitr comes at the end of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day.

Now, two high school students in the Highline school district are asking their school board to do the same.

Under the proposed dress code policy in Seattle, students will be allowed to wear tank tops.
colorblindPICASO / Flickr

Seattle public school students who have been told not to wear tank tops or short shorts will probably be relieved to hear that a new districtwide policy is in the works. The proposed policy will be introduced at tonight’s school board meeting.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

UPDATE, July 23: Lus Gallardo exited the competition in the 11th round of the National Spanish Spelling Bee in Denver. 

An 11-year-old girl from Mount Vernon is Washington state’s first-ever competitor in the National Spanish Spelling Bee. Lus Gallardo is heading to Denver next month. She’s one of 35 competitors representing 15 states in the event.

“I’ve only gotten on an airplane once,” she said, “so I think that’s going to be fun.”

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.”

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


Students of faith at colleges and universities sometimes find their school work and religious practices conflicting. But a new law will require schools to come up with with policies to accommodate them.

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."

 Investigators work on the scene of the shooting in Seattle on Wednesday, March 27, 2019.
Gene Johnson / The Associated Press

Last week, two people died and two others were injured in a shooting spree and carjacking in Seattle's Lake City area. 

One of the injured was Deborah Judd, a second-grade teacher at Laurelhurst Elementary School who was on her way home from work. As she recovered in the hospital, she told reporters that she wanted to make sure her students knew she was OK.

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.