Youth & Education | KNKX

Youth & Education

Stories and features about education in the Pacific Northwest. Including stories from Washington state and the United States. 

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courtesy of Launch

UPDATE, April 7: Corrects name of Boys and Girls Clubs of King County.

The Seattle school district has backed away from a plan to assign educators to provide child care for first responders and medical workers, after the union representing teachers and other school staff said providing that care had not been negotiated and was outside of their regular duties.

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.

The Community Day Center for Children in Seattle's Central District is one of the centers that's temporarily closed because of employee concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
Photo courtesy of the Community Day Center for Children

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee has emphasized the need for child care to enable parents in medical or first-responder professions to continue to work. He’s designated child care workers as essential to critical infrastructure.

But advocacy groups say child care centers are in crisis and the government needs to step up to help them in this difficult time. Sen. Patty Murray said she secured $3.5 billion for child care in the current version of the Senate’s coronavirus relief package, including about $58 million for Washington.   

courtesy of Ricky Haneda

The coronavirus outbreak has upended many lives, but it can be particularly difficult for those who are separated from their families.

Many university students have packed up and returned home amid the outbreak, but it’s more complicated for the thousands of international students studying in the Pacific Northwest. Some have remained here even as campuses empty out.

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

UPDATE, 6:00 PM: Adds state superintendent's comments on graduation requirements for high school seniors.

With schools closed statewide until late April, many parents and students have wondered whether the school year will be extended into July or August.

In a webinar hosted by the League of Education Voters, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said that’s not likely.

Seattle Children's

Seattle Children’s says it has tested 660 patients for COVID-19, with four who came back positive and are now all recovering at home. Of 166 staff members tested since Friday, four tested positive.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Across the state, parents and caregivers suddenly have to figure out how to temporarily home-school their kids, after Gov. Jay Inslee ordered schools to shut down through April 24 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Against that backdrop, some families have opted to enroll their children in the state’s public online schools.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, talks to the media about the decision to close schools in three counties in response to COVID-19, on Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Olympia, Wash.
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

Capping an extraordinary news week as the state confronts the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered all K-12 public and private schools to close for at least six weeks.  It comes one day after he announced a six-week school closure for three counties in the Puget Sound region that have so far borne the brunt of the COVID-19 cases.

During his announcement, Inslee said the novel coronavirus has spread to affect 15 counties, representing roughly 75 percent of the state's population. He said state health officials have detected 568 cases so far, including 37 deaths. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Two of the state’s largest school districts are closing for at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, affecting more than 80,000 students.

Cherry trees bloom on the University of Washington campus, Wednesday, April 3, 2019, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The University of Washington, which has more than 57,000 students and more than 4,300 faculty members across its campuses and facilities, will no longer hold class in person starting Monday. This extends to all campuses through the end of the quarter on March 20, in an effort to protect people from the novel coronavirus outbreak.

photo courtesy of Ken Finlayson

UPDATE, March 6, 2:55 pm: Adds that Lake Washington Superintendent Jane Stavem has announced her resignation as she takes a new position in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The east side of Lake Washington is where the state has seen a number of novel coronavirus cases, including deaths. Two school districts there are taking different approaches to the outbreak.

Parents in Seattle have been pushing for years for the school district to adopt universal screening to identify students for the highly capable program. Now, Seattle Public Schools said it plans to administer a 30-minute test to more than 4,400 second-graders later this month.

It’s something that’s already been adopted by other school districts, including Tacoma and Northshore.

(Rachel La Corte/ The Associated Press)

The novel coronavirus outbreak means that school district leaders are faced with making tough calls about whether to keep schools open.

District superintendents closed schools on Monday in Bothell, Renton, Kingston, Covington and Mukilteo. The Lake Washington School District, which encompasses the Kirkland hospital where the state’s coronavirus deaths have occurred, has not closed schools, in spite of an online petition that’s received thousands of signatures.

Andrew Medichini / AP Photo

More than 50 countries now have confirmed cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, and that’s presenting challenges for colleges and universities in Washington that have students studying abroad.

Aaron Walsh struggled to reconcile coming out as a gay man with his identity as a Catholic. He's created a website to offer support and encouragement to other young, gay Christians.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

For Aaron Walsh, the forced resignations of two gay teachers from Kennedy Catholic High School earlier this month were particularly painful.

He graduated from the school in 2005 and realized during college that he was gay. But reconciling his sexual orientation with his religious beliefs as a Catholic took three years of struggle.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Archbishop of Seattle has asked the president of Kennedy Catholic High School to take a leave of absence until the end of the school year, in the wake of protests over the forced resignations of two gay teachers

Students from Catholic schools in the Seattle area, including Kennedy Catholic, Bishop Blanchet and O'Dea, protested outside the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

The Archdiocese of Seattle continues to face protests after two popular teachers at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien resigned under pressure. Their departure in the middle of the school year came after they told school administrators that they are engaged to same-sex partners.

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.

Counter-protesters, including someone with a gay pride flag, gather during a Patriot Prayer protest at The Evergreen State College in 2017. Despite a large drop in enrollment at the college, half of the student body identifies as LGBTQ or questioning.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Evergreen State College is known for its forest-enclosed campus, liberal arts education and freelance areas of study. However, it’s also cultivating a new reputation: that of a hub for LGBTQ individuals.

While the school has seen a large drop in enrollment since 2009, it also has seen a tremendous growth in the number of LGBTQ students: more than half of the student body identifies as LGBTQ or questioning. 

Seattle JazzED

Five bands from the Seattle region will take part in the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition in New York in May. Washington has more finalists than any other state. Eighteen bands were selected out of 106 entries.

Four of the bands chosen have a track record of going: Garfield and Roosevelt high schools in Seattle, Mountlake Terrace High School and Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie.

For the fifth band, the Seattle JazzED Ellington Ensemble, it’s an especially sweet honor because this is the first time the group has been selected.

Rob Beezer / University of Puget Sound

University students who are blind can face difficulties getting Braille versions of specialized textbooks. Sometimes, universities pay someone to prepare a textbook, but that’s expensive and can take months.

Now, mathematicians across the country have collaborated to automate that process. One of them is Rob Beezer, a mathematics professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.

Tacoma Citizens for Schools

UPDATE, Feb. 12: Adds preliminary results for some school districts, including Tacoma, Bellevue and Burlington-Edison and comments from the state superintendent. 

School districts around the Puget Sound region are taking stock of initial voting results for bond measures and levies. According to the state superintendent's office, almost 90 percent of local capital and operating levies are passing. 

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.

Jack Miller / Miller Photo 2019

When teachers at Garfield High School announced in early 2013 that they refused to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized test, Seattle school officials threatened to suspend them for 10 days without pay.

Marko Liias, a Democratic state senator whose district includes parts of Edmonds, Everett and Lynnwood, is the lead sponsor of a bill to create a state-run loan program for undocumented students.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A bill under consideration in the Legislature would open another avenue for financial aid for immigrant students in Washington who lack legal status.

UPDATE, 11:12 am: Adds details on school location and clarifies that the video was made off campus. 

A racist video showing a student from a high school in unincorporated King County near Renton has sparked outrage among African-American parents and the Washington State NAACP.

Senate Television / Associated Press

For the third time in U.S. history, the Senate is in the midst of an impeachment trial of the president.

For many local teachers, this is a unique opportunity to educate students about the Constitution and how the government works, and that’s pretty exciting.

Seattle Public Schools

UPDATE, 10:11 p.m.: Adds that the school board voted to approve the plan. 

The Seattle school board approved a measure that has big ramifications for gifted education at one middle school. The plan will eliminate a separate track for students who have tested into what’s known as the highly capable cohort.

Dealing with school cancellations and delays can be stressful for parents, but the Tacoma school district is using social media to give people something to smile about amid unpredictable weather.