education

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

It was common through the 1800s for American school children to attend a one-room schoolhouse. In 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Swanson family in rural north Olympia will attend a one-garage schoolhouse.

On a recent morning, Molly Swanson rolled up her garage door and welcomed a visitor into the classroom she and her husband created this summer as a place to educate four of their six children, plus two foster children.

File photo by Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Lawmakers in Olympia are in a special session to finalize the Washington state budget. Some teachers’ unions have decided to walk out for a day to appeal for more money in the K-12 budget.

Brianhe / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/zmpz86k

Washington voters are narrowly passing a class-size measure that comes with a multi-billion dollar price tag.

Washington Supreme Court Finds State In Contempt

Sep 11, 2014
Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In an unprecedented move, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state in contempt of court in the McCleary school funding case. However, the justices will wait to impose sanctions until after the 2015 legislative session to give the legislature time to "purge the contempt."

"[C]ontempt is the means by which a court enforces compliance with its lawful orders when they are not followed," reads the five-page order signed by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.

Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Oso landslide, with 41 dead and two still missing, could be the the third-worst natural disaster in Washington history after the Stevens Pass Avalanche of 1910 and the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

A late vote in the Washington legislature has the children of immigrants cheering - literally.

Oregon Board Hikes Tuition For College Students

Jun 21, 2013

Oregon college students can expect to pay more for their education next fall. The state Board of Higher Education on Friday approved a series of tuition increases at Oregon's eight public university campuses.

The increases vary from school to school but for in-state undergraduates, the tuition hike averages out to between 5 percent and 6 percent.

Universities say the increases are necessary to keep up with rising costs.

But students told the board the price hikes would put a college degree out of reach for more people.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network files

OLYMPIA, Wash. – On the campaign trail, Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked about financing education by growing the economy. Now the Democrat proposes to raise $1.2 billion for schools by extending some tax increases and ending some tax breaks.

In Spokane last June I moderated the first gubernatorial debate between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna. And I put this question to both candidates: if elected, would you ask voters to support a new tax for schools to respond to the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling that the state is not adequately funding education.

Lawmakers Examine Use Of School 'Seclusion Cells'

Mar 4, 2013
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. - When kids get severely out of control in class, some schools place the students in a "seclusion cell." It's sort of a "time-out" room where kids can calm down without posing a risk to themselves or others.

A measure moving through the Oregon legislature would ban the use of the starkest version of these cells. But some mental health advocates say the bill doesn't go far enough.

Gregg M. Erickson / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon legislature's chief budget writers released their proposed two-year spending plan Monday. The two Democrats in charge of drawing up the budget outline say all of the numbers are subject to negotiation. But state Senator Richard Devlin and state Representative Peter Buckley say it will be hard to persuade them to lower the $6.75 billion they've set aside for K-12 education.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

SALEM, Ore. – Momentum is building in Salem for a bill to give children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates at Oregon universities. Governor John Kitzhaber threw his weight behind the idea Monday.

Students whose parents brought them into the country illegally pay out-of-state tuition at Oregon universities and community colleges. That can be about twice the in-state rate. Under this bill, these students could qualify as a resident only if they meet certain conditions, such as attending an Oregon high school for at least three years.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington Senate are on the attack over a series of Republican-backed education reform measures. At a news conference Friday, the Democrats accused Republicans of getting boilerplate legislation from a corporate-backed education foundation run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Democrat Andy Billig serves on the Senate K-12 committee. He highlighted two specific proposals: letter grades for schools and holding back struggling third graders.

Do We Still Need To Learn Cursive?

Jan 29, 2013
National Archives

Cursive handwriting may soon go the way of the card catalog and the film projector. Schools are moving to new curriculum standards that put more emphasis on typing skills. But not everyone is ready for the cursive alphabet become a relic. The Idaho legislature is considering a statewide cursive mandate.

As far as state representative Linden Bateman is concerned, losing cursive would amount to the dumbing down of society. That's why the Republican from Idaho Falls has introduced a bill to require cursive in elementary schools.

Idaho's Hispanic Education Gap Shrinks

Jan 18, 2013
Emory Maiden / Flickr

Idaho is starting to see the education gap narrow for Latino students. That's according to the state's Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Latinos are the fastest growing segment of Idaho’s school system.

The commission's director Margie Gonzalez told a legislative panel the days of double digit drop-out rates for Hispanic kids are gone. More Latinos are enrolling in college. And last month, a national assessment of vocabulary showed huge gains among Hispanic students in Idaho.

Office of the Governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In her final state of the state speech, outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire urged lawmakers to fund schools and roads. The two-term Democrat delivered her farewell address Tuesday to a joint session of the legislature.

Gregoire told the assembled legislators they should come up with an additional $1 billion for schools in the next budget to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling.

“There is no free lunch," the governor said. "We cannot cut our way out of this. We cannot save our way out of this.”

Office of the Governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One measure of success for governors is their ability to get better results out of schools. As Washington Governor Chris Gregoire prepares to leave office, the state’s high school graduation and dropout rates have improved, but not a lot. And there’s still a significant achievement gap between white and non-white students.

Virginia Alvino / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon high school students would be required to learn CPR to get a diploma, under a bill being considered by state lawmakers. A group of students were in Salem Wednesday to lobby on the issue Wednesday.

Eighth grade students from Valley Catholic School in Beaverton came to the Senate education committee to show off their CPR skills. They demonstrated on inflatable mannequins with internal clickers that let them know they’re pushing down deep enough.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A big shake-up in the control of the Washington state senate could have major implications for how lawmakers address funding for schools next year. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday it has just enough votes to depose the current Democratic majority.

The chair of the Washington Democratic party calls it a “coup” and a “prescription for instability and division.” But former Republican turned Democrat Rodney Tom -- who will lead the new majority coalition -- says voters want governing from the middle.

Nate Silver Meets Recess: Crunching Data In Schools

Dec 3, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

SPOKANE, Wash. - The kind of finely tuned data crunching that fueled the 2012 election is spreading to another venue: the classroom. You might have heard that campaign analysts can predict who you're likely vote for based on the magazines you read and the car you drive. Now, researchers are finding ways to predict who's likely to drop out of high school based on, say, a third grade attendance record. Schools are hoping a computer program will help them reach kids before it's too late.

Kitzhaber's Budget Puts Pressure On Lawmakers

Nov 30, 2012
OPB News

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber firmly put the ball in the court of Oregon lawmakers when he released his two-year budget proposal Friday. The spending plan relies on savings gained from potentially controversial changes to the state's pension and public safety systems.

Kitzhaber's Budget Relies On Cost-Cutting Measures

Nov 29, 2012
Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber's proposed budget relies on cost-cutting measures to public pensions, health care and prisons. The Democrat will unveil his two-year spending plan at the state capitol Friday.

Kitzhaber's plan will divide up about $16 billion in expected state revenue. About half of that would go to education, from pre-school through college.

To help pay for the plan, the governor is proposing changes to the state's pension system for public employees. The most significant change would be a cap on cost-of-living increases for retirees.

BOISE - Idaho voters delivered a resounding defeat to three new education laws. Voters said no to limits on teacher bargaining rights, to creating a pay-for-performance system and to ramping up classroom technology. Opponents were successful, in part, by billing the laws as an attack on teachers.

When the first results came in, the Vote No campaign brought out the bagpipes.

Opponents of Props 1, 2 and 3 went head-to-head with Idaho's Republican state superintendent Tom Luna, who pushed the laws through the legislature.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Both candidates for Washington governor have said “no” to higher taxes. But, outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire says she will propose a new source of funding for public schools before she leaves office in January.

For months Gregoire has been saying the state will have to come up with a new revenue source for schools. This after the Supreme Court ruled Washington is not adequately funding education.

But now, for the first time, Gregoire confirms she will propose a new funding source as one of her last acts as governor.