Charla Bear

Education Reporter

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.

Charla's most memorable public radio moment: “Sitting alone in a room with a convicted murderer who had just been paroled. The only thing between us was a microphone, as he told me how he had transformed his life and become a priest.”

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Education
3:34 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Where's the latest hotspot for a gourmet meal? Seattle schools

Pamela Hinckley (left), CEO of Tom Douglas Restaurants, serves samples of Pollock Provencal to students at Roxhill elementary. The baked fish dish is one of several new recipes created by local gourmet chefs to entice more kids to eat school lunch.
Charla Bear KPLU

“We want them to expand their palates ..."

When you hear the words “school lunch,” it’s doubtful you think of mouth-watering cuisine. A group of gourmet chefs in Seattle wants to change that.

They’re developing recipes fit for foodies that can be served in the city’s public elementary schools. 

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Seattle Police
2:00 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Man sues SPD, creates website of dashcam videos

A man whose charges were dismissed after he was arrested by Seattle police three years ago has decided that’s not enough to clear the air. He’s suing the department – and making video from their dashboard cameras public. 

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K-12 Education
8:00 am
Tue October 4, 2011

Tacoma tells adults: Give the kids an hour to catch up

Tacoma city leaders want more adults to volunteer an hour a week at programs such as the Trinity Afterschool Program, a literacy center for 1st and 2nd grade students.
Trinity Presbyterian Church

Thousands of students in Tacoma are behind in school, according to state tests that show they’re not meeting grade-level expectations. City leaders say if adults in the community pitch in just one hour a week, it could help these kids catch up.

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K-12 Education
7:30 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Seattle hopes celebrities and competition get students to school

The school year just started last month and chances are a lot of kids have already missed a day or two of class. Educators say that’s a huge problem since attendance is one of the biggest indicators of whether students will graduate.

Now, some new efforts are underway to get kids to school ... one involves famous people. 

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Real Estate
6:51 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Building project aims to revitalize Pioneer Square and Seattle

A construction crew prepares to break ground on Stadium Place, a new building project developers say will revitalize Pioneer Square.
Charla Bear KPLU

Construction of a shiny, new high rise is underway in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. Residents, elected officials and the developer ushered in the Pioneer Square project they say will bring big changes to the entire city.

While one new building on the outskirts of downtown doesn’t seem like cause for a big to-do, King County’s executive, a couple of councilmembers and a former mayor all came out to the ground breaking. 

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Tacoma teacher strike
1:48 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Update: Tacoma teachers strike is over

Tacoma teachers have approved a contract that ends their strike with nearly 100 percent of teachers voting for the new deal.

Negotiators had reached a tentative deal last night in Olympia in the governor’s wing where they were called by Gov. Chris Gregoire to settle their differences. The strike was the first for the Tacoma district since 1978 and kept 28,000 students out of school for eight days.

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Tacoma teacher strike
8:43 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Striking Tacoma teachers want contract solutions now, not later

Tacoma teachers picketing outside the court room where Judge Bryan Chushcoff ruled their strike was illegal and ordered them back to their classes. The teachers instead voted Thursday to stay out on strike.
Charla Bear KPLU

Tacoma schools will be closed again Friday after teachers voted on Thursday to stay out on strike. Friday will be their fourth day on the picket lines, despite a court order to return to their classrooms.

The teachers say that without a resolution to the basic contractual issues in the conflict, returning to class now would only prolong the turmoil, possibly for years.

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Tacoma teacher strike
7:32 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Update: Tacoma teachers to meet at picket lines to decide next step

(Go here for the latest developments of this story.)

Tacoma's striking teachers have decided to go back to the picket lines this morning rather than directly to their classes to decide on their next action, a union official clarified last night. (Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated the teachers were rejecting the judge's orders. It's still unclear whether they will return to class or not.)

Tacoma Education Association (TEA) "certificated members should meet at their regular picket line locations as scheduled Thursday morning, as you heard from your picket captains," TEA president Andy Coons said in an email to union members.

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Tacoma teacher strike
5:30 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Update: Tacoma teachers wait to decide whether to return to class

Leaders of the Tacoma teachers’ union say they will leave it up to the striking teachers to decide what to do with a judge’s order to return to the classroom tomorrow morning.

Andy Coons, president of the union, told teachers at a rally this afternoon that he would be contacting them possibly later today with options for them to decide on.

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Tacoma teacher strike
6:01 am
Wed September 14, 2011

Strike day two: Tacoma district heading to court to end walkout

On day one, Tacoma teachers took to the sidewalks. Today, the district will take to the courts.
Associated Press

More than 28,000 kids are still locked out of their classrooms today, while school district officials head to court to force teachers back to work.

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K-12 Education
6:16 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Update: Union VP says she's proud of Tacoma teachers' vote to strike

Tacoma teachers grab their picket signs after voting with an 87 percent majority to boycott the district.
Tacoma Education Association

"It really had to come down to a strike ..." 

Tacoma schools will be closed to students tomorrow. Teachers voted to go on strike at their union meeting tonight. They expect to start picketing first at Lincoln High School at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

“I’m so proud of our teachers – 87 percent of our teaching membership voted to strike. It’s that important to them to have a fair contract,” said Adrienne Dale, VP of Tacoma Education Association. “It’s very difficult for teachers to leave their classrooms because they’re in it for kids. So, it was a very powerful moment when the numbers came back.”

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K-12 Education
2:00 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Federal Way says putting more kids in advanced classes worked

As a high school senior last year, Shrae Hogan didn't want to take Advanced Placement courses, until a new district policy placed her in one. The district says AP exam results show the policy has been a success.
Charla Bear KPLU

Federal Way's attempt to push kids to the next level may have had some impact. Recent results of exams in advanced courses, the school district says, shows more kids did take the tests without lowering the percentage of passing scores.

Bottom line: More kids in advanced classes + more kids taking the exams and passing = more students who can handle harder classes than they might have taken on their own.

The district hopes that also means more kids will go to college.

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9/11 Anniversary
8:30 am
Fri September 9, 2011

How 9/11 changed one college student's path to adulthood

For Kevin Finch, 9/11 fell on his second day of classes as a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University. He says experiencing such a dramatic event at that point in life changed everything for him.
Charla Bear KPLU

“There was such a shift from what I thought life was going to be, to what it turned out to be. That’s where things really started for me.  It’s where I started growing up, I would say.”

In early September of 2001, Kevin Finch moved from his childhood home in Puyallup, Wash., to the dorms at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) to start his freshman year in college. His plan was to finish in 4 years with a degree in something related to health care, an idea that began to unravel on just his second day of class.

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Public Transit Troubles
10:50 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Public transit during viaduct replacement likely to fall short

The south end of the Alaskan Way viaduct could become a driving challenge after funds to mitigate traffic with public transit run out. State officials expect that to happen halfway through the project.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

A plan to use public transit to offset traffic congestion while the new Highway 99 tunnel is built in Seattle is expected to run out of money – long before the project is completed.

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immunizations
4:54 pm
Thu September 1, 2011

State sees gains on child immunizations, still lags

More kids in Washington are getting immunizations, but the state still lags behind vaccination goals.
Flickr
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Washington continues to make progress boosting immunization rates among toddlers, despite having the highest percent in the nation of families exempting kids from vaccines. 

The new survey from the Centers for Disease Control shows the gains come with room for improvement.

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