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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K-12 Education
8:41 am
Thu July 7, 2011

Class sizes preserved, counselors cut in Seattle schools budget

Despite facing the steepest budget shortfall in the past 3 years, Seattle Public School officials say class sizes will not get any bigger next fall. The district's school board unanimously approved a plan last night to close a $45.5 million gap with considerable cuts to school supports and jobs, but teachers were largely spared.

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Business
8:38 am
Thu July 7, 2011

Seattle tech moguls likely to shape Skype-Facebook deal in Idaho

Media moguls gather in Sun Valley, Idaho this week at a summit known for producing major business deals.
Steve Platzer visitsunvalley.com

Some of the biggest names in media and technology converge on Sun Valley, Idaho this week.

They're attending an annual retreat known to produce major industry-shaping business deals – one of those deals likely to be shaped involves Microsoft, Facebook and Skype.

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Education
2:17 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Running Start students could face financial hurdle next year

Some high school students are expected to ditch the state’s popular Running Start program this fall.

The number of students who take advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit has grown every year since the program began in the early 90’s, but that progress could be coming to a halt.  

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Entertainment
5:20 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Vicci Martinez from Tacoma in finals of "The Voice" tonight

Vicci Martinez is one of four contestants vying to become "The Voice" on a reality TV show. She advanced to the finals after her performance of Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine.
NBC / Lewis Jacobs/NBC

A woman who was born and raised in Tacoma will perform in the last round of reality TV singing contest “The Voice” tonight. The competition has made the local rocker a familiar face to millions of people around the world.

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K-12 Education
8:50 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Fight over education funding heads to state Supreme Court

With lawmakers having slashed nearly $4 billion in funding from school districts in the past few years, arguments are heating up over whether the state is fulfilling its constitutional duty to students.
Associated Press

The state constitution says it’s Washington’s “paramount duty to make ample provisions for the education of all children,” but is it failing to do that? This afternoon, the state Supreme Court will consider arguments on both sides.

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Transportation
6:05 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

More leaving cars behind when going to work in Seattle

In a newly released survey, commuters say they take public transit more than any other means of transportation to work in downtown Seattle.
King County Metro

More people who work in downtown Seattle are riding mass transit than driving to the office. That’s according to a survey just released by Commute Seattle, a non-profit that tries to reduce the number of people who drive alone. 

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Transportation
9:19 am
Thu June 23, 2011

When will tolls start on 520? Delays leave state with no date

Toll charges for the 520 bridge might begin in August, but they might not.
WSDOT

People who drive over the State Route 520 floating bridge will likely have a few more months before tolls kick in. The latest estimate of when charges would begin is now August, but the Washington State Department of Transportation won't commit to a date.

The new system has faced a string of delays. It was originally scheduled to be up and running in April. Then it was pushed back to June. Then late July. 

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Science
6:00 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Clues to Washington's summer weather...or not

Kids and adults alike enjoy a warm day on June, 4 2011. Will there be more sunny days on the way this summer? It's tough to call.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

With the first day of summer this week, it’s finally beginning to look like it outside. If you think that’s a good sign for the rest of the season, think again. There really isn’t a good way to tell how summer will turn out.

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Budget Cuts
4:25 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

Options for Seattle community centers include closures

Dancers face off in a competition at Southwest Community Center. Seattle officials say the centers aren't sustainable and some could close.
Seattle Parks and Recreation

Some neighborhoods could lose their central gathering spots for kids and seniors. The city is considering closing several community centers or reducing hours to cut costs. 

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Political Participation
3:36 pm
Wed June 15, 2011

Washington leads nation in voting access for young people

George Mason University students help their peers register to vote in Washington, D.C. Young people in the "other" Washington, on the west coast, have the best access to the political process in the nation, according to a new survey.
masonvotes Flickr photo

Young people have an easier time voting in Washington State than anywhere else in the country. That’s according to a survey by Rock the Vote, a group that encourages youth to participate in the political process.

It found many state laws mesh with the needs of young voters, but there’s still room for improvement.

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Higher Education
6:00 am
Tue June 7, 2011

State college students likely to see higher tuition and financial aid

This fall, college students could face bigger tuition hikes than Washington has seen in nearly a decade. That’s after two years of double digit increases.

Under a bill signed by Governor Chris Gregoire, state colleges get to set their own rates. They’re also expected to help students who can’t afford to pay more. 

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Artscape
9:00 am
Sun June 5, 2011

Play tackles fears of young Native Americans after woodcarver killed

Young Native American actors portray prisoners in the Red Eagle Soaring production, A Right To Justice. The play aims to help youth work out their feelings about police since Ian Birk, a former Seattle officer, shot woodcarver John T. Williams.
Charla Bear KPLU

It’s been more than nine months since a Seattle police officer killed First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams, and tensions are still running high among Native Americans. They say the shooting brings up the long history of brutality Native people have faced.

The anxiety has also affected children, who’ve had a tough time putting Williams’ death in perspective.

This coming weekend, a local theater group will debut a performance to help young Native Americans move forward, starting with a look at the past.

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Health
7:05 am
Tue May 31, 2011

Effort grows to check young hearts for early signs of cardiac arrest

A student gets a free heart screening in Thurston County, Wash. Volunteers hope to screen 600 more young people in Seattle this Wednesday, June 1st.
Nick of Time Foundation

A local mom whose teenage son died from sudden cardiac arrest is pushing to make sure the tragedy doesn’t happen to other families. She's part of an effort to check young people across the state for undetected heart conditions. Its largest screening to date is this Wednesday, June 1st, at Garfield High School in Seattle. 

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Senate Confirmation Hearing
11:48 am
Thu May 26, 2011

Ambassador nominee Gary Locke: China must lean on N. Korea

US Ambassador to China nominee and former Washington Governor Gary Locke arrives on Capitol Hill this (Thurs.) morning to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination.
Evan Vucci AP

Commerce Secretary – and former Washington governor - Gary Locke is a step closer to becoming the next U.S. ambassador to China. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee completed his confirmation hearing in just
an hour and a half this morning. 

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Technology
5:14 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Seattle's Pioneer Square could get internet boost

Workers lay conduit under First Avenue South. The pipe belongs to the city, but Mayor Mike McGinn wants to allow private companies to use it to bring faster internet service to small businesses and residential customers.
Charla Bear KPLU

A new effort could make internet speeds 100 times faster for some small businesses and residential customers in Seattle. Mayor Mike McGinn announced a plan to bring fiber optic broadband to Pioneer Square as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the neighborhood.

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