Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KPLU moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

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Education
5:00 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Want to weigh in on Seattle schools' billion-dollar ask?

About 200 parents and students showed up at Seattle Public Schools' first public meeting on its upcoming levies.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters next year to approve more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, and this week the public will have two chances to weigh in on the district's proposal and its priorities.

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Law
2:11 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Don’t bust medical cannabis sellers near schools, say officials

Medical cannabis dispensaries aren't explicitly blocked from operating near schools in Washington state, but they aren't explicitly permitted, either.
City of West Hollywood Flickr

Medical cannabis advocates and some local officials say the federal government should leave marijuana businesses alone, even if they sell near Seattle schools. The advocates decried a recent wave of enforcement, framing it as an assault on patients and law-abiding businesses.

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Education
5:02 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Report: Seattle schools scandal went deeper than thought

School board member Sherry Carr called the revelation of an additional $1.3 million in misspent funds "an outrage."
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The Washington state auditor has uncovered another batch of questionable spending by Seattle Public Schools in recent years, widening a scandal that cost a former superintendent her job. The new investigation found that former district official Silas Potter, Jr. made even more inflated payments than was previously known, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on work that was never done or grossly overpriced.

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Community Centers
2:50 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

At long last, a community center for Belltown

The Belltown Community Center is opening more than 12 years after citizens voted to fund it.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

After more than 12 years of waiting, the Seattle neighborhood of Belltown is getting a community center. The Belltown Community Center got underway in 1999, when voters approved a Parks levy to pay for it. After years of setbacks and delays, a dead-end partnership and scarce real estate, the city landed on a rental property. It’s an old auto shop on the corner of 5th Avenue and Bell Street, full of exposed beams, big windows and loft aesthetics.

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Law Enforcement
2:51 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Report: Poor oversight of use of force by King County deputies

King County's sheriff's office has come in for criticism of the way it handles use of force by deputies.
Jonathan Caves Flickr

King County needs to hit the reset button on how it deals with the use of force by its sheriff’s deputies, according to an independent report presented to County Council members.

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Education
5:00 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Can you turn around a struggling school without tearing it down?

Baker Middle School in Tacoma is moving into year two of its ambitious strategy to get nearly every teacher National Board certified.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

School districts are often encouraged to make sweeping changes in order to lift up low-achieving schools. Shutting a school down and overhauling it or replacing most of the staff are among the solutions favored by federal officials these days. But one struggling school in Tacoma is taking an opposite approach: they’re doubling down on the teachers they already have.

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Hate Crimes
3:58 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Seattle-area Muslims say they were targeted by hate crime

The car driven by a group of young Muslims was vandalized with ethnic slurs, scratches and vulgar pictures.
CAIR

A civil rights group is calling for the FBI to investigate what they say was a hate crime against nine Seattle-area Muslims.

On Sept. 1, Philip Brown and eight other young Muslim friends set out for a jet skiing trip to Lake Chelan, driving a Toyota Prius and a rented BMW 3 series sedan. After an afternoon in the freezing cold water, they say they returned to the parking area to find the BMW covered in racist slogans.

“Doon coons,” and another anti-Muslim slur that includes the “N-word” were scrawled in permanent marker, along with scratches and vulgar images.

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Food Insecurity
4:42 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Recession drives up hunger in Washington

A Tukwila food pantry stocks its tables. Emergency food providers say demand is up since the recession.
USDAgov Flickr

The recession has brought a major spike in the number of Washington families who experience hunger, according to data from advocates and federal officials. Hunger has gone up all over the country, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that Washington has fared worse than the country overall.

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Education
6:17 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

New Seattle schools chief: We'll fight disparities with data

Superintendent Jose Banda says deep data will help close the achievement gaps.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

As students around Puget Sound begin a new school year, administrators are pushing hard to close disparities in student achievement.

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Education
4:21 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Washington students make progress on math, science tests

Washington students have made some gains on standardized test scores. Math scores ticked up in nearly every grade tested, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Superintendent Randy Dorn says he’s encouraged by the steady improvement, and credits an intense focus on math and science.

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Libraries
9:10 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Ad hoc 'People's Library' picks up slack until libraries reopen

Seattle Public Libraries are closed this week, but some citizens have set up an outdoor guerrilla library to pick up the slack.
Great Beyond Flickr

Seattle public libraries are closed this week, in an effort to cope with budget cuts. That inspired some locals to take matters into their own hands, establishing a temporary, outdoor “People’s Library.”

This is the fourth year Seattle libraries have taken a furlough week to save money, stranding would-be readers, internet users and stir-crazy parents. Among the exasperated were University of Washington graduate student Yates Coley and her friends.

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Public Health
4:55 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Not as many Wash. children opting out of vaccines

This map from the CDC shows how the Northwest remains a bastion of vaccine exemptions.
MMWR Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fewer Washington parents are opting their children out of vaccinations, giving the state one of the biggest drops in vaccine exemptions in the country. Two years ago Washington had the highest rate of vaccine exemptions in the nation, with 6.2 percent of kindergartners taking a medical, religious or philosophical pass on getting one or more immunizations.

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Education
5:00 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Wash. students inch upward in college readiness scores

Just one in five Wash. students take the ACT, but that group is improving year-over-year.
biologycorner Flockr

Washington students did a bit better last year on one of the major standardized tests measuring college readiness. Just about one in five Washington seniors takes the ACT – the SAT”s slightly less famous cousin – but that group saw modest gains over the previous four years.  Thirty-eight percent of test-takers met the college readiness standard in all four subjects tested: English, reading, math and science, up from 34 percent year before.

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Education
5:00 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Three Wash. Head Start programs on the ropes

Daybreak Star's Head Start program had to reapply for its own contract, as part of new accountability measures.
sea turtle Flickr

For the first time in its 47-year history, the Head Start program is introducing some tough accountability measures. That’s left three Washington providers fighting for their lives, including a Seattle program with a storied history.

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Environment
1:06 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Olympic Peninsula wilderness plan is scaled back, but is it a compromise?

The scaled-back plan would place about 130,000 acres of National Forest under wilderness protection.
Via Office of U. S. Sen. Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Norm Dicks hit the Olympic Peninsula Thursday, trying to sell locals on a plan to designate more wilderness there. They say their latest bill is a grand compromise, and they’re hoping to convince Olympic Peninsula communities that fought earlier versions.

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