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.”

Pages

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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Classroom of the Future
7:00 am
Thu August 9, 2012

5 technologies Seattle-area kids say will rule education

Ruby Kresge envisions schools on space stations. School space busses will be driven by aliens.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Fifty years ago a group of Seattle students were asked to make predictions about the “classroom of the future,” as part of the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair. They came back with a mixed bag: phones that fit in your pocket? Check. Flying cars? Still waiting. (None mentioned high-stakes tests, Lunchables or Wikipedia.)

This year as part of the fair’s 50th anniversary, the Seattle Center asked students to make their own predictions about what school will look like 50 years from now.

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Sikh Community
12:04 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

From Seattle area Sikhs, shock and sadness at Wis. killing

Sikh communities around the Puget Sound region say they’re dismayed and saddened by the mass killing at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday, and they’re appealing for more education and outreach to the broader public.

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Police in Schools
4:19 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Cops in schools can’t search without warrants, Wash. high court rules

The Washington Supreme Court ruled that police officers based at schools are still police officers.
Arkdog Flickr

Police officers working in schools can’t necessarily search a student without a warrant, even though a teacher usually can. That’s the upshot of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court out Thursday, in a case involving a student at Robinswood High in Bellevue and the murky legal realm of cops in schools.

The Bellevue Police Department has five officers working exclusively in the schools. In this case, one of them caught the student with a bag of marijuana, arrested him, and then searched his locked bag without permission.

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Education
5:00 am
Wed August 1, 2012

New Seattle superintendent wants flexibility for schools, just not too much

Seattle Public Schools superintendent Jose Banda has been on the job for one month.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle’s new superintendent of schools won’t be voting for the charter schools initiative on the November’s ballot. He doesn’t care much for “site-based management” that gives lots of autonomy to individual schools and he’s leery of letting schools more easily opt out of controversial curricula, such as “discovery math.”

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Homeless Youth
5:00 am
Mon July 30, 2012

New tally raises estimate of King County homeless youth

The new count found 675 youth and young adults homeless or unstably housed.
C4Chaos Flickr

There are many more homeless children and young adults in King County than previous tallies have found, according to a new count out this month. The count found more than 140 children on the streets, in shelters or in unstable housing, and another 530 or so young adults 25 and under. Volunteers and social service agencies conducted the second annual one-night count in May, targeting homeless youth.

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Police
5:19 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Seattle and feds strike a deal on police reform

U. S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and Mayor Mike McGinn butted heads during negotiations, but eventually struck a deal.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The city of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Justice have struck a deal on how to reform Seattle’s police department. The agreement heads off a threatened civil rights lawsuit against the city.

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Homelessness
11:08 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Seattle wrestles with how to house homeless families with kids

A campaign by Seattle-based Wellspring aimed to raise awareness about homeless children.
melissajonas Flickr

Seattle recently spent a big chunk of money to improve services for homeless families with children, but city officials are at odds over whether it was spent solving the right problems. They grappled with it at a public meeting Wednesday, where homeless mothers told members of the city council that many were without a place to sleep that night.

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College costs
11:15 am
Mon July 23, 2012

$20K in-state tuition may not be far off in Washington

A child who is 11 years old today could be paying more than $20,000 by the time he or she enters state school, according to an actuarial report prepared for the state's prepaid tuition program.

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Homeless Youth
5:00 am
Mon July 23, 2012

A bit of security for homeless youth, and their documents

Steve Albertson of Springwire set up a scanning station at the Orion Center to let homeless youth secure their documents.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

A Seattle non-profit is trying to help homeless youth back up their important documents. Why does that matter? Well, try getting a job, government benefits or any number of other things necessary to get your life back on track, without proper paperwork. It’s an especially difficult challenge for homeless kids, who have no safety deposit box, no locked file cabinet, maybe not even a safe drawer somewhere.

Steve Albertson of Springwire, a non-profit that began by providing free voicemail service to homeless people, says often the young people just have a bag with everything in it, including their ID, work permits and phone numbers.

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Education
5:00 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Are schools becoming too obsessed with sci-tech?

Students learn chemistry at Lower Columbia College in Longview, Wash.
Lower Columbia Ciollege Flickr

Many of the efforts to improve schools in Washington are focusing on science and technology, and some leading educators are concerned that’s coming at the expense of a well-rounded education. They’re forming a group to advocate for liberal arts learning.

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Education
5:10 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Publicity turns up the heat on Tacoma schools' sunscreen ban

Zoe and Violet came home from a field trip badly burned. Both sunscreen and hats were prohibited by school policy.
Jesse Michener

A couple of bad sunburns have left Tacoma’s school district smarting, and could help spur policy changes about students and sunscreen. Tacoma school officials say they’ll revisit a policy banning the use of sunscreen by students, except with a doctor’s note.

The district is getting national attention after a Tacoma mom’s story went viral in late June. Jesse Michener says it never occurred to her to jump through the hoops it would take to get her daughters sunscreen when they left for a field trip on a rainy morning, but they came home burned badly enough that Michener took them to the hospital.

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Consumer Safety
5:00 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Tacoma man not alone with grill brush horror story

Images from CT scans and an X-ray show grill bristles lodged in people's digestive tract.
Centers for Disease Control

Federal regulators are looking into a health hazard that sent a Tacoma man to the hospital over the weekend.

Adam Wojtanowicz ate a grilled steak, and ended up in surgery. It had nothing to do with the meat, or even cooking with fire – no, Wojtanowicz actually ingested a metal bristle from the wire brush used to clean the grill. That little whisker of steel can wreak havoc on the digestive system, puncturing intestines or other organs. 

It turns out to be a rare but not unique injury.

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