Kyle Stokes

Youth & Education Reporter

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.

Kyle joined KPLU after nearly three years covering education in Bloomington, Ind., where he helped launch a reporting collaboration between NPR and member station WFIU. His work for that project, called StateImpact Indiana, earned him a National Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), along with recognitions from the Online News Association and Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI).

Kyle earned his degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. He worked in Columbia, Mo., as a producer for NPR member station KBIA and a reporter for NBC affiliate KOMU. He graduated in 2011.

The Minneapolis native is hopelessly devoted to his Minnesota Twins — sorry, M's fans. Try your luck hooking him on the Sounders, though.

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Marijuana
4:33 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Do Homeless People Need A Place To Smoke Pot So They Don't Light Up In Public?

A committee has passed on a proposed ordinance to regulate the sale and distribution of medical marijuana.
Flickr

Of the 82 tickets Seattle police officers issued for public marijuana use in the first six months of this year, 38 of them — nearly half — went to people who were probably homeless.

For Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, that raises a question: don't the economically-distressed need a place to go to smoke pot legally, without doing so in public?

"What we don't want to create is a situation where we literally are giving citations away to people that are going to end up having their record affected for engaging in activity that otherwise would be legal, except that it's just done outside," Licata said.

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Youth & Education
4:30 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Report Faults Seattle Schools For 'Lack Of Urgency' In Serving Most Vulnerable Students

Students listen to their teacher in a special education classroom in Florida.
Lynne Sladky AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools' efforts to educate students with disabilities of all sorts are "in need of urgent, substantial and significant improvement," according to a scathing report released Tuesday, faulting district staff from the administrative offices all the way down to individual schools.

The report itself was commissioned by the district office's special education team as part of an effort to correct, as the authors call it, "an obvious and chronic lack... of urgency" around special education — and to bring Seattle Public Schools back in the good graces of both state officials and of federal law.

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Federal Reserve Building
9:17 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Why Seattle Homeless Advocates Feel Vacant Downtown Building Is Rightfully Theirs

"I think it’s very reasonable that the federal government agencies involved want to make sure that six months down the road things don’t just fall apart,' said Alison Eisinger of the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. "Well, so do we."
Kyle Stokes KPLU

Look past the clunky antiques that once made the now-empty building at Second and Spring a working bank — brass teller windows, secured loading docks, a two-story vault with heavy metal doors to match — and it's not difficult to dream about what the vacant property could become.

A group of advocates for the homeless did just that. The Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness drew up a nearly $18 million plan to transform what was once the Federal Reserve Bank branch as a comprehensive service center for the homeless, putting a range of services from mail to primary health care under one roof.

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Graduation Requirements
5:31 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

New High School Diploma Rules Make Clear Which Credits Students Can Waive — And Which They Can't

A high schooler hugs a classmate after receiving her diploma.
Brennan Linsley AP Photo

High school students in Washington will soon be able to drop up to two courses if they encounter "unusual circumstances" and still earn their diplomas under new state rules, which will also lift the number of required credits from 20 to 24.

But should schools be allowed to waive credits in subjects like English, math or science? The State Board of Education said no Thursday, voting 8 to 5 to approve rules marking 17 "core" credits as off-limits to these waivers. The board's decision mean districts can only excuse a student from elective or world language credits.

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No Child Left Behind Act
4:08 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

With Wash. State's NCLB Waiver Now Gone, Seattle Schools Seeks Its Own Exemption

Seattle education officials have asked U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, pictured, to grant the district a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law. It's not clear how open federal officials will be to Seattle's request.
Jacquelyn Martin AP Photo

Earlier this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to lose its reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now, Seattle Public Schools wants to become the first district in the nation to regain that flexibility on its own.

Superintendent Jose Banda sent a letter Wednesday asking for a Seattle-specific waiver from the outdated federal law.

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Higher Education
1:03 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Record Number Of King Co. Teens Pledging To Good Grades, Behavior For Free College

Students rush in to a lecture hall on a college campus.
Eric Risberg AP Photo

An effort to commit south King County teens to a state program that guarantees fully-paid college tuition in exchange for good grades and good behavior through high school has reported its most successful sign-up campaign yet.

Organizers at the Road Map Project, which supports seven King County school districts, say a record 96 percent of eligible eighth-graders signed up for Washington's College Bound Scholarship this year.

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Youth & Education
9:16 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

A School In Downtown Seattle? School Board Will Make A Play For Old Bank Site

Seattle Public Schools officials will apply to open a school in the former Federal Reserve Bank building in downtown Seattle.
Kyle Stokes KPLU

Seattle school officials will officially ask to move into a vacant, federally-owned building in the heart of the city, offering advocates for downtown interests a shot at something they've long sought: their own public school.

By a 5-to-2 vote, Seattle School Board members passed a resolution Wednesday night, authorizing the district's application to take over the 119,000-square foot building that, for decades, housed the Seattle branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank, located on Second Avenue between Spring and Madison streets.

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Education
5:01 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Deadline Looms For Voter Initiative To Make Wash. Class Sizes Smaller

File image
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Supporters of a statewide ballot initiative directing Washington lawmakers to provide enough funding to drastically decrease K-12 class sizes are confident they've gathered enough signatures to send their measure to voters in November.

More than 320,000 people have signed petitions to put Initiative 1351 on the ballot this fall, Class Size Counts campaign manager Mary Howes said Monday. The number is well over the required 246,000 valid signatures, which must be turned into the secretary of state's office by Thursday. 

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Early Childhood Education
7:56 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

In Signing Pre-K Bill, Seattle Mayor Makes Early Ed Ballot Showdown Official

Mayor Ed Murray signed legislation sending a preschool pilot program to the November ballot. If voters approve a $58 million property tax hike, the city would cover preschool tuition for some low- and middle-income kids.
Photo courtesy of Mayor Ed Murray's Office

The idea of pitting two questions about early childhood education against each other on the November ballot doesn't appeal to Laura Chandler.

"I don't like it, I wish it wasn't like that," said Chandler, a teacher at Small Faces Child Development Center. She supports a union-backed initiative to create a broader training program and raise wages for childcare workers.

But Sattl1e Mayor Ed Murray officially sent a second question to the ballot Friday, signing off on the Seattle City Council's plan asking for voters' approval of a $58 million property tax hike to pay for low- and middle-income kids to attend preschool.

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Youth & Education
12:01 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Gates Ed. Official: Protesters Raise 'Legitimate Concerns,' But OK To Disagree

Vicki Phillips, who heads education programming for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, testifying before Congress in 2009.
Flickr Education, Labor & Workforce Committee Democrats

More than 150 skeptics of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation protested in front of the philanthropy's Seattle headquarters on Thursday, objecting to the foundation's support of, among other things, the Common Core academic standards.

On the afternoon before that protest, a top Gates official told KPLU that the foundation has been open to teachers' concerns about the new standards.

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Youth & Education
5:59 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Why A Group Of Teachers Protested Outside The Gates Foundation, Ed's Biggest Charity

Protesters are seen gathered outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.
Kyle Stokes

At first, Julianna Dauble balked at the idea of protesting against the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"We've all gotten Gates money one way or another," said Dauble, a fifth-grade teacher in Renton. "I don't know a single teacher who has not gotten Gates money for computers, different grants, small schools initiatives — all the things he's done in the Seattle area, especially."

In fact, the Gates Foundation sends more money to K-12 education causes around the U.S. than any other philanthropy, and some teachers have come to regard that influence as a threat.

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Early Childhood Education
4:57 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Seattle Voters Must Choose Between Mayor's Pre-K Program, Union-Backed Childcare Plan

Kyle Stokes

Two proposals dealing with early childhood learning will appear on Seattle ballots this November, but only one can win.

That's the electoral scenario Seattle City Council members set up Monday with their vote to put a proposed preschool pilot program on the November ballot, formally asking voters to hike property taxes to join cities like Denver and Boston in funding an early childhood education program aimed at low-income families.

But voters will have to make a choice. They can approve either the pilot program or Initiative 107, a union-backed citizens' initiative that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour for more than 4,000 childcare workers and creates a training program for early childhood educators. 

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Youth Safety
1:07 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

UW Researcher: 1 In 8 Children At Risk Of Maltreatment, Rate Higher For Minorities

Children from an after school program in Miami participate in a candlelight vigil in April commemorating National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Wilfredo Lee AP Photo

It's the kind of case that walks into the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center maybe once a week:

Imagine a single mother, trying to hold down multiple jobs to hold her family together, turning to a neighbor for help taking care of her kids while she works. But that neighbor ends up assaulting one of her children.

And then the neighbor "gives [the child] the message, 'If you tell anybody, I won't be able to help your family anymore, you'll be taken out of your home and your mom won't believe you,'" said King County Sexual Assault Resource Center's executive director Mary Ellen Stone.

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Youth & Education
11:16 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Seattle Schools Superintendent Banda Poised To Leave Post For Sacramento Job

File image of José Banda.
Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda expects to leave his post before the end of July after being named the only finalist for a superintendent position in Sacramento, California.

The Sacramento City Unified School District's school board could confirm Banda's hire as soon as July 17.

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Senior Thesis
5:00 am
Tue June 17, 2014

What Veteran Seattle Actor Wright Knows Now About Getting That First Big Break

Bob Wright, commonly known to theatergoers by his Actors Equity name R. Hamilton Wright, performs in the Seattle Repertory Theatre's recent production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."
Photo courtesy Alan Alabastro Seattle Repertory Theatre

Editor's Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

Actors, especially aspiring actors, can't wait for the perfect role to come along, says veteran of the Seattle stage Bob Wright.

"Put yourself in a position to work," said the actor who's been listed in Seattle Playbills with the name "R. Hamilton Wright" since 1979. "It's better to work than not work. Find ways to act."

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