Why Some Locals Are Miffed About Jeff Bezos’ Free Preschool Near Seattle

Two years ago, Jeff Bezos announced that he  would be committing $2 billion towards the Day One Fund, his first large philanthropic endeavor. The fund, the Amazon founder and CEO wrote, would focus on two areas: supporting existing organizations that provide shelter and food for families without a home, and creating “a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.” 

In the same note, posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts (his preferred platforms for personal announcements), Bezos said he would build an organization to operate the schools.“I’m excited about that because it will give us the opportunity to learn, invent, and improve,” he wrote. “We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.” 

Fast forward today. The Bezos Academy is opening its first school in the

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Prepped for hurricanes, Miami pivoted quickly to online classes. Could Seattle learn from the experience?

One by one, the Mourning High students unmuted themselves. Across the Zoom grid, mics lit up as they said, “That was amazing.”

They had just watched their classmate Stephanie’s video for Advanced Placement Psychology. The assignment: to create a set of meaningful “moments” of trying something new, expressing gratitude and sharing three activities she loves. In the video, Stephanie cooked dinner for her family while narrating it like a TV chef, set the table with nice plates and goblets and danced to Latin American music with her dad. 

“In the pandemic, I thought, we’ve lost sight of some of the things that bring us joy,” Miami teacher Molly Winters Diallo told her students. Two full screens of heads nodded in agreement. “This is my favorite project that I’ve done in high school,” one of the students said. 

Unlike Seattle, Miami isn’t known as a tech hub. And its school district

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Bellevue students may be among first in Seattle area to return to classroom

Bellevue elementary students could be back in the classroom for face-to-face learning by Nov. 9, under a plan unveiled Tuesday by school district officials.

The announcement makes Bellevue the largest King County school district to set a target date for bringing some kids back into the classroom. Neighboring Issaquah has also set a target date.

If the date sticks, Bellevue, with an enrollment of 21,000 students, will be one of a handful of districts in the county to phase out of a fully online learning model since the start of the pandemic. Issaquah plans to bring back kindergarten and first grade students Oct. 19. Other districts that have set target dates to bring back elementary students include Tahoma, Mercer Island, Vashon Island and Riverview.

At 53 cases per 100,000 people for the past two weeks, King County is within range of the state’s guidelines to bring young students back to

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Seattle startup Skilljar raises $33M as pandemic sparks demand for its customer education software

Skilljar co-founders Sandi Lin (left) and Jason Stewart. (Skilljar Photos)

The third time really has been a charm for Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart.

The entrepreneurs began their startup journey in 2013 when the former Amazon employees launched Everpath, a Techstars Seattle company that tried to build a Yelp for online classes. They soon pivoted and began targeting independent instructors, offering them a platform to host online education.

“I call those my first two failed startups,” Lin said this week.

It was the third evolution of the original idea that really took off. Lin and Stewart saw a lot of interest from enterprise companies needing help building customer education experiences. They ultimately launched Skilljar, which has now delivered more than 10 million hours of instruction and 100 million lessons via on-demand and virtual live training programs hosted on its learning management platform.

Skilljar is set to grow even more after

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Seattle schools is launching a ‘school reopening’ task force that will work on online learning

For eight months, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) leaders say they will lean on the work of a 20-person task force to help inform its decision-making as schools mediate worsening educational inequities caused by remote learning. Anyone can apply to be on it.

Contrary to its name — the Reopening Plan Task Force — the group’s primary focus isn’t to guide the physical reopening of classrooms, but to improve upon current remote learning practices.

On paper, the group is intended to be a sounding board and regular advisor to the superintendent throughout this school year. The district expects the group to derive its recommendations from academic research (particularly on remote learning), district data on student engagement and community feedback.

Or, in the district’s words in School Board documents: “The Task Force will make recommendations to the Superintendent and Board leadership regarding mid-year course corrections, possible revisions, and other continuous improvement ideas.”

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