1. Bill Gates—identified (ha) merely as "co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation"—argues for smarter teacher evaluation standards, which don't rely so heavily on standardized tests, in an op/ed for the Washington Post.
"I’m all for accountability, but I understand teachers’ concerns and frustrations," Gates writes. "Even in subjects where the assessments have been validated, such as literacy and math, test scores don’t show a teacher areas in which they need to improve."
It's a surprisingly nuanced piece from a guy who's persona non grata among many teacher advocates for his longtime financial support of education-reform initiatives that are widely viewed as top-down and anti-union.
2. Sightline turns uncharacteristically optimistic over the last two weeks of coal-related news, calling it "the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fortnight for would-be Pacific Northwest coal exporters."
Among the reasons the environmental think tank has to be hopeful: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber have both asked the Obama administration to review the climate impact of leasing and exporting Western coal; California-based Metro Ports allowed its exclusive negotiating contract for a proposed Coos Bay coal export terminal to expire; and a report summarizing public comments on the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, near Bellingham, shows overwhelming opposition to the terminal.
3. In a story that could probably only happen in Seattle, the Seattle Bike Blog reports that a group of guerilla bike activists calling themselves the Reasonably Polite Seattleites installed $350 worth of plastic pylons along a block of bike lane on Cherry Street, to demonstrate how easy it would be for the city to use similar pylons (they're like the ones installed along highways to wake you up before you drive off the road) to improve bike safety.After removing the illegal pylons, they thanked the activists for making their statement, apologized that they had to take the pylons down, and offered to return them to the group.
"To stress how polite they are, they attached them using an adhesive pad for easy removal," SBB reports.
The city responded in kind. After removing the illegal pylons, they thanked the activists for making their statement, apologized that they had to take the pylons down, and offered to return them to the group.
4. Two bills aimed at cracking down on sex traffickers, both sponsored by state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, unanimously passed the state house yesterday, the Ballard News Tribune reports. The bills, which would crack down on people who use the Internet to promote sex trafficking and train school workers to recognize and prevent the exploitation of minors, passed the senate unanimously and will now go to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
5. State Rep. Liz Pike (R-18, Camas) has introduced a bill that would send the whole Columbia River Crossing project, which would build a new, wider I-5 bridge, including light rail between Vancouver and Portland, back to the drawing board, the Columbian reports. Pike's bill would require the state department of transportation (WSDOT) to come up with a plan that omits light rail, makes the bridge higher, and includes a third bridge linking Washington and Oregon.
6. Finally, we don't usually cover national news here at OOBT, but holy crap: The Washington Post reports that due to budget cuts under sequestration, clinics are having to turn away tens of thousands of cancer patients on Medicare, forcing those patients into hospitals where their treatment costs, on average, $6,500 a year more than it does at clinics.