Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

Some alumni just love the schools they attended and cannot wait to go back for Homecoming and Reunion. Other alumni say "good riddance" as soon as they get their diploma and never want to hear from their schools again. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss what keeps alumni connected to their schools and how social media has impacted that relationship.


Martin do Nascimento / KUT

There’s been a shift in Austin schools over the years to focus on skills that don’t deal with academics, things like mental health, coping strategies and mindfulness. The philosophy behind the shift is that asking a kid to focus only on academics during the school day is like asking adults not to worry about their personal lives at work.

Nida Rehman, courtesy of Mu Delta Alpha

At first glance, Mu Delta Alpha might seem like any Greek organization on UT-Austin’s campus.

It has letters, colors – teal, white and peach – and had rush week last month. While that may be pretty typical for a sorority, Mu Delta Alpha is different. It’s the first Muslim sorority on the University of Texas campus.


Claire McInerny / KUT

Students in Central Texas miss more days of school than kids in any other part of the state.

Around 10 percent of local students are chronically absent, meaning they miss more than 18 school days a year. A quarter of Austin 12th-graders miss that much school.

Empathy. Sympathy. We probably think we know what those words really mean, but in truth they are often confused or misunderstood. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger take a closer look at both and how they relate to learning.


Martin do Nascimento / KUT

At a September meeting of the Austin Independent School District's board of trustees, almost half of the public comments weren't about academic issues. Instead, they were about housing. Students, parents, teachers and other community members were asking the board to create affordable housing at the former Allan Elementary School on the East Side.

Callie Hernandez / KUT

The Austin City Council approved a resolution Thursday to create a study committee on the school-to-prison pipeline. 

That's a term used to describe practices in schools that expose students to the wrong side of the criminal justice system. One example is when schools turn to law enforcement to address student misbehavior, such as receiving a criminal citation for disorderly conduct.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin Independent School District wants to raise $1 billion to spend on facilities, safety and technology improvements. In the past, voters have been supportive of school bonds. But a few bonds have been rejected over the years, and a group that's played a role in those defeats has set its sights on this one, too.

Students in Victoria Twining's class at Fulmore Middle School in Austin.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Fulmore Middle School Principal Lisa Bush doesn’t want her teachers talking like this to students: "Oh, you’re doing a great job! You’re smart! You’re so great!"

It's not because she’s some evil headmistress. Over the last three years, Bush and her teachers have been thinking about different psychological practices. It made her realize that how teachers speak to students makes a huge difference.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The number of Latinos dropping out of high school nationwide is lower than ever before, according to a new study. The dropout rate in Austin is even lower than the rest of the country.

Nationwide, the dropout rate was 10 percent in 2016. In the Austin Independent School District, it was 1.3 percent. About 200 Latino students dropped out of AISD high schools last year.

A listener wrote in to "Higher Ed" about his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in pure mathematics after studying classical piano performance and working as a pianist. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss becoming a mathematician later in life and the joys and challenges of making a career shift.


Trey Shaar / KUT

The U.S. Department of Education is changing regulations for schools and universities around investigating sexual assaults, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $1 billion bond this November. The bond would pay for projects at schools all over the district, but there's a difference between funding for schools on the East Side versus the West. 

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Austin Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $1 billion bond that would bring major changes to East Austin schools. 

The bond, which voters will decide on in November, is the district’s largest bond proposal ever. If voters approve it, every school would get money for building and technology improvements.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

It just got a little harder to get into the University of Texas at Austin.

The top-ranked public university in the state announced Friday that students hoping to enroll as undergraduates in the fall of 2019 will need to be in the top 6 percent of their Texas high school's graduating class if they hope to gain automatic admission. The current automatic cutoff is 7 percent. 

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

As college football season gets underway, some teams are getting as much attention for what's happening off the field as what's happening on.

Getting back into the swing of school is always an adjustment. Alarm clocks, long days and homework make the school year schedule fuller and more structured than summertime. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger talk about some ways to get the school year off to a smooth start and get the most out of it. They also respond to some listener comments about "Higher Ed" that came in over the summer.


Supporters Push $1 Billion Austin ISD Bond

Sep 6, 2017
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Austin voters will decide in November whether to authorize more than $1 billion in bond money to the Austin Independent School District.

Austin Schools Prepare To Enroll Harvey Evacuees

Aug 29, 2017
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

This post has been updated.

Students who have evacuated their homes elsewhere in the state because of Harvey are welcome at Austin schools, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz and Mayor Steve Adler reiterated at a press conference Thursday.

This episode was originally published on April 23, 2017.

This episode addresses a question from a "Higher Ed" listener whose daughter is a sophomore in high school. The daughter has started attending college fairs and reading online about schools, and the family wants to know about the impact of studying abroad on a student's education. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger dig into the topic of studying abroad.


Martin do Nascimento/KUT

Austin Community College students will be able to dive right into a new app-programming partnership with Apple this fall, CEO Tim Cook announced Friday.

“All ACC students will be able to enroll in a one-year, full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators,” he said at an event at Capital Factory. “They’ll learn to code fully functioning apps. And more importantly, they’ll gain a set of skills and experience that are so crucial and increasingly valuable in today’s fast-changing and fast-moving economy.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Winn Elementary in Northeast Austin launched the city's first Montessori program housed at a public school this month. The program is an attempt by the Austin Independent School District to attract more students to a school with declining enrollment. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Students can earn an associate's degree during their four years in high school through a new program starting this year at two Austin schools.

Bryan Winter / KUT

Four Austin schools received the lowest ranking in an accountability report released by the state Tuesday.

Burnet, Martin and Mendez middle schools, as well as Govalle Elementary School, were rated "improvement needed" by the Texas Education Agency

That's down from eight Austin schools receiving the rating in 2016. 

This episode was originally published on April 9, 2017.

College students who work hard might tend to play hard, too. School can be filled with temptations that keep students from leading healthy lives: caffeine, junk food, late nights, partying. We know those habits aren't good for us, but why does school present so many temptations? In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss balancing work and learning with health during school (and beyond).


Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

A federal judge has ordered Baylor University to hand over recordings, notes and other key documents from its infamous Pepper Hamilton investigation, which found that Baylor repeatedly mishandled allegations of sexual assault that were made against football players and other students. 

This episode was originally published on Feb. 5, 2017.

This might be a familiar scene to you: You're walking down the street and see someone heading toward you, not looking up, face firmly transfixed on the small screen of a smartphone or tablet. What does all that time spent attending to devices do to our personal interactions, conversations and learning? In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger look at the personal and educational implications.


Austin Price / The Texas Tribune

For about a year starting in June 2016, the practice of affirmative action in Texas university admissions seemed secure. 

This episode was originally published on Dec. 11, 2016.

We all face questions in life that seem just about impossible to answer. Maybe it's a really tough question on a test. Or maybe it's a challenging assignment at work. What can we do when the answer just won't come to us? How about not answering the question? In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore ways to break down seemingly impossible questions into manageable parts.


This episode was originally published on Nov. 20, 2016.

Was there a subject in school that seemed so hard and unsatisfying to study that even to this day the thought of it makes you cringe? For many students, that subject was math. And perhaps more specifically, calculus. Maybe it was the confusing terminology or seemingly abstract concepts. Can calculus ever redeem itself? Is it ever useful? On this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger give calculus a second chance.


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