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.

This episode was originally published on Sept. 23, 2018.

High school seniors have something extra added to their workload in the fall semester. Those who are going on to college have to navigate the college application process. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton dissect that annual dash to compile transcripts, test scores, essays and teacher recommendations.

The Bent Tree via Flickr/CC by NC 2.0

When Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 3 into law earlier this summer, in addition to increasing school funding and approving teacher raises, he also approved a requirement for all Texas high school seniors to fill out an application for federal or state financial aid for college.

Academia is divided over the wisdom of offering students extra credit on tests or projects. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the utility and merit of offering some extra points for extra effort.

Incoming UT freshman Cindy Munoz
Julia Reihs / KUT

Cindy Muñoz sits in an auditorium on the UT Austin campus, watching a presentation on how to enroll for classes she’ll take when she begins her freshman year next month. 

UT Austin tower
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Tuesday to offer full tuition assistance to more UT Austin students, adding $160 million to an endowment to help cover costs.

Gabriel C. Pérez (Warren) / Martin do Nascimento (Biden) / KUT

Echoing one of their top Democratic presidential rivals, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised Friday to nominate an educator as secretary of education if either wins the nomination and defeats President Donald Trump.

Volunteers pack underwear for schools
Courtesy of Amy Weiss

Amy Weiss, a rabbi in Houston, started Undies for Everyone to help schools that face this situation every day: A student has an accident and is sent to the nurse to change their underwear.

The 2018-2019 school year saw allegations of cheating in college admissions in the "Operation Varsity Blues" case, while rising tuition costs and student debt levels have the attention of several 2020 presidential hopefuls. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the state of higher education in 2019.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is in the middle of a process to decide which schools to close and consolidate in the city. It announced in February the closures needed to happen to help the district’s financial situation; later that month, the board approved the move

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees voted Monday to approve a $1.6 billion budget, which includes across-the-board raises for school employees.

The board also voted to hire Stephanie Hawley as AISD's first chief equity officer and in favor of a new dress code.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District wants to give 7% raises to teachers with five or more years of experience and a 6% raise to all other staff, Superintendent Paul Cruz announced Thursday. Staff includes cafeteria workers and bus drivers, in addition to principals and administrative workers.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law one of lawmakers' biggest achievements this year, a massive overhaul of Texas' long-beleaguered school finance system.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Capping off a yearslong effort to prevent another school shooting like the Santa Fe High tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a series of bills into law Thursday that would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses.

C.C. Chapman via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A North Texas school board has voted to fire an English teacher who tweeted that her high school was full of students who are in the country illegally.

There is more talk in education these days about wellness and more attention to stress, anxiety and other factors that can impede learning. But there is less talk about the ways good learning practices could improve health. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the role of learning and education in wellness.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas is one of just three states that did not sign onto a letter sent Friday to Secretary Betsy DeVos asking the U.S. Department of Education to automatically forgive student loans for eligible disabled veterans. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

More than 100 Austin ISD teachers and staff rallied before Monday’s school board meeting, demanding a 10 percent raise as the board prepares to pass its budget next month.

Gabriel C. Pérez

The Austin School Board approved its guidelines for closing and consolidating schools last night, but much of the discussion ahead of the vote just before midnight centered on increasing equity in Austin public schools.

YouTube

Robert F. Smith’s speech at Sunday’s Morehouse College graduation ceremony started like most. The billionaire entrepreneur and Austin resident extolled the virtues of hard work and the benefits of a college education, then the speech took a turn. 

“This is my class, 2019,” Smith said. "And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”

Robert Smith encouraged graduates to "pay it forward" in his commencement speech Sunday at Morehouse College.
TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube

Billionaire investor and

A "Higher Ed" listener who teaches English in Osaka, Japan wrote in requesting a discussion of what the listener characterizes as "the tension between servicing the local community near an institution and appealing to international elements (students, partnerships, etc.)." In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how campuses view their role in the local community and how that is balanced with farther flung connections.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Come Monday, the Austin Independent School District will be one step closer to closing or consolidating schools. Facing declining enrollment, a budget shortfall and aging schools, the district says the move will help it avoid bankruptcy and better utilize its property.

Still, it's a move that will require some tough decisions. So, Monday night, the school board will approve its rubric to decide which schools will stay open. So how did the district get to this point?

Montinique Monroe for KUT

STAAR testing is just about over for this school year. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness have been part of Texas students' lives since 2012, but questions raised this year about the reading test have brought renewed attention to the efficacy of the test – and standardized testing in general.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Monday approved a bill to massively overhaul public school finance, but did so while backing away from a proposal to use an increased sales tax to lower school district property taxes.

The pomp and circumstance of graduation brings students, teachers, staff and family together to celebrate achievement and usher students onto their next steps in learning and life. That ritual not only honors students, but also creates a shared opportunity for a campus community to strengthen bonds. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the importance of ritual in education.

Real estate agents board a school bus
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Two dozen realtors sit in the bleachers of the Burger Athletic Center, eating pastries and sipping on coffee. They’re listening to administration from the Austin Independent School District preview the day ahead: a six-hour tour of schools in South Austin.

The point of the tour is to help families moving to or within Austin to better understand the district's schools – through their real estate agents.

Pexels

Handwriting is making a comeback in schools across the state. Currently, the majority of Texas school districts don’t teach students to write in cursive, but that will change in the 2019-2020 school year.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin ISD announced in February its plan to close and consolidate schools, and now it has a clear plan for how to choose which ones.

Learning is not always easy. Some subjects, concepts and teachers are just plain tough. Mastering that material can be frustrating and even discouraging. In this episode of the KUT podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger about how a shift in mindset can help learners at any age harness lessons, power and even joy from those struggles.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Residents in two Central Texas school districts will decide whether to pass bonds in the May 4 election.

Eanes ISD is asking voters to approve an $80 million bond, and Hutto ISD is looking for $194 million. If approved, neither bond would increase the tax rate in those communities.

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