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.

Most of us have the best of intentions when we graduate from high school or college to make our way in the world and lead meaningful and productive lives. But the minutiae of everyday life can eat into our plans to exist outside our comfort zone. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore one way to keep those dreams alive.

El edificio nuevo de la escuela primaria T.A. Brown, una escuela consolidada y "modernizada," esta en construcción en el norte de Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

Terminó la jornada escolar y un grupo de maestros de la Primaria T.A. Brown y la Primaria Webb están parados afuera de un remolque de construcción, vestidos con chalecos de seguridad, cascos y gafas de protección. Están a punto de hacer un recorrido por su escuela nueva. 

El edificio nuevo de la escuela primaria T.A. Brown, una escuela consolidada y "modernizada," esta en construcción en el norte de Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui.

The school day is over, and a group of teachers from T.A. Brown Elementary and Webb Primary are standing outside a construction trailer, wearing safety vests, hard hats and protective glasses. They are about to get a tour of their new school. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui.

The Austin Independent School District announced in September a plan to close and consolidate schools. I spent almost every day after that announcement talking with parents, teachers, community members and students about these possible changes.

Of the 12 schools on the initial list for closure, a good portion have a community of parents who speak only Spanish.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

In a move that is unprecedented in scope, Texas state officials announced Wednesday they plan on taking over the state’s largest school district, yanking power from Houston Independent School District’s elected school board members to “prevent imminent and substantial harm to the welfare of the district’s students.”

A finger points to an equation on a white board.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Voters on Tuesday approved school bond packages for Manor and Del Valle Independent School Districts, and voted against bond packages in Burnet Consolidated School District and Lockhart ISD. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

En lugar de cerrar 12 escuelas en los próximos cinco años, el Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin ahora propone cerrar cuatro escuelas en los próximos dos años.

A podcast listener wrote in asking for guidance about how to handle the regret she feels over the choices she made in college.  In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton examine regret and the ways in which it can actually inspire positive change.

Austin ISD staff talk with members of the community about the second draft of its school closure plan.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Staff from the Austin Independent School District explained changes to the district's latest school closure plan at a town hall Saturday.

A crowded school closure meeting at Ridgetop Elementary.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui

Instead of closing 12 schools over the next five years, the Austin Independent School District is now proposing closing four schools over two years.

Erika Bodoin (left) holds a sign in support of adopting National Sexual Education Standards at an AISD Board meeting on Feb. 25.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted early Tuesday morning to adopt new sex ed curriculum that expands topics taught to third through eighth graders.

New topics include gender identity and expression, sexually transmitted infections and anatomy, and they sparked hours of public testimony before the unanimous vote just after midnight.

Most people — students included — have a long to-do list but are short on ideas for how to tackle it. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss strategies for deciding what should top the list.

Students have a lot tugging at their energy and attention including classes, homework, jobs and activities. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton strategize on how to keep exhausted students engaged in the classroom.

Hazel O'Neil / KUT

The word “equity” has been thrown around a lot over the last month, since the Austin Independent School District announced its plan to close and consolidate 12 schools. On the first page of the district’s proposal released on Sept. 5, it says these changes are being made “with equity in mind.”

But the meaning of the word “equity” means different things, depending on who you talk to.

Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees Jayme Mathias
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District finished its third week of community meetings to get feedback on its plan to close and consolidate 12 schools. Now, district staff will revise the proposal before the school board votes in late November.

"The only thing constant is change."

That saying, or some derivation of it, is attributed to the ancience Greek philosopher Heraclitus around 500 BC. But it certainly rings as true now as it did then.

In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss preparing students to handle life's big changes.

Parents and community members attend a public meeting at Ridgetop Elementary
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District held its second week of community meetings to discuss its plan to close 12 schools and increase programs districtwide

The water tower at Texas A&M University
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

A ban on vaping will soon extend to "every inch" of the Texas A&M University System, according to a Tuesday memorandum from Chancellor John Sharp that cites recent revelations about how electronic cigarette use or vaping can lead to lung illnesses.

When strong feelings bubble up, your heart might win out over your head in deciding what happens next. But at times, a more thoughtful approach might prove ultimately more effective. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss the tug-of-war between feeling and thinking.

Shuronda Robinson, a contractor with AISD who has been helping the district moderate school closure meetings, talks with families at Metz Elementary School on Wednesday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is wrapping up its first week of meetings in communities affected by its proposal to close 12 schools, listening to parents who at times yelled and cried as they asked for clarification. 

Pease Elementary
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is holding a series of public meetings at schools affected by its proposal to close and consolidate 12 campuses across the district.

Fewer college students than you might think make it from freshman orientation all the way to graduation. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss why students drop out, and what colleges and universities can do to help them stay in.

Residents hold signs during an AISD school board meeting
Julia Reihs / KUT

Education Austin and LGBTQ activists are asking the Austin Independent School District for a discussion on training for AISD police officers after an August school board meeting where audience members clashed over homophobic comments. 

Susanne Kerns of Informed Parents of Austin speaks during public comment at an Austin ISD school board meeting in February.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District has revised its rules for public comment at school board meetings, reducing the time people are allowed to speak but removing the cap on the number of people allowed to speak on an agenda item. 

Jennifer Stayton, Claire McInerny, Matias Segura and Lisa Goodnow during a live Morning Edition taping.
KUT video screengrab

At a live discussion of the Austin Independent School District's proposal to overhaul the entire district, school officials said the idea is about more than just closings. Meanwhile, city leaders said there's room to grow to bring more equitable opportunities to students. 

Stephanie Hawley is the Austin Independent School District's first equity officer. She started her job Aug. 1, after serving as associate vice president of equity and inclusion at Austin Community College.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Stephanie Hawley was hired this summer as the Austin Independent School District's first equity officer. The position is intended to help ensure all students have an equal shot at academic success – a request many have been making for years.

Texas State University campus in San Marcos
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

Texas State University, under scrutiny from federal authorities, says it misreported campus crimes in recent years and is overhauling the way it tracks and records crime statistics for its locations in Round Rock and San Marcos.

Just about everybody can recall an influential teacher who nurtured and inspired them. But not all great teachers are "warm and fuzzy." In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore dealing with fantastic teachers who have challenging personalities.

Texas Tribune and the University of Texas at Austin

Texas’ next higher education commissioner will be Harrison Keller, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of recent initiatives designed to improve college readiness and student outcomes. He will assume the post Oct 1.

The appointment was announced Wednesday after a unanimous vote of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Keller will succeed Raymund Paredes, who announced in January that he would step down after more than a dozen years in the state's top higher education job.

Dawson Elementary School
KUT

Isela Guerra spent Thursday night at her first back-to-school event at Dawson Elementary. Her son had just started pre-K there, and she was excited to be an involved parent at the school she herself attended as a child. 

Then she found out Dawson was on the list of schools the Austin Independent School District has proposed closing.

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