Education

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Members of the Texas Association of School Administrators are worried that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's recent opinion about school reopenings amid the pandemic created more confusion than clarity. In a statement the association released Thursday, the group said Paxton "muddied the waters" when he said that local health authorities don't have the right to shut down schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Dicklyon /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Note: This interview was recorded before the Texas Education Agency released updated guidelines for school districts to follow when reopening for the fall. The updated guidelines were released Friday morning. 

As COVID-19 cases in Texas continue to rise, parents and students are urgently seeking an answer to the question: What happens in the fall?

The American Academy of Pediatrics once again plunged into the growing debate over school reopening with a strong new statement Friday, making clear that while in-person school provides crucial benefits to children, "Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics." The statement also said that "science and community circumstances must guide decision-making."

Dawson Elementary School closes on Friday, March 13, following the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English.

El sindicato de empleados del Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin (AISD, en inglés) pide al distrito y al estado que los empleados no regresen a los edificios escolares en agosto. Los miembros del sindicato dicen que es inseguro para los trabajadores y los niños estar juntos en clases.

Michael Minasi/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Less than three weeks ago, Texas was set to unveil its public-school reopening plan for the fall. That announcement was stalled after coronavirus cases and hospitalizations started to soar in the state.

But on Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency finally released its back-to-school guidelines, which included recommendations for preventing the spread of the coronavirus on campuses.

Houston Independent School District

For 40 years, Robin Stauffer has taught high school English in seven different school districts in three different states. Most recently, Advanced Placement English in Katy, where she says working with kids has kept her young and lighthearted.

Students gather in an auditorium before class
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas public schools will be required to provide in-person instruction for students this fall, but state education officials have delayed releasing final public health guidelines for keeping them safe on campuses during the pandemic.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore discussion with Dr. Albert D. Chester, owner of New Town Pharmacy and founder and director of Capstone Institute, both located in Jacksonville, Fla.

Chester talks about training future health care workers, opening a pharmacy in the neighborhood his grandfather grew up in, and being the primary resource for all health care needs.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Children in 11 Central Texas ZIP codes are at high risk of food insecurity because of COVID-19, a new study finds. And the situation is further compounded by a lack of access to high-speed internet as they try to continue their education online.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

With the possibility need for social distancing extending well beyond spring break, parents and educators are starting to plan for the possibility of schools being closed through the end of the academic year.

Paulo Martins for KUT

From Texas Standard:

On March 3, Texas and 13 other states will vote in primary elections. That includes choosing which Democrat will face President Donald Trump in November's general election.

In previous years, especially during the 2018 midterms, education was a particularly important issue for Texas voters. And Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, says it's an important topic this year, too, especially for members of his association.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Monique W. Morris, Ph.D., social justice scholar and author of Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls published by The New Press. She’s also the founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Were the reading and writing passages on standardized tests that Texas elementary and middle school students took this spring too challenging for their grade levels?

Wikimedia Commons / WhisperToMe (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

On Sept. 15, 1959, an ex-convict new to Houston attempted to enroll his 7-year-old son at Poe Elementary, near Rice University. School officials denied his enrollment, saying he lacked the proper paperwork. The man later returned to the schoolyard with a briefcase and some obscure messages. He then exploded the briefcase, killing himself, his son, the school's custodian, a teacher and two young students.

Houston School Board Faces Dismissal Over Dysfunction

Aug 12, 2019
Fujio Watanabe / Houston Public Media

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Education Agency, or TEA, has the power to replace locally-elected school boards with its own appointed trustees, although it rarely does so. Such a step is typically reserved for extreme financial mismanagement or substandard student achievement. But in Houston, TEA officials are now considering replacing the local school board for a different reason: dysfunction.

Shannon Harrison / Houston Public Media

Roughly 10,000 teachers from across the country have gathered at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center to hear 10 of the Democratic presidential candidates discuss their education policies at the Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum.

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Last week, we published a story called Held Back, a look at the achievement gap in Austin ISD and how we educate students, especially those of color or from low-income homes.

It's an important issue to many in Austin, and we heard from a lot of readers and listeners who wanted to continue the conversation on ideas brought up in the story – and some that weren’t.

Terry McCombs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

After over a year without a superintendent, Houston ISD seemed ready to name a finalist in their search on Monday. However, a state-appointed overseer called a halt to the process, and now the district is back to square one.

Julia Reihs / KUT

With Texas House lawmakers unveiling their long-awaited school finance proposal Tuesday and the Senate's version likely close behind, teacher pay appears to be emerging as one of the biggest sticking points between the two chambers.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians, at a cost of $4 billion over the next two years.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The '

After a contentious three-hour public hearing Monday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that would provide annual $5,000 pay raises for all full-time classroom teachers in the state.

Heather Claborn/KACU

From Texas Standard:

Rural school districts are far away from the bustle of Texas cities and suburbs. But with those wide open spaces come fewer students – and limited access to services and supplies they need. And all that can add up.

Texas school districts make it work through extra planning, and by making tough choices.

Mallory Falk

From Texas Standard:

When the 2019 Texas legislative session gaveled in earlier this month, leadership named fixing the state’s troubled school finance system as a top priority – maybe even giving teachers an across-the-board raise.

School districts, especially in rural Texas, are paying attention. According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state. But when it comes to public policy, big cities can dominate the conversation.

In Texas, Rural Teachers Face A Big Pay Gap

Jan 29, 2019
Will Burney

From Texas Standard:

Texas ranks 28th in teacher salaries, according to the most recent data. Teachers here make about $7,000 less than the national average. But that could change, with some legislators and state leaders talking about an across-the-board raise.

Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not for rural teachers, who can lag significantly behind their urban and suburban counterparts, compensation-wise.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Top Texas lawmakers this year are proposing allocating billions of more dollars for public schools, but a portion of those dollars will likely have strings attached. And some education advocates worry the strings will lead to an even greater emphasis being placed on standardized tests in the state.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Monday, about 34,000 teachers will walk off the job in Los Angeles – a move described as "historic." It echoes what happened almost a year ago when a West Virginia teacher walkout triggered similar strikes elsewhere in the US. Teachers all over the country are lobbying for higher pay.

Here in Texas, 10 percent of all first-year teachers leave their jobs before their second year. Better pay may be key to keeping more of them in the classroom, and last week, top state lawmakers pledged that 2019 will be the "Year of the Teacher" in the Texas Legislature, promising to boost salaries. But there's still many details yet to be decided.

Photo courtesy of Karen Sowers

From Texas Standard:

"What My Students Taught Me" is produced in partnership with the Teacher Project at Columbia Journalism School.

For her first four years teaching history at Lakeview High School in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Karen Sowers didn’t have any big challenges. That changed the day she met Donald Pierson, 29 years ago.

Martin do Nascimento for KUT

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees voted Monday night to rename the Allan Center, named for Confederate Army officer John T. Allan, after Anita Coy, a former Austin ISD principal and administrator.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. revisits an interview with Robert C. Maynard, journalist, newspaper publisher, editor and former owner of the Oakland Tribune newspaper.

Maynard, who died in 1993, was a charismatic leader who changed the face of American journalism, built a four-decade career on the cornerstones of editorial integrity, community involvement, improved education and the importance of the family.

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