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.

They did not have the money to adopt new textbooks. But the State Board of Education has approved supplementary online materials that will wind up in science classrooms this fall.

A socially conservative group of board members saw its power reduced, after the last election. So when the battle lines were drawn over how vigorously students should question theories supporting evolution, social conservatives did not push as hard as they might have two years ago when the standards were adopted.

“I don’t think there’s any question. Had some seats not changed, it would have been a different outcome,” Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican on the state board, told KUT.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

As the State Board of Education spends the next two days deciding which science materials to insert into Texas classrooms this fall, a new piece of legislation signed by Governor Perry on Tuesday gave school districts the power essentially to ignore that list.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

The State Board of Education has begun a two-day process to adopt new science materials for Texas public schools. 

A public hearing got underway this morning on a list of instructional materials recommended by Education Commissioner Robert Scott.   Liberals such as Kathy Miller with the Texas Freedom Network like the list.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Parents in Keller, Texas, a relatively affluent suburb of Fort Worth, will have to start paying for their children to ride the school bus next year. Here’s how much it will cost:

  • One student is $185 per semester
  • Additional students are $135 each
  • Students eligible for free and reduced lunch are $100 each

Photo by KUT News

Almost 60 percent of middle and high school students in Texas have been suspended or expelled.  That’s according to a new report out today by the Council of State Governments and researchers at Texas A&M University. 

The study looked at state data on almost 1 million Texas public school students over six years.

The report also found that:

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

A group that wants to create web applications and programs for more transparent government holds their first "meet up" tonight.

Austin is one of the top ten finalists for the next wave of Code for America, a nationwide push to help staffers within a city's government identify issues that can be answered through the use of computer technology.

Photo by KUT News

The Texas Education Agency announced another 178 employees will be laid off this week. This is in addition to the 91 employees that were laid off in February of this year.

In addition to the 269 terminated employees, 58 employees retired or resigned and 16 were transferred.

The layoffs mean TEA will see a 32% reduction in staff due to a $48 million--or 36%--budget cut from the state.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

For the first time ever, the University of Texas at Austin will have a staff ombudsperson – an independent third-party who can help resolve internal conflicts with staff members. Jennifer Graf Sims begins her new duties on July 20, according to a press release.

“As many of you know, the creation of this position has been several years in the making,” UT President Bill Powers said in a post on his blog.

Photo by KUT News

CORRECTION: In the original version of this story, we said that David Quinn was Dean of Business Studies at ACC. In fact, the Dean of Business Studies is Charles Quinn.

The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College bookended a list of top ten Certified Public Accountant exam success rates among Texas colleges and universities.

ACC was the only community college to make the list.

Photo by timuiuc http://www.flickr.com/people/timuiuc/

If signed by the governor, new language in Senate Bill 6 would give school boards more control over instructional materials at the local level.  But school boards would not get extra powers over the content of those materials.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

As we reported earlier this week, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carsatrphen said she plans to bring big changes to Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools. Today, she made the official announcement and provided additional details about the restructuring. You can read the full details below.

As we reported on KUT this morning, the Austin Independent School District held a public forum at Reagan High School last night to discuss the $40 million district-wide performing arts center that is slated to be built in the Mueller development.

Our story focused on the concerns of some local residents with traffic and building design. But there was a lot more information about the performing arts center itself contained in the presentation. You can view it in the embed above, or better yet, check out the full screen version.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT

The Austin Independent School District is taking some dramatic steps in an attempt to improve educational outcomes at a couple of eastside middle schools: Pearce and Garcia.

Pearce Middle School has been a particularly challenging campus for Austin ISD. In five of the last six years, it was ranked "academically unacceptable" by the state.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Ever since fresh US Census data revealed large population disparities in Austin ISD's seven trustee districts, AISD has been working to redraw those political boundaries.  One challenge is balancing voter influence without violating the Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of protected minority groups.

Those sometimes conflicting goals may be tested around the Mueller redevelopment project, a planned mixed-use community being constructed on the site of what used to be a municipal airport.

Photo by KUT

Eighty percent of Austin ISD students passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills this year, an important state standardized test used to rank school districts. It’s the first time AISD met that benchmark.

School board members will hear from staff on the preliminary TAKS results during tonight’s school board meeting. The school district provided a faxed copy of the PowerPoint presentation to KUT News.

Photo by NolanPhotog http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpnolan/

The 82nd Legislature delivered a fatal whack to state grants for full-day pre-kindergarten. But some public schools are refusing to let the budgetary machete finish off their early-childhood programs, choosing instead to charge tuition.

The state offers half-day pre-K for children who cannot speak English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families. That remains fully financed in the budget, according to the Texas Education Agency. 

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A powerful group of individuals — including former regents, former university system chancellors and former university presidents — from around Texas have joined together to address the state's ongoing higher education controversy.

Photo by tyler_haglund http://www.flickr.com/photos/haglundt/

With China poised to become the world’s economic leader within the next few decades, learning Mandarin might not be such a bad idea. And if you really want a jump start, try immersing yourself among the 23 million people who occupy China's largest city, Shanghai. That's what nine local high school students will be doing for six weeks this summer. 

Photo by jenbooks http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenbooks/

Austin Community College is waiting for a ruling from the Third Court of Appeals of Texas before it will move forward with construction of a new campus in Kyle.  The lawsuit by a Kyle dentist challenging the outcome of a November referendum also caused ACC to miss out on $20 million in federal bonds.

Image provided by Austin ISD

While it is unlikely to be as politically contentious as the Congressional redistricting process playing out at the State Capitol, the Austin Independent School District is nevertheless tasked with having to redraw boundaries for the seven regional seats on the school board.

The process has to happen before the 2012 general election, and it will not have any effect on school attendance zones.

Photo courtesy Del Valle ISD

The Del Valle school board voted 8-0 last night to appoint assistant superintendent of business and finance Kelly Crook as interim superintendent, effective June 13.

Photo by KUT News.

This fall, for the first time ever, the Austin Independent School District is going to offer pre-kindergarten for those willing to pay tuition.  Right now free, full day pre-k is offered only for students who qualify.  

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

No one really needs an excuse to take a week off in the summer, but the cash-strapped Austin Independent School District says it will save $471,000 by shutting schools and offices for five workdays in July.

All schools and offices will be closed from July 4-8. They will otherwise be on a four-day work week from June 27 to July 25. Employees will still have to put in their 40 hours during that time frame by working flexible ten-hour shifts.

Photo by Wenjing Zhang, Texas Tribune

The largest charter school operator in Texas, Harmony Charter Schools, has come under the scrupulous microscope of the New York Times.  The paper published a front page, top-of-the-fold blowout on Harmony’s links to the Gulen movement, a Turkish religious group.

Photo by Hannah Jones for KUT News

Dozens of teachers, parents, students and public education advocates protested underneath the Capitol Dome today, urging state lawmakers to spend more of the Rainy Day Fund to reduce cuts to school districts.

“We have got to keep making noise, because it’s raining and that’s an ugly bill,” Louis Malfaro with the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers told the crowd. “So we say, ‘Fund our schools or don’t come back!’”

Protestors repeated the chant and it echoed throughout the cavernous rotunda.

Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Land underneath the beleaguered Highland Mall could soon be under complete ownership of Austin Community College. ACC signed a $16 million deal for the former JC Penney and the surrounding parking lot.

It’s important to distinguish land ownership from building ownership.  ACC would possess all the property beneath the mall, but it would only own three of the four former department stores: the Dillard’s women’s store, Macy’s and JC Penney buildings.

Photo of AISD's website by KUT News

For the first time ever, Austin ISD is live streaming this week’s graduation ceremonies on its website.

“We’re doing it for family members who may be out of town and can’t be present at the graduation,” AISD spokesperson Kathy Anthony told KUT News. “Or for teachers, for instance, who are back their campuses and not attending graduation and want to watch the proceedings.”

A link to the live stream is posted on AISD’s front page. Today's ceremonies got underway at noon at the Frank Erwin Center.

Here is the schedule:

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

After months of talk about creating an all-boys version of the Anne Richards School for Young Women Leaders, the Austin Independent School District says it is getting $4.6 million over seven years from the Moody Foundation to help create a School for Young Men.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Hundreds of students in the Austin Independent School District will mark a major milestone this week when they walk down the aisle and receive their high school diplomas. Unfortunately, some teenagers won't get to participate because they failed to meet graduation requirements. 

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It’s the last full year that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills will be administered to students in this state before a new standardized test takes it place, and the Texas Education Agency is heralding the exam as a resounding success.

TEA released statewide results today, and said passing rates on every test in every grade level improved dramatically since the exam was first given in 2003.

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