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.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Mendez Middle School in Southeast Austin has failed to meet state standards over the past four years. If it doesn’t improve academics by summer, it will face takeover.

Mendez is the only school in the Austin Independent School District in its fifth year of failing the annual state assessment, or STAAR, test. What’s going on?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A new Texas law allows organizations, rather than the state, to take over schools that repeatedly fail the state's standardized assessment, or STAAR, test.

Tamir Kalifa for the Texas Tribune

After subtracting student fees and paying for insurance, doctoral student Tom Millay takes home about $15,000 per year from a Baylor University stipend. But soon he could be taxed as though he earns three times more.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

After voters approved a $1 billion bond to renovate Austin Independent School District facilities last month, the district is now deciding what to do with its under-enrolled campuses.

AISD says part of that calculus includes decisions of whether to "consolidate" or "unify" certain schools – a distinction that has confused both teachers and parents.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is proceeding with plans to consolidate Norman and Sims elementary schools in East Austin. The schools will become one campus, but it's unclear which one will close. 

Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees voted this week to sell property in the Hyde Park neighborhood to Alamo Drafthouse for $10.6 million.

The Baker Center is in a former school building, which the district uses for administrative purposes. But what will it be going forward?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Eli Hernandez started dancing when he was 5 years old. 

"I just like everything about dancing," he said last week at his dance team rehearsal. "There's always something else you can learn. Once you've mastered something, you've never really mastered it. You have to keep going." 

The latest challenge for the East Austin College Prep junior: dancing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Students of color in the Austin Independent School District aren’t doing as well academically as their white peers, so the district's Board of Trustees had a discussion earlier this month about how to address this "achievement gap."

It's the time of year when kids are thinking about their holiday wish lists. So what's a parent to do when a child, possibly a very young child, asks for a smartphone?

We hear that smartphones can be addictive, that screen time can hurt learning, but can't these minicomputers also teach kids about responsibility and put educational apps at their tiny fingertips?

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is prepared to sell two of its largest, highest-value properties. Bids for the district’s downtown headquarters and its teaching facility in Hyde Park were revealed in the agenda for the Board of Trustee’s Nov. 27 meeting, where members are expected to OK the sale.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Five Austin schools named after people involved with the Confederacy could get new names.

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees will discuss changing the names tonight, although there won't be a vote taken at the meeting. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Morning Edition host Jennifer Stayton met with students in the journalism program at Reagan Early College High School in Austin this week. Hear what they had to say about the state of journalism today:


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Twenty-five fifth-graders from Camacho Elementary School in Leander went to an indoor skydiving facility Wednesday to get a lesson in flying. Before students got to fly, though, they had to sit through a lesson on physics. 

Qiling Wang for KUT

Voters approved five of five school funding questions in Central Texas on Tuesday.

The Austin Independent School District, Lake Travis ISD, Leander ISD and Lago Vista ISD all posed bond questions, which use tax money for various renovations and technology upgrades. Eanes ISD asked for a change in the tax rate, which can be used for general district expenses. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

When Manor New Tech High School opened back in 2007, it drew a visit from then-President Obama, who touted its tech-forward teaching model as the future of public schools. Now, Manor Independent School District is applying that model to a new middle school.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August, schools along the coast and in Houston were closed for weeks. In this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how students, teachers, and schools can rebound when their school year is disrupted.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The last time Huston-Tillotson, Austin's only historically black college or university, got new pianos was in the 1970s. The university wanted an upgrade, so it kicked off a campaign this summer to buy new ones. The administration assumed it would take years to raise the money.

Almost immediately, though, an anonymous donor wrote a check for $800,000 to buy 15 new Steinways.

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. 

Pages