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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

A $37 million program to reduce childhood obesity in Texas didn’t actually achieve any of its desired results, according to a new study from the University of Texas

The Texas Fitness Now program gave grants to the state’s poorest middle schools from 2007 to 2011, when the program ended due to budget cuts.

Housing Works via YouTube

The new school year starts today for thousands of students across Austin, but a growing number of students in Austin public schools don’t have a home. Last year, more than 2,600 students in the Austin Independent School District were counted as homeless, which is up from just over 2,000 in 2012.


Andrew Weber/KUT News

Most students in the Austin Independent School District returning to school today are minorities, but many of those students won’t see a minority teacher in front of the classroom. State data show there's a large diversity gap between teachers and students in all Austin high schools and middle schools.

Every single Austin middle and high school has more white teachers than teachers of any other ethnicity. Individually, schools have teaching staffs that are anywhere from 46 to 87 percent white. Last year, 25 percent of the district's middle and high school students were white. 

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on April 5, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. This week, Ed and Jennifer put away their smartphones and tablets for a few minutes to talk about the relationship between technology and learning. It seems like technology has made it easier to access more information more quickly. That's good, right? But can all that hardware, software, and information be more distraction than enrichment? Listen on to find out.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson/Texas Tribune

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced Thursday morning that the school would move a statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis from the Main Mall to the Briscoe Center for American History. University students and community members had been protesting the Davis statue's location on the Main Mall of the campus because of his prominent historical status as President of the Confederacy.

Earlier this summer Fenves convened a committee of students and faculty to determine options for relocating or removing the Davis statue, along with several other statues of Confederate figures. The report released by the committee outlined five options, most of which advocated relocating the statues.

Flickr/cleopold73 (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Just in time for the start of school, The New York Times reports that there’s a shortage of teachers. Across the country, school districts have gone from refusing to renew contracts to scrambling to hire teachers. This shortage is seen particularly in math, science and special education, and it's a result of the layoffs from the recession years, as well as an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

The issue is so critical that some systems are allowing new hires to train on the job and bringing in people who are still finishing their teaching credentials. According to the Times, the situation is most critical in Louisville, Nashville, Oklahoma City and Providence. However, Texas also fares low.

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on March 29, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. This week, Ed and Jennifer talk about a subject that we think we understand - numbers. But the concept of a number is really pretty nuanced. And humans aren't the only species that uses the concept of numbers. Listen on to find out more. 

Charlotte Carpenter

Back-to-school shopping is not for the faint of heart.

To the uninitiated, it may seem like total madness.

But, really, it's family time: parents read school lists out loud while children run around in search of items. It's also a time children in foster care rarely experience, but, for the first time, a non-profit is trying to provide children in foster care with a similar experience.

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on March 15, 2015.

Program Aims to Give College Credit Where it's Due

Jul 28, 2015
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: Across Texas, tens of thousands of students have earned enough college credit for an associate degree without knowing it. A new project led by the University of Texas at Austin hopes to track them down. 

The program to be announced Tuesday, known as Reverse Transfer, will attempt to get those students their degrees — and maybe convince them to continue their schooling. If successful, there could be benefits for the students and the state, its creators say. And officials hope its use will extend beyond Texas. 

"It's a win-win-win solution all the way around," said UT-Austin Registrar Shelby Stanfield, who led the initiative. 

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on March 8, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain.  This week, Ed and Jennifer discuss the intriguing idea of teaching happiness in the classroom. Not as a separate subject, but as part of just about all subjects students already study.  Could that work? How would it work?

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on February 8, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain.  Feeling like a little summer lovin' as the summer heats up? This week, Ed and Jennifer talk about sparking and sustaining a love of learning.

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on January 11, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. This week, Ed and Jennifer talk about how important failure is to learning and success. What?! That's the opposite of just about everything we've ever been taught. But it turns out intentionally failing is actually a critical step to ultimate success.

AISD

This week, the Austin Independent School District holds its annual gang resistance and training summer camp for students. For the Austin ISD Police Department, which organizes the event, it’s just one way to try to eliminate gang activity on campuses.

Austin ISD Police Chief Eric Mendez says his department has two goals when it comes to gang activity. First, keep it off campus. Second, make sure students aren’t joining gangs.

“We want to catch them when they’re more statistically inclined to engage in criminal activity or criminal gangs,” says Mendez.

Via change.org

The future of monuments to Civil War figures on the University of Texas at Austin campus was discussed at a public forum today. The University held the first of two forums to collect community feedback about the placement of a statue of Jefferson Davis on the main mall of campus.

In June, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared that the state would remove the Confederate flag from its Capitol building, in the wake of a racially motivated shooting spree in a Charleston church that killed nine. South Carolina's state senators voted officially today to remove the flag, but elsewhere in the U.S., the debate about Confederate symbols, hate and history continues.

Students, staff, professors, alumni and Austinites stood on the auditorium stage of the Student Activity Center this afternoon and voiced their thoughts on the Davis statue — its history, and what it represents and symbolizes to students. 

Austin Community College

Students heading to college have many steps to take before they can enroll. Some of those steps, like navigating the financial aid system, choosing which courses to take and finally scheduling classes, can be daunting for some students. 

Austin Community College is trying to make the process easier for students by establishing a new center to help shepherd struggling students through the process.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: Students eager to purchase soda and fried foods when they return to school in the fall may be disappointed, despite Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's recent announcement that both will be welcome back on Texas public school campuses after a 10-year ban. 

To the dismay of nutritionists and public health experts, Miller reversed the department's ban on soda machines and deep fat fryers in mid-June as part of a new state nutrition policy calling for more local foods, community engagement and training to help schools serve meals that are "attractive and taste great." 

But many large school districts aren't warming to Miller's initiative.

KUT News

Today, the Supreme Court decided that it would take up the case of Fisher v the University of Texas at Austin, a suit dealing with a controversial admissions case at UT Austin. A white woman, Abigail Fisher, sued the school in 2008, claiming the university rejected her based on her race. The University says race is one of a few special circumstances it considers in admissions.

Charlotte Carpenter/KUT

In the midst of a national discussion about Confederate symbols, some residents in Austin's Hyde Park neighborhood want the school board to change the name of a local elementary school. Lee Elementary was named for Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee. 

"To honor him with naming schools after him is, I think, just inappropriate," says Teresa Griffin, a Hyde Park resident for 25 years and member of the Friends of Hyde Park Neighborhood Association

BES Photos/flickr

Texas school districts will be required to have cameras in special education classrooms if a parent, school board trustee or staff member requests it, starting in the 2016-2017 school year.  The cameras are aimed at improving safety for more vulnerable students, but some education groups say it’s an unfunded mandate for school districts.

During the legislative session, dozens of parents testified in support of the camera proposal. Many parents who testified spoke about their children who were abused or isolated for long periods of time.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, who wrote the bill, says the cameras would provide protection for students who can’t protect themselves.

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