Education

Education
2:03 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Austin ISD Secures $3 Million for Science Center at Anderson High School

The AusTIN CANs robotoics club from Anderson High School won the Engineering Inspiration Award, besting 400 other teams in the international FIRST Robotics World Championship.
Credit facebook.com/austincans

Last week, the Austin School Board accepted a nearly three million-dollar donation from a private donor to build a new applied technology center at Anderson High School. The new 14,000-square foot building will hold two computer labs dedicated to computer sciences as well as a manufacturing workshop to help in building robots for the school's nationally-recognized robotics program.

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Education
12:00 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

Why Texas Says It's Not Prime Time to Give Deion Sanders' Charter School State Money

Sanders as an NFL Network analyst in 2008.
Michael De Jesus Wikimedia Commons

Football legend Deion Sanders is used to the media spotlight. The two-time Super Bowl winner earned the nickname "Prime Time" for his flashy style and aggressive speed. But it's his Prime Prep Academy that's been grabbing headlines lately. 

The charter school founded by the former Dallas Cowboys cornerback suffered a string of setback, including allegations that led the Texas Education Agency to revoke its charter. The school is currently appealing the decision, but it's in hot water once again for opening a second campus without TEA approval. 

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke to Dallas Morning News reporter Jeff Mosier about the state of the charter school and its outspoken founder. You can read some of the interview highlights below. 

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Education
3:13 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Judge Strikes Down Texas School Finance System

Judge John Dietz issued a ruling calling the state's school finance system constitutionally inadequate.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Today, Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz issued a ruling that finds the way Texas pays for public schools unconstitutional, calling it a de facto statewide property tax.

The case was brought by hundreds of Texas school districts after the state legislature cut $5 billion from public school funding in 2011.

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Austin ISD
12:17 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Single Sex Schools Breathe New Life into Failing East Austin Middle Schools

Principal Savina at the all-girls school says she still believes her school will provide female students with a better experience.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Seventh graders are gathered in the cafeteria of the Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy. They’re all dressed in white button down shirts and khaki pants. In their hands, they hold silver ties—which they are learning how to tie by themselves.

"Put it through the front hole and pull it down," instructs counselor, Sabrina Brown. "Okay. And start fixing it. Oh, there you go! Pull it, pull it!”

“This is so weird," says seventh grader Martin Gonzales. "I look like I’m going to work!”

Gonzales moved to Austin this summer and says he enrolled at Gus Garcia because his brother wanted to attend.

“But now that I’m here, it’s pretty cool," he says, despite the fact that it's all boys. "It’s pretty weird. I’m not used to it. Regularly my teachers call me a ladies man.”

Well, that won't matter as much at this school.

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AISD Budget
10:34 am
Wed August 27, 2014

AISD Passes 2015 Budget, Approves Pay Increase for Teachers & Employees

The Austin Independent School District board meeting on June 16, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Last night, the Austin Independent School District board approved a 2015 budget of over $1 billion, which includes pay increases for teachers and employees.

However, those increases are a one-time deal due to the so-called "recapture program" in the state's school finance laws, which will require a reallocation of $175 million in Travis County property taxes this year.

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Education
4:32 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

PHOTOS: Garcia Academy Rings in the New School Year with a Tie-Tying Tutorial

A student begins his windsor knot.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Students attending the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in northeast Austin were taught how to tie their uniform ties today.

The school is one of two newly-reconstituted, single-gender schools in the district, along with the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy. Both schools rang in their inaugural academic years yesterday. KUT joined the students as they perfected the intricacies of the windsor knot, led by the school's Principal Sterlin McGruder and Austin Independent School District Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz. 

Education
4:21 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Paul Cruz on Back-To-School, Budgets & the Future of Austin Schools

Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz says the district's decision to redraw school boundaries will be controversial among some parents, but they will have an input in the process.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

As the school year starts anew for Texas public schools, the Austin Independent School District is preparing for a year of changes.

In November, as many as five new school board members will be elected, a replacement superintendent will be hired in the wake of Meria Carstarphen’s departure and the district could face more, or less, funding after the legislature convenes in January.

The district’s interim superintendent Paul Cruz spoke with KUT about the difficulties facing Austin students, parents and educators as bells ring in the new academic year.

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Education
7:51 am
Mon August 25, 2014

How Can Technology Help Make Students of All Ages Lifelong Learners?

Credit Courtesy of Southwestern University

Students of all ages are gearing up to head back to class this week.

With that in mind, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton spoke with Southwestern University President Dr. Edward Burger about his book “The Five Elements of Effective Thinking,” the role of failure in academia, the proliferation of online classes and technology in education and how students can “find their fire."

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Austin ISD
10:32 am
Fri August 22, 2014

'Alarm' Over Texas School Finance, But Changes Not Expected Soon

Despite a possible decision in the school finance case next week, it could be years before local school districts see a change to the way public schools are financed in Texas.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A decision in the latest school finance lawsuit is expected next week, but it could be years before school districts see any changes to the way education is paid for in Texas.

Right now, the school finance system is largely characterized by something called recapture, or  Robin Hood. If a school district collects more local property taxes than the state has determined it needs using a set of formulas, it has to give the difference back to the state. Then, the state puts that money in a big pot and uses it to fund other school districts, especially those that can’t raise enough local property taxes on their own.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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2014 Elections
12:58 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Long Hours & No Pay Make School Board Hopefuls a Rare Find in Election Season

Candidates for the Austin School Board face long hours and late-night meetings.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Eighteen candidates are running for the five open seats on the Austin School Board this fall, which is nearly double the average number of people who have run for the school board in every election since 2002.

But, compared to the 78 candidates who have filed to run for the city council and the mayoral races this fall, the Austin school board doesn’t seem like the most popular place to spend your free time.   

That’s because being an Austin School Board Trustee isn’t easy.

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University of Texas
6:50 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Livestrong Gives $50 Million to UT's Dell Medical School

President Bill Powers says public-private partnerships such as the Livestrong Cancer Institutes are the future of UT-Austin's expansion.
Mengwen Cao/KUT

A $50 million donation to the forthcoming Dell Medical Center at UT-Austin will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes.

The gift, which will be doled out over the next decade, has pushed the university over its fundraising goal to raise $3 billion over eight years and looks to provide a new model of care for cancer patients in Travis County and beyond.

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Education
2:48 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

A&M Not Troubled by Lawmakers' Recommendation Letters

Credit Stuart Seeger via Texas Tribune

Recommendation letters written by elected officials and submitted directly to a university president have been a source of controversy at the University of Texas at Austin. And while Texas A&M University’s president has received similar letters, they have not set off similar alarms.

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Austin School Board
7:27 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

As School Board Elections Loom, Some Candidates Are Still Absent

Only seven candidates of the nine seats on the Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees have applied ahead of the filing deadline on Aug. 18.
KUT News

Update: One candidate has filed to run for the AISD School Board in District One. David "D" Thompson filed with the district Wednesday. Scroll down for a full list of the filed candidates.

Original Story (10:01 a.m.): For students in Austin schools, deadlines for homework or class projects are usually accompanied with an appropriate level of last-minute scrambling.

But, for would-be candidates vying for open seats on the Austin Independent School District’s school board, Monday’s filing deadline isn’t inspiring the same level of frenzy typically associated with school-related deadlines.

Only seven potential candidates have thrown their hat into the ring since the elections opened up on July 18, but the late-filings aren’t anything new to the campaigns for Board of Trustee races.

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AISD
9:53 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Despite a Majority of Low-Income Students, 'Robin Hood' Targets AISD's Budget

More than 60 percent of students in the Austin Independent School District come from low-income families.
Photo by KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gears up to trim the fiscal fat this budget season, the district faces a tough financial future.

Enrollment is flat, and the school board is preparing to lose more than $1 billion to the state's school finance system over the next five years through "recapture," which shares revenue from districts with high property tax revenues with low-income school districts.

The board met last night to discuss the future for the district next year and in the future.

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UT Regents
2:53 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Transparency Committee Votes to Censure UT Regent Hall

State Rep. Dan Flynn (right), R-Van, talks to state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, on Oct. 23, 2013. Van is co-chair of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, whose members include Fischer.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

In a 6-1 vote on Monday, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations approved a motion to admonish and censure University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall for “misconduct, incompetency in the performance of official duties, or behavior unbefitting a nominee for and holder of a state office.”

The focus of the committee's inquiry has been the regent’s behavior since being appointed to the board in 2001, in particular his lengthy personal investigations of the University of Texas at Austin administration and his subsequent handling of private student information.

Some of Hall’s findings, such as his allegations that the flagship university is subject to undue political influence in its admissions processes, have led to formal inquiries and policy changes.

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AISD
8:31 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Austin Schools Begin Pre-K Enrollment, Roll-Out Pilot Programs for 3-Year-Olds

Austin parents can now enroll 4-year-olds in pre-K classes if they are English Language Learners, qualify for reduced or free lunch or are homeless. The district is also testing a pilot program for 3-year-olds.
Robert W. Hart

Today, parents can begin enrolling their 4-year-olds in pre-K classes in the Austin Independent School District, but today also marks the districts roll-out of a pilot program to enroll qualified 3-year-olds in half-day pre-K classes.

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AISD
12:09 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Nine Austin ISD Schools Fail State Standards

A sample question on a STAAR test.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

90 percent of school districts in Texas met state standards, according to results released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

Under a new rating system that began last year, schools are rated as Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required.

“Texans should be pleased to see the vast majority of districts, charters, and campuses are meeting the standards set in the second year of the state accountability system,” Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement. “While the 2014 numbers are positive, the work continues in districts across our state to meet and exceed increasing state standards and the expectations of their local communities.”

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Education
2:11 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Charters Push Back Against Measure on School Closures

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

In 2013, when Texas passed its first overhaul of charter school policy since 1995 — the year the publicly funded but privately operated schools were first established in the state — lawmakers included a provision intended to speed the shuttering of poor-performing schools.

But nearly 10 months after the Texas Education Agency marked six operators for closure under the new measure, three of those schools remain open. As those charters prepare to open their doors this month for a new school year, they say they are fighting a process that does not account for the full picture of a charter’s financial or academic health.  

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Education
4:24 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Biscuit Brothers Graduate From TV to Teaching at Fine Arts Farm

The cast of the Biscuit Brothers: Buttermilk Biscuit (Jill Leberknight), Buford Biscuit (Allen Robertson), Dusty Biscuit (Jerome Schoolar) and Tiny Scarecrow.
Biscuit Brothers

In Central Texas, The Biscuit Brothers are practically a household name.  Their TV show, filmed here in Austin, has earned them two Emmys and is syndicated as far away as Florida and New York.

The show spawned nearly fifteen years ago, when Jerome Schoolar and Allen Robertson were asked to fill in on a farm-themed sing along, initially a one-time gig. But the personas of Dusty and Buford Biscuit stuck  – and expanded into a successful PBS kids show. 

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