Education

In Black America Podcast
5:48 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Remembering a Texas Trailblazer, Dr. Alfred N. Poindexter Jr.

The late Dr. Alfred N. Poindexter Jr.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Dr. Alfred Nelson Poindexter Jr., Prairie View A&M University professor emeritus and veterinarian. Dr. Poindexter, or “Doc” as his friends, colleagues and students affectionately called him began teaching animal science and practicing veterinary medicine at Prairie View A&M University in 1945, when he was 24 years old. He remained at PV for more than 50 years until his retirement in August 2004.

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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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AISD
10:11 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Austin Graduations Rose Under Carstarphen, But Lagged Behind Statewide Rates

AISD graduation rates rose under Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, but didn't match a statewide increase.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

The largest school district in Central Texas has hit a record high graduation rate. But the Austin school district still lags behind the state average.

In the five years that former Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen oversaw the district before leaving for Atlanta, graduation rates rose by ten percent. In 2013, it hit a new high of just over 84 percent. And the increases in graduation rates were across all student groups in AISD, including Hispanics, African-Americans, economically disadvantaged and special education students. 

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Austin ISD
3:37 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

At Blackshear Elementary, Students' Choices Help Build Their Future Portfolios

Students at Blackshear Elementary will choose which artistic elective they can study in the second half of their school day.
Courtesy of Blackshear Elementary

This fall, Blackshear Elementary will become Austin Independent School District’s first fine arts elementary school. The school offers students a choice in their daily lesson plans, with one half of the day focusing on academics and the other half focusing on arts education.

Tonight, the district will host an open house for parents interested in enrolling their students at the traditionally under-enrolled school.

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Education
12:20 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

How Austin Turned a Dead Department Store Into a Community College

At ACC's new campus, workers cut a 170-foot-long skylight in what was once a J.C. Penney department store. Natural light formerly came through only two front doors.
Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

To Veronica Escobedo, it resembled a fancy hotel – not quite a college campus.

But the first-year radiology student said the stylish and comfortable furniture, much of it still wrapped in plastic, would encourage her to stay on Austin Community College’s new campus between classes.

“There are bigger areas to actually study with people,” Escobedo said. “Most of the time I found myself studying with people off campus. The design and architecture make it really feel like a home.”

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Education
12:29 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Bill To Allow Refinancing Of Student Loans Dies In Senate

"Who does Washington work for?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., after her bill that would let people refinance student debt was shot down Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 1:42 pm

A bill that would have let millions of people refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate has failed in the Senate, after Republicans objected that it included a tax on the wealthy to pay for it. The measure would have allowed people with older loans to benefit from today's low interest rates.

The bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't get past a procedural vote, falling by a 56-38 vote. Called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, it was shot down days after President Obama urged Congress to help ease the burden of student debt.

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Education
10:20 am
Wed June 11, 2014

After Charter Fracas, AISD Hopes Allan Childhood Center Regains Parents' Trust

Allan Elementary has been empty this school year, but is ready to be retrofitted with a childhood center.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

East Austin resident Archette Alexander remembers when she took her son out of the neighborhood public elementary school and put him in a charter school. She says teachers had lost their passion due to all of the testing.

Now, Alexander’s youngest daughter is three, and she’s interested in putting her back in the school district – at AISD's early childhood center.

“The passion the other teachers have gives me hope as a parent that kids can thrive here,” Alexander says. 

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Education
1:13 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Obama Signs Order Easing Student Loan Payments

President Obama is introduced by Andy MacCracken, before signing a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt on Monday in East Room of the White House.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 3:27 pm

(This post was updated at 3:24 p.m. ET.)

President Obama signed an order on Monday that expands the number of Americans whose student loan payments will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly incomes.

CNN reports the new order would allow an additional 5 million borrowers to take advantage of the cap beginning in December 2015.

Bloomberg adds:

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Education
6:36 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Commencement Mashup: The Speech In 8 Easy Steps

Dick Costolo, Amy Poehler and Neil deGrasse Tyson all appear in NPR's commencement speech mashup.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 1:59 pm

A noble institution? A good show? A tedious quarter-hour of lame jokes told under the hot sun? The American commencement address can be all of these things.

We skipped and slogged through 50 of the most popular commencement speeches on YouTube - looking for inspiration, wisdom, amusement, corny jokes and clichés - to bring you this mashup of highlights and lowlights.

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Education
3:24 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Will Texas' New Teacher Evaluation System Rely Too Much on Test Scores?

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Members of the Texas House Committee on Public Education are wrestling with how to evaluate teacher performance in modern classrooms. And while educators and administrators agree the current system needs overhauling, there's little agreement on what will replace it.

In advance of today's hearing, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams said in a letter that current teacher evaluation criteria – the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) – has "outlived its usefulness."

Patty Hill, a math teacher at Austin's Kealing Middle School, agrees. She told lawmakers today she’s afraid that by adopting a “flipped classroom” model – posting lectures online for students to view at home, and working collaboratively on 'homework' in the classroom – she is opening herself up for negative evaluations.

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Education
8:11 am
Tue May 6, 2014

This Austin Charter School Slated for Closure May Get a Second Chance

Jon Shapley for KUT News

An Austin charter school slated for closure by the state may be getting a second chance.

The Texas Education Agency had ordered American Youthworks to close by next month. But the school went to court and argued everything was a misunderstanding.

On Friday, a judge agreed to hear the school's case – possibly extending the school's life for at least one more semester.

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TEKS and Common Core
9:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Are Common Core and Texas Teaching Standards Really That Different?

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Elgin Middle School sixth grader Allison Graves sits at a computer in math class, using a program called Think Through Math to practice fractions.

“Your friend gave you a bag of candy," she reads. "There are 36 red candies and 27 green candies. What is the ratio of green candies to red candies?”

The online math program takes Graves through each lesson step by step. She collects points for correct answers and competes against classmates and other Texas students.

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American Youthworks
9:01 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Austin Dropout Recovery School Faces Closure After 30 Years

Parc Smith is American Youthworks' CEO. He stands by a tree that highlights the achievements of his students. Students follow a self-paced program until they finally graduate high school.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

The fate of an Austin charter school that has run a dropout recovery program for more than 30 years will be decided later this month.

American Youthworks faces closure under a new law that allows the Texas Education Agency to revoke licenses from underperforming charter schools, thus opening those licenses to other organizations.

TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says Senate Bill 2 is pretty clear. That’s the law passed last year that, among other things, gave TEA teeth to revoke the licenses of failing charter schools. “If a school has received the state’s lowest, either academic or financial, rating for three straight years, it automatically is closed,” Ratcliffe says.

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Education
5:49 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Update on Mexican-American Studies Course in Texas Public Schools

Supporters of a statewide standard for teaching Mexican-American studies in Texas spoke before a hearing of the State Board of Education on April 8, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: High schools in Texas are one step closer to getting state-funded materials to teach courses in Mexican-American studies after a vote today by the Texas State Board of Education. 

Board members voted to ask publishers to develop textbooks for Mexican-American studies, along with three other social studies courses: African-American, Asian-American and Native-American studies. But the board stopped short of developing a statewide course on the topics. A final vote is scheduled for later this week.

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Education
9:22 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Eanes ISD Names Lone Finalist for Superintendent

Dr. Tom Leonard is named the sole finalist for the superintendent position in Eanes ISD.
Credit Eanes ISD

Eanes ISD has named Dr. Tom Leonard as the lone finalist to take the place of retiring superintendent Dr. Nola Wellman.  

Eanes ISD Board President Rob Hargett calls Dr. Leonard “a successful, student-centered, seasoned superintendent in a high-performing district, roughly the size and structure of Eanes ISD.”

Dr. Leonard served as superintendent of the Barrington 220 district in Illinois for the past seven years and has more than 20 years of experience working in education.

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Health
6:24 am
Tue April 8, 2014

This Musician Has a Unique (and Maybe Lifesaving) Message for Kids With Food Allergies

Kids clap along to the music of Kyle Dine.
Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

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Education
7:17 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

More Than 5 Million Kids Are Attending Public School in Texas

Students at Anderson High learning about the Declaration of Independence. Public school enrollment in Texas has passed 5 million for the first time.
KUT News

For the first time, more than 5 million students are enrolled in Texas public schools. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) published a report Tuesday that the state hit the milestone last school year when 5,075,840 students were enrolled.

The population of Hispanic students had the largest numerical increase, growing by 64,903 in one year.

Rice University demographer Steve Murdoch, who used to run the U.S. Census Bureau, says the future of the Texas economy will be determined largely by how well those students are educated. 

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Education
4:00 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Educators Pounce on Abbott, Push for Expanded Pre-K

Educators gathered in North Austin to say expanded pre-k is "not a waste."
Lynn Romero for KUT News

Yesterday, Republican candidate for Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a proposal to improve early childhood education in Texas.

During a press conference, Abbott said expanding state-funded pre-kindergarten programs without addressing the quality of instruction “would be an act of negligence and waste.”

Today, educators from groups endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis gathered in front of north Austin's Lucy Read Pre-kindergarten School to say that expanding pre-k is "not a waste."

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Education
9:09 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Dallas Cowboy Teaches Pflugerville Kids About Healthy Breakfast

Dallas Cowboy George Selvie visited a Pflugerville elementary school Thursday to encourage students to eat a healthy breakfast.
Credit Lynn Romero for KUT News

Some kids in Pflugerville got a special, guest visitor today. George Selvie, Dallas Cowboys Defensive End, was at Ruth Barron Elementary Thursday morning encouraging kids to eat a healthy breakfast.

"It's important for us because, as in recent years, they're saying now kids are obese so having the opportunity with Fuel Up to Play 60 to come out here and talk to the kids, letting them know that eating healthy is great, you know their gonna try to go out there and do it," said Selvie.

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Education
12:02 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

What You Need to Know About Central Texas School Bond Elections

Many Central Texas school districts are asking voters to approve millions of dollars in bonds for a variety of projects.
flickr.com/59937401@N07

What should you know about Central Texas schools this election season?  

In a word: Bonds.

Bond packages can be convoluted, making them easily misunderstood or overlooked. But bond elections have become an important source of income for area school districts as funds elsewhere shrink.

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