Education

AM Update 6/21/12
7:53 am
Thu June 21, 2012

AM Update: Health Care Decision Expected, New Education Website, 'Police Games' in Austin

Protesters clash over the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
KUT News

Supreme Court Health Care Decision Expected

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act possibly as soon as today.

The controversial law is the Obama administration’s most touted accomplishment. President Obama calls it "the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s, and the most important reform of our health care system since Medicare passed in the 1960s."

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University of Texas
1:50 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Former UT Prof at Center of Higher Ed Storm

Teresa A Sullivan was let go as University of Virginia president under vague circumstances.
virginia.edu

A University of Texas professor is at the center of controversy in her new home at the University of Virginia, where until just recently she was president of the school. 

Teresa A. Sullivan taught for decades at UT-Austin, ultimately rising to Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the UT System. In the summer of August 2010, she was named president of the University of Virginia (UVA).

It was a position she held without apparent controversy – until news broke she was stepping down from her position, apparently under pressure, eight days ago.

In a way, the controversy in Virginia recalls a similar action closer to home: rumors that University of Texas president Bill Powers had been marked for ouster by the school’s Board of Regents. Speculation regarding Powers’ job grew after he clashed with the board after it declined to approve a tuition increase Powers sought.

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AM Update
8:54 am
Thu June 14, 2012

AM Update: STAAR Retesting Costs, 'Stand Your Ground' Guilty Verdict, AISD Police Dog Retires

Hundreds of Texas students will retake STAAR exams this summer; Raul Rodriguez is convicted of murdering a neighbor in 2010; Buddy retires from the Austin ISD Police force.
by KUT News; Photo courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Department; Photo courtesy AISD

STAAR Retesting Costing School Districts

Hundreds of Texas students will spend time in summer classes, preparing to retake their STAAR exams.

The STAAR exams replaced the TAKS tests this year. As students and districts adjust to the new tests, performance standards and requirements are being phased in. The results of this year’s scores did not affect students’ final grades, but students still have to retake tests on subjects they didn’t achieve a minimum score in.

Our reporting partner The Texas Tribune writes that the summer classes and retakes are leaving schools with hefty bills, as districts have to hire teachers to conduct these classes.

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Education
9:00 am
Mon June 4, 2012

AISD's Free Summer Meal Program Underway

28 AISD schools are offering free breakfast and lunch throughout the summer.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/USDAgov

The Austin Independent School District will be feeding free breakfast and lunch to children starting today. The summer food service program is in place at more than two dozen campuses.

Students don’t have to apply for the program. The free meals are open to any child ages one through 18 regardless of family income.

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Education
2:18 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

RFIDs on School IDs? One School District Thinks So

School districts are mulling the use of RFID tags to track attendance.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Should schools be able to keep tabs on a student’s location?

Because Texas schools are funded per student in attendance, budgets hinge on the accuracy of morning roll call. The use of Radio Frequency Identification tags, or RFIDs, can certainly improve accuracy, but some consider them an invasion of privacy.

RFIDs are small beacons that both transmit and receive information. They’re often used to track product inventory. But some school districts have attached RFIDs to students’ photo ID cards, letting administrators know which students are on campus.

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Education
10:21 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Making Dreams Come True: Scholarship Assists Undocumented Manor Student

High school student Audrey Vivar (right) sold bracelets to finance a scholarship for an undocumented student.
Photo courtesy makedreamsrealityscholarship.webs.com

As college-bound high school seniors graduate this month, many of them will have to worry about how they’re going to pay for their education.

But for one Manor, Texas student, her senior year has focused instead on helping to pay for someone else to go to school, by creating a scholarship for a fellow student from Manor – an undocumented student.

Make DREAMs Reality is a campaign created by Audrey Vivar, a senior at Manor New Technology High School. Vivar is offering a $500 scholarship for a Manor graduate who wants to go on to college, no social security number required.

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2012 Presidential Election
4:31 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Romney Pivots to Education Platform in Seeking Latino Votes

Mitt Romney speaks at the Latino Coalition annual economic summit Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 3:39 pm

Declaring that a "national emergency" exists in public education, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shifted from his usual economic message to outline his education platform during a speech to a Latino business group Wednesday.

Romney pledged to provide federal funding for "every" child from low-income families, or those with special needs, to attend the public, public charter or, in some cases, private school of their parents' choice. The proposals are boilerplate Republican Party planks.

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AM Update
8:43 am
Tue May 22, 2012

AM Update: Travis County Vote Centers, Fixing Food Insecurity, Top Austin High Schools

Vote centers would allow Travis County voters to cast a ballot anywhere during the November Presidential elections; Lamakers are talking about ways to elimate 'food deserts' in Texas; New list ranks 10 Austin area high schools in America's top 1,000.
Photos by KUT News

Vote Anywhere During November's Presidential Election?

The Travis County Commissioners are meeting this morning to talk about using vote centers for the November 2012 Presidential election.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says vote centers, or countywide polling places, give all registered Travis County voters the option to vote at any polling location in the county on election day. Right now, that’s only allowed during early voting.

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Education
4:46 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Slideshow: Students Call for Passage of DREAM Act

Undocumented students and supporters rallied in support of the DREAM Act yesterday.
Photo by Mario Jacinto for KUT News

As part of a national day of action, undocumented students rallied on the University of Texas campus yesterday in support of the DREAM act.

Students United for the Dream Act called for rallies across the country on Thursday, to urge for passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors act, which provides undocumented youth a path to legal citizenship in the United States.

Undocumented youth from Austin and San Antonio, joined by members of the University Democrats, gathered and spoke on the lawn near the LBJ library at UT yesterday. KUT News captured audio from the event's speakers, embedded above.

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Science
11:44 am
Fri May 18, 2012

At International Science Fair, Austin Whiz Kids Shine

The floor of the Intel ISEF, held in Pittsburg.
Photo courtesy societyforscience.org

Today is the final day of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science and engineering competition, with more than $3 million in awards and prizes.

Austin was well-represented at the Pittsburg-held ISEF, with several teens from area high schools vying for honors. KUT News talked to Michael Mann, an 18 year-old senior at Austin’s Westwood High School – and ISEF 2012 winner.

Mann’s project investigates the effects of the fungus Piriformospora indica on the water content and biomass of plant roots – or more simply, whether the fungus will cause a plant to grow more roots, enabling it to take in more nutrients and grow bigger and faster.

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AM Update
8:34 am
Fri May 18, 2012

AM Update: Preparing Texas Teachers, Bike to Work Day, UT Graduation Weekend

Texas lawmakers examine how well teachers are prepared; Austin Police stress safety for Bike to Work Day; the UT Tower lights up for grads this Saturday.
UT Tower photo courtesy University of Texas at Austin; all other photos by KUT News.

Attracting Great Educators to Texas

The Texas Senate Committee on Education is holding a public hearing this morning to find out how the state can improve preparation programs for teachers and principals.

The committee plans to look at and make recommendations for programs at traditional colleges of education and alternative certification programs.

They also want to find out what the state can do to improve the recruitment of high-quality educators and how to keep them in Texas schools.

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Education
3:52 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

This Takes the Cake: A Billion Dollar Bake Sale to 'Save Texas Schools'

Save Texas Schools drew attention to education spending cuts with a symbolic "bake sale" this afternoon.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

We’re all familiar with school bake sales – those PTA-organized sugar-fests focused on raising money for band uniforms and financing field trips.

But Save Texas Schools, a group pushing for greater state investment in public education, hosted a bake sale this afternoon with a slightly loftier goal: raising, say, over five billion dollars selling cupcakes.

The tongue-in-cheek event, held in the shadow of the State Capitol, had a serous purpose: drawing attention to state budget cuts to education.

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Education
1:23 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

What’s the Value of Finishing High School? For Austin, It’s in the Millions

A report says communities can benefit greatly from increased high school graduation.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/nodivision

A high school diploma is touted as the bare minimum students need to achieve. And now a new study pegs the financial value of high school graduation to the Austin region’s economy.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington DC-based non-profit  focused on improving national graduation rates, has released a study detailing the effects on Austin’s regional economy if the amount of high school dropouts was cut in half – with benefits reaching into the millions.

It’s estimated that in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), some 6,100 students dropped out of the class of 2010. Home to 45 schools, the Alliance says the region is one of the lowest performing in the nation, with 28 percent of high school students failing to graduate on time and with a regular diploma.

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Education
4:28 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

More Than a Movie: Crowd-Funded ‘Black Sun’ Seeks to Revitalize Interest in Science

A solar eclipse viewed from Bangalore, India in 2010.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/asifch

Merriam-Webster defines “eclipse” both as “the total or partial obscuring of one celestial body by another,” and “a falling into obscurity or decline.”

Dr. Jarita Holbrook hopes her new documentary about the former will prevent the latter from claiming young America’s interest in science.    

Dr. Holbrook is an astrophysicist, anthropologist and filmmaker. Her current project, “Black Sun,” is about two astrophysicists, Dr. Alphonse Sterling and Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, and their journey around the world chasing solar eclipses. However, the film is about more than just two globetrotting scientists, it’s also about the revitalization of American youth’s interest in the STEM field –science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and specifically, in minority communities.

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Education
2:35 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

More Interested Students than Spots at IDEA Allan

Allan Elementary will be home to an in-district charter school next year.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Student registration for IDEA Allan – the new in-district charter school for the Austin Independent School District – ended at midnight. It will be housed in the current Allan Elementary School campus on Gonzales Street and serve kindergartners as well as students in first, second and sixth grade next school year.

Matthew Randazzo is IDEA’s Chief Growth Officer. He says registration has been strong. In fact, there are more interested students than spaces. A lottery will have to be held for each grade level to determine which students will be able to attend.

Randazzo says the most popular grades for registration were kindergarten and sixth.

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Education
8:56 am
Thu May 10, 2012

College Grads Struggle To Gain Financial Footing

Graduates of the University of Alabama's class of 2011. The economic downturn has hit recent college grads hard. New data show only half of those who graduated from 2006 to 2011 are working full time.
Butch Dill AP

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 3:48 am

Most of the estimated 1.5 million people graduating from a four-year college this spring will soon be looking for a job.

If the experiences of other recent college grads are any guide, many will be disappointed.

A new Rutgers University survey of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011 finds that just half of those grads are working full time.

Settling For Part Time

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Education
3:29 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Gus Garcia on Education: 'Much More Work Needs to be Done'

Former school board member and Austin Mayor Gus Garcia at an event honoring him today.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Political trailblazer Gus Garcia – the first Hispanic elected to the Austin ISD Board of Directors, and the city's first Hispanic mayor – was honored today.

Garcia has been a major force in Austin politics for decades. In 1972, he became the first Hispanic to be elected to the school board, coming into office with a list of “17 Demands for Quality Education.” Programs at today’s event, sponsored by the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association, commemorated the 40th anniversary of his historic election.

Garcia’s colleague and keynote speaker, Ernest Perales, remarked on the difficulties the AISD board found itself in during the turmoil of the 1970s. Peralez called Gus Garcia “a hero” and praised his tenure on the board.

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Police
4:46 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Police Ramping Up Traffic Enforcement Around Schools

APD is on the lookout for unsafe drivers near area schools.
Image courtesy Austin Police

The Austin Police Department is cracking down on traffic violations around schools.

Today, APD announced an initiative to focus on drivers who speed or use their cell phones in school zones. They also want to make sure drivers don’t pass school buses or ignore crossing guards.

In 2009, Austin passed a ban on texting or using the internet while driving. This week, KUT News learned officers have only given out 26 tickets under that law since January of 2010.

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Education
1:57 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Vince Young Encourages Teens to Go to College

Former UT football star Vince Young is the spokesperson for a group encouraging Texas high school graduates to go to college.
Photo courtesy Generation Texas

UT Austin football great Vince Young is back in town today to promote higher education.

Young is the spokesperson for Generation Texas — a group that asked everyone to wear their favorite college t-shirt today in hopes of inspiring high school grads to pursue a college degree.

Young, of course, is sporting a Longhorns t-shirt. He spoke to students at Del Valle High School this morning and told KUT they seemed excited about the possibility of going to college.

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Education
4:38 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott Stepping Down

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott is leaving the post Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to in 2007. 

When Scott steps down on July 2 from the agency that oversees the public education of Texas' nearly 5 million students, he will be the longest serving education commissioner of the past two decades. 

Scott said in a statement that it had been a "privilege" to serve at the agency and noted that he began his career there in 1994 — when his son was one and his daughter was three months old — and they have both now gone on to graduate from Texas public schools. 

"It's time," he said.

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