Education

Education
4:50 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Public Hearing Tonight on AISD Bond

The Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee is coming up with a list of the district's top spending priorities.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District’s Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee is asking for public input on the district’s bond program this evening.

The committee is hosting a public hearing from 6:30 - 9 p.m. at Reagan High School (7104 Berkman Dr.).

Those wishing to speak should sign up at the high school before the meeting or submit comments on the district’s website.

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Education
2:52 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

UT System Offers Free Online Courses - But College Credit Still Costs You

The University of Texas System logo is already featured on the edX welcome page.
edX

The University of Texas System Board of regents voted unanimously this morning to join an initiative to provide free online courses to anyone through a non-profit organization called edX.

Right now, classes offered through edX are not for college credit. Instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." But the UT System has plans to change that in order to help enrolled students take the classes they need.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says that option would have a cost associated with it.

“What that tuition might be is going to have to be a decision made by the campus and, ultimately, by the board of regents," Cigarroa says. "So I can envision a multi-tiered approach. But, fundamentally, all the content that we provide in this massively open online course, you can have access for free, I can have access for free, our alumni can have access for free. But there’s also an opportunity for a multi-tiered approach.”

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Education
12:32 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Georgetown Voters Approve Tax Rate Increase for Schools

The first day of school at McCoy Elementary in Georgetown ISD. Georgetown voters approved a tax increase for their schools, but the new revenue will only maintain existing services.
Georgetown Independent School District

The Georgetown school district says the extra money it will receive from higher tax rates won’t be enough to fill the gap left by state cuts to public education.

Georgetown voters decided yesterday that they would be willing to pay more money to fund their public schools. How much more depends on the value of their property, but the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an extra $80 a year. About 3,500 voters approved the tax ratification election 59 to 41 percent.

GISD has been struggling since the state legislature slashed public education spending by more than $5.4 billion last year. The district eliminated more than 200 employee positions, froze salaries and benefits, and stopped all major capital spending.

The higher tax rate will inject $2.1 million into school district coffers, but GISD spokesperson Brad Domitrovich says it won’t be enough to make up for state cuts.

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Education
11:56 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Should Texas Embrace Virtual Schools?

Lawmakers heard this morning about virtual schooling in Texas.
flickr.com/sammers05

The Texas Senate Education Committee is holding a hearing to address virtual education and its growing use in Texas. Committee members will hear testimony on virtual education and recommendations to improve programs that are underperforming. 

Texas offers both supplemental and full-time virtual education. Students in supplemental programs take online courses in addition to attending traditional face-to-face classes. Those enrolled in virtual schools full-time get all of their instruction online and don’t receive any classroom instruction.

The number of students enrolled in virtual schools in Texas is growing rapidly. Raise Your Hand Texas, an education policy non-profit, reports that enrollment in virtual education programs grew 97 percent in the past six years. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 17,000 Texas students were enrolled in supplemental online courses.  Last school year, 6,000 students were enrolled in full-time virtual programs. 

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Education
11:44 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Like $10,000 Degree, Perry Tuition Plan May Not Fit All

Texas Science Scholar Wesley Powers, a junior chemistry major from Midland, Texas, works on a 3-hour-long lab experiment at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.
Jerod Foster for Texas Tribune

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

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Education
4:20 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Texas SAT Scores Drop, But Participation Rates Surge

Shannan Muskop, Texas Tribune

A report from the Texas Education Agency on the state's 2012 SAT scores shows two things about Texas students over the past five years: more students are the taking the test, but they aren't performing as well.

More students are taking the college admissions test — especially Hispanics and blacks, whose participation rates have increased by 65 and 42 percent, respectively, since 2007. Students' scores, though, decreased from 2o11 by about five points across the board in reading, math and writing, continuing the downward trend of the past five years. 

“We are clearly building a college-going culture in Texas. The increased minority participation is important to the health of this state because of our changing demographics,” said Commissioner Michael Williams in a statement.

About 58 percent of 2012's graduating class took the SAT, which was about a 6 percent increase from the year before.

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Higher Education
9:17 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry Calls for College Tuition Freeze

Gov. Perry speaking at the second annual Texas Tribune Festival. Gov. Perry called for a four-year college tuition freeze.
Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he'll call for a four-year college tuition freeze. The comment was made at a Q&A session with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend.

In the interview, Perry proposed that students who enter college as freshmen could lock in a four-year tuition rate, says Texas Tribune Reporter Jay Root, who live-blogged the event. However, if a student takes longer than four years to graduate, he or she could face tuition increases.

Perry also said he is open to an “open and vigorous debate” about in-state tuition costs and supported providing in-state tuition for some children of undocumented immigrants.

Perry's announcement came just a day before The Dallas Morning News announced that Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities than they were a decade ago. According to the analysis, tuition has increased three percent this year alone.

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AM Update: 9/13/12
8:58 am
Thu September 13, 2012

AM Update: Longer School Days?, Doctors Support Medical School, One Word About Your Favorite Teacher

Lawmakers are considering options to increase student success. That might mean more time at school for Texas kids.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Should Texas Kids Spend More Time in School?

State lawmakers want to know if having kids spend more time in school will increase performance.

The Texas Senate Committee on Education is meeting this morning to talk about the impact of extended learning time on school success. That could mean longer school days or adding more days to the school year.

Lawmakers will also look at after-school programs and their effect on school performance, attendance and behavior.

The public is invited to comment at the hearing. It starts at 9 a.m. at the capitol.

Hundreds of Austin-Area Doctors Support Medical School

Proposition 1, the proposal for a new medical school and teaching hospital in Austin, now has the support of over 400 Austin-area doctors. The doctors' support means they are behind the five cent increase in property taxes per $100 of taxable value if Prop. 1 is successful in November.

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AM Update: 9/11/12
8:49 am
Tue September 11, 2012

AM Update: 9/11 Memorials, Travis County Tourism Tax, UT Helping Students Make the Grade

The 9/11 memorial at the Texas State Cemetery.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Today marks 11 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Here's information on remembrance events and other stories making news today:

Local 9/11 Memorial Events

There are several events scheduled today across Central Texas to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

At 10 a.m., Austin firefighters will climb the Pleasant Valley Drill Tower. Wearing full gear, they’ll climb up and down the equivalent of the height of the World Trade Center.

At noon, there will be a 9-11 Memorial and pipe and drum performance in the Texas Capitol Rotunda.

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Education
10:33 am
Mon September 10, 2012

UT-Austin Announces New Engineering Research Center

KUT News

It has been more than two decades since a Texas university was selected to lead one of the National Science Foundation's prestigious engineering research centers, but the University of Texas at Austin has broken the streak.

UT-Austin has been selected to receive an $18.5 million federal grant over five years to establish and lead a center they are calling the Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies, or NASCENT. It will focus on developing manufacturing processes for microscopic computing technology that the center's leaders, Roger Bonnecaze and S.C. Sreenivasan, said could lead to foldable laptops and wearable devices.

The NSF's engineering research centers are strategically placed partnerships between the government, academia and industry. Led by UT-Austin, the partners that make up NASCENT include the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Berkeley as well as private companies like Texas Instrumnets, Lockeed Martin and others.

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Education
1:13 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Texas to Request No Child Left Behind Waivers

Pres. George W. Bush signing the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.
White House

Texas is asking the federal government to waive requirements associated with No Child Left Behind, the signature package of education reforms championed by former President (and former Texas Governor) George W. Bush. The announcement comes after more than half of Texas schools failed to meet the annually escalating standards last school year. 

In a message on the Texas Education Agency website, the new Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announces plans to submit requests to the U.S. Department of Education waiving provisions in 2001’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, as well as parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"The state recognizes that the lack of NCLB’s reauthorization in a timely manner has created an obsolete system that does not adequately reflect the accomplishments of the state’s schools," the statement reads. "This, combined with [Local Educational Agencies] being required to meet and function within two different assessment and accountability systems, takes valuable resources and time away from the intent and focus of improving student achievement and school accountability.”

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Higher Education
8:28 am
Thu August 30, 2012

UT Drops Investigation of Controversial Gay Parenting Study

UT associate professor Mark Regnerus' work on gay parenting will not be subject to an academic investigation.
University of Texas

The University of Texas announced yesterday that it will not launch a formal investigation into a controversial study on gay parenting.

The study, written by associate professor Mark Regnerus and published in the journal Social Science Research, questioned the parenting abilities of gay couples. An internal audit by Social Science Research found the study was “severely flawed.” Others seized upon the fact that the research was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, two socially conservative groups.

But UT-Austin says a four-member advisory panel composed of senior faculty members concluded there is not enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Dewhurst Declares Support for School Choice Legislation

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, speaking with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on the floor of the Texas Senate.
Texas Senate

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, throwing some red meat to conservatives after his bruising defeat at the hands of Tea Party darling Ted Cruz, has put private school vouchers and expanded “parental choice” back on the legislative agenda.

Speaking to delegates at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, Dewhurst said he would work with state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, to hammer out the details of the proposal.

Dewhurst made it clear that he supports the voucher concept, though he said that is just one of many options to pursue.

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Education
1:41 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

UT Faculty & Staff to Get Merit-Based Pay Increases

UT-Austin faculty and staff will soon see merit-based pay increases.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

One of Austin’s biggest employers is getting ready to hand out raises.

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says merit-based pay increases for faculty and staff will go into effect Sept. 1.

The salary increases will vary by department and Powers says they aren’t huge – but will help the university hang on to talented faculty and staff.

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Education
12:42 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Analyst: School Choice Grant Program Could Save Texas Billions

Lawmakers want to know if giving families educational options will make all schools better.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Texas Senate Committee on Education today talked about possible funding options to promote school choice.

Lawmakers want to know if having more school options will create competition and, in turn, make all schools in the state better. One option to encourage school choice is a so-called taxpayer savings grant program. The idea was proposed in the Texas Legislature last year as part of House Bill 33. It would pay up to 60 percent of the amount that the state spends per pupil each year on school maintenance and operations for private school tuition – that’d be about $5,200.

Joe Bast is the President and CEO of the Heartland Institute – a non-profit research center based in Chicago. He looked at the numbers and believes many Texas families would take advantage of the option and that it would save taxpayers a big chuck of money right away.

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