Education

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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Education
8:13 am
Wed April 25, 2012

Negotiating The College Funding Labyrinth

About 7 out of 10 students borrow money to pay for college. Here, a Stanford University student walks through the campus in Palo Alto, Calif.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 9:16 am

Now that your child has gotten into college, have you figured out how much it's actually going to cost — and who's going to pay for it?

These questions are hitting college-bound students and their parents right about now, along with the other million questions that nobody seems to have straight answers for. Paying for college can be complicated, if not mind-boggling.

Roughly 7 out of 10 students borrow money to pay for college, and for many, the process might as well be a mystery wrapped in a riddle.

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Education
1:54 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Analysis: Half of Recent College Grads Jobless or Underemployed

Students from John Moores' University celebrate graduation.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 12:54 pm

It's hard out there for a college grad.

The AP analyzed government data and came up with this stunning figure: "Half of young college graduates [are] either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge."

The whole story is worth a read, so we encourage you to click over, but here is the meat of the AP's analysis:

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Education
11:21 am
Mon April 9, 2012

For-Profit Schools Under Fire For Targeting Veterans

Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff (right), with Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington, introduces the GI benefit watchdog bill in Washington. Some lawmakers say for-profit schools are taking advantage of veterans and their educational benefits.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 12:27 pm

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, eager to get an education under the new post-Sept. 11 GI Bill.

Many vets looking for a school find they are inundated by sales pitches from institutions hungry for their government benefits. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to protect vets without narrowing their education choices.

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Education
12:19 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Hoping to Speed On-Time Graduation, UT Refines Orientation Program

Following up on recommendations, the University hopes orientation changes will boost graduation times.
Photo by KUT News

Seeking to boost students’ on-time graduation rates, the University of Texas is refining its orientation program.

A recent report from UT’s Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates looked at ways to increase four year graduation rates. As KUT News wrote at the time of the report’s release, UT’s four-year graduation rate is currently about 50 percent, and the university wants to increase that amount to 70 percent by 2016. Speeding up graduation rates is seen as one solution to the problem of crowded and increasingly expensive college educations.

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Education
11:04 am
Wed March 21, 2012

School Districts Take Advantage of STAAR Rule Change

Photo by Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

As the first of 2.5 million Texas public school students prepare to take new state-mandated standardized tests next week, ninth graders in at least a third of the state’s school districts won’t have to worry about how the test will affect their end-of-year grades. 

As of Tuesday, 405 of the state’s roughly 1,200 school districts had told the Texas Education Agency that they would not factor State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores into students’ grades for the 2011-12 school year.

The districts have said they will defer the implementation of a rule that says the new end-of-course exams must account for 15 percent of high school students' grades for one year. They are taking advantage of a change in the rollout of the exams the Texas Education Agency announced in February. For many, it was a welcome compromise as the state transitioned to the new system.

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Education
7:41 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Protesters ‘Occupy’ Arne Duncan’s Austin Speech

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is in Austin, where he was a keynote speaker at South by Southwest’s second annual SXSWedu conference. But Duncan also took time today to speak to a crowd at Austin Community College’s Eastview campus for a “town hall” discussion on education issues.  

But once applause greeting Ducan settled, he received  a more abrupt welcome: Three Occupy Austin members stood and shouted out a prepared statement attacking the privatization of public schools and other educational grievances.

The "mic check" can be read on Occupy Austin Twitter magnet Kit O'Connell's website. It reads in part (emphasis in original): "As Secretary of Education, Your job is to discover a way to provide schools & teachers PUBLIC resources & funding, NOT from private charters & corporations."

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Education
5:11 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Case Renews Focus On Race In College Admissions

Students hoping for a repeal of California's ban on affirmative action in college admissions protest outside of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Feb. 13. The Supreme Court will decide an affirmative action case next fall that could affect college admissions policies across the country.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 7:39 pm

College and university presidents are wringing their hands over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to revisit the issue of affirmative action next fall. Critics of racial preferences are thrilled because the court could significantly restrict the use of race in admissions, but proponents of affirmative action say this would be a huge setback for institutions struggling to diversify their student body.

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Austin
3:01 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Group Issues 60 Suggestions on Improving UT Graduation Rates

A task force has issued numerous recommendations on how to promote timely graduation on the 40 Acres.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

How to boost graduation rates at the University of Texas? More student monitoring and orientation, decreased summer course fees, and increased tuition for students that have over-accumulated credits.

Those are some of the recommendations from UT’s Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates, compiled in a report issued today.

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Education
3:01 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Texas School Finance Lawsuits Get a Judge

2011 cuts to public education inspired protests at the Capitol - and subsequently, a round of lawsuits.
Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/jesabele

A judge has been named to hear several lawsuits brought by school districts against the State of Texas, to protest the way public education is funded.

Judge John Dietz, of the 250th Judicial District Civil Court in Travis County, will preside over the suits. The news was trumpeted by the Equity Center, a coalition of several poorer school districts. An Equity Center offshoot, the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition sued the state last year alleging Texas’ system of school funding was unconstitutional. As the coalition wrote in a complaint, “Taxpayers in low wealth districts who are willing to tax themselves at the highest rates allowed are unable to access the same dollars for education as taxpayers in high wealth districts who tax themselves at a lower rate.”

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Education
2:15 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

Austin Non-Profit Girlstart Expands Nationally

Austin non-profit aimed at drawing girls into STEM education is getting ready to expand nationally.
Horia Varlan http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/

A local organization that wants to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is beginning to branch out across the United States. Girlstart began in Austin in 1997, and provides free after-school programs, summer camps, and Saturday classes for girls.

“STEM is a national priority. There aren’t enough graduates in America than can fill STEM jobs,” Girlstart executive director Tamara Hudgins told KUT News.

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Texas
3:48 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Texas Students Show Low College Test Scores

A majority of Texas high school students who took the ACT college preparation exam were not ready for college classes according to a report.
Photo by KUT News

The majority of Texas students who took the ACT college entrance exam this year don't have the necessary skills for college.

According to a report done on the class of 2011, many Texas students tested below the national average in reading, English and science. 101,569 graduates in Texas, or about 36% of the class of 2011, took the ACT.

Texans were slightly above the national average in mathematics, which is 45 percent of students passing, with 48 percent.

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