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:

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.

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.

School Districts Take Advantage of STAAR Rule Change

Mar 21, 2012
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.

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."

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.

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.

Photo courtesy

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.”

Horia Varlan

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.

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.

Image provided by Texas Lyceum

Education has displaced immigration as the most important issue in the Lone Star State, according to an annual survey sponsored by the Texas Lyceum, a non-profit leadership group.

Thirty-three percent of likely voters said education is the most important issue facing the state of Texas today. Immigration, at 11 percent, was tied for second place with the state budget/deficit.

Last year, immigration was the most important problem facing Texas, 21 percent of respondents said. Fourteen percent said it was education in 2010.

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

The Senate Finance Committee made quick work of the omnibus fiscal matters bill SB 1 yesterday, kicking it out in the mid-afternoon after several hours of testimony from the usual round of superintendents and school associations.

Image courtesy Eliazar Parra Cardenas

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott relesed educational materials on to credit card and debt to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The materials, created by the Attorney General’s Office, will be introduced during UTSA’s new student orientation.  In 2007, Texas lawmakers passed a law requiring state colleges and universities to educate students about managing personal finances and to prevent potential debt problems.