Education

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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Education
1:12 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

AISD to Focus on Increasing Minority Graduation Rates

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says the district has a lot to cheer about but there's still a lot of work to do.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen opened an all-staff convocation today by highlighting achievements in the district. But she also made clear there’s room for improvement.

Carstarphen told teachers they will have to handle non-violent disciplinary cases with in-school suspensions. It’s part of a policy the district is pursuing to increase graduation rates among minorities, who are disproportionately placed in the districts disciplinary schools.

“Nearly a third of African American and Hispanic males did not graduate on time. Hispanic females have dropout rates that are five times higher than Caucasian females in the district,” Carstarphen says.

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AM Update: 8/22/12
8:56 am
Wed August 22, 2012

AM Update: Texas Can Deny Funding to Planned Parenthood, Group Joins School Funding Suit, ACT Scores

A judge lifted the temporary injunction that prevents the state from cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood before an October trial.
flickr.com/wenews

Planned Parenthood

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Texas can stop funding Planned Parenthood under the state’s Women’s Health Program – at least until a full trial in October.

Planned Parenthood had obtained an injunction that prevented the state from cutting off funding before the trial. But the three-judge panel lifted the injunction.

After the ruling, Governor Rick Perry released a statement that said, in part:

“The 5th Circuit’s decision is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state’s priority to protect life. We will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott in the fight to defend our state laws.”

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Education
1:32 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Commission Says Penn State's Accreditation is 'In Jeopardy'

Penn State during the football team's media day in State College, Pa., on Thursday.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 11:50 am

The commission in charge of accrediting universities in the Mid-Atlantic region has warned Penn State that if it doesn't make changes in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, it could lose its accreditation.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education put the university "on warning," the AP reports, saying that it wants a report on how the university is complying with integrity standards.

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Austin
1:34 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

ACC Completes Its Highland Mall Takeover

While ACC has acquired the lease for the entirety of Highland Mall, it says "mall business is expected to continue as usual for the immediate future."
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Community College now has complete ownership of Highland Mall. The college announced today that it has acquired the ground lease for the sections of the building it didn’t already own.

ACC now plans to quickly move forward to make new use of the site. ACC President and CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes said in a statement today that the first step will be renovating the former J.C. Penney property into classrooms and labs.

“In particular, the Penney space will house the college’s math emporium, an open-lab model that allows students to move through developmental math curriculum at an individualized pace,” reads a statement from ACC.

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Education
2:59 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Texas On-Time Grad Rates Reach Record High

Study up: On-time graduation rates have risen to the point where it's tougher to post major gains.
Flickr user Cindy Schultz, http://bit.ly/Nr1Wbo

High school graduation rates in Texas hit a record high last year, according to a new report by the Texas Education Agency.

Eighty-six percent of the class of 2011 graduated "on-time," a measure that counts ninth graders who graduate within four years. When you expand it to five years, the graduation rate was 92 percent. Hispanics, African-Americans, and white students all posted gains.

However, the speed at which graduation rates are improving slowed. Schools showed a 1.6 percentage gain in the 2011 school year, compared to a 3.7 percent increase the year before. But the Texas Education Agency says it’s not a big concern.

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Education
10:54 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Possible Flaw in State Standardized Testing

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

A UT professor has released research that could be a big problem for state testing.

Walter Stroup is a UT professor in charge of a pilot math program for middle school students in Dallas. The Texas Tribune writes that Stroup and two other researchers have compiled studies on the TAKS standardized test, which they say demonstrates an error related to the statistical method used to assemble the tests – suggesting that the tests are essentially useless at measuring effective classroom instruction.

Education company Pearson has a $468 million contract to write the state’s standardized tests through 2015. It is also responsible for the controversial STAAR test.

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Education
11:51 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Report: Federal Spending On Kids Declines For First Time In 30 Years

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 11:35 am

For the first time since the early 1980s, the federal government will spend less on American children this year, the Urban Institute's latest "Kids' Share" study (pdf) finds.

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Education
12:52 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Texas Weighs State-Based Alternative to GED Exam

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Texas may soon add one more item to the list of national education practices it has bucked over the years.  

Because of changes coming to the GED in 2014, the Texas Education Agency is putting out feelers to figure out how much a new state-based high school equivalency exam would cost.

Last year, the American Council on Education, a national organization of higher-education institutions that develops the exams, partnered with Pearson, a London-based testing company. They formed a jointly owned entity called GED Testing Services, which has since overhauled the exam in an effort to better test the skills needed in the workplace.

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AM Update 7/6/12
7:28 am
Fri July 6, 2012

AM Update: Study: APD Needs More Officers, Ft Hood Shooting Jury Questions, Texas Special Ed Numbers

With Austin's population projected to reach over 923,000 by 2017, a study advises APD to grow with the city.

Study Advises APD to Grow with City

A new study commissioned by the City of Austin recommends the Austin Police Department increase its staffing numbers by over 250 by 2017.

The study, released by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit organization which has studied police departments around the nation, suggested APD increase its officer-to-population ratio to 2.11 officers per one thousand residents. Right now, Austin has 2.08 officers per one thousand residents.

The department spends 57 percent of its time responding to calls, leaving little time “to engage the community, solve local crime and disorder problems, or patrol hot spots,” says the report. The study recommends aiming to drop the time spent responding to calls to 45 percent.

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University of Texas
11:15 am
Wed June 27, 2012

When UT Appeared to Be in UVA's Shoes, Many Spoke Out

William "Bill" Powers, Jr., president of the University of Texas at Austin, at Trib Live on April 28, 2011.
Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

On Tuesday, the University of Virginia reinstated President Teresa Sullivan after her forced resignation this month sparked a dramatic outcry. Throughout the ordeal, observers have drawn parallels to Sullivan’s former stomping grounds: the University of Texas at Austin, where she worked for nearly three decades.

For the last year and a half, speculation has swirled about the intentions of some University of Texas System regents. Many feared that those regents — appointed by Gov.Rick Perry — were put in place to implement a controversial set of dramatic policy changes the governor had promoted that some criticized for being anti-academic and overly business-minded. So when Sullivan was abruptly terminated at UVA, apparently over her opposition to her board’s eagerness to push rapid top-down changes, UT observers’ antennas perked up.

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Education
12:24 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

AISD Offices Operating on Summer Schedule

AISD Headquarters and other offices will be operating on a four-day week starting today.
KUT News

A temporary schedule change for Austin ISD schools and offices goes into effect today. AISD says the change is an effort to cut energy usage this summer.

Starting today and running through July 27, AISD offices will be closed on Fridays. Employees will work 10-hour days Monday through Thursday. Office hours will be 7 a.m to 6 p.m.

Schools and offices will be completely closed the week of July 2.

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Education
11:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Texas Ranked 41st on Per Student Spending

Lockers at Bowie High School
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Only nine states spent less on education spending per student than Texas in the 2009-2010 school year, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The numbers reflect spending levels before $5.4 billion in education spending cuts were enacted by the state legislature in 2011.

Texas spent $8,746 per student in 09-10. That compares with a national average of $10,615, an increase of more than one percent from the previous year.

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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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