Education

Suspensions at AISD
11:37 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Black Students Are Eight Percent of AISD – and Nearly One-Fourth of Suspensions

Credit Zack Maxwell / Arlingtonvoice.com

Since 2009, the number of suspensions at Austin public schools has fallen. But African-American students continue to receive out-of-school suspensions at a higher rate than their peers.

During the 2013 school year, 1,066 African-American AISD students – almost 13 percent of the black student population of 8,334 – received out-of-school suspensions. In that same period, 549 white AISD students were suspended­ ­– only 2.24 percent of the 24,543 white student population. Going by those numbers, African-American students are nearly six times more likely to be suspended from school.

Despite teacher training and district efforts, many African-American parents and community members feel like their children aren't understood.

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Austin ISD
10:07 am
Fri May 16, 2014

These Students Forged a Friendship in Austin's 'Golden Age' of Integration

Richard Reddick, left, and Ryan Scarborough upon graduating from Johnston High School in 1990. The two lived in different Austin neighborhoods, but attended the same high school because of school integration policies.
Credit Richard Reddick

Austin has its own convoluted history when it comes to school integration – one involving multiple federal lawsuits and many different strategies to desegregate schools.

Busing was one of those strategies. Many students were bused across the city to schools on the other side of town. West Austin residents went to East Austin schools and visa versa. 

Saturday, May 17, marks 60 years since the Supreme Court struck down the concept of "separate but equal" in Brown v. Board of Education. It's a decision that affected students across the country. But for two Austin teenagers in the late 1980s, it also sparked a life-long friendship.

If you think about it, it’s a miracle Richard Reddick and Ryan Scarborough ever met. Scarborough, a white student from Austin’s Northwest Hills neighborhood, was bused to Johnston High School on Austin's east side, starting in 1986.

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Education
3:24 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Will Texas' New Teacher Evaluation System Rely Too Much on Test Scores?

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Members of the Texas House Committee on Public Education are wrestling with how to evaluate teacher performance in modern classrooms. And while educators and administrators agree the current system needs overhauling, there's little agreement on what will replace it.

In advance of today's hearing, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams said in a letter that current teacher evaluation criteria – the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) – has "outlived its usefulness."

Patty Hill, a math teacher at Austin's Kealing Middle School, agrees. She told lawmakers today she’s afraid that by adopting a “flipped classroom” model – posting lectures online for students to view at home, and working collaboratively on 'homework' in the classroom – she is opening herself up for negative evaluations.

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UT Austin
1:41 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Lege Committee Finds Grounds for Impeachment of UT Regent Hall

Dallas businessman Wallace Hall, Jr. takes notes at the University of Texas Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 14, 2013 in Austin.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Update: The House Transparency Committee has voted 7-1 that grounds to impeach UT Regent Wallace Hall exist.

The matter of whether to recommend impeachment proceedings is a separate question still to be decided. The committee will reconvene May 21 to consider articles of impeachment against Hall. But some committee members are hoping the UT Board of Regents or Gov. Rick Perry will take action before then.

"You have a responsibility, Board of Regents," Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, said. "You have known about this behavior for quite some time and you have a responsibility to take action to allow one trustee, one member to continue this misconduct, to allow someone to bring down the university. I think the responsibility lies with the Board of Regents. So we are looking to you to make some changes."

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Education
10:04 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Eanes Bond Election Raises Questions About Out-of-District Transfer Students

The Eanes ISD is asking voters to approve $89.5 million dollar bond proposal, but some opponents say the district should end its policy of accepting out of transfer students because they say it costs the district money.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/audiolucistore/

Today is the last day for early voting in the May 10th municipal elections.

Voters in the Eanes Independent School District are deciding on a $89.5 million school bond package. If approved, the bond package would allow Eanes ISD to borrow money for a new elementary school, as well as some technology and classroom upgrades.

The proposal is the result of three years of community meetings about the future of the school district. 

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Education
8:11 am
Tue May 6, 2014

This Austin Charter School Slated for Closure May Get a Second Chance

Jon Shapley for KUT News

An Austin charter school slated for closure by the state may be getting a second chance.

The Texas Education Agency had ordered American Youthworks to close by next month. But the school went to court and argued everything was a misunderstanding.

On Friday, a judge agreed to hear the school's case – possibly extending the school's life for at least one more semester.

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Education
9:01 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Student Parents Want More Visibility at Texas Universities

Vanessa Pulido is a student parent at UT who tried to organize a club for other student-parents on campus. She's one of many student parents across that state that want more visibility and resource at Texas universities.
Vanessa Pulido

KUT News intern Lynn Romero is a graduate student at UT-Austin. She had a daughter at age 18, and was surprised by the invisibility of students like her on campus when she started school at UT several years later. She wondered how many other student parents there were – so she tried to find out.

Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the United States. And those teens who have children before they finish high school are less likely to graduate high school, let alone make it to college. But what happens to those who do?

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, nationally about 13 percent of all undergraduates at four year universities have kids. UT-Austin junior Vanessa Pulido is one of those students. Halfway through freshman year, she gave birth to her son, Isaiah. When she started school pregnant, she worried how people would react.

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Sexual Assault on Campus
4:08 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Two Texas Colleges on Title IX Investigation List

Texas Tribune

Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas-Pan American are on a list of higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law in their handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released the comprehensive list of schools under investigation for issues relating to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at institutions that receive federal financial assistance.

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Austin ISD
5:12 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Austin Teachers Union Wants AISD to Reinstate Salary Bump

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis at a rally in support of three-year contracts for teachers. The union is asking AISD to reinstate a 1.5% bonus for teachers next year that is currently not included in the next budget.
Credit Kate McGee, KUT NEws

The local teacher's union is asking Austin ISD to reinstate a 1.5 percent bonus for all district employees for the 2014-2015 school year. The district and the union are expected to meet on the matter Wednesday.

For the past two years, the district has provided a 3 percent pay increase for employees. This academic year, it approved a one-time, 1.5 percent increase on top of that. But the 1.5 percent salary adjustment is not included in the FY 2015 preliminary budget assumptions.

Now, Education Austin is asking the district to change that.

"Our district looks a little different than it did a month ago," Zarifis says referring to the departure of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. "We believe this is an opportunity to find out if we're going to do things different."

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Higher Education
11:57 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Campus Sexual Assaults Are Targeted In New White House Report

A White House task force on sexual assault at college campuses issued new guidelines Tuesday, asking colleges to survey students about their experiences. The task force was headed by Vice President Biden's office and the White House Council on Women and Girls, which is led by Tina Tchen.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 1:01 pm

Noting that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted in college, the White House is releasing new guidelines to help victims of that violence and improve the way schools handle such cases. Campus sexual assaults are notoriously underreported, and schools' disciplinary processes vary widely.

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Austin ISD
10:33 am
Mon April 28, 2014

A 'Divided' Austin School Board Faces An Uncertain Future

The Austin School Board
KUT News

The Austin School Board has its first board meeting tonight with Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz tonight.

The board faces many decisions in the coming months, and some are worried it’s having trouble making decisions – especially as it begins its search for a new superintendent.

Last general board meeting, school board members Cheryl Bradley and Jayme Mathias clashed over the approval of school uniforms for the new single-gender campuses, with Bradley calling Mathias' proposal to postpone a decision "ridiculous."

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UT Board of Regents
4:32 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Travis County Opens Criminal Investigation of UT Regent Wallace Hall

The Travis County District Attorney’s office is opening a criminal investigation of University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into Hall after receiving a complaint from a legislative committee considering impeachment proceedings against the regent.

Hall is accused of improper handling of student records as part of extensive open records requests of UT-Austin documents. Critics have accused Hall of conducting a "witch hunt" on behalf of Gov. Rick Perry to oust UT-Austin President Bill Powers.

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TEKS and Common Core
9:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Are Common Core and Texas Teaching Standards Really That Different?

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Elgin Middle School sixth grader Allison Graves sits at a computer in math class, using a program called Think Through Math to practice fractions.

“Your friend gave you a bag of candy," she reads. "There are 36 red candies and 27 green candies. What is the ratio of green candies to red candies?”

The online math program takes Graves through each lesson step by step. She collects points for correct answers and competes against classmates and other Texas students.

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Education
10:05 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette speaks to reporters after arguing the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in October. He's with XIV Foundation CEO Jennifer Gratz, who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:02 am

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Michigan ballot initiative to ban racial preferences in college admissions is constitutional, overturning a lower court decision.

In a 6-2 decision Tuesday, the justices said the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to set aside the voter-approved ban as discriminatory.

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AISD
9:08 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen Says Goodbye to Austin

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen photographed in 2009. Her final AISD board meeting was Monday evening.
KUT News

Wednesday will be Austin School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s last day with the district before she leaves for the same position in Atlanta.

Carstarphen attended her final school board meeting in Austin Monday night, where she was recognized for her contributions to the district over the past five years.

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UT Medical School
12:09 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Construction of UT's New Dell Medical School Kicks Off

A rendering of the new Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, part of the cluster of complexes accompanying UT's new Dell Medical School.
youtube.com/user/setonfamily

Update: Among the speakers at today's dedication: UT-Austin President Bill Powers, Dell Medical School Dean Dr. Clay Johnston, and State Sen. Kirk Watson, who helped lead the push for the medical school.

“Make no mistake. Today isn’t just about three new buildings on our skyline," Sen. Watson said. "Our community will be different – healthier and stronger – thanks to this project we’re launching today."

Johnston said that the school's launch offers the chance to design everything from the ground up.

"We have a responsibility to take advantage of our newness, to test out different ways of doing things that could become models for the rest of the country."

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AISD
8:08 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin School Board Names Paul Cruz Temporary Superintendent

Paul Cruz will run the largest school district in Central Texas while the school board searches for a long-term replacement for Meria Carstarphen.
AISD http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Austin school trustees unanimously appointed Paul Cruz as interim superintendent Tuesday night. They also accepted Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's resignation, as she heads to Atlanta to lead that city's public school system.

Carstarphen will remain superintendent until April 23, when her resignation goes into effect. The school district can have a superintendent and an interim superintendent at the same time, as Carstarphen helps Cruz assume his temporary position.

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Education
4:49 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Calculator Directive for 8th-Graders Draws Concerns

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

As the state integrates a directive that requires eighth-graders in Texas public schools to have graphing calculators for STAAR testing, some poorer Texas school districts say that such mandates ignore the financial crunch that many districts are already facing.

In February, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams wrote to Texas superintendents to instruct them that they must ensure that eighth-grade students have graphing calculators for STAAR assessments, starting in the 2014-15 school year. The directive comes after the State Board of Education increased the algebra content on the exam, said Debbie Ratcliffe, a TEA spokeswoman.

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UT-Austin
11:08 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Bill Powers on Regents Drama, Civil Rights Summit & Those Mysterious Maroon Bluebonnets

UT-Austin President Bill Powers welcomes guests to a panel at the LBJ School & Museum's Civil Rights Summit, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman

Reports over the past week suggest that the screws are tightening on one of the biggest critics of William Powers, Jr., President of the University of Texas at Austin.

University Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, according to a 176-page report prepared for legislators looking into Hall's campaign to oust Powers. Among the charges: that Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal law, that he attempted to coerce UT administrators to alter testimony to investigators, and that he abused his position as regent.

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UT Austin
5:35 am
Tue April 15, 2014

UT Engineering School Receives $5M from ExxonMobil CEO

The UT Engineering School is receiving $5 million from the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W Tillerson, and his wife, Renda.
Photo by KUT News

Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W. Tillerson and his wife, Renda, are donating $5 million to the Cockrell School of Engineering. The money is slated to go toward the Engineering Education and Research Center which is expected to open in 2017.

It's a 430,000 square-foot facility that will allow UT Austin to expand its teaching, research and student project space.

Tillerson graduated from UT Austin in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and serves on the school's Engineering Advisory Board and UT Development Board.  His sons, Robert and Michael, are also graduates.

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