Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

At 3 p.m., the computer lounge at the Pflugerville Public Library is bustling. College sophomore Emily Margaretich is hard at work trying to sign up for summer classes on her college’s website. When she’s done with that, she’ll deal with financial aid and do some online banking.

Margaretich does all this work in the library, because she and her mom don’t have home internet access. 


In this "Best of" Higher Ed episode, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger reflect on what commencement means and discuss what most students actually take away from their college experiences.  It may not be exactly what you'd expect.


Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Jason Unbound

From the Texas Tribune – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while asserting it could be better. 

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Three years ago, state lawmakers approved a pilot program in Austin that allows adults up to 50 years old to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas. And over the last 18 months, the Excel Charter School has graduated 75 former high school drop-outs.

While Texas law allows students up to 25 years old to enroll in high school, once a person turns 26, their options are limited to getting a GED.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Last May, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock stood on the bustling floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin and smiled.

"If I only knew then what I know now...." Sure, hindsight is 20/20. But if you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? What decisions would you make differently? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton give their younger selves some words of wisdom about life and learning. Think of it as "Higher Ed's" 2016 commencement address.


A podcast listener and fan recently wrote in with a question: How does one teach (or force) current and future Math teachers to make Mathematics fascinating? (By the way, that podcast listener is studying Mathematics education.) Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger is a mathematician, so who better to tackle that! He and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore that question in this episode of Higher Ed.


Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Donald Trump, Harper Lee, and Spike Lee: Those are just a few of the famous names submitted to the Austin Independent School District as suggestions for the re-naming of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Update Monday 3 p.m. The Lee Elementary Campus Advisory Council narrowed down the list to 8 names, according to a press release the district sent out Monday afternoon. The names on the list, which will be narrowed down to a final 3 by May 3, are: Barbara Smith Conrad, Bettie Mann (former Lee Elementary teacher of more than 35 years and first African American educator at the school), Elisabet Ney, Harper Lee, former AISD music director Kenneth Ragsdale, Russell Lee, Waller Creek and Wheeler's Grove. The final decision is still scheduled for May 23.

Math: we love it; we hate it; we cannot live without it. A Higher Ed podcast listener had read a National Public Radio piece on a book that argues against requiring advanced Math in school. That listener - who's studying Mathematics education - was inspired to write in and ask: Should Math be a college requirement? Does Math add significant value to a college curriculum? Can students become lifelong learners without taking Math? KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore those questions in this episode of Higher Ed.


What are the roles and responsibilities of higher education – if any – in resolving growing inequality in the U.S. and globally? That provocative question from a listener prompted KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger to explore the roles and responsibilities of higher education in general for this episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed.


Nathan Bernier/KUT

The state’s education commissioner revealed on Wednesday the scope of a computer glitch that caused some students taking state standardized exams to lose their answers.

Commissioner Mike Morath told the State Board of Education that more than 14,000 tests were affected by the glitch. A Texas Education Agency spokeswoman told the Tribune’s Kiah Collier that nearly 8,800 of the affected exams were a version of the standardized test given to special-education students.


Most people like what's familiar, comfortable, and tidy. But should learning be that way, too? In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger talk about the ways in which learning is actually quite messy. And how we shouldn't want it any other way.


Kate McGee/KUT

Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Hyde Park will get a new name later this spring.

Last night, the Austin School Board voted to start the re-naming process. It’s been a long conversation that has divided members of the community, but the school board ultimately opted to change the name of the school on a vote of 8-0, with one board member abstaining.


Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

UPDATE 10:00 pm: The Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted 8-0 to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary. Trustee Ann Teich abstained from voting.

The district will begin accepting nominations for new names on Tuesday and will present options to the board in May.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Austin School Board could vote tonight to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School. It’s one of four Austin schools named after a Confederate leader. But, it’s the only school community that has mobilized to change the name, and one school board trustee is frustrated with how Austin ISD and the school board are handling the issue.


Think. Create. Connect. To make meaning and make a difference. In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger about a new vision for education and what that can look like in practice.  They dive in to the pieces of that vision to see what it might take to revolutionize education.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

The Austin School District owns 10 properties that aren’t schools—and the school board is expected to vote Monday whether it will accept bids to possibly lease, sell or repurpose those pieces of land. That includes the Baker School in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood, but some residents aren’t happy the land might be up for sale.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It was probably a staple of your high school experience.

That little oasis where you could go in between classes to collect your books, to freshen up your make up or, maybe, to check to see if your baby mustache is still growing in properly. 

But, it’s an experience that most kids now don’t get the chance to have.  We're talking, of course, about the school locker. 

    

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

By the end of this month, the Austin School Board could approve a resolution to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and the board will review the resolution Monday night before a final vote next week.


We all know the traditional school routine: Go to class, listen to a lecture, take notes, go home, do the homework, come back to class, repeat. What if that model were reversed, and students were producers of some of that information, instead of only consumers? In this "Best of" episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss flipping the traditional model of learning.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Seventh grade was a pivotal year for Violet Jimenez. It’s when she started her first job, working as a clown.

“I did birthday parties for little kids and weddings," Violet says. "One of the jokes we always had is, 'We do birthday parties, we do weddings, we do quinceañeras, we do divorces, we do funerals.'”


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