Education

UT Austin
10:53 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

UT Austin to Sell Alcohol at Longhorn Athletic Games Starting Friday

UT Austin will start selling alcohol at Longhorn basketball, baseball and softball games, starting Friday, when Texas Softball hosts the Texas Invitational.
Dave Wilson Photography http://davewilsonphotography.com/

Update: UT Austin says it will start selling beer and wine at Red & Charline McCombs Field Friday when Texas Softball hosts the Texas Invitational. 

“This trial will be in effect this spring for all remaining men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball games, and the fan fest area at the Texas Relays,” said UT Men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson in a statement released Thursday. “We could look into expanding it for other sports events next fall provided the outcome of the trial is positive.”

At the end of the 2014 spring sports season, UT officials, along with UT Police, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and UT Athletics concessionaire Sodexho Sports and Leisure, say they will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the trial to see if alcohol will be served at other sporting events. 

The beer and wine trial will not include the spring football game on April 19 at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

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AISD
11:50 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Austin School Board Approves Three-Year Teacher Contracts

The Austin School Board is scheduled to vote Monday whether to go from one-year to three-year teacher contracts
Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

Update:  The Austin School Board voted to reinstate three-year contracts for teachers and principals in a five to four vote Monday night. At the same meeting, school district officials also proposed to to close a projected $32 million budget gap for Fiscal Year 2015. 

The decision to move to three-year contracts comes after the school district and teacher's union, Education Austin, came to an impasse over the issue last month. Austin ISD went from three to one year contracts in 2011, when the state legislature cut billions in public education funding, also forcing the district to lay off more than 1,000 employees.

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Turning The Corner
8:18 am
Fri February 21, 2014

This Dove Springs Librarian Tells Austin Students to 'Get Mad' and Demand an Education

For the past 11 years, Ivan Cervantes has served as the librarian at Mendez Middle School. He began a program that allows students to use computers and play learning-oriented games before school each morning.
Jon Shapley for KUT News

This article is part of KUT's year-long series called Turning the Corner, which takes a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

In low-income neighborhoods around Austin, 87 percent of children entering kindergarten are considered unprepared for school, which means many of them lack basic literacy skills. At Mendez Middle School in Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood, that struggle is obvious. Last year, less than half of Mendez sixth graders passed the state standardized test for reading. 

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Education
10:44 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Interview: The UT Art History Professor Who Got An Apology From Pres. Obama

President Barack Obama flashes the "Hook Em" sign during a UT appearance in 2010. President Obama apologized to a UT art history professor who took umbrage with the president's remarks about art history majors.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

President Barack Obama wrote a hand-written apology to a University of Texas art history professor this week.

Ann Johns, a senior lecturer at UT-Austin's Department of Art and Art History, complained via the White House website about the president's remarks in a speech at a Wisconsin factory last month. As CNN notes, stumping for education initiatives, President Obama said "You folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree."

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Education
1:05 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

AISD Struggling to Keep African-American Students in District

The percentage of African-American student in the Austin Independent School District has declined in the past, which has some wondering if black students could be underserved by Austin schools.
Photo courtesy of AISD

Over the last 20 years, the percentage of Austin Independent School District's African American population has steadily declined — dropping from 18.8 percent in 1993-1994 academic year to 8.7 percent last year, according to data from the Texas Education Agency

Some are concerned fewer students could lead to more community issues going unnoticed, or at least underserved, as more African-American students and families leave the district. 

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Education
12:46 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Austin Drivers Should Slow Down in School Zones Today Though Lights May Not Flash

City crews are working to program lights to flash today.
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lan56

Many area school kids are in class today despite the Presidents' Day holiday. They’re making up for a day missed due to winter weather.

City of Austin Transportation crews are working to manually re-program flashing school zone lights warning drivers to slow down. But only about one-sixth were ready before the start of school this morning.

“If a driver comes up to a school zone and they know that the school is in session and the flasher aren’t going, they should use that same level of caution, drive slower and be aware of students in the area," city spokesperson Samantha Park said.

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Winter Weather
2:41 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Schools Will Have to Make Up Snow Days Starting This Monday

Students across Central Texas have enjoyed snow days this winter, but for Austin-area public school students that could mean extra days of school to make up for lost time.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The harsh winter weather this year has left local school districts with a mounting number of cancelations and delays. Most school districts in the region canceled classes on Jan. 24 and 28, and delayed start times on Feb. 6 and 11 due to icy conditions.

Those snow and ice days may have seemed like welcome "free days," but they come with a price. The Texas Education Agency requires that canceled class days must be made up. For most school districts, this means giving up holidays such as Good Friday, Memorial Day and Presidents Day (this Monday) to make up for lost time. Below, you can see a full list of make-up days for Austin-area schools.

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Education
12:40 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Most Eighth-Graders Fail to Get Degree 11 Years Later

According to state data, less than one-fifth of eighth grade students in 2001 earned a college degree.
Credit Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

 Among young Texans who started eighth grade in 2001, less than one-fifth went on to earn a higher education credential within six years of their high school graduation. And rates were even lower among African-American and Hispanic students and those who were economically disadvantaged, according to data analyzed by two state education agencies and presented Tuesday in a Texas Tribune news application.  

Since 2012, Houston Endowment, a philanthropic foundation and sponsor of the news app, has advocated for the use of “cohort tracking” to evaluate the state’s education pipeline. The analysis begins with all Texas students entering eighth grade in a given year and follows them for 11 years, giving them six years after high school to earn a post-secondary degree.  

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Education
8:33 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Austin ISD and Education Union at Odds Over Teacher Contracts

Education Austin and AISD are at an impasse over teacher contracts. A three-member committee of board members must now hear arguments and make a recommendation to the full board for a final decision.
Photo by KUT News

Update: Education Austin, the teachers union that represents around 1,800 Austin teachers, and the Austin Independent School District are at an impasse over teacher contracts. The two groups are at odds over contract length: the union wants the district to reinstate three-year contracts, while AISD wants to continue offering one-year contracts.

In a state without collective bargaining laws, it’s rare for a school district to have such a clear-cut process when it and another party can’t agree. 

 

“It’s been very clearly defined that if parties can’t reach agreement, the board of trustees then will ultimately engage in a solution process," Michael Houser, AISD's chief human capital officer, told the school board last night. The last time the district came to an impasse with Education Austin was in 2008. 

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UT System
1:12 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa Steps Down

UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced Monday he is resigning to head pediatric transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

After five years, Francisco Cigarroa announced Monday morning that he is stepping down as University of Texas System Chancellor. 

Cigarroa says he's leaving to head the pediatric transplant surgery department at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

"It really ended up being a very personal decision as to what is my next role in life?" Cigarroa said at a press conference Monday morning. "What’s the next mountain I want to climb?"

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School Finance
6:30 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Lawyers Give Closing Arguments in Texas School Finance Trial

Judge John Dietz heard closing arguments Friday in the Texas school finance trial. He says he expects to make a final ruling in the spring.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

There finally seems to be an end in sight in the Texas school finance trial as lawyers gave closing arguments Friday afternoon.

The trial initially examined if Texas constitutionally funds public education. In 2012, District Judge John Dietz preliminarily ruled the system was unconstitutional, but he reopened the trial to see if the actions of the 2013 legislature could change his final ruling.

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Education
5:32 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Round Rock ISD Apologizes, Backs Out of Cell Tower at Elementary School

Construction of the cell phone tower at Pond Springs Elementary School in Round Rock. School officals say they're going to try to get out of the contract to build a cell phone tower on campus after parents complained.
Dana Vasagam

The Round Rock Independent School District is backing away from an agreement with cell phone provider AT&T after parents and community members raised concerns about the construction of a cell phone tower on an elementary school campus.

According to a letter sent to parents, the district agreed to lease land to AT&T to build the tower at Pond Springs Elementary School, but some parents say Monday's letter was the first time they had heard of the agreement.

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AISD
9:27 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Nonprofit Says Austin Schools Don't Address Inequality Among Students

The Texas Civil Rights Project wants AISD to start an independent Equity Foundation to help direct private money to schools in low income neighborhoods
KUT News

A nonprofit legal foundation says the Austin Independent School District isn’t addressing education inequalities between high and low-income students. 

The Texas Civil Rights Project released an updated report Tuesday on equal opportunity in the district. It's urging the district to start an independent equity foundation, which would direct private money to schools in low-income neighborhoods and create a level playing field between students regardless of their parents' income. The foundation would promote equal access to things like books and quality teachers and how schools spend their money.

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AISD
5:56 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Austin ISD Names New Athletic Director

Leal Anderson, AISD's new athletic director, comes to the district from Anderson High School.
hometeamsonline.com

The Austin Independent School District has a new athletic director. Leal Anderson will oversee AISD sports programs that involve more than 14,000 students. Anderson says part of his mission is improving the academic success of students through the character development that happens in athletics.

"I think graduation will increase," Anderson said at a media availability Tuesday." I think the numbers of enrollment will also increase. We'll also have less students dropping out. Those are things that I think are really important, that will help. And that's what I look forward to doing."

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Education
4:43 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Obama Secures Funding To Help Connect Students To Internet

President Obama records students on a classroom iPad while visiting a seventh grade classroom before speaking about goals of connecting students to next generation broadband and wireless technology within five years on Tuesday, at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 4:30 pm

President Obama on Tuesday announced that technology companies had pledged $750 million in equipment and services that would help connect students to the Internet.

USA Today reports:

"Money from Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other companies, combined with $2 billion from the Federal Communications Commission, will help connect up to 15,000 schools and 20 million students.

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