Education

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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Education
1:58 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Gov. Perry Names Michael Williams TEA Commissioner

Michael Williams' campaign website http://www.williamsfortexas.com/

A former chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, Michael Williams, will be the new Texas Commissioner of Education, Governor Rick Perry announced today. Williams will assume the post September 1. He will become the first African-American to lead the Texas Education Agency. 

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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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Education
5:42 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

For First Time, Latinos Represent Largest Minority Group In Colleges

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 5:26 pm

In a new study, The Pew Hispanic Center says that for the first time ever, Hispanics have become the largest minority group in the country's college campuses.

It's a report that marks many firsts for the ethnic group, which has been making great strides in education since 1972.

Among them: For the first time, there were more than 2 million latinos ages 18 to 24 enrolled. They reached a record 16.5 percent of all college enrollment. Hispanics make up a little more than a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in two-year colleges.

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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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Education
12:05 am
Tue August 14, 2012

AISD Board Asks if Single-Sex Schools Are the Answer

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen talks to school board members during Monday night's work session.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin school district is racking its brain trying to come up with a way to help turn around two middle schools repeatedly ranked “academically unacceptable” by the state. The latest plan for Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools involves converting them to single-sex campuses, but that proposal has not received resounding support from the public. That uncertainty surfaced last night among members of the Austin school board.

Pearce and Garcia Middle schools are each about two-thirds Hispanic and one-third African-American, give or take. Both student populations are almost all economically disadvantaged, as measured by the number of students on the National School Lunch Program.

Year after year, both schools have wound up on the state's list of academically unacceptable campuses. And year after year, school board trustees proclaim the need to do something about it.

“Sitting on this side of the fence, it just seems that we've got to do something different for that community, and if we don't, failing those students is not an option,” Trustee Lori Moya said during a work session Monday night.

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Education
4:57 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Austin School Board to Debate Single-Sex Schools Tonight

Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools would be become single-sex campuses under an AISD proposal to be discussed by the board tonight.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An Austin ISD proposal to convert two northeast campuses into a pair of single-sex middle schools will go before the school board tonight.

They won’t take action on the plan for Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools, but board members will have a chance to discuss what has become a controversial recommendation.

Members of the public had a lot of questions for the district during a series of open forums on the proposal. This particular meeting at LBJ High School got heated and some parents said they left feeling that their questions about the benefits of single-sex education weren’t answered. Even Cheryl Bradley – the school board member who represents the district and has been a strong proponent of single-sex schools – told KXAN afterwards that it was time to “stop and rethink” the idea.

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Education
5:28 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Most Central Texas School Districts Fail Federal Standards

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

A majority of Central Texas school districts did not meet federal standards this year under the No Child Left Behind law. It’s largely the outcome of tougher passing standards. But the results have some education officials questioning the validity of the testing system.

Some of the Central Texas school districts that failed to meet NCLB’s Adequate Yearly Progress standards included Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Manor, Georgetown, Dripping SpringsHays and San Marcos. In Central Texas, the few school districts that did meet AYP were located in higher income areas such the Eanes, Lago Visa and Lake Travis. But even in Lake Travis, the high school failed to meet AYP.  

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Education
7:34 am
Tue August 7, 2012

UT Defends Use of Race as a Factor in Admissions

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether UT's use of race as a factor in admissions is constitutional.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court defending its use of race as a factor in admissions.

An applicant to UT filed the suit because she says she was denied admission in 2008 because she’s white.

The university says race is just one of many factors considered in admissions and that its use is necessary and constitutional.

UT-Austin President Bill Powers released a short video discussing the case. In it, he says officials are “confident the university will prevail.”

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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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Higher Education
2:32 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Audit: UT Gay Parenting Study 'Severely Flawed'

UT researcher Mark Regnerus' paper on gay marriage has been refuted by a panel at the same journal that initially published his work.
University of Texas

A study by University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus that questioned the parenting abilities of gay couples is “severely flawed,” according to an internal audit by the scientific journal that published it, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

The highly critical audit, a draft of which was provided to The Chronicle by the journal’s editor, also cites conflicts of interest among the reviewers, and states that “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science Research.  A member of the journal’s editorial board, Southern Illinois University sociology professor Darren Sherkat, was assigned to examine the peer review process. His assessment was blunt.

“It’s bulls**t,” Sherkat told the Chronicle of Higher Education, adding that the study should never have been published. 

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Education
10:50 am
Fri July 27, 2012

A&M's Outsourcing Plans Have Workers Concerned

Callie Richmond for Texas Tribune

When the Texas A&M University System announced that its flagship would gain $260 million in new revenue and savings in the next 10 years by outsourcing its building maintenance, landscaping and dining services, Chancellor John Sharp said the plan was an unprecedented way to raise money in financially struggling higher education.

“Today’s announcement means more money will be available to recruit, pay and retain faculty and researchers,” he said at a news conference on June 21.

But excitement over the plan is not universal. Many people on campus and in the surrounding community are worried and angry. A&M staff members who perform the support services have expressed concern over their future employment. And Bryan-College Station vendors fret that they could lose one of their biggest clients.

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Education
12:21 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

SCOTUS to Hear UT Affirmative Action Case in October

The lawsuit challenges the affirmative action policy at UT.
KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in October in a case challenging the use of affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin.

Abigail Fisher filed a lawsuit against UT-Austin in 2008. She says she wasn’t admitted to the university because she’s white.

The Supreme Court will hear the case October 10.

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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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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
4:32 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

A&M to Join Texas Wesleyan to Create New Law School

Texas Tribune

According to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, a law school is "one of the few things that have been missing from A&M for a very long time."

That era is coming to a close.

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