Education

Education
8:40 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New AISD Board To Examine IDEA Charter Contract (Update)

Allan Elementary school
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The Austin School Board will continue to talk about the district’s contract with IDEA Public Schools at its regular meeting later this month.

Right now, IDEA is just operating at Allan Elementary. But the charter will grow to include more grades and expand into Eastside Memorial if the board doesn’t make a decision to end or change the contract before the end of the year. Board member Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias proposed that the contract continue but be changed to keep IDEA from expanding into Eastside Memorial next school year.

Under his proposal, IDEA would continue to include more grades but, instead of moving on to the Eastside Memorial campus, seventh graders would stay at Allan.

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Education
12:58 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Education Commissioner Defers STAAR Grading Policy

Education Commissioner Michael Williams (left) deferred the STAAR requirement, a day after Gov. Perry (right) suggested so.
Williams photo Texas Education Agency; Perry photo Gage Skidmore

For the second year in a row, end of course exams won’t necessarily count toward 15 percent of a students’ final grade.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced today that school districts will be allowed to apply for a waiver to the rule for the 2012-13 school year.

“You know we have to recognize that we are only in the second of the accountability system and the first year of testing,” Williams said. “There probably is some wisdom in saying, ‘Pump your brakes.’”

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Education
4:12 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Perry: Let School Districts Decide on 15 Percent Rule

Shannan Muskopf/Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is expressing his support for letting school districts themselves choose whether to implement a rule that requires new state assessments to count for 15 percent of high school students' final grades.

In a written statement Thursday — the first time the governor has publicly weighed in on the issue —  Perry praised legislation filed by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that would leave the decision up to local school districts. He also asked Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to defer the state's rollout of the rule until the next school year.

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Education
10:30 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Texas Posts Top High School Graduation Rates, But Why?

Brian Gurrola for Texas Tribune

With witnesses in a school finance trial testifying daily on the challenges facing public education in the state, and with a chorus of state leaders citing the failings of traditional public schools in calling for reform, some may be surprised to hear that by one measure, Texas schools appear to be doing quite well.

Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Education this week shows that Texas — along with five other states — ranks fourth in the nation for its four-year high school graduation rates. With an overall rate of 86 percent in the 2010-11 school year, the state follows Iowa, with 88 percent, and Wisconsin and Vermont, both at 87 percent.

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Education
2:59 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Gov. Perry Wants to Fast Track Vocational Certification in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry announced the creation of a Skilled Workforce Initiatve Tuesday.
KUT News

Governor Perry announced his intention Tuesday to launch a Skilled Workforce Initiative in Texas to address demand for certified, highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

The initiative would reduce the time it takes for students to earn vocational certification in certain high-demand fields, such as manufacturing and industrial business. Under the initiative, certification programs will award credit to students who enter the program already possessing some experience and skills necessary for certification.  Backers hope the program will allow students to get certified and begin filling jobs more quickly, while also saving them time and money by allowing them to bypass lessons on subjects they’ve already mastered.

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Education
6:56 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Texas School Districts, Charters Are Finalists in Federal Competition

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

By the end of the year, a few Texas school districts may have access to millions in funding that Gov. Rick Perry had passed on two years ago because of concerns about federal intrusion into Texas classrooms.

Since Texas refused to participate in Race to the Top at the state level in 2010, the Obama administration has rolled out a new version of its signature education program to allow districts to apply individually for a separate pot of about $400 million in federal money. Administration officials announced the new round of competition that would emphasize data-driven personalized student learning plans in 2011, after three phases of the state-based contest.

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Education
9:37 am
Tue November 27, 2012

AISD Superintendent Takes Stand in School Finance Trial

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is expected to take the stand again today in the school finance trial.

AISD is one of about 600 Texas school districts suing the state. AISD says the state has increased academic requirements, but failed to provide funding to pay for it.

The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

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Education
1:30 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

UT-Austin Med School Plans Proceed After Election

First year resident Karthik Mekala, MD, watches Chief Maryam Ayaz, MD, check on a patient at UMC Brackenridge.
Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

Despite its glowing reputation, Austin has faced a gap when compared with other major metropolitan areas: the lack of a medical school and the cutting-edge research it can provide.

But that gap appears to be closing after Travis County voters approved a five-cent property tax hike this month to help finance a plan to overhaul the region’s approach to health care — including the construction of a research-intensive medical school that will be affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.

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Education
4:15 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

There's Oil on Them Thar Campuses!

Students in environmental science professor Jeffery Stone's class watch as a seismic shaker truck rolls through Indiana State University's campus.
Tony Campbell Courtesy of Indiana State University

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Imagine going to college and finding an oil rig on campus. That's becoming increasingly likely as oil and gas companies use a controversial technique commonly referred to as fracking to extract resources from land underneath campuses across the country.

Environmental science professor Jeffery Stone will never forget the day the earth shook on Indiana State University's campus in Terre Haute.

"They did it like in eight-second pulses, and you could feel the whole sidewalk wobble like an earthquake almost," Stone says.

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AISD
7:38 am
Tue November 20, 2012

New AISD Board Members Take Oath (Update)

New members will soon take to the dais at AISD headquarters.
KUT News

Update (Nov. 20, 7:38 a.m.): The dynamics of the Austin School Board of Trustees continue to shift. The board voted to elect officers last night—including two newcomers.

Vince Torres, District 4, will move from Vice President to President—replacing Mark Williams, who decided not to seek another term.

New member Gina Hinajosa, At Large Position 8, was picked to take Torres' place.

Another new member, Jayme Mathias, District 2, is taking over the role of Secretary. Lori Moya, District 6, had served in the role.

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AISD
1:21 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Here's What AISD’s Performing Arts Center Will Look Like

Artist's rendering of AISD's new performing arts center.
Pfluger Associates Architects

Four new Austin school board members will be sworn in tonight, and one of their first orders of business will be approving the maximum price of a new district-wide performing arts center in the Mueller development.

Contained in the agenda item are the final renderings showing exactly what the center would look like. You can click on the slideshow above to view the images, which were pulled from this AISD document.

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Round Rock ISD
5:04 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Beyond 'Abstinence Only:' Round Rock School Board Revisits Sex Ed (Update)

Round Rock ISD is dicussing bringing contraceptives talk into the classroom.
flickr.com/peachy92

Update: The proposal addressing sex education standards has been withdrawn from the Round Rock school board agenda, according to the Austin American-Statesman. It writes that the health advisory committee that recommended the change was improperly assembled. It's uncertain at this time when (or if) the proposal will return for consideration.

Original post (11:57 a.m.): The Round Rock Independent School District’s Board of Education will be meeting tonight and sex education is on the agenda.

The board will discuss an implementation plan to teach students about contraceptives, a break from current "abstinence only" standards.

The discussion started back in August when the board received the School Health Advisory Committee’s annual report that recommended contraceptives be introduced at the eighth-grade level.

The board met again in October. Health professionals provided the board with data that indicated the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing in Round Rock, compared with surrounding communities.

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University of Texas
12:49 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

UT System Approves $102 Million Office in Downtown Austin

There's a new tower coming to UT: a nine-story office building downtown. (You're safe, Main Building.)
KUT News

A major new tenant is moving into downtown Austin: not a hot new tech company, but the University of Texas System.

Today the UT Board of Regents approved construction of a nine-story, $102 million building and parking structure downtown “to consolidate UT System offices.” According to a press release, the system’s buildings are currently “located in five antiquated buildings,” and despite the hefty price tag, regents say the consolidation will save money in the long run: between $60 million and $240 million, in UT’s admittedly imprecise math.

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Reagan High
4:58 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Not Without Honor: Reagan High Football Gunning For $25K Grant

The Reagan Radiers were profiled in a series of underdog high school football teams.
sportsillustrated.cnn.com/specials/underdogs

Correction: Voting ends Thursday, Nov. 15, at midnight. KUT News has since corrected this post. 

Reagan High School’s football team is in the running for a $25,000 grant.

The Reagan Raiders are currently bringing up third place in Sports Illustrated’s “Underdogs” competition. An online video series highlighting struggling high school football teams that push on despite the odds, Reagan’s installment in the “Underdogs” series – “The Long Road Back” – documents the school’s attempt to rebuild.

The Raiders took home state championships in 1967, 1968 and 1970. But recent years haven’t been as kind to the team, which went 0-10 in 2011. “The Long Road Back” follows new coach Keith Carey and his team as they attempt to rebuild.

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Education
7:13 am
Tue November 13, 2012

UT System May Construct $100 Million Austin Office

A view towards downtown Austin from the UT Tower.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet in Tyler this week and consider, among many things, whether to approve the construction of a system office building in downtown Austin that is projected to cost $102,417,000.

The UT System's downtown Austin offices are currently spread across five aging buildings — the oldest has been around for more than 130 years — with mounting maintenance costs. Officials determined that a change was in order. They decided that the best option would be to construct a 16-story building comprising 258,500 square feet of office space and garage capacity for more than 650 vehicles in a spot — close to the state Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin — where two of their current buildings sit.

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