Education

Education
5:11 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

UT Panel Recommends Tuition Increases

A view of campus from the UT Tower
Jeff Heimsath, KUT News

A panel of students, faculty and administrators is asking the University of Texas at Austin to raise in-state tuition by 2.6 percent for each of the next two years. The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) delivered its recommendation to UT president Bill Powers today.

The increase would mean the average costs per semester for an undergraduate from Texas would raise $127 to $5,023 next school year. Those costs would increase by $131 to $5,154 for the 2013-14 school year.

At the same time, TPAC is recommending increases of 3.6 percent per year for non-resident undergraduate students and both in-state and non-resident graduate students.

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Education
10:52 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Tell AISD What You Think About School Proposals

How do you feel about the Austin school district’s proposal to open in-district charter schools in East Austin? What about reassigning North Central Austin sixth graders to their respective middle schools? Or expanding two-way dual language programs to four more schools?

If you have answers to any of those questions, the Austin Independent School District says it wants to hear from you tonight at a public hearing on its Facilities Master Plan.

A framework for the plan was adopted by the board last Monday. The Facility Master Plan creates a process for the school board to make major decisions about the district’s 12 million square feet of classrooms, office space, athletic facilities and other property.

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Education
4:44 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

AISD Board Adopts Facility Master Plan Framework

The Austin ISD school board
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

All but one of the nine members on the Austin school board voted in favor last night of adopting the Facility Master Plan framework – a document that will guide decision making over how to manage AISD’s more than 100 schools and 12 million square feet of space.

Trustee Vince Torres, the vice president of the school board, offered a full-throated defense of the document, which was brought to the board after a lengthy and at times combative two-year process.

“Is it going to need tweaking? Absolutely,” Torres said. “But we need to start somewhere. I encourage us to start with this particular document.”

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Education
1:07 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Austin ISD To Hold Public Meeting On Single-Sex Schools

Pearce Middle School could become one of two single-sex schools under a plan Austin school district officials will discuss with public tomorrow at LBJ High School
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin school district is considering an $11 million plan to open two single-sex middle schools at Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools, and on Saturday morning, district officials will be available at LBJ High School to explain their proposal.

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science
2:13 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

UT Scientists Find "Great Lake" Under Surface of Jupiter’s Moon

An artist's depiction of the "Great Lake" underneath Europa's icy surface.
Photo by Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/University of Texas at Austin

Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons, appears to have a body of water the size of the North American Great Lakes beneath its icy surface, according to a new study by a researcher from the University of Texas at Austin. The study was published today in the scientific journal Nature.

“It’s a lake that’s trapped inside the ice shell,” lead author Dr. Britney Schmidt said of the discovery. “It’s formed by warm material moving up from the bottom, causing the middle of the ice shell to melt. That presence of the water below breaks up the surface, and makes it look like icebergs and floating broken up ice.”

“It was just a huge ‘a-ha’ moment for us,” she said of the discovery.

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Education
12:51 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Study Questions Claims Of Charter School Seeking AISD Contract

Austin ISD is considering a deal with IDEA Public Schools that would create an in-district charter school, but one study questions how effective IDEA really is at educating disadvantaged kids.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is negotiating a deal with IDEA Public Schools, a charter school district based in the Rio Grande Valley, to run an in-district charter school in East Austin that targets AISD students classified as “economically disadvantaged.” But a new study suggests IDEA’s educational outcomes may not be much better than traditional public schools.

The study was conducted by Dr. Ed Fuller. He used to work as at the University of Texas’ College of Education. But earlier this year Fuller was hired by Penn State University to direct a research center.

Fuller examined student level data he obtained from the Texas Education Agency and published a study online that makes three critical claims.

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Education
11:37 am
Mon November 14, 2011

UT Faculty Productivity Gets High Marks in New Report

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

 

Despite the arguments of critics in recent months, Marc Musick, the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Liberal Arts associate dean of student affairs, makes the case in a new faculty productivity report that his institution provides “an incredible return on investment for the state.”

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Education
1:39 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Report: Social Studies Guidelines Not Aligned With College Standards

Photo by Judy Baxter http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/

Social studies standards adopted by the Texas State Board of Education will leave students unprepared for college, according to a new report by a professor of history at the University of Texas El Paso.

The report was prepared by Keith Erekson for the Social Studies Faculty Collaborative, an organization funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The report’s findings have not been reviewed by the Faculty Collaborative or the Coordinating Board.

“The end result for the students in the classroom is that it’s going to be a lot harder to go to college,” said Erekson, who directs a teacher education program and a center for history and learning at UTEP.

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Education
4:29 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

AISD Board Discusses Tax Increase to Finance Staff Pay Raise

Austin ISD headquarters on W. 6th Street
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Teachers in Austin Independent School District have not received a raise since 2009, and some school board members are talking openly about the possibility of raising taxes to finance one. Such a tax rate increase would require approval of voters. 

At a meeting last night, AISD chief financial officer Nicole Conley-Abram explained how the district still expects a shortfall of around $20 million next school year. She presented board members with some options under consideration, including a pay raise for staff, without specifying how much that pay raise could cost.  

“Where were we going to get the money to do this?” Trustee Lori Moya asked.

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Education
12:24 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Pflugerville Parents Complain About District Bullying Policy

Satellite view of Riojas Elementary school

A group of parents in Pflugerville Independent School District is upset over how they believe the district is responding to accusations of bullying at Riojas Elementary School. They will meet with the district on Thursday night to go over their concerns about campus safety.

The situation for one family boiled over in September when a boy accused of bullying accidentally stabbed an eight-year-old student in the eye with a pencil during a scuffle near the pencil sharpener.

The eight-year old was sent home with an eye-patch. But his parents rushed to Dell Children’s Hospital, where he required surgery to have a small piece of led removed from this eye.

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Education
9:31 am
Mon November 7, 2011

Austin ISD Re-Examines Budget Deficit

As school board members at the largest district in Central Texas gather tonight to talk about fixing elementary school overcrowding and improving grades at the worst performing schools, they’ll have something else to consider: the Austin Independent School District’s budget next year.

AISD financial chief Nicole Conley-Abram, who recently received an award from the state for budget transparency, will lay it all out for board members tonight.

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Education
5:30 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

College Bound, But Debt Bound?

Con Mi Madre, a non-profit that encourages Hispanic mothers to seek a college education for their daughters, hosted a college fair at Travis High School in Austin Saturday.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

Some Austin parents such as Norma Sanchez worry a college education will be the most costly expense for their families. A college fair Saturday at Travis High School was hosted by Con Mi Madre, a non-profit active in Austin schools that encourages Hispanic mothers to seek a college education for their daughters.

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Education
1:35 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Report: 32,000 School Jobs Eliminated By State Budget Cuts

State lawmakers trimmed about $5 billion from education spending in the last legislative session, which led to the elimination of 32,000 school jobs, according to a report.
Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

Texas public school districts have an estimated 32,000 fewer employees than they may have had if the state hadn’t cut more than $5 billion in public education spending during the legislative session. That includes almost 12,000 fewer teachers.

The numbers are from this report released by an Austin-based school finance consulting firm. Moak, Casey & Associates recently surveyed school districts across the state. 60 participated.

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Education
1:26 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Nation’s Report Card Shows Mixed Results For Texas

This chart shows Texas performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over the past five tests. Hold your mouse over the bars to see the testing years and specific values. 

Texas public schools have shown few gains in how well they teach reading, but schools are making significant progress in math, according to one of the largest and most important nationwide assessments in the United States. African American and Hispanic students in Texas are also outperforming many of their counterparts in other states.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card – tests a sampling of fourth and eighth graders across the country every two years.

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Education
12:21 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

How Texas' Education Funding System Encourages Artificial Turf

House Park Field is one of three major Austin ISD fields with artificial turf.
Photo by Teresa Vieira

The Texas school finance system is notoriously complicated, which makes it difficult for average people to have informed debates about how a large portion of their property taxes are spent.

Here’s an example: School districts are funded through two separate property taxes. One is called M&O, for maintenance and operations. That tax rate pays for stuff like teacher salaries, water bills, electricity bills, textbooks and so on.

The second tax rate is called I&S, for interest and sinking. That money can only be used to pay down school district debt on school buildings, facilities, and other capital expenditures.

Now here is where it gets interesting. The tax you pay for M&O is subject to the state’s so-called Robin Hood law, a rule that takes money from wealthier districts and redistributes it to poorer districts in order to provide “substantially equal access” to education funding per student.

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Education
11:28 am
Mon October 24, 2011

AISD Board To Get Some Specifics on Facilities Proposals

After the Austin Independent School District’s last attempt at adopting a ten year master plan for its 12 million square feet of property was derailed in the spring, the AISD school board is scheduled tonight to hear some of the most specific proposals yet from Superintendent Meria Carstarphen on how to address issues such as overcrowding.

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Education
5:08 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Impoverished Texas Student Population Ticks Past 59 Percent

This chart shows the increase in economically disadvantaged students in Texas, as a percentage of the total student population.
Image courtesy Texas Education Agency

While Gov. Perry tours the country arguing that Texas is an economic powerhouse, new data from the state’s education agency shows 2.9 million public school students are economically disadvantaged. The number represents 59.1 percent of the student population in the 2010-11 school year. It's a slight uptick from 58.9 percent the previous year.

Ten years ago, 49.2 percent of students were counted as impoverished. The total number of economically disadvantaged students increased from 2 million in the 2000-01 school year to 2.9 million in the 2010-11 school year, an increase of 45 percent. 

Economically disadvantaged students include those whose parents’ income falls below the federal poverty line. That’s $22,350 for a family of four.

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Education
12:48 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

TPPF Higher Ed Guru: 7 Solutions a "Good Start"

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman

Thomas Lindsay, the man recently selected to head the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Higher Education, is no stranger to controversy. That may be considered an asset in the position, given the foundation’s role in igniting much of the debate that has gripped Texas higher ed this year.

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Education
10:21 am
Tue September 27, 2011

School Equity Lawsuit Gains Districts

Texas will once again be challenged in court over its school funding system.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

About 100 school districts have now signed on to a looming lawsuit against the state for cuts to public education. The lawsuit is being filed by the Equity Center, a non-profit school equity funding advocacy organization. In an e-mail today the Center said it would release a list of districts next week -- after a state-wide school board convention in Austin.

The Center says the state's per-pupil funding remains uneven, with some districts getting as much as $10,000 per student, while others get half that.

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Education
10:01 pm
Mon September 26, 2011

AISD Superintendent Carstarphen's Contract Extended

Meria Carstarphen in a file photo from 2009, shortly before she was hired by the Austin ISD school board.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The superintendent who took the helm of the largest school district in Central Texas two years ago just had her contract extended for an additional year. Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's contract now expires in June 2014. The extension did not include a pay raise or increase in benefits. 

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