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.

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3-D printing seems like a great deal. Need something? Print it up. Anything from food to clothing to houses to guns can be printed and used. But just because we can print it, should we? And what about people who don't have access to the technology?

In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the convergence of technology, economics, art, ethics, and morality in grappling with the issues raised by what 3-D printing can do. And what about the impact of 3-D printing on education and learning? Listen on!

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers has helped secure college admittance for some students over the objections of the admissions office, according to an external review of lawmaker and regent influence at the flagship campus.

KUT News

An Austin school board discussion about equity between the district’s campuses grew tense this week when the conversation between two school board members turned to diversity at the district’s nationally recognized high school, Liberal Arts and Science Academy. LASA is a magnet program located on the upper floors of LBJ High School, which mostly educates minority students.

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Think back to your early days of school - nursery school and kindergarten, even into first grade. Learning was full of fun and creative discovery. But as time goes by, that fun disappears from the scene, and so can our love of learning.

In this Valentine's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how we've lost that lovin' feeling in learning, and how we can get it back. Listen on to hear whether they harmonize about what a love of learning can bring to our lives.

UT Parking Strategies Committee Report

Parking around the UT campus when classes are in session is never easy, but it's also going to get more expensive soon. Parking rates are set to go up on the UT Austin campus, and it's an increase that will continue for several years. Outgoing President Bill Powers asked a committee of faculty and administrators to look into how to get more money for the university out of parking, and not surprisingly, the answer was higher fees.

The increases vary based on which permit you get, but it is an increase across the board. Let's say you have an "F Garage" permit, which currently costs $420 a year. Five years from now, that same permit will cost $588.  A "C" permit, for students parking in surface level lots, which is currently $120, will go up roughly $6 a year over the next five years, up to $150.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition is the “morally right thing to do,” University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven said Thursday.

“My job is to help educate the young men and women of Texas,” McRaven said in an interview with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor in Chief Evan Smith. “If we have been doing that for these undocumented students for, at a minimum, the past three years as they’ve made it through high school, and in many cases since they were in elementary school, I think it’s appropriate to continue to educate them.”

Jennifer Whitney/Texas Tribune

Two members of the Texas House have filed a bipartisan bill that would help school districts fund full day pre-kindergarten programs as long as they fulfill a variety of requirements – and can wait until third grade to assess if the pre-kindergarten program helped students learn. 

Right now, the state funds half-day pre-K programs for students who qualify, who are usually low-income, English Language Learner or special education students.

Under this new bill, written by Representatives Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Furney (R-Georgetown), public school districts could either continue to offer a half-day program or choose to operate a full-day program.

Photos: Filipa Rodrigues, KUT Design: Andrew Weber, KUT

Principal Sterlin McGruder thinks it's his responsibility to teach more than reading and math to his middle school students at Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Throughout the first year at the all-boys school in Northeast Austin, McGruder has tried to instill a sense of respect in his students: respect for others and respect for themselves.

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You may have been running into this problem, too - all the stores I've tried in Central Texas are out of 175th birthday cards! First, the City of Austin celebrated its 175th birthday in December 2014.  Now, Southwestern University in Georgetown is celebrating its 175th anniversary.

In the latest episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern's President Dr. Ed Burger explore the history of Southwestern University on its demisemiseptcentennial. Or as some call it, the quartoseptcentennial. It's also known as the septaquintaquinquecentennial. Do Ed and Jennifer even try to say those words?! Listen on to find out.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Some bus drivers, custodians and teaching assistants in Austin public schools are asking the school board to give classified employees a five percent pay increase next year. At a school board meeting on Monday, classified employees said as Austin becomes a more expensive place to live, it's getting more difficult to live on their current salaries.

KUT News

Here’s another example of how Texas does things bigger: university funds.

The University of Texas System now has the second largest endowment among universities in the U.S.

That’s according to a survey released today from the investment firm Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Dr. Paul Cruz finally dropped the "interim" from his superintendent title last night when the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees officially approved his contract through 2017.

Cruz stepped in as interim superintendent last April when Dr. Meria Castarphen left for Atlanta Public Schools.

Cruz's three-year contract with the district will have him earning $286,000 a year as superintendent, leading the district's 85,000 students and 12,000 staff members.

The phrase "liberal arts" often goes hand in hand with discussions about higher education. But really, what are the liberal arts? Are they liberal? Are they arts?

How about none of the above? In the latest episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore what comprises liberal arts. Think it's literature, history, science, maybe the study of a foreign language? Think again and listen on.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

This year, two middle schools on Austin’s East Side became single-sex schools. Garcia and Pearce Middle schools are located in one of Austin’s most challenged neighborhoods: University Hills. The schools have struggled academically, and school board members and district and state education officials agreed: Something needed to change. But the decision to make these schools single-sex was controversial — even among members of the school board.

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The old saying goes something like this: "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it it, does it make a sound?" A variation on that might go: "If someone asks a question, and no one is around to hear it, what good does it do?"

A lot, as it turns out. In the latest episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger exchange questions and answers about the art and importance of questions to learning.

Joy Diaz/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has a lot on his plate: housing affordability, traffic, and water resources to name a few.

But he wants to tackle another issue: education.

Kate McGee/KUT News

The sun is just beginning to rise as Denise Cisneros greets her pre-school students at the Lucy Read Pre-K center as they enter her classroom.

"How are you going to greet me today?" Cisneros asked a student at the front of the line.

"I would like a bug hug please," the little girl replied, giving Cisneros a hug before walking into the classroom.

Austin ISD offers full-day pre-K programs, but has to pay for half of the program itself because Texas only funds half-day preschool programs for qualifying students: low-income students, English Language Learners, and students with learning disabilities. But lawmakers filed at least four bills to require all school districts to offer free, full-day pre-kindergarten classes. Austin ISD would like to offer universal pre-K to all students. This year, Austin ISD also started a few pre-K programs for three-year-olds.

Shannan Muskopf/Texas Tribune

The Austin Independent School District is starting to offer free online SAT and ACT prep programs to all 21,000 high school students in the district. 

Last year, more Austin public school students took the SAT and ACT, two national tests used in the college admissions process, and students continued to score higher on the ACT. The average overall SAT score for AISD students was 1507, higher than the national and statewide average. 

David/flickr

The 2015 legislative session is upon us. And while there haven’t been any committee hearings or votes yet, lawmakers are already beating the drum on a variety of issues. When it comes to education, conservative lawmakers, including Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, are already talking about the idea of school choice for all Texas students.

“Not just the wealthy who can send their children to private school, and not just those who have the mobility to move to the suburbs," Patrick said last week.  "But for parents in the inner cities where their children are trapped in failing schools, it is their right to have those same opportunities.”

Patrick thinks one solution is school vouchers.  But what are school vouchers? KUT's Kate McGee and Nathan Bernier break down the issue:

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Welcome to the first episode of KUT's newest podcast, "Higher Ed." Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton will talk with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain. But if you're thinking this is going to be just another boring chat with a talking head.... think again and listen on!

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