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.

Eureka! You know that moment when you feel like you've come up with something completely original? Well, consider this: Is it actually possible to come up with totally new thinking, given all the information that influences our thought? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton respond to a listener's request to compare and contrast synthesized thinking and original thought.

Jon Shapley for KUT

New data from the education non-profit, E3 Alliance, shows that students who enter kindergarten and speak a language other than English are actually twice as likely to pass the third grade STAAR test.

Photo by Texas Education Agency / The Texas Tribune

As displeasure with Texas’ standardized testing regime mounts, all eyes are on a special panel the Legislature created last year to figure out whether to scrap the widely reviled STAAR exam.

Anxiety seems to come with the territory - at least some of the time - in school. Students worry about tests and grades or about trying to learn material that's unfamiliar or tough. But does anxiety really have to be part of the learning process? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton chill out and discuss the role of anxiety in learning.

Mengwen Cao / KUT

School’s out, but the Austin School Board is already thinking about classes next fall. The board wants to talk about adding an ethnic studies course in the district, and some school board members want to make the class a graduation requirement.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

Ella is 14 years old. She loves theater and clothes. She's smart, too.  She was on the Kealing Middle School quiz bowl team, an academic quiz like "Jeopardy." She was also accepted into the Austin ISD’s best high school next year: the Liberal Arts and Science Academy.  

A.....B......C.... at the end of the school year, many students are eager to see their final grades. But what is the real value of those grades? What happens when higher and higher grades are awarded for work that may not actually be that much better? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore the phenomenon of grade inflation.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

For nearly five million students in the U.S., English isn’t their first language. In Austin ISD, some of those students are sent to a special school for international students, a school where dozens of languages are spoken. There, the idea is to help the students learn English before sending them back to their neighborhood high school. But something else happens as well.

Mengwen Cao / KUT News

There’s a fight brewing at City Hall over what regulations Austin charter schools must abide by to build new facilities. City staff says there are loopholes that allow charters to construct buildings without the same regulations as other public school districts, but charter schools disagree.

Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Austin’s Robert E. Lee Elementary school has a new name: Russell Lee. The Austin School Board voted 8-1 to change the name Monday night. But for some school board members, the decision wasn't an easy one.

If you only had one class left to take in school, what would it be? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore what that last class could - or should? - be, and making the transition from formal education to lifelong learning.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

At 3 p.m., the computer lounge at the Pflugerville Public Library is bustling. College sophomore Emily Margaretich is hard at work trying to sign up for summer classes on her college’s website. When she’s done with that, she’ll deal with financial aid and do some online banking.

Margaretich does all this work in the library, because she and her mom don’t have home internet access. 

In this "Best of" Higher Ed episode, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger reflect on what commencement means and discuss what most students actually take away from their college experiences.  It may not be exactly what you'd expect.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Jason Unbound

From the Texas Tribune – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while asserting it could be better. 

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Three years ago, state lawmakers approved a pilot program in Austin that allows adults up to 50 years old to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas. And over the last 18 months, the Excel Charter School has graduated 75 former high school drop-outs.

While Texas law allows students up to 25 years old to enroll in high school, once a person turns 26, their options are limited to getting a GED.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Last May, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock stood on the bustling floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin and smiled.

"If I only knew then what I know now...." Sure, hindsight is 20/20. But if you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? What decisions would you make differently? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton give their younger selves some words of wisdom about life and learning. Think of it as "Higher Ed's" 2016 commencement address.

A podcast listener and fan recently wrote in with a question: How does one teach (or force) current and future Math teachers to make Mathematics fascinating? (By the way, that podcast listener is studying Mathematics education.) Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger is a mathematician, so who better to tackle that! He and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore that question in this episode of Higher Ed.

Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Donald Trump, Harper Lee, and Spike Lee: Those are just a few of the famous names submitted to the Austin Independent School District as suggestions for the re-naming of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Update Monday 3 p.m. The Lee Elementary Campus Advisory Council narrowed down the list to 8 names, according to a press release the district sent out Monday afternoon. The names on the list, which will be narrowed down to a final 3 by May 3, are: Barbara Smith Conrad, Bettie Mann (former Lee Elementary teacher of more than 35 years and first African American educator at the school), Elisabet Ney, Harper Lee, former AISD music director Kenneth Ragsdale, Russell Lee, Waller Creek and Wheeler's Grove. The final decision is still scheduled for May 23.

Math: we love it; we hate it; we cannot live without it. A Higher Ed podcast listener had read a National Public Radio piece on a book that argues against requiring advanced Math in school. That listener - who's studying Mathematics education - was inspired to write in and ask: Should Math be a college requirement? Does Math add significant value to a college curriculum? Can students become lifelong learners without taking Math? KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger explore those questions in this episode of Higher Ed.