Education

Education
11:12 am
Wed July 13, 2011

TEA Announces 178 Additional Layoffs

The Texas Education Agency is laying off more staff to keep up with state budget cuts, reducing some of the agency support available to teachers and school districts.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas Education Agency announced another 178 employees will be laid off this week. This is in addition to the 91 employees that were laid off in February of this year.

In addition to the 269 terminated employees, 58 employees retired or resigned and 16 were transferred.

The layoffs mean TEA will see a 32% reduction in staff due to a $48 million--or 36%--budget cut from the state.

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Education
4:34 pm
Thu July 7, 2011

University of Texas Gets First Ombudsperson for Staff

UT-Austin hires its first ombudsperson to specifically handle internal staff disputes.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

For the first time ever, the University of Texas at Austin will have a staff ombudsperson – an independent third-party who can help resolve internal conflicts with staff members. Jennifer Graf Sims begins her new duties on July 20, according to a press release.

“As many of you know, the creation of this position has been several years in the making,” UT President Bill Powers said in a post on his blog.

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Education
3:21 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

UT, ACC Make List of Top CPA Test Passing Rates

Austin Community College's Rio Grande campus downtown. ACC was the only community college to rank in the top ten for CPA test success.
Photo by KUT News

CORRECTION: In the original version of this story, we said that David Quinn was Dean of Business Studies at ACC. In fact, the Dean of Business Studies is Charles Quinn.

The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College bookended a list of top ten Certified Public Accountant exam success rates among Texas colleges and universities.

ACC was the only community college to make the list.

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Education
12:19 pm
Wed June 29, 2011

New Education Bill Gives School Districts More Spending Flexibilty

Photo by timuiuc http://www.flickr.com/people/timuiuc/

If signed by the governor, new language in Senate Bill 6 would give school boards more control over instructional materials at the local level.  But school boards would not get extra powers over the content of those materials.

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Education
3:10 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

AISD Details Restructuring of Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools

A sign outside Pearce Middle School
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

As we reported earlier this week, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carsatrphen said she plans to bring big changes to Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools. Today, she made the official announcement and provided additional details about the restructuring. You can read the full details below.

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Education
10:47 am
Wed June 22, 2011

Missed the PAC Public Forum? Here's the Presentation

As we reported on KUT this morning, the Austin Independent School District held a public forum at Reagan High School last night to discuss the $40 million district-wide performing arts center that is slated to be built in the Mueller development.

Our story focused on the concerns of some local residents with traffic and building design. But there was a lot more information about the performing arts center itself contained in the presentation. You can view it in the embed above, or better yet, check out the full screen version.

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Education
12:27 am
Tue June 21, 2011

AISD Brings Big Change to Two Middle Schools

School trustee Lori Moya leans over to say something to school board president Mark Williams during Monday night's school board meeting.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT

The Austin Independent School District is taking some dramatic steps in an attempt to improve educational outcomes at a couple of eastside middle schools: Pearce and Garcia.

Pearce Middle School has been a particularly challenging campus for Austin ISD. In five of the last six years, it was ranked "academically unacceptable" by the state.

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Education
7:18 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Mueller Advocates Challenge AISD Redistricting Maps

A two-minute countdown clock for people who address the school board during public hearings, such as tonight's on redistricting.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Ever since fresh US Census data revealed large population disparities in Austin ISD's seven trustee districts, AISD has been working to redraw those political boundaries.  One challenge is balancing voter influence without violating the Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of protected minority groups.

Those sometimes conflicting goals may be tested around the Mueller redevelopment project, a planned mixed-use community being constructed on the site of what used to be a municipal airport.

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Education
10:55 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Austin ISD Makes TAKS Progress But More Schools Missed State Standards

Photo by KUT

Eighty percent of Austin ISD students passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills this year, an important state standardized test used to rank school districts. It’s the first time AISD met that benchmark.

School board members will hear from staff on the preliminary TAKS results during tonight’s school board meeting. The school district provided a faxed copy of the PowerPoint presentation to KUT News.

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Education
12:14 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Keeping Full Day Public Pre-K Alive, With Fees

Photo by NolanPhotog http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpnolan/

The 82nd Legislature delivered a fatal whack to state grants for full-day pre-kindergarten. But some public schools are refusing to let the budgetary machete finish off their early-childhood programs, choosing instead to charge tuition.

The state offers half-day pre-K for children who cannot speak English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families. That remains fully financed in the budget, according to the Texas Education Agency. 

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Education
1:58 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

Higher Ed "Coalition for Excellence" Formed in Texas

A view of the UT Austin campus from the tower in the Main Building.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A powerful group of individuals — including former regents, former university system chancellors and former university presidents — from around Texas have joined together to address the state's ongoing higher education controversy.

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Education
4:53 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

Nine AISD Students Will Learn Mandarin in China This Summer

Shanghai is the largest city in China with more than 23 million residents.
Photo by tyler_haglund http://www.flickr.com/photos/haglundt/

With China poised to become the world’s economic leader within the next few decades, learning Mandarin might not be such a bad idea. And if you really want a jump start, try immersing yourself among the 23 million people who occupy China's largest city, Shanghai. That's what nine local high school students will be doing for six weeks this summer. 

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Education
12:59 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

ACC Kyle Campus Construction Held Up By Lawsuit

ACC's campus in South Austin.
Photo by jenbooks http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenbooks/

Austin Community College is waiting for a ruling from the Third Court of Appeals of Texas before it will move forward with construction of a new campus in Kyle.  The lawsuit by a Kyle dentist challenging the outcome of a November referendum also caused ACC to miss out on $20 million in federal bonds.

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Education
1:11 pm
Fri June 10, 2011

Austin School Board To Discuss Redistricting Process Monday

One of two proposed maps to redraw AISD Trustee boundaries in Austin. The red line shows existing boundaries and the colors reflected possible changes.
Image provided by Austin ISD

While it is unlikely to be as politically contentious as the Congressional redistricting process playing out at the State Capitol, the Austin Independent School District is nevertheless tasked with having to redraw boundaries for the seven regional seats on the school board.

The process has to happen before the 2012 general election, and it will not have any effect on school attendance zones.

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Education
12:21 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Del Valle ISD Names Interim Superintendent

Dr. Kelly Crook was unanimously elected as interim superintendent by the Del Valle school board.
Photo courtesy Del Valle ISD

The Del Valle school board voted 8-0 last night to appoint assistant superintendent of business and finance Kelly Crook as interim superintendent, effective June 13.

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Education
1:28 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

AISD to Offer Paid Pre-K

For the first time this fall AISD will open up its pre-k program for parents willing to pay tuition.
Photo by KUT News.

This fall, for the first time ever, the Austin Independent School District is going to offer pre-kindergarten for those willing to pay tuition.  Right now free, full day pre-k is offered only for students who qualify.  

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Education
12:25 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

Austin ISD Will Close for a Week in July to Save Energy

A view from Austin ISD's headquarters on W. 6th St.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

No one really needs an excuse to take a week off in the summer, but the cash-strapped Austin Independent School District says it will save $471,000 by shutting schools and offices for five workdays in July.

All schools and offices will be closed from July 4-8. They will otherwise be on a four-day work week from June 27 to July 25. Employees will still have to put in their 40 hours during that time frame by working flexible ten-hour shifts.

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Education
10:55 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Report: Harmony Charter Schools Favor Turkish Contractors

A teacher instructs a student at a Harmony Charter School in North Houston.
Photo by Wenjing Zhang, Texas Tribune

The largest charter school operator in Texas, Harmony Charter Schools, has come under the scrupulous microscope of the New York Times.  The paper published a front page, top-of-the-fold blowout on Harmony’s links to the Gulen movement, a Turkish religious group.

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Education
2:39 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Public Education Supporters Protest Under Capitol Dome

Protestors in the Texas State Capitol this afternoon.
Photo by Hannah Jones for KUT News

Dozens of teachers, parents, students and public education advocates protested underneath the Capitol Dome today, urging state lawmakers to spend more of the Rainy Day Fund to reduce cuts to school districts.

“We have got to keep making noise, because it’s raining and that’s an ugly bill,” Louis Malfaro with the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers told the crowd. “So we say, ‘Fund our schools or don’t come back!’”

Protestors repeated the chant and it echoed throughout the cavernous rotunda.

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Education
12:27 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Highland Mall Land Could Soon Be 100 Percent Owned by ACC

Highland Mall is filled with vacant retail space like this former Dillard's location. By August, Austin Community College could own 100 percent of the land beneath the mall.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Land underneath the beleaguered Highland Mall could soon be under complete ownership of Austin Community College. ACC signed a $16 million deal for the former JC Penney and the surrounding parking lot.

It’s important to distinguish land ownership from building ownership.  ACC would possess all the property beneath the mall, but it would only own three of the four former department stores: the Dillard’s women’s store, Macy’s and JC Penney buildings.

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