Education

Education
10:34 am
Tue June 17, 2014

AISD OKs Federal Prevailing Wages in Split Board Vote

Flickr user Michelllaurence https://flic.kr/ps/QL6HQ

An hour before the Austin school district’s board meeting began last night, more than fifty labor advocates were crowded in the courtyard outside, chanting, with handmade signs. By the time doors opened, the crowd had doubled.

After nearly four hours of deliberation, the crowd got its wish and erupted in cheers. In a 5-4 split vote, the board voted to adopt federal prevailing wages for workers on upcoming construction projects at Austin schools.

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AISD
4:12 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Austin Schools Designated 'No Place For Hate'

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Austin ISD is the largest school district in the nation whose campuses have "No Place for Hate."  

The No Place for Hate campaign provides schools the opportunity to address bullying and prejudice. The Anti-Defamation League-sponsored campaign began in Austin in 2011 with only 23 schools in the district qualifying. In just three years, all of AISD’s 122 schools have acquired the status.

In order for a school to qualify, every student on campus must participate in three group activities addressing bias, prejudice and other topics that students deem worthy to the entire school.  Every person on campus must also sign a resolution of respect.

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Education
12:29 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Bill To Allow Refinancing Of Student Loans Dies In Senate

"Who does Washington work for?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., after her bill that would let people refinance student debt was shot down Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 1:42 pm

A bill that would have let millions of people refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate has failed in the Senate, after Republicans objected that it included a tax on the wealthy to pay for it. The measure would have allowed people with older loans to benefit from today's low interest rates.

The bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't get past a procedural vote, falling by a 56-38 vote. Called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, it was shot down days after President Obama urged Congress to help ease the burden of student debt.

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Education
10:20 am
Wed June 11, 2014

After Charter Fracas, AISD Hopes Allan Childhood Center Regains Parents' Trust

Allan Elementary has been empty this school year, but is ready to be retrofitted with a childhood center.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

East Austin resident Archette Alexander remembers when she took her son out of the neighborhood public elementary school and put him in a charter school. She says teachers had lost their passion due to all of the testing.

Now, Alexander’s youngest daughter is three, and she’s interested in putting her back in the school district – at AISD's early childhood center.

“The passion the other teachers have gives me hope as a parent that kids can thrive here,” Alexander says. 

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Education
1:13 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Obama Signs Order Easing Student Loan Payments

President Obama is introduced by Andy MacCracken, before signing a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt on Monday in East Room of the White House.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 3:27 pm

(This post was updated at 3:24 p.m. ET.)

President Obama signed an order on Monday that expands the number of Americans whose student loan payments will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly incomes.

CNN reports the new order would allow an additional 5 million borrowers to take advantage of the cap beginning in December 2015.

Bloomberg adds:

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Suspensions at AISD
10:02 am
Wed May 21, 2014

This Austin High School Reduced Suspensions by Teaching Personal Responsibility

Kent Roberson, director of the Personal Responsibility Center at Reagan Early College High School. The center has helped reduce home suspensions by nearly 75 percent in one year.
Credit Kate McGee, KUT News

This is the final story in a three part series about student suspensions in the Austin Independent School District. Read Part One and Part Two.

In AISD, black students make up about eight percent of the student population. But last year they accounted for nearly a quarter of the students suspended from school. The so-called discipline gap is an issue in public schools across the nation, and it's something AISD has tried to combat since former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen came to AISD in 2009.  

Addressing Racial Disparities from the Top Down

AISD Interim Chief Schools Officer Edmund Oropez admits a discipline gap exists between African-American students and their peers, but he says the district has implemented various strategies aimed at closing it. A few years ago, the district created the Cultural Proficiency and Inclusiveness department. Leader Angela Ward single-handedly provides cultural awareness training to all new teachers and administrators. The training asks teachers to examine their own biases – something UT Professor Richard Reddick says is key to creating trusting relationships between teachers and students.    

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Education
6:36 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Commencement Mashup: The Speech In 8 Easy Steps

Dick Costolo, Amy Poehler and Neil deGrasse Tyson all appear in NPR's commencement speech mashup.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 1:59 pm

A noble institution? A good show? A tedious quarter-hour of lame jokes told under the hot sun? The American commencement address can be all of these things.

We skipped and slogged through 50 of the most popular commencement speeches on YouTube - looking for inspiration, wisdom, amusement, corny jokes and clichés - to bring you this mashup of highlights and lowlights.

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Food
4:30 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Lawmakers Seek Delay On Healthy Lunch Rules For Schools

Some schools say they're having a tough time implementing new nutrition rules requiring more whole grains, more veggies and less fat.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 4:57 pm

How hard can it be for school cafeterias to swap white bread for whole-grain tortillas, cut sodium, and nudge kids to put more fruit and vegetables on their trays?

Tougher than you might imagine, according to some schools.

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UT Board of Regents
12:10 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

In Letter to UT Board Chair, Hall Says He Won't Resign

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall, who was asked to resign last week by the chairman of the board of regents, sent a letter to the chairman on Monday saying he does not intend to do any such thing, according to Hall's lawyer.

At Thursday's board meeting, chairman Paul Foster said that Hall could take "a selfless step to benefit the UT System" by stepping down from his post. According to a system spokeswoman, as of Monday afternoon, Foster had not yet received Hall's letter responding to his comments.

Last week, a legislative committee had agreed that grounds exist to impeach Hall, who has been scrutinized for conducting personal investigations of the operations of the University of Texas at Austin that some have characterized as an abuse of his office.

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Suspensions at AISD
11:32 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Why Do Black Students Get More Suspensions? Here Are 3 Possible Reasons

Nearly one in eight African American students in AISD were given home suspensions last year, more than any other student. It's a national trend that the Department of Education says starts as early as preschool, but there are varying theories as to why.
Credit flickr.com/dcjohn/

This story is the second installment of a three-part series examining the so-called discipline gap among student groups who receive out-of-school suspensions in the Austin Independent School District. Read Part One here.

During the 2013 school year, African-American students made up eight percent of the AISD student population, but nearly a quarter of the students given an out-of-school suspension.

The discipline gap is not unique to the district; nationwide, black students are suspended at higher rates than their peers. In March, the U.S. Department of Education reported the trend in black student suspensions starts as young as preschool.

While many, including AISD officials, admit the discipline gap exists, fewer people seem to have a solid answer as to why. 

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Suspensions at AISD
11:37 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Black Students Are Eight Percent of AISD – and Nearly One-Fourth of Suspensions

Credit Zack Maxwell / Arlingtonvoice.com

Since 2009, the number of suspensions at Austin public schools has fallen. But African-American students continue to receive out-of-school suspensions at a higher rate than their peers.

During the 2013 school year, 1,066 African-American AISD students – almost 13 percent of the black student population of 8,334 – received out-of-school suspensions. In that same period, 549 white AISD students were suspended­ ­– only 2.24 percent of the 24,543 white student population. Going by those numbers, African-American students are nearly six times more likely to be suspended from school.

Despite teacher training and district efforts, many African-American parents and community members feel like their children aren't understood.

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Austin ISD
10:07 am
Fri May 16, 2014

These Students Forged a Friendship in Austin's 'Golden Age' of Integration

Richard Reddick, left, and Ryan Scarborough upon graduating from Johnston High School in 1990. The two lived in different Austin neighborhoods, but attended the same high school because of school integration policies.
Credit Richard Reddick

Austin has its own convoluted history when it comes to school integration – one involving multiple federal lawsuits and many different strategies to desegregate schools.

Busing was one of those strategies. Many students were bused across the city to schools on the other side of town. West Austin residents went to East Austin schools and visa versa. 

Saturday, May 17, marks 60 years since the Supreme Court struck down the concept of "separate but equal" in Brown v. Board of Education. It's a decision that affected students across the country. But for two Austin teenagers in the late 1980s, it also sparked a life-long friendship.

If you think about it, it’s a miracle Richard Reddick and Ryan Scarborough ever met. Scarborough, a white student from Austin’s Northwest Hills neighborhood, was bused to Johnston High School on Austin's east side, starting in 1986.

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Education
3:24 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Will Texas' New Teacher Evaluation System Rely Too Much on Test Scores?

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Members of the Texas House Committee on Public Education are wrestling with how to evaluate teacher performance in modern classrooms. And while educators and administrators agree the current system needs overhauling, there's little agreement on what will replace it.

In advance of today's hearing, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams said in a letter that current teacher evaluation criteria – the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) – has "outlived its usefulness."

Patty Hill, a math teacher at Austin's Kealing Middle School, agrees. She told lawmakers today she’s afraid that by adopting a “flipped classroom” model – posting lectures online for students to view at home, and working collaboratively on 'homework' in the classroom – she is opening herself up for negative evaluations.

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UT Austin
1:41 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Lege Committee Finds Grounds for Impeachment of UT Regent Hall

Dallas businessman Wallace Hall, Jr. takes notes at the University of Texas Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 14, 2013 in Austin.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Update: The House Transparency Committee has voted 7-1 that grounds to impeach UT Regent Wallace Hall exist.

The matter of whether to recommend impeachment proceedings is a separate question still to be decided. The committee will reconvene May 21 to consider articles of impeachment against Hall. But some committee members are hoping the UT Board of Regents or Gov. Rick Perry will take action before then.

"You have a responsibility, Board of Regents," Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, said. "You have known about this behavior for quite some time and you have a responsibility to take action to allow one trustee, one member to continue this misconduct, to allow someone to bring down the university. I think the responsibility lies with the Board of Regents. So we are looking to you to make some changes."

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Education
10:04 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Eanes Bond Election Raises Questions About Out-of-District Transfer Students

The Eanes ISD is asking voters to approve $89.5 million dollar bond proposal, but some opponents say the district should end its policy of accepting out of transfer students because they say it costs the district money.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/audiolucistore/

Today is the last day for early voting in the May 10th municipal elections.

Voters in the Eanes Independent School District are deciding on a $89.5 million school bond package. If approved, the bond package would allow Eanes ISD to borrow money for a new elementary school, as well as some technology and classroom upgrades.

The proposal is the result of three years of community meetings about the future of the school district. 

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Education
8:11 am
Tue May 6, 2014

This Austin Charter School Slated for Closure May Get a Second Chance

Jon Shapley for KUT News

An Austin charter school slated for closure by the state may be getting a second chance.

The Texas Education Agency had ordered American Youthworks to close by next month. But the school went to court and argued everything was a misunderstanding.

On Friday, a judge agreed to hear the school's case – possibly extending the school's life for at least one more semester.

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Education
9:01 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Student Parents Want More Visibility at Texas Universities

Vanessa Pulido is a student parent at UT who tried to organize a club for other student-parents on campus. She's one of many student parents across that state that want more visibility and resource at Texas universities.
Vanessa Pulido

KUT News intern Lynn Romero is a graduate student at UT-Austin. She had a daughter at age 18, and was surprised by the invisibility of students like her on campus when she started school at UT several years later. She wondered how many other student parents there were – so she tried to find out.

Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the United States. And those teens who have children before they finish high school are less likely to graduate high school, let alone make it to college. But what happens to those who do?

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, nationally about 13 percent of all undergraduates at four year universities have kids. UT-Austin junior Vanessa Pulido is one of those students. Halfway through freshman year, she gave birth to her son, Isaiah. When she started school pregnant, she worried how people would react.

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Sexual Assault on Campus
4:08 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Two Texas Colleges on Title IX Investigation List

Texas Tribune

Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas-Pan American are on a list of higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law in their handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released the comprehensive list of schools under investigation for issues relating to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at institutions that receive federal financial assistance.

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Austin ISD
5:12 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Austin Teachers Union Wants AISD to Reinstate Salary Bump

Education Austin President Ken Zarifis at a rally in support of three-year contracts for teachers. The union is asking AISD to reinstate a 1.5% bonus for teachers next year that is currently not included in the next budget.
Credit Kate McGee, KUT NEws

The local teacher's union is asking Austin ISD to reinstate a 1.5 percent bonus for all district employees for the 2014-2015 school year. The district and the union are expected to meet on the matter Wednesday.

For the past two years, the district has provided a 3 percent pay increase for employees. This academic year, it approved a one-time, 1.5 percent increase on top of that. But the 1.5 percent salary adjustment is not included in the FY 2015 preliminary budget assumptions.

Now, Education Austin is asking the district to change that.

"Our district looks a little different than it did a month ago," Zarifis says referring to the departure of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. "We believe this is an opportunity to find out if we're going to do things different."

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Higher Education
11:57 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Campus Sexual Assaults Are Targeted In New White House Report

A White House task force on sexual assault at college campuses issued new guidelines Tuesday, asking colleges to survey students about their experiences. The task force was headed by Vice President Biden's office and the White House Council on Women and Girls, which is led by Tina Tchen.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 1:01 pm

Noting that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted in college, the White House is releasing new guidelines to help victims of that violence and improve the way schools handle such cases. Campus sexual assaults are notoriously underreported, and schools' disciplinary processes vary widely.

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