Education

UT Board of Regents
4:32 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Travis County Opens Criminal Investigation of UT Regent Wallace Hall

The Travis County District Attorney’s office is opening a criminal investigation of University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into Hall after receiving a complaint from a legislative committee considering impeachment proceedings against the regent.

Hall is accused of improper handling of student records as part of extensive open records requests of UT-Austin documents. Critics have accused Hall of conducting a "witch hunt" on behalf of Gov. Rick Perry to oust UT-Austin President Bill Powers.

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TEKS and Common Core
9:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Are Common Core and Texas Teaching Standards Really That Different?

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Elgin Middle School sixth grader Allison Graves sits at a computer in math class, using a program called Think Through Math to practice fractions.

“Your friend gave you a bag of candy," she reads. "There are 36 red candies and 27 green candies. What is the ratio of green candies to red candies?”

The online math program takes Graves through each lesson step by step. She collects points for correct answers and competes against classmates and other Texas students.

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Education
10:05 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette speaks to reporters after arguing the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in October. He's with XIV Foundation CEO Jennifer Gratz, who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:02 am

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Michigan ballot initiative to ban racial preferences in college admissions is constitutional, overturning a lower court decision.

In a 6-2 decision Tuesday, the justices said the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to set aside the voter-approved ban as discriminatory.

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AISD
9:08 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen Says Goodbye to Austin

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen photographed in 2009. Her final AISD board meeting was Monday evening.
KUT News

Wednesday will be Austin School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s last day with the district before she leaves for the same position in Atlanta.

Carstarphen attended her final school board meeting in Austin Monday night, where she was recognized for her contributions to the district over the past five years.

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UT Medical School
12:09 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Construction of UT's New Dell Medical School Kicks Off

A rendering of the new Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, part of the cluster of complexes accompanying UT's new Dell Medical School.
youtube.com/user/setonfamily

Update: Among the speakers at today's dedication: UT-Austin President Bill Powers, Dell Medical School Dean Dr. Clay Johnston, and State Sen. Kirk Watson, who helped lead the push for the medical school.

“Make no mistake. Today isn’t just about three new buildings on our skyline," Sen. Watson said. "Our community will be different – healthier and stronger – thanks to this project we’re launching today."

Johnston said that the school's launch offers the chance to design everything from the ground up.

"We have a responsibility to take advantage of our newness, to test out different ways of doing things that could become models for the rest of the country."

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AISD
8:08 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin School Board Names Paul Cruz Temporary Superintendent

Paul Cruz will run the largest school district in Central Texas while the school board searches for a long-term replacement for Meria Carstarphen.
AISD http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Austin school trustees unanimously appointed Paul Cruz as interim superintendent Tuesday night. They also accepted Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's resignation, as she heads to Atlanta to lead that city's public school system.

Carstarphen will remain superintendent until April 23, when her resignation goes into effect. The school district can have a superintendent and an interim superintendent at the same time, as Carstarphen helps Cruz assume his temporary position.

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Education
4:49 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Calculator Directive for 8th-Graders Draws Concerns

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

As the state integrates a directive that requires eighth-graders in Texas public schools to have graphing calculators for STAAR testing, some poorer Texas school districts say that such mandates ignore the financial crunch that many districts are already facing.

In February, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams wrote to Texas superintendents to instruct them that they must ensure that eighth-grade students have graphing calculators for STAAR assessments, starting in the 2014-15 school year. The directive comes after the State Board of Education increased the algebra content on the exam, said Debbie Ratcliffe, a TEA spokeswoman.

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UT-Austin
11:08 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Bill Powers on Regents Drama, Civil Rights Summit & Those Mysterious Maroon Bluebonnets

UT-Austin President Bill Powers welcomes guests to a panel at the LBJ School & Museum's Civil Rights Summit, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman

Reports over the past week suggest that the screws are tightening on one of the biggest critics of William Powers, Jr., President of the University of Texas at Austin.

University Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, according to a 176-page report prepared for legislators looking into Hall's campaign to oust Powers. Among the charges: that Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal law, that he attempted to coerce UT administrators to alter testimony to investigators, and that he abused his position as regent.

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UT Austin
5:35 am
Tue April 15, 2014

UT Engineering School Receives $5M from ExxonMobil CEO

The UT Engineering School is receiving $5 million from the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W Tillerson, and his wife, Renda.
Photo by KUT News

Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W. Tillerson and his wife, Renda, are donating $5 million to the Cockrell School of Engineering. The money is slated to go toward the Engineering Education and Research Center which is expected to open in 2017.

It's a 430,000 square-foot facility that will allow UT Austin to expand its teaching, research and student project space.

Tillerson graduated from UT Austin in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and serves on the school's Engineering Advisory Board and UT Development Board.  His sons, Robert and Michael, are also graduates.

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AISD
8:03 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Paul Cruz to Lead Austin Schools As Interim Superintendent

AISD's chief schools officer Paul Cruz is expected to be named interim superintendent Tuesday.
Image courtesy AISD: http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Update: KUT has learned from multiple sources that AISD Chief School Paul Cruz is expected to be named interim superintendent at Tuesday's school board meeting.

This comes one day after Superintendent Meria Carstarphen was unanimously approved to lead Atlanta Public Schools district Monday.

Cruz receives high marks from Drew Scheberle, the vice president of education for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

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American Youthworks
9:01 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Austin Dropout Recovery School Faces Closure After 30 Years

Parc Smith is American Youthworks' CEO. He stands by a tree that highlights the achievements of his students. Students follow a self-paced program until they finally graduate high school.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

The fate of an Austin charter school that has run a dropout recovery program for more than 30 years will be decided later this month.

American Youthworks faces closure under a new law that allows the Texas Education Agency to revoke licenses from underperforming charter schools, thus opening those licenses to other organizations.

TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says Senate Bill 2 is pretty clear. That’s the law passed last year that, among other things, gave TEA teeth to revoke the licenses of failing charter schools. “If a school has received the state’s lowest, either academic or financial, rating for three straight years, it automatically is closed,” Ratcliffe says.

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University of Texas
9:59 am
Fri April 11, 2014

UT-Austin Faculty Objects to Shared Services Plan

UT-Austin students stretch out between classes in this undated 2010 photo. Over 100 UT faculty members signed a letter this week opposing the university's proposed "shared services" model.
KUT News

More than 100 faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin signed a letter this week expressing concern and dismay over a proposal to centralize and consolidate services such as human resources and information technology.

That shared services model would combine administrative services now located and staffed in individual departments of the university in an attempt to save millions of dollars annually.

In the letter to UT-Austin President Bill Powers, faculty members posited that such a move would harm the university's sense of community. "People choose to work at the University of Texas at Austin because they believe in its educational and social mission," the letter said. "Adoption of a shared services model will weaken departments’ commitment to those missions by devaluing bonds between faculty and staff that develop from working toward common goals."

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Education
9:22 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Eanes ISD Names Lone Finalist for Superintendent

Dr. Tom Leonard is named the sole finalist for the superintendent position in Eanes ISD.
Credit Eanes ISD

Eanes ISD has named Dr. Tom Leonard as the lone finalist to take the place of retiring superintendent Dr. Nola Wellman.  

Eanes ISD Board President Rob Hargett calls Dr. Leonard “a successful, student-centered, seasoned superintendent in a high-performing district, roughly the size and structure of Eanes ISD.”

Dr. Leonard served as superintendent of the Barrington 220 district in Illinois for the past seven years and has more than 20 years of experience working in education.

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AISD After Carstarphen
10:11 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Austin School Board Mulls Two New Superintendents: One Interim, One Permanent

The Austin school board discussed the search for an interim and permanent replacement for departing superintendent Meria Carstarphen last night.
KUT News

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is expected to leave to head Atlanta's public schools in the coming weeks or months. The Austin School Board is just beginning the search for a new superintendent – and one to serve in the interim. 

On Monday night, they talked about the process to appoint an interim superintendent, as well as hiring an outside company to help find a replacement for Carstarphen.

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UT Board of Regents
9:14 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Report Cites Possible Grounds for Hall's Impeachment

A group examining whether UT System Regent Wallace Hall overstepped his boundaries has found potential grounds for impeachment.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

There could be grounds to impeach University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall on at least on at least four different counts, according to a report by the special counsel to the legislative committee that has been investigating the controversial gubernatorial appointee.

The report, which was obtained by the Tribune on Monday night on the condition that it not be published in its entirety, is the handiwork of a team led by Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, which reviewed more than 150,000 pages of documents and sat through dozens of hours of interviews and testimony before the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations during the second half of 2013.

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Education
11:42 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Former Board Presidents Oppose Eanes ISD Bonds

Al Cowan (left) and Clint Sayers, former Eanes ISD Board Presidents
Lynn Romero for KUT News

In Eanes ISD, two former board presidents oppose the district’s proposed $89.5 million bond initiative. Al Cowan and Clint Sayers say that the proposal is not specific enough, and it asks taxpayers to fund unnecessary projects. 

The past board presidents have formed the group Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes (CAEE). They say their biggest concern is the $35.5 million-plus that would be used to build a replacement elementary school. 

"When the dust settles, EISD will still have the same number of six elementary schools that we have today, but we will have spent millions to get to the same place," Cowan says.

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Education
7:17 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

More Than 5 Million Kids Are Attending Public School in Texas

Students at Anderson High learning about the Declaration of Independence. Public school enrollment in Texas has passed 5 million for the first time.
KUT News

For the first time, more than 5 million students are enrolled in Texas public schools. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) published a report Tuesday that the state hit the milestone last school year when 5,075,840 students were enrolled.

The population of Hispanic students had the largest numerical increase, growing by 64,903 in one year.

Rice University demographer Steve Murdoch, who used to run the U.S. Census Bureau, says the future of the Texas economy will be determined largely by how well those students are educated. 

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Education
4:00 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Educators Pounce on Abbott, Push for Expanded Pre-K

Educators gathered in North Austin to say expanded pre-k is "not a waste."
Lynn Romero for KUT News

Yesterday, Republican candidate for Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a proposal to improve early childhood education in Texas.

During a press conference, Abbott said expanding state-funded pre-kindergarten programs without addressing the quality of instruction “would be an act of negligence and waste.”

Today, educators from groups endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis gathered in front of north Austin's Lucy Read Pre-kindergarten School to say that expanding pre-k is "not a waste."

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AISD
12:56 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Austin School Board Begins Long Task to Find New Superintendent

As Supt. Meria Carstarphen prepares to leave for the same position in Atlanta, the Austin School Board is tasked with finding an interim-superintendent as well as her successor.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen and the AISD School Board met Monday for the first time since Carstarphen was named the sole finalist as superintendent for Atlanta's public schools.

They met late into the evening in executive session to discuss what happens next.

No decisions were made in the meeting, but board president Vincent Torres told reporters the executive session would serve as a primer for the presumed superintendent search.

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Education
11:34 am
Mon March 31, 2014

The Carstarphen Tenure: Austin Schools Superintendent Looks Back

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen at a board meeting in 2011. Carstarphen has been in charge of the district since 2009.
KUT News

Editor's note: Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is leaving to become Atlanta's school superintendent. Read more about Carstarphen's departure and what that means for AISD.

In December 2013, on the eve of what would be Carstarphen's final State of the District address, KUT looked back at her time leading AISD.

Original story (Dec. 3, 2013): Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s releases her 2013 State of the District today – a movie where the superintendent highlights the district’s achievements and challenges over the past year.

It’s Carstarphen’s fifth State of the District since she became superintendent in 2009.

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