Education

Education
6:03 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Failed Bond Threatens Taylor Schools’ Compliance with Disabilities Act

A $7 million bond proposal for a new athletic facility in Taylor did not pass.
Taylor ISD

A small school district northeast of Austin is facing a football field-sized problem.

Taylor Independent School District’s athletic facilities are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Without the ADA-required access, TISD is vulnerable to lawsuits and penalties.

On Tuesday, voters in the city of Taylor rejected a bond that would have built a new all-inclusive athletics facility that would include accessibility for people who have disabilities. Now the school district faces the possibility of paying $1 million to renovate old athletics facilities that they don’t own.

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UT Austin
8:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

UT Austin Receives $9 Million Gift For Engineering and Science Program

UT Austin's Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences has received $9.3M from the O'Donnell Foundation for student fellowships and faculty teaching.
flickr.com/bill78704

The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) program has received $9.3 million from the O'Donnell Foundation. The foundation has donated more than $135 million to the university over the past 30 years.

The money will go towards student fellowships, faculty teaching and recruiting for the program, which combines the study of math, engineering and science disciplines to tackle real world problems, specifically areas like applied mathematics, software engineering and computer visualization. 

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Education
2:18 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

New School Offers Some Relief, But Doesn't Solve Overcrowding Problems in Austin

Lawmakers, school board members and members of Janice Guerrero Thompson's family attend a ribbon cutting for the dedication of the new elementary school named in her honor. The school is one of two that will open to relieve overcrowding in the area.
Oscar Palomo, AISD

The brand new Janis Guerrero Thompson Elementary School is more than 78,000 square feet with 32 classrooms. Inside, the walls are painted bright orange and purple, and the floor is covered with colorful tiles. On Sunday, more than a hundred people came to dedicate the school to the late district employee and tour the new campus, which looks to mitigate overcrowding in Austin schools.

“Everyone’s been so excited. We’ve been working toward dedication and now it’s official, like we’ve been announced as a school," says Principal LaKesha Drinks.

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Education
5:36 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Why Austin ISD Can't Spend Any of Its 2013 Bond Money

While voters approved two of the four AISD bond propositions in May, a pending lawsuit with the Travis County Taxpayers Association is keeping the district from implementing projects associated with the bond money.
KUT News

In May, Austin voters approved nearly $600 million dollars in bond propositions for capital improvements in the Austin School District.

The money is allocated for technology upgrades in the classroom and district offices, and systemic repairs to facilities on campuses across the district, among other upgrades.

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Energy & Environment
2:00 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Round Rock Schools Are Saving Big Just By Turning Off Computers

Round Rock ISD estimates it could cut down 2.4 million kilowatt-hours per year.
flickr.com/vanwest/

Most computer users are familiar with sleep mode. But the Round Rock Independent School District has found the value in shutting their computers down completely.

The school district is expected to save an estimated $251,000 annually by using a program that automatically shuts computers down after 6 p.m. Over 30,000 desktops and laptops are automatically shut down, drastically cutting energy costs.

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Education
12:11 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Study Finds Texas' HB 5 Could Negatively Affect Minority Students

A study from the University of Texas finds recent educational changes could mean teachers encourage minority students to pursue less academically challenging high school diplomas.
flickr.com/wallyg

While school administrators work to clear the fog surrounding House Bill 5, the state's suite of educational changes, some are saying the bill could hurt the minority students’ chances to go to college.

A study by UT-Austin’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis found that HB 5 might lead school counselors to set minority students on a less rigorous degree plan designed for students who do not want to go to college. UT researchers say this is because school administrators often have low academic expectations for poor black students.

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AISD
11:59 am
Tue October 29, 2013

New Accountability Standards Add Uncertainty to Failing Austin Schools

Pearce Middle School is requires improvement under interim TEA standards. It will become an all-boys school in 2014.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School Board approved a set of plans Monday night for 11 schools that need improvement under the Texas Education Agency’s new accountability standards.

But as it rolls out year-long plans requiring monthly TEA visits and evaluations, it awaits new changes to the standards for this academic year.

“It’s going to keep us very focused," says Paul Cruz, AISD Chief Schools Officer. "We don’t know what the performance standards are going to be, but that’s also for every school in state of Texas."

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Dyslexia Awareness Month
3:01 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Debate Over Dysgraphia Services Puts Texas Parents, Schools at Odds

Many parents in Texas public schools face a variety of issues trying to get services for students diagnosed with learning disorders like dyslexia or dysgraphia – often creating debate between parents and school districts about services.
http://bit.ly/Hrpa57

Under Texas law, public schools are required to provide services to students who are diagnosed with dyslexia and related disorders. That includes disorders like dysgraphia—which makes it difficult to write letters and translate ideas into written words.

As  KUT has reported previously, getting services for students with dyslexia in Texas public schools can be an uphill battle for parents and students. But for students with those less common disorders, it can be even harder to detect and diagnose. Many times, parents and school districts are often at odds over what kind of services a student requires. 

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Fisher vs. Texas
11:06 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Minority Students at UT Await Affirmative Action Ruling

UT-Austin continues to defend its use of race in admissions. Some beneficiaries of affirmative action fear what a strike to those policies could mean.
Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

Since 2008, the University of Texas has been ensnared in a legal battle  – Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin – over its use of race in admissions.

The university says when it comes to deciding whether to accept or reject a student, race is considered as a factor within a factor. But once a student is accepted, what impact does diversity have on the students' learning on campus and in the classroom?

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Online Learning
3:22 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Who Benefits From UT's Massive Open Online Courses?

Using edX to increase brand awareness and exposure for UT is a primary goal of the university’s foray into online courses.
flickr.com/utnapistim

This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Texas' Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), now halfway through their initial semester. Read Part One here.

So what it UT getting for its $5 million investment in edX? 

UT Psychology department chair James Pennebaker describes the money spent on edX as a "great investment." He isn't certain how education will look in the near future – but he said no one has that answer. 

"UT and any serious university has to be revolutionary in its thinking,” Pennebaker says. “We have to look forward to new technologies and teaching strategies.”

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Online Learning
3:53 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Are UT's Massive Online Courses Making the Grade?

James Pennebaker and Sam Gosling prepare to stream their for-credit online course.
Roy Varney for KUT News

This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Texas' Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), now halfway through their initial semester.

The University of Texas’ grand entry into Massive Open Online Courses is underway. The courses, better known as MOOCs, are offered as free ways for the general public to access high quality education.

By any traditional college metric, UT's MOOCs, offered for the first time this fall, would be performing terribly: The majority of students who signed up have dropped out, there is no way to detect cheating, and the grading systems are automated. But halfway through the semester, education experts view UT's MOOCs as a success – and a necessity for building the future of its education network.

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University of Texas
5:49 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Testimony Begins in Hearings on Possible Impeachment of UT Regent

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, told lawmakers they have enough evidence to impeach embattled UT Regent Wallace Hall
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Lawmakers heard preliminary testimony in an inquiry that could lead to UT Regent Wallace Hall's impeachment. 

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, told the Texas House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations today that there's enough evidence to impeach Hall and that the regent had unfairly used his power to target UT Austin and President Bill Powers. 

Education
3:11 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Here's What It's Like to Go to School in Northern Ghana

Nkrumah interviews school children in Northern Ghana for her story on education in the area. She won an award for her documentary on the issue.
Citi FM

Since early October, KUT has had the pleasure of hosting Lorrencia Nkrumah, a guest journalist from Ghana, where she covers business for Citi FM. She’s visiting as part of the International Center for Journalists program through the U.S. State Department.

During her stay, Nkrumah discovered she won an award through Search for Common Ground’s Radio for Peacebuilding Africa, and produced a 20 minute documentary about access to education in the northern part of Ghana. Listen below to KUT's Kate McGee talk with Nkrumah about her story.

Education
6:24 am
Mon October 21, 2013

UT College of Communication Receives $50 Million Donation, New Name

The University of Texas at Austin's College of Communication is now the Moody College of Communication.
KUT News

The College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin will soon have a new name – the Moody College of Communication.

The Moody Foundation is donating $50 million to the college, the largest donation in the college’s history.

The donation will be paid out over 10 years and will fund various initiatives, including a $10 million innovation fund and $13 million for graduate student recruitment and retention.

Money will also be used to build a sky bridge across Dean Keeton Street to link the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. UT will provide an extra $5 million to improve classroom space and facilities, which includes the sky bridge.

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Education
3:00 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Can Schools Use Social Media to Prevent Teen Suicide?

A sign on a classroom door at Lanier High School, urging other students to seek counseling after a student shot and killed himself there this week.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Social Media sites have increasingly become a platform where teenagers turn to document their daily activities and thoughts—some which can be serious. Friends of the student who committed suicide at Lanier High School this week say he posted a note and a photo of himself with the weapon on Facebook before he committed suicide.

The student's tragic death comes as researchers from Brigham Young University have found young people with suicidal thoughts or behaviors may be using things like Twitter or Facebook to cry for help.

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AISD
3:23 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

25 Counselors on Hand After Lanier High School Suicide (Update)

Classes resumed today at Lanier High School, after a student fatally shot himself there yesterday afternoon. More than 25 counselors were at the school for students and teachers still trying to cope with what happened.

All schools in Texas must have suicide prevention plans to help teachers and faculty identify and address suicidal behavior, says Karen Ranus of the Austin Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These signs include changes in behavior, talking about death or a lack of motivation. But, she says, some people are afraid to address these issues openly.

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Higher Education
12:26 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Bill Powers Talks UT Athletics, Budget and the Rise of Texas A&M

From left to right: UT-Austin President Bill Powers, UT spokesperson Gary Susswein and KUT’s David Brown in the KUT studios at the Belo Center for New Media.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

There are few venues in public life where money, sports, politics and policy combine with as much volatility as at a major public university. Given the sheer size of The University of Texas at Austin, President William Powers finds himself constantly in the news.

Powers sat down with KUT"s David Brown to talk about the future of the most lucrative collegiate athletic program in the country, the school's "thin" budget and potential job cuts that could reduce UT's workforce by 20 percent.

 

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Borderlands
4:30 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Acclaimed Author Luis Alberto Urrea on Borders, Bias, and Breaking Down Barriers

Luis Alberto Urrea is speaking Tuesday, Oct. 15 at UT's College of Communication. His talk, “Universal Border: From Tijuana to the World” will begin at 7 p.m.
Luis Alberto Urrea

Luis Alberto Urrea is one of the most distinguished writers in America.  Just don’t tell him that.  Urrea is refreshingly self-effacing when forced to talk about his status as an award-winning and best-selling author. He is perhaps best known for “The Devil’s Highway,” which won the Lannan Literary Award in 2004. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005.

 

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Education
9:32 am
Tue October 15, 2013

As Social Media Evolves, So Do Austin Schools' Anti-Bullying Tactics

Austin school officials try to prevent cyberbullying – although they admit students may be more familiar with social media than many instructors.
KUT News

During the school day, teachers and administrators are in charge of student behavior on school property. But as the number of students with smart phones and on social media increases, so does the number of interactions between students beyond the schoolyard – which in some cases leads to cyberbullying.

In the Austin School District, teachers and faculty try to combat cyberbullying, while also educating students about their own digital footprint.

“We will see cases that involve students going back and forth: name calling, talking about other students," says Beverly Reeves, the AISD ombudsman who deals with cyber-bullying conflicts. This past legislative session, lawmakers allowed school districts to get involved in conflicts on social media when the result trickles back into the classroom.

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Education
7:00 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

LISTEN: 'The Long Game' Takes In-Depth Look at Texas Textbook Battle

Tonight, KUT presents the world premiere of a new radio documentary, “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom.”

Produced by Trey Kay (producer of "The Great Textbook War," which was honored with Peabody, Murrow, and DuPont Awards), “The Long Game” delves into the culture war battles over public school curriculum content, which have ebbed and flowed in the Lone Star State for the past fifty years. Read more about the program.

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