Education

Dyslexia Awareness Month
12:46 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Getting Texas Public Schools to Identify Dyslexia Proves Tough for Some

Ben Cooper, an Austin student who attends boarding school in New York for his dyslexia. He and his parents had trouble getting him services and classes in the Austin school district.
Courtesy of Robbi Cooper

When a student is diagnosed with dyslexia in Texas, state law requires school districts to provide accommodations and services to help that student.  But getting those services depends entirely on a whether a school district recognizes the student’s learning disability – which affects their ability to read, write or spell. And some parents say sometimes it’s hard to get services they need.

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Education
12:06 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

At UT, Awareness of Transgender Students is Still a Work In Progress

Shane Whalley teaches over 100 workshops across UT campus about the issues transgender students face.
Roy Varney for KUT News

Over the last three years, nearly 100 colleges and universities across the nation have added non-discrimination policies that included protection for transgender students from harassment and bullying. 10 of those universities are in Texas. However, even with the increase in non-discrimination policies, there is still a lack of awareness and visibility for many transgender students.

Shane Whalley is the Senior Program Coordinator at the Gender and Sexuality Center in the University of Texas at Austin. Whalley first came to UT as a graduate student, and has seen a lot of changes that include the 2008 non-discrimination policy and the installation of 43 gender-neutral bathrooms across campus. Additionally, Whalley says that there have been changes to the way transgender people are viewed.

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Marathon Kids
12:54 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

More than 30,000 Austin Students Are Trying to Log a Marathon's Worth of Runs

More than 30,000 Austin elementary students are participating in Marathon Kids, a 5-month mission to run a marathon’s length, piece by piece during recess at school.
Credit Kate McGee, KUT News

Thousands of elementary students in Central Texas have started a five-month mission to run a marathon – although not all at once.

It’s part of the annual program Marathon Kids. Over the weekend, students gathered on the University of Texas campus to log the first of many laps between now and February.

When Marathon Kids started more than 15 years ago, 2,000 Austin students joined. This year, more than 30,000 Austin ISD students are participating, not including students from nearby districts and private schools. Kids keep track of their runs until they add up to an entire marathon.

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Dyslexia Awareness Month
10:44 am
Fri October 4, 2013

What It's Like to be a Dyslexic Student in Austin

Ben Shrader is a high school student in Austin with severe dyslexia. He created a video for National Dyslexia Awareness Month to shed light on the reading disorder.
Ben Shrader via YouTube

High school freshman Ben Shrader was in kindergarten when he realized he learned differently than other kids.

“I’d be pulled out of the class at nap time and at break time and those were the best times of day besides recess," he says jokingly. Instead of napping, Shrader received reading therapy to help his severe dyslexia, which made it extremely difficult to read. “It was also as if the letters were 3-D – as if you were wearing 3-D glasses and you were trying to read," Shrader remembers.

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AISD Fascilities Master Plan
3:18 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

After Funding Failure, What's Next for Austin School Facilities Plan?

AISD's Facility Maps. The district approved Facility Master Plan guiding principles last night, and will now begin crafting the actual plan.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School Board last night approved a set of principles to direct them as they begin to create a Facility Master Plan, a document that will guide the board’s decision making process as it deals with facilities across the city. The principles were approved with an emphasis on community engagement.

“We need to educate all our constituents about a topic that is quite complex. You’re dealing from safety to facility construction, to financial to communications to academics," says School Board President Vincent Torres.

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Education
3:18 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Update: Austin Public Montessori School Gets Charter License

Update: The Texas Education Commission granted a charter school license to the Magnolia Montessori school, which means Austin will have its first public Montessori school option next academic year on the city's east side. The Montessori school plans to open a second charter school in San Antonio in 2016.

Commissioner Michael Williams announced his decision to grant four charter school licenses Friday. They include three other schools outside of Austin, including Carpe Diem Schools, El Paso Leadership Academy and Great Hearts Academies Dallas.

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Turning The Corner
7:29 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Teachers, Non-Profits Key to Helping Middle School Students in Dove Springs

Leonor Vargas is the director of the Mendez Family Resource Center, which provides services to high needs students and families. She says teachers help the center identify students who need help.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

In Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood, it’s no secret: the middle school there – Mendez Middle School – has challenges. Before last year, Mendez was rated academically unacceptable and faced the struggles found in many low income schools: low test scores, little parental involvement, and chronic absenteeism.

In many cases, the burden of maintaining order at Mendez falls on the shoulders of teachers. Many start their day corralling kids inside the building and greeting them at the front door.

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Sex Education
4:01 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

What's Next for Austin's Sex Ed Program Targeting Teen Pregnancy?

After a steady increase in students becoming pregnant in AISD, the district partnered with Lifeworks and Planned Parenthood to implement programs in middle and high schools to curb pregnancy. Halfway through, pregnancies in the district are down 21%.
Janine, flickr.com

Between 2005 and 2010, Austin school district saw the number of pregnant students in the district steadily increase. By the end of the 2009 school year, the district identified 400 students who were pregnant or who were already parents. (The district doesn't separate whether or not the student parents are male or female.)

In 2010, AISD partnered with Planned Parenthood and the non-profit Lifeworks to implement a program aimed at preventing teen pregnancy in middle and high schools. 

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Education
2:21 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Committee Won't Look Into UT Regent's Call to Alabama Coach's Agent

A legislative committee mulling items of impeachment against UT Regent Wallace Hall says his call to Nick Saban’s agent won’t figure in the committee’s investigation.
KUT News

A legislative committee investigating University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall will not consider recent allegations claiming Hall abused his powers by talking to a sports agent about replacing UT football coach Mack Brown.

Reports surfaced last week that Hall spoke to an agent for Nick Saban, the football coach for the top-ranked University of Alabama, in January. Former UT Regent Tom Hicks was also on the call. Hicks then asked Brown if he wanted to retire, but Brown said he did not.

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Education
4:45 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Are Austin Teachers Punishing Students by Denying Them Time to Exercise?

Students in Texas must get 135 minutes a week of physical activity. In Austin, students have gym once or twice a week, which means classroom teachers must make up the other required time.
flickr.com/andrewmalone

An Austin school board member is concerned students aren’t meeting state mandated physical education requirements.

In Texas, elementary students must get 135 minutes of physical education per week. But students only have gym class once or twice a week – which means teachers must ensure students make up the rest of that mandated time outside of gym class.

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Education
1:39 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Texans Will See Big Changes to the GED Test in January

In January, Texans who drop out of school can start taking their GED test online.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Following a national trend digitizing high school equivalency tests, Texas will only offer the GED test online come January. The State Board of Education approved some final changes to the new testing process Thursday as the state prepares for the transition.

The test will be entirely online, which means students need to be more computer literate.

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Affirmative Action
12:02 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

New Hearing Set for UT Affirmative Action Case

The first hearing regarding UT's affirmative action policies since the Supreme Court returned the issue to a lower court is set for November.
KUT News

A new hearing in the Fisher v. University of Texas affirmative action case has been scheduled for Nov. 13.

Three judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will gather in Austin to hear oral arguments in the case from both sides. UT officials said the hearing will occur after both sides submit their briefs for the case, but did not say much more about the hearing.

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State Board of Education
11:23 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Textbook Standards, Charter Schools, Graduation Requirements Keep Education Board Busy

About 200 people gathered outside the Texas Education Agency building Tuesday to protest proposed changes to high school biology textbooks. Protestors were concerned ideological and religious beliefs will be considered alongside scientific theories.
Kate McGee, KUT News

This week was a busy one for Texas education. Here's what we picked up.

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State Board of Education
4:59 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

State School Board Undecided on What Courses Should Count for Graduation (Update)

State Board of Education member Patricia Hardy, photographed in 2011. The board is wrestling with high school course graduation requirements.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke and answered questions regarding House Bill 5 in front of the State Board of Education today.

Patrick’s endorsement of the bill, which provides for different paths to high school graduation, was met with skepticism from board member Patricia Hardy. Hardy’s concern revolved around the removal of social studies classes from high school graduation requirements. She argued that turning social studies courses into electives limits a student’s exposure to important information.

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University of Texas
12:15 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

UT Engineering School Graduates Record Number of Minorities

UT's Cockrell School of Engineering ranks third in the country for minority graduates.
flickr.com/cockrellschool

The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas has been ranked third in the country for graduation rates among minorities, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In 2012, 41 percent of the school’s graduates, or 441 students, were minorities.

Efforts by the Equal Opportunity in Engineering program at UT contributed to the gain. Program director Enrique Dominguez cites the organization’s close involvement in the academic progress of minority students. 

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Guns in Schools
10:21 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Texas Schools Deciding Whether to Allow Armed Marshals on Campus

Under a new law, Texas school districts can designate a trained school marshal to carry a concealed weapon on campus.
flickr.com/robertnelson

The controversial policy of allowing armed marshals at public schools could soon be a reality for some Texas school districts. Under a new law passed during the most recent legislative session, school administrators may designate a trained employee to act as school marshal, authorized to carry a concealed handgun to respond in emergency situations.

Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 1009, also known as the Protection of Children Act, into law this June. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, penned the bill in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

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University of Texas
8:56 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Interview: Bill Powers on Funding, Philanthropy & UT’s New Med School

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

University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. takes on another role this October: chairman of the elite Association of American Universities, a prominent pedestal from which to shape the national conversation about higher education. 

Austin just might have heard a sneak preview of where he plans to go with that discussion, through his annual State of the University address delivered last week.

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University of Texas
12:07 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

UT Austin to Move Forward with New Engineering Center

UT Austin's plan to build a new Engineering Education and Resource Center hit a roadblock when lawmakers failed to pass Tuition Revenue Bonds this past session. But the UT System approved a new funding plan Thursday.
KUT News

The University of Texas Board of Regents has approved a new plan to fund the new Engineering Education and Research Center at UT Austin.  The change to the funding plan was necessary after lawmakers failed to approve bonds for capitol projects in the most recent legislative session.

UT Austin had requested $95 million in Tuition Revenue Bonds to use toward the new facility. Now, UT can borrow up to $150 million from the UT System's Revenue Financing System to make up that difference. The rest of the money will come from $5 million in current funds and $50 million in gifts.

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University of Texas
4:51 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

UT President Powers Delivers State of the University

President Powers says UT Austin depends on philanthropy to achieve the school's future goals. He gave the State of the University Wednesday at UT.
University of Texas

UT Austin President Bill Powers delivered the annual State of the University address Wednesday afternoon, touting the accomplishments and acknowledging challenges of the past year as a new academic year begins.

President Powers also acknowledged what he considers the vital importance of private donors to achieve the university’s future goals. He expressed appreciation for the legislature’s $25 million increase in state funding over the next two years, but says it still falls short of what’s necessary to run a top tier university.

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September 11
11:05 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Teaching 9/11 to Texas Students Who Don't Remember - Or Weren't Yet Born That Day

A photo from the children's book, "Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey," by Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman

Remembering the events of September 11th is easy for most Americans. It's a fresh, sometimes painful memory for some. 

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