Education

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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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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