Michael Williams

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

In 2013, when Texas passed its first overhaul of charter school policy since 1995 — the year the publicly funded but privately operated schools were first established in the state — lawmakers included a provision intended to speed the shuttering of poor-performing schools.

But nearly 10 months after the Texas Education Agency marked six operators for closure under the new measure, three of those schools remain open. As those charters prepare to open their doors this month for a new school year, they say they are fighting a process that does not account for the full picture of a charter’s financial or academic health.  

flickr.com/nirak

The State Board of Education preliminarily voted Thursday to remove speech as one of the required courses for high school graduation in Texas.

The board opted to give local school districts final say on whether or not high school students should be required to take speech. Board Member Tom Maynard says speech is a valuable class, but local school districts should decide whether or not it’s required.

“When in doubt, leave it to the locals to decide that. I suspect either most districts will hold on to that or embed that content in other coursework," Maynard said during Thursday's meeting.

Texas Education Agency

Students across Texas helped raise $11,367 to the American Red Cross  West, Texas Relief Fund.

How'd they do it? By solving math problems. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Texas students taking the STAAR test this week will have to pass in order to advance to the next grade.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams says there is enough money in the preliminary state budget to provide tutoring to fifth and eighth graders who fail the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. 

Right now, state lawmakers have allocated $41 million over the next two years for the Student Success Initiative. SSI provides money to school districts to tutor students who cannot pass the STAAR reading or math tests. 

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Last week, students at Eastside Memorial High School delivered a letter inviting the state’s top education administrator for a visit to hear how the threat of the school’s closure for poor academic performance affected them. It was a long shot, but yesterday Michael Williams spent almost two hours at Eastside Memorial. Students welcomed his visit, but the threat of closure remains.

As Williams’ visit approached, school administrators darted through the impeccable hallways shooting instructions to each other over walkie-talkies. Some students wore ties and sported fresh haircuts.

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