public education

Education
10:47 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Weigh-In Tonight on AISD's $900M Bond Proposal

Classroom and school overcrowding is one issue addressed by the bond.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

The Austin Independent School District is inviting the public to weigh-in this evening on a potential bond package.

The nearly $900 million bond proposal could go before voters as soon as May. Among other things, it proposes adding four new elementary schools to address overcrowding.

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Politics
5:05 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Education Budget-Building Begins

Budget hearings continue today at the Capitol.
Lizzie Chen, KUT News

When the House and Senate filed base budgets last week, advocates for programs that were cut in 2011, including public education, were upset the budgets didn’t restore funding. Lawmakers countered that the budget was expected to grow.

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Education
1:57 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Could AISD Be Sued for Cancelling Its IDEA Contract?

IDEA Public Schools took over operations at Allan Elementary last Fall.
KUT News

The Austin Independent School Board will meet behind closed doors this evening. According to the executive session agenda, they may discuss possible lawsuits surrounding the district’s decision to cancel its contract with IDEA Public Schools.

In December, the board voted 5 to 4 to cancel the contract that hired IDEA to run an in-district charter at Allan Elementary.

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Education
8:18 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Texas High School Graduation Above National Average

Texas sits roughly in the middle of the pack when it comes to four-year high school graduation rates.
National Center for Education Statistics

A new study shows Texas' four-year high school graduation rate rose to 78.9 percent in 2009-2010, putting the Lone Star State above the national average of 78.2 percent.

A federal study released by the National Center of Education Statistics shows that Texas' four-year graduation rate increased from its previous study, from 73.1 percent in the 2006-2007 school year to 78.9 percent in 2009-2010.

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Education
12:18 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Land Board to Transfer $300 Million to School Fund

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Callie Richmond for Texas Tribune

The School Land Board voted Tuesday to release $300 million into the Available School Fund for public schools.

The money will be released in two $150 million installments, one in February and the other on June. The funds had been caught in a standoff between the Legislature and the School Land Board, which operates out of the General Land Office and oversees the state’s public school land. 

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Education
5:51 am
Thu December 13, 2012

Business Group Wants STAAR Revamped

Implementation of the STAAR test has hit some snags.
Jason Wiseman/Texas Tribune

A business lobbying group that’s been a big supporter of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exams, has called for some changes, saying that the program may have gone overboard in trying to introduce accountability so quickly.

The Texas Association of Business wants to reduce the number of tests a high school senior needs to pass in order to graduate, and to push the entire program’s full implementation back three years.

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Education
6:56 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Texas School Districts, Charters Are Finalists in Federal Competition

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

By the end of the year, a few Texas school districts may have access to millions in funding that Gov. Rick Perry had passed on two years ago because of concerns about federal intrusion into Texas classrooms.

Since Texas refused to participate in Race to the Top at the state level in 2010, the Obama administration has rolled out a new version of its signature education program to allow districts to apply individually for a separate pot of about $400 million in federal money. Administration officials announced the new round of competition that would emphasize data-driven personalized student learning plans in 2011, after three phases of the state-based contest.

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Texas
8:47 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Abbott Sides With East Texas Cheerleaders in Bible Verses Case

A judge is expected to decide today if a group of cheerleaders can use Bible verses at public high school football games.
KUHF

A Hardin County Judge is expected to rule today on whether to allow a group of high school cheerleaders to continue to display Bible verses at football games.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders are seeking a temporary injunction after Kountze Independent School District officials told the cheerleaders they could no longer use scripture on banners. An atheist group complained about the displays.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’ll defend the East Texas cheerleaders.

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AM Update: 9/17/12
8:50 am
Mon September 17, 2012

AM Update: Occupy AISD, Cap Metro Budget, Foster Care Redesign

Austin education advocates plan to show solidarity with Chicago teachers today. There, classrooms remain empty as the teachers strike continues.
flickr.com/evmaiden

After a weekend of rain, your Monday should be mostly dry. On Sunday, most parts of Central Texas saw an inch to two inches of rain. Here's a roundup of some of today's happenings:

Education Activists Occupy Austin

Austin education activists plan to gather at Austin City Hall this evening to rally for the Chicago teachers strike.

Occupy AISD will rally from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an event that organizers say will connect the disputes in Chicago to issues facing Austin schools.

The education rally will be part of a day-long celebration of Occupy Austin by protesters to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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AM Update: 9/13/12
8:58 am
Thu September 13, 2012

AM Update: Longer School Days?, Doctors Support Medical School, One Word About Your Favorite Teacher

Lawmakers are considering options to increase student success. That might mean more time at school for Texas kids.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Should Texas Kids Spend More Time in School?

State lawmakers want to know if having kids spend more time in school will increase performance.

The Texas Senate Committee on Education is meeting this morning to talk about the impact of extended learning time on school success. That could mean longer school days or adding more days to the school year.

Lawmakers will also look at after-school programs and their effect on school performance, attendance and behavior.

The public is invited to comment at the hearing. It starts at 9 a.m. at the capitol.

Hundreds of Austin-Area Doctors Support Medical School

Proposition 1, the proposal for a new medical school and teaching hospital in Austin, now has the support of over 400 Austin-area doctors. The doctors' support means they are behind the five cent increase in property taxes per $100 of taxable value if Prop. 1 is successful in November.

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Education
12:42 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Analyst: School Choice Grant Program Could Save Texas Billions

Lawmakers want to know if giving families educational options will make all schools better.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Texas Senate Committee on Education today talked about possible funding options to promote school choice.

Lawmakers want to know if having more school options will create competition and, in turn, make all schools in the state better. One option to encourage school choice is a so-called taxpayer savings grant program. The idea was proposed in the Texas Legislature last year as part of House Bill 33. It would pay up to 60 percent of the amount that the state spends per pupil each year on school maintenance and operations for private school tuition – that’d be about $5,200.

Joe Bast is the President and CEO of the Heartland Institute – a non-profit research center based in Chicago. He looked at the numbers and believes many Texas families would take advantage of the option and that it would save taxpayers a big chuck of money right away.

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AM Update 7/17/12
8:13 am
Tue July 17, 2012

AM Update: UT Kidnapping Scam, Texas West Nile Virus Death, Senate Education Committee Meets

UT Police are working with the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate a kidnapping hoax.
Officer William Pieper courtesy of UTPD Facebook page

UT Students and Families Victims of Scam

The University of Texas at Austin is warning students and their families about a kidnapping scam.

Relatives of at least four students have received phone calls in the past six weeks claiming their child or grandchild had been kidnapped or is in need of medical care. The caller then asks for money.

UT Police say the perpetrator has an accent and demands that funds be placed into a foreign bank account.  

UT police is investigating the scam along with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

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Education
3:52 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

This Takes the Cake: A Billion Dollar Bake Sale to 'Save Texas Schools'

Save Texas Schools drew attention to education spending cuts with a symbolic "bake sale" this afternoon.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

We’re all familiar with school bake sales – those PTA-organized sugar-fests focused on raising money for band uniforms and financing field trips.

But Save Texas Schools, a group pushing for greater state investment in public education, hosted a bake sale this afternoon with a slightly loftier goal: raising, say, over five billion dollars selling cupcakes.

The tongue-in-cheek event, held in the shadow of the State Capitol, had a serous purpose: drawing attention to state budget cuts to education.

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Education
3:01 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Texas School Finance Lawsuits Get a Judge

2011 cuts to public education inspired protests at the Capitol - and subsequently, a round of lawsuits.
Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/jesabele

A judge has been named to hear several lawsuits brought by school districts against the State of Texas, to protest the way public education is funded.

Judge John Dietz, of the 250th Judicial District Civil Court in Travis County, will preside over the suits. The news was trumpeted by the Equity Center, a coalition of several poorer school districts. An Equity Center offshoot, the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition sued the state last year alleging Texas’ system of school funding was unconstitutional. As the coalition wrote in a complaint, “Taxpayers in low wealth districts who are willing to tax themselves at the highest rates allowed are unable to access the same dollars for education as taxpayers in high wealth districts who tax themselves at a lower rate.”

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Politics
2:34 pm
Mon July 4, 2011

Old Textbooks to Greet Students in the Fall

Photo via Flickr user pink_fish13

The effects of massive state budget cuts are beginning show up in public schools. Lawmakers cut about $4-billion from the state's K-12 budget in the just finished regular and special legislative sessions. That could mean fewer teachers and larger classes for some.

 The Associated Press reports the cuts will also mean old textbooks for students in the fall. 

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Education
2:39 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Public Education Supporters Protest Under Capitol Dome

Protestors in the Texas State Capitol this afternoon.
Photo by Hannah Jones for KUT News

Dozens of teachers, parents, students and public education advocates protested underneath the Capitol Dome today, urging state lawmakers to spend more of the Rainy Day Fund to reduce cuts to school districts.

“We have got to keep making noise, because it’s raining and that’s an ugly bill,” Louis Malfaro with the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers told the crowd. “So we say, ‘Fund our schools or don’t come back!’”

Protestors repeated the chant and it echoed throughout the cavernous rotunda.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Protesters to Rally at Capitol Tomorrow for Public Education

Teachers and parents have held several rallies in support of public education at the Texas Capitol, including this one in March.
Photo by Technolibrary2010 http://www.flickr.com/photos/52512222@N02/

Funding for K-12 education in Texas remains in limbo as lawmakers try to hash out a funding solution during the special legislative session that began on Tuesday.  The uncertainty has prompted teachers and parents to hold another rally this weekend at the State Capitol.  Here's the press release we received this afternoon.

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Politics
11:31 am
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Senate Budget Spends Another $3 Billion From Rainy Day Fund

In an 11-4 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved a spending plan that draws another $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate Finance Committee has approved a budget that spends down an additional $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day fund, according to our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune.  The 11-4 vote came faster than expected this morning, and it sets up a showdown between House and Senate lawmakers.

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