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Education

Austin trustees voice support for unauthorized immigrant students

Austin trustees voice support for unauthorized immigrant students

The Austin school board Monday night unanimously approved 9-0 a resolution in support of students who are unauthorized immigrants. The resolution says all students are entitled to a public education, and that Austin schools and classrooms are welcoming, inclusive places for all students and families, “regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents.” The district...
Austin ISD board approves resolution in support of immigrant students

Austin ISD board approves resolution in support of immigrant students

The Austin school board Monday night unanimously approved 9-0 a resolution in support of undocumented students. The resolution includes language stating that: “all students are entitled to a public education regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents,” “schools and classrooms are safe, welcoming and inclusive places for all students and all families, regardless...
Austin ISD board weighs declaration in support of immigrant students

Austin ISD board weighs declaration in support of immigrant students

Austin district trustees tonight will weigh whether to pass a resolution or declaration regarding support for undocumented students. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the district’s headquarters, 1111 W. Sixth St., but the discussion regarding immigration issues, including an update from the superintendent and possible action on a declaration, isn’t expected to occur until nearly 9 p.m....
Jarrell school district puts $54 million bond package on May ballot

Jarrell school district puts $54 million bond package on May ballot

Jarrell school district Superintendent Bill Chapman said he often checks out how many homes are under construction in the area to estimate how many new students to expect. The district has grown by more than 500 students over the past five years, he said, and currently has 1,540 students. The district is asking voters to approve $54 million in bonds on May 6 because that sharp growth is expected to...

More than 20,000 AISD students miss school on ‘Day Without Immigrants’

More than 20,000 Austin school district students — nearly one in four — were absent Thursday on a “Day without Immigrants.” It’s unclear how many of those students missed school because of the event, a day of national protests to call attention to the economic and social contributions of immigrants. The “Day without Immigrants” also was a response to President...
More than 20,000 AISD students miss school on ‘Day without Immigrants’

More than 20,000 AISD students miss school on ‘Day without Immigrants’

More than 20,000 Austin district students — nearly one in four — were absent Thursday on a “Day without Immigrants.” It’s unclear how many of those students missed school because of the event, a day of national protests to call attention to the economic and social contributions of immigrants. The “Day without Immigrants” also was a response to President Trump&rsquo...
Stevenson: Here we go again — fighting vouchers at the Texas Capitol

Stevenson: Here we go again — fighting vouchers at the Texas Capitol

In a commentary I wrote for the Texas Tribune in 2015, I complained that vouchers — or their euphemism, educational savings accounts — are zombie bills that come up every session and refuse to die. Each session, they are defeated because the majority of Texans support their public schools and want to improve them, not siphon decreased funds to private schools with little or no oversight...
Feds to probe Central Texas school districts over special ed practices

Feds to probe Central Texas school districts over special ed practices

The U.S. Department of Education will visit a dozen Texas school districts, including three in Central Texas, this month to examine practices for identifying and educating students with disabilities. The list includes the Austin, Leander and Del Valle school districts. The state has come under scrutiny after the Houston Chronicle reported in September that the Texas Education Agency had mandated that...
Austin leaders push school district to support immigrant families

Austin leaders push school district to support immigrant families

Austin school district trustees on Monday night will determine what kind of statement or resolution they will make regarding support for students who are unauthorized immigrants. Trustees also asked for Superintendent Paul Cruz to provide an update on what the district has done in providing information regarding immigration support and services to students, their families and campuses. They also want...
Austin district school board members to weigh immigration resolution

Austin district school board members to weigh immigration resolution

Austin district trustees on Monday night will determine what kind of statement or resolution they will make regarding support for undocumented students. During an hour-long discussion Wednesday afternoon, trustees discussed whether to have an all-inclusive values proclamation instead of a more-specific immigrant resolution. However, they all reiterated their support for all students and their desire...
Austin school leaders push district to support undocumented students

Austin school leaders push district to support undocumented students

Led by labor group Education Austin, various city and community leaders Wednesday morning called on the Austin school district to take a stand for students who are unauthorized immigrants. The call comes a day after some principals, having received an email from the district’s legal counsel, prohibited teachers and campus staff from distributing materials to students detailing what to do if...
4 of 5 Texas school districts teach abstinence or no sex ed at all

4 of 5 Texas school districts teach abstinence or no sex ed at all

Students in more than 80 percent of public school districts in the state are being taught only about abstinence in sex education programs, or aren’t being taught sex education at all, according to a study released Tuesday by the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network. The numbers represent a small improvement over results seen eight years ago, when 96 percent of districts taught abstinence as the...
AISD board weighs 8 school closures as vote looms

AISD board weighs 8 school closures as vote looms

In a meeting that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Austin school board discussed some of the more contentious options, including the closures of up to eight schools, among hundreds of facilities proposals they will vote on next month. The trustees also heard input on the recommendations from 30 parents and community members, most presenting reasons why the district should keep...
Some Austin teachers warned not to give students information on ICE

Some Austin teachers warned not to give students information on ICE

A handful of Austin district principals, after receiving an email from legal counsel, on Tuesday prohibited teachers or other campus staff from distributing materials to students detailing what to do if immigration enforcement officials show up at their homes or try to question them. In a memo sent to principals Monday night, the district’s attorney spelled out limitations for educators: &ldquo...
Some AISD teachers warned not to hand out ICE fliers at school

Some AISD teachers warned not to hand out ICE fliers at school

A handful of Austin district principals, after receiving an email from legal counsel, immediately prohibited teachers or other campus staff from distributing materials Tuesday to students on what to do if immigration enforcement officials show up at their home or try to question them. In a memo sent to principals Monday night, the district’s attorney spelled out limitations for educators: &ldquo...
San Marcos teacher wins another award

San Marcos teacher wins another award

San Marcos Crockett Elementary teacher Connie Bagley was surprised last week with a special ceremony when she was told that she was one of two teachers in the nation to be awarded the Winslow Coyne Reitnouer Excellence in Teaching award.

AISD parents, trustees weigh in on school closures, facility proposals

In a meeting that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Austin school board discussed some of the more contentious options, including school closures, among hundreds of facilities proposals they will vote on next month. The trustees also heard input on the recommendations from 30 parents and community members, most presenting reasons why the district should keep their schools open...

AISD expects heated discussion of school closures tonight

5:55 p.m. update Every available slot has been filled to address the board during a public hearing on school closures, new campuses and other changes in a proposed facilities plan. All 30 of the available sign ups were filled shortly after the district opened it up on Friday. There are four speakers on a backup list who attemped to sign up today. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., but trustees will immediately...
Fearing ICE, Austin immigrant families keep students home from school

Fearing ICE, Austin immigrant families keep students home from school

Some immigrant parents are withholding their children from Austin district schools out of fear that they, their children or family members may be detained by federal immigration officials after hearing last week that an enforcement operation has been underway in Austin. While the operation appears to target those unauthorized immigrants with criminal records, numerous parents said they feared getting...
Connally High School principal placed on administrative leave

Connally High School principal placed on administrative leave

Kermit Ward, principal of Connally High School in North Austin, has been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from the Pflugerville school district. Officials on Sunday would not elaborate on what led up to the action. “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide more detail about this personnel matter, other than to say that it is an ongoing situation that we are working to...
Austin school board to discuss school closures, rebuilds on Monday

Austin school board to discuss school closures, rebuilds on Monday

Eight Austin school district closures and consolidations affecting six elementaries and two prekindergarten centers would save the district up to $15 million annually, according to a consultant’s estimates. A facilities and bond advisory committee, which for months has been examining a consultant’s recommendations, will give its latest update to trustees at Monday night’s board meeting...

Live chat on improper teacher-student relationships at noon Monday

The American-Statesman will hold a live online chat at noon Monday on facebook.com/statesman about the rising cases of improper relationships between students and teachers in Texas and the findings of a recent Statesman investigation on the subject. David Thompson, a University of Texas at San Antonio education professor, and Catherine Robert, a UT-San Antonio doctoral fellow and former school district...
120 educators attend training session on immigrant rights

120 educators attend training session on immigrant rights

Austin Discovery School office manager and registrar Deborah Freeman dropped off a student at home after school this week to help out his parents, who were afraid of leaving their house — they feared they could get deported if they were to cross paths with the federal immigration officials who had set up shop just a couple of miles away from the school. “If I’m dropping off a kiddo...
Removing predatory teachers starts with transparency, clear policies

Removing predatory teachers starts with transparency, clear policies

Accusations of teachers having improper relationships with students have become more common. Yet, only a few of the hundreds of teachers in Texas accused of inappropriate behavior ever make headlines. When they do, it’s most likely those teachers will end up with a criminal record. Many others don’t. While there are no foreseeable changes to the inescapable world of social media that has...
Austin teachers give students information on immigration rights

Austin teachers give students information on immigration rights

Educators in the Austin school district are providing information to students on what to do if immigration enforcement officials show up at their home or try to question them. The labor group Education Austin provided its 3,000 members with various documents, including fliers from the group United We Dream that detail “what to do if ICE comes to your door” — referring to U.S. Immigration...
Austin teachers hand out flyer: ‘What to do if ICE comes to your door’

Austin teachers hand out flyer: ‘What to do if ICE comes to your door’

Educators in the Austin school district are providing information to students on what to do if immigration enforcement officials show up at their home or try to question them. The labor group Education Austin provided its 3,000 members with various documents, including United We Dream flyers that detail “what to do if ICE comes to your door” — referring to the U.S. Immigration and...
Teacher’s aide gets probation for throwing trash can at 13-year-old

Teacher’s aide gets probation for throwing trash can at 13-year-old

An Austin school district employee was sentenced to probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to throwing a trash can at a 13-year-old special needs student and causing permanent damage to his face. Jennifer Hardison, who was a teacher’s aide at Small Middle School in Southwest Austin, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily injury, a misdemeanor. She was sentenced by state District...
Student charged with arson after Pflugerville High fire

Student charged with arson after Pflugerville High fire

PFLUGERVILLE Student charged with arson after school fire A Pflugerville High School student is in custody and has been charged with first-degree arson after a fire Tuesday caused an evacuation of the school, according to the district. The student, who was not identified by authorities, has been taken to the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center in Austin, officials said. Authorities evacuated the...
Student in custody, charged with arson after Pflugerville High fire

Student in custody, charged with arson after Pflugerville High fire

4:35 p.m. update: A Pflugerville High School student is in custody and has been charged with first-degree arson after a fire Tuesday caused an evacuation of the school, according to the district. The Pflugerville city and school district police took the student into custody, district officials said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The student, who was not identified by authorities, has...
Deputies find person of interest in Westlake High School bomb threat, but no arrests yet

Deputies find person of interest in Westlake High School bomb threat, but no arrests yet

3:25 p.m. update: Though the Travis County sheriff’s office has found a person they believe is responsible for a bomb threat found in Westlake High School campus bathroom Monday, they do not have enough physical evidence to make an arrest, officials have said. The person of interest is a man in his 20s who attended an event at the high school on Saturday. Though no arrest was made, the sheriff&rsquo...
Leander district tags 21% of students ‘gifted,’ third highest in Texas

Leander district tags 21% of students ‘gifted,’ third highest in Texas

More than 40 percent of the students at Canyon Ridge Middle School are in its prized gifted program. It’s the school with the highest percentage of gifted students in the Leander district, which puts that label on more of its students than all but two other school systems in Texas. Just over 21 percent of the Leander district’s 38,000 students are classified as gifted, the third-highest...
Why so many Texas teachers accused of improprieties are never charged

Why so many Texas teachers accused of improprieties are never charged

Hundreds of Texas primary and secondary teachers lost or surrendered their teaching licenses since 2010 after being investigated for improper relationships with a student. More than half were never criminally charged. In all of those cases, information about the alleged misconduct isn’t easily accessible from the Texas Education Agency and in many instances is kept secret by school districts...
Commentary: Trump makes it easy for students to lose grip on values

Commentary: Trump makes it easy for students to lose grip on values

“Give him a chance!” I hear over and over. Really? Would I be given a chance if I proclaimed at our Middle School Open House that all of the parents of the Mexican kids in my class were rapists or drug dealers? Would I get a chance if I bragged about how “great” it is to be able to sexually assault the women who teach on my campus? What if I stood there in our school auditorium...
State panel gives early OK for curriculum that challenges evolution

State panel gives early OK for curriculum that challenges evolution

The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval Friday to biology curriculum for public high school students that challenges the theory of evolution. The vote gives the Texas Education Agency the OK to post the curriculum changes, which are similar to standards already in place, to the Texas Register so that the public can offer input. Over the summer, the board tasked a committee to whittle...
The controversy of teaching evolution, state by state

The controversy of teaching evolution, state by state

On Wednesday, the Texas State Board of Education signed off on a preliminary version of the state’s pared-down biology curriculum and voted to keep language that challenges the theory of evolution. Over the last few decades, the topic of teaching evolution has caused plenty of controversy across the states. Here are some of the ways states have dealt with the issue of how to teach evolution...
Commentary: What’s new this time with Austin ISD facility planning

Commentary: What’s new this time with Austin ISD facility planning

As the Austin ISD Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee is moving closer to completing its work on the update of the Facility Master Plan and providing bond proposal recommendations to the board of trustees, it is beginning to hear rumblings of “here we go again.” Our panel’s work is being criticized as a repeat of the last flawed process six years ago. Nothing could be...
Texas education board approves curriculum that challenges evolution

Texas education board approves curriculum that challenges evolution

Texas students will continue to learn theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution after the State Board of Education signed off Wednesday on a preliminary version of the state’s pared-down biology curriculum. The board, made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, is in the middle of whittling down the state’s voluminous curriculum standards, starting with science...

How evolution is taught in Texas high school classrooms up for debate

The State Board of Education will vote Friday on whether to drop requirements that high school students must learn theories that challenge the scientific understanding of evolution. About two dozen people spoke before the board Tuesday, giving a preview of the ideological arguments that will likely divide members when they take up the issue this week. More than half of the speakers, many of them University...
Dell Medical School officials give progress report on programs, plans

Dell Medical School officials give progress report on programs, plans

Since its opening in the summer, the Dell Medical School has launched or made plans to start about two dozen programs to improve health in the area, school leaders said at a meeting Monday that gave the public an overview of the school’s progress, plans and use of public funds. “We take investment from the community very seriously,” Clay Johnston, dean of the University of Texas...
Two Views: Keep requiring evolutionary explanations

Two Views: Keep requiring evolutionary explanations

Last year the Texas State Board of Education formed an advisory committee to help them streamline the state’s science standards. The committee, composed of a majority of evolutionists, has ignited a controversy by urging the board to delete the only two evolution standards that require evolutionary explanations. To help clarify what is at stake, consider this question: Do you believe that we...
Two Views: Listen to teachers and scholars this time

Two Views: Listen to teachers and scholars this time

The long-running debate over what Texas public schools should teach students about evolution is one of the State Board of Education’s most counterproductive and embarrassing controversies. It threatens to undermine the education of our kids and makes the state look like an education backwater. But here we go again. Board members in 2009 added to the state’s science curriculum standards...
School finance overhaul unlikely in the short term

School finance overhaul unlikely in the short term

Despite early efforts to address the state’s system for funding public schools — long considered by Democrats and some Republicans to be broken — lawmakers are unlikely to come up with a fix before the end of the May, when the legislative session ends. Still, momentum is building to rewrite outdated funding formulas, giving public school advocates hope that a fix could happen sometime...
No new high school for Southwest Austin, but expansion plans for Bowie

No new high school for Southwest Austin, but expansion plans for Bowie

A second high school won’t be built in Southwest Austin after all. Instead, the Austin district is moving forward with a land purchase for a new high school in Southeast Austin and a smaller tract to go toward the immediate multimillion-dollar expansion and modernization of the over-capacity Bowie High School. District officials are finalizing negotiations over the land purchases, which will...
Commentary: Best way forward is more high schools for South Austin

Commentary: Best way forward is more high schools for South Austin

In 2008, Austin voters passed a $32 million bond proposition to buy land for a new high school in South Austin. Nearly 10 years later, that promise has not been met. In our time working together on the Austin ISD board representing the two corners of South Austin, we have been focused on completing that promise for the purchase of land as expediently as possible. We have carefully reviewed the needs...
Suspensions alone won’t solve behavior problems of young students

Suspensions alone won’t solve behavior problems of young students

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz has proposed a ban on suspensions for students in prekindergarten through second grade with provisions that still allow campus administrators and teachers the flexibility to maintain the safety, welfare and integrity of their classrooms. In an attempt to reduce suspensions and phase out sending unruly students home, the district will provide...
Austin ISD hears questions about possible school upgrades, closures

Austin ISD hears questions about possible school upgrades, closures

About 300 people gathered Thursday night to give the Austin school district suggestions about its plans to renovate many of the schools in the district and potentially close and consolidate eight schools, and the community is welcome to future meetings on the topic next week. The school district is more than a year into crafting a 25-year master plan that will dictate the future of its facilities...
3 UT board nominees get friendly reception at confirmation hearing, 01.26.17

3 UT board nominees get friendly reception at confirmation hearing, 01.26.17

Gov. Greg Abbott’s three nominees to the University of Texas System Board of Regents attended a confirmation hearing Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, before the state Senate's Nominations Committee.
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