Education

Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law

Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law

A resolution encouraging students and public school employees to vote, adopted by school districts across the state, might have violated a state law that prohibits using public education money for partisan purposes, an opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday. Texas Educators Vote, a partnership of mostly pro-public education groups, last year circulated a resolution calling for...
School board asked to censure trustee in Confederate school name flap

School board asked to censure trustee in Confederate school name flap

Austin school district trustee Ann Teich asked fellow school board members Wednesday afternoon to consider censuring Trustee Ted Gordon for publicly criticizing the board. The request, made during a board operations meeting, is the latest move in ongoing clashes related to the trustees’ delay in deciding whether to remove the names of Confederate figures from five schools. Teich asked that the...
UT-Austin offering students free counseling sessions

UT-Austin offering students free counseling sessions

The University of Texas at Austin is working to provide more access to mental health services for students in 2018. In a statement from President Gregory L. Fenves, the university announced it will eliminate the cost of counseling sessions for students and reduce the cost of psychiatry services from $15 to $10, effective immediately. Previously, counseling sessions cost $10 for students. ...
Trustee requests censure of fellow board member in Confederate name flap

Trustee requests censure of fellow board member in Confederate name flap

Austin district trustee Ann Teich asked fellow school board members Wednesday afternoon to consider censuring Trustee Ted Gordon for publicly criticizing the board. The request, made during a board operations meeting, is the latest move in ongoing board clashes related to the trustees’ delay in deciding whether to remove the names of Confederate figures from five schools. Teich asked...
As they search for a new chancellor, UT regents are reshaping the job

As they search for a new chancellor, UT regents are reshaping the job

Sara Martinez Tucker, only the second woman to chair the University of Texas System Board of Regents, laughed off suggestions that she might be well-suited to become the system’s next chancellor and said she’s focused on finding the best candidates for that job as well as downsizing the system administration and figuring out what to do with land in Houston no longer needed for a campus...
Austin school district to operate on 2-hour delay Wednesday

Austin school district to operate on 2-hour delay Wednesday

The Austin school district will operate on a two-hour delay for schools, offices and bus routes Wednesday due to weather, school officials announced. The Eanes, Hays, Del Valle, Dripping Springs, Lake Travis, Bastrop, Lockhart, San Marcos and Wimberley school districts announced they would be on a two-hour delayed schedule. The Smithville school district will remain closed. Meanwhile, the Round Rock...
Austin trustee calls out peers over Confederate school names in MLK speech

Austin trustee calls out peers over Confederate school names in MLK speech

Days after blasting his fellow Austin school board members for delaying a decision to remove the names of Confederate figures from five schools, Trustee Ted Gordon doubled down on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In a speech given before a few hundred attendees on the University of Texas’ East Mall, Gordon, who is also an associate professor and department chair at UT, again raised the issue...
Austin area students get day off, but they will have to make it up

Austin area students get day off, but they will have to make it up

Austin area students collectively rejoiced when districts announced Monday that there would be no school today because of bad weather. But many will have to make it up this spring. Most Central Texas districts build into their calendars two inclement weather days and officials will decide in coming days which they’ll choose as their first make up day. For some districts, this is the second bad...

UT rejects money from group with Chinese Communist Party ties

The University of Texas has decided to forgo money for its new China Policy Center from a foundation with ties to the branch of the Chinese Communist Party that manages influence operations abroad. The decision by UT President Gregory L. Fenves followed an internal university review and a plea from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who warned that accepting money from the China-United States Exchange Foundation...

UT rejects funding from group with Chinese Communist ties

The University of Texas has decided to forgo funding for its new China Policy Center from a foundation with ties to the branch of the Chinese Communist Party that manages influence operations abroad. The decision by UT President Gregory L. Fenves followed an internal university review and a plea from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who warned that accepting money from the China-United States Exchange Foundation...
PolitiFact: TEA-backed training fulfills Abbott’s principal promise

PolitiFact: TEA-backed training fulfills Abbott’s principal promise

Back when he was campaigning to be governor of Texas, Greg Abbott called for training school principals to be better leaders. Legislative proposals to get such training off the ground floundered, however, leading us to previously rate this Abbott vow a Promise Broken. But the Texas Education Agency has since alerted us to other efforts focused on bolstering school leaders, and we decided to look afresh...
State offers millions to boost 8 Austin schools. But there’s a catch.

State offers millions to boost 8 Austin schools. But there’s a catch.

The Austin school district is hoping to land millions of dollars from the state to transform a handful of struggling campuses in Northeast Austin that have high concentrations of minority and low-income students. But critics warn that the new Texas Education Agency program providing the money is pushing districts statewide to allow outside organizations to run their campuses or give charter operators...
Austin ISD trustee blasts board for stalling Confederate name removals

Austin ISD trustee blasts board for stalling Confederate name removals

The Austin school trustees have backed away from changing Confederate school names at five campuses next month, drawing strong criticism from the only black member of the board. Trustees were scheduled to vote on renaming the schools in February, but told administrators this week they wanted to postpone any decision and instead develop a clear process for how these school names are changed. &ldquo...
Texas teacher groups forging into politics, but are efforts legal?

Texas teacher groups forging into politics, but are efforts legal?

Incensed by lawmakers’ recent attempts to divert state money from public education and curtail the power of employee unions, public school teachers could prove to be a formidable force in upcoming Texas elections. “It’s just the hostility shown by a large number of elected officials toward public education,” said Troy Reynolds, a Splendora school administrator and the founder...
Report: Texas schools illegally denied special education to students

Report: Texas schools illegally denied special education to students

The Texas Education Agency led schools to illegally delay or deny special education services to students statewide, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Education Department. In a 14-page letter, regulators concluded that the agency’s 2004 decision to effectively cap the number of students that could be enrolled in special education at 8.5 percent violated federal laws that require...
Report: Texas school districts denied special education to students in need

Report: Texas school districts denied special education to students in need

A report from the U.S. Department of Education released on Thursday said school districts across Texas delayed or denied special education services to meet the Texas Education Agency’s 8.5 percent target for students with disabilities. The 14-page report said the agency’s use of the 8.5 figure, which the agency uses to determine a district’s performance level, led to a decrease in...
Texas higher education chief raises concern about dual-credit courses

Texas higher education chief raises concern about dual-credit courses

Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes expressed serious reservations Wednesday about the expansion of courses that allow students to take courses for which they receive high school and college credit simultaneously. Paredes suggested that students who are not prepared for the classes are being placed in them anyhow, amid the rush to get them early college credit. About 150,000 Texas...
Austin school district sued after aide assaulted special needs student

Austin school district sued after aide assaulted special needs student

The Austin school district is being sued in federal court over a 2016 classroom incident in which a frustrated staff member threw a trash bin and injured the face of a special needs student. Jennifer Hardison, who at the time was a teacher’s aide at Small Middle School in Southwest Austin, pleaded guilty in February 2017 to misdemeanor assault bodily injury after originally being charged with...
Austin district hunts for partner to turn around Mendez Middle School

Austin district hunts for partner to turn around Mendez Middle School

Mendez Middle School has not met state academic standards for four years in a row and could be closed by the state if it fails again this school year — something that has happened just twice to Austin schools. But instead of waiting until summer to find out, Austin school district leaders are launching a plan to save Mendez by teaming with an outside group, such as a university or nonprofit...
‘Dreamers’ deserve a solution, Texas higher education chief says

‘Dreamers’ deserve a solution, Texas higher education chief says

Roughly 20,000 students in Texas who were brought to this country illegally as children deserve a solution to their uncertain status, state Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said Wednesday. “I think we need to find an equitable solution to the circumstances of these young people, and I consider them to be an important state and national resource,” Paredes said in a conference...
LBJ High School put on brief lockdowns Tuesday, Monday 

LBJ High School put on brief lockdowns Tuesday, Monday 

School officials put LBJ High School on brief lockdowns Monday and Tuesday after Austin police received a 911 call each day about a suspicious person with a weapon being near the school. Police did not find anyone in the area either time, said Cristina Nguyen, Austin school district spokeswoman. The lockdown Tuesday began around 12:53 p.m. and was lifted at 1:12 p.m., Nguyen said. The lockdown...
Commentary: Some children’s last meal is at noon. Texas can change that

Commentary: Some children’s last meal is at noon. Texas can change that

While many of us gorged on ham and chocolate over the holidays, there were more than 3 million children who were at risk of going through the holiday break without access to nutritious foods. This is not just a holiday hunger for these children; it is every day of the year. With the numerous funded programs we have available, why are so many of our children still at-risk of going hungry? Unfortunately...
SAN MARCOS: Student discharges bullet by rubbing it on ground, officials say

SAN MARCOS: Student discharges bullet by rubbing it on ground, officials say

An eighth-grade student discharged a bullet during lunch hour Monday in the courtyard of Goodnight Middle School in San Marcos by rubbing it on the concrete on the ground, school district officials said. No one was injured in the incident, said Andrew Fernandez, spokesman for the San Marcos school district. School leaders heard a loud noise and responded instantly, he said. The student did this ...
Why the number of GED test takers is declining in Texas

Why the number of GED test takers is declining in Texas

The number of Texans who took GED tests declined by 21 percent from 2012 to 2016, a consequence of the test’s high cost and its difficulty, according to a new study released Monday. More test takers also failed the General Educational Development tests, a battery of exams designed to measure high school equivalency — about 30 percent fewer people had passed during the five-year period...

PolitiFact: Abbott’s plan to train principals gets an incomplete

When he was campaigning to be governor of Texas, Greg Abbott called for training school principals to be better leaders. But we’ve found that, with his first term entering its fourth year, the Republican governor has not brought this promise to fruition. “I haven’t seen that come down the pike,” Mark Terry of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association told...
Hiring next chancellor arguably the most important task for UT regents

Hiring next chancellor arguably the most important task for UT regents

The next chancellor of the University of Texas System will need quite a skill set: intellectual and administrative chops to oversee 14 academic and health campuses, political savvy for navigating sometimes treacherous waters at the state Legislature and an unwavering commitment to the mission of teaching, learning, research and public service. He or she will succeed Bill McRaven, a retired admiral...
Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

The Texas Education Agency’s abrupt decision to walk away last month from a special education data-mining project — after defending it for months despite legal and transparency questions — was the right thing to do. Now, the agency, which has been under long-standing pressure to improve special education services, must ensure it does right by students, parents and advocates. The...
Joseph T. McMillan Jr., former Huston-Tillotson president, dies at 73

Joseph T. McMillan Jr., former Huston-Tillotson president, dies at 73

Years ago, when a donor provided about 300 new hymnals for the chapel at Huston-Tillotson University, the school’s president, Joseph T. McMillan Jr., insisted that the donor’s name be inscribed in each one. Later, he went to the chapel and sifted through the hymnals, finding one that didn’t bear the name. “We took that hymnal and made sure it was tagged with the appropriate...
Lago Vista school district announces two-hour class delay

Lago Vista school district announces two-hour class delay

The Lago Vista school district will operate on a two-hour delay on Wednesday due to concerns of icy roads. The schedules will run as follows: Elementary staff report at 9:30 a.m.; elementary students report at 9:45 a.m.  Intermediate staff report at 9:30 a.m.; intermediate students report at 9:45 a.m.  Middle school staff report at 9:45 a.m.; middle school students report at 10:15 a.m. to...
AISD’s chief financial officer appointed to school funding reform panel

AISD’s chief financial officer appointed to school funding reform panel

Property owners who live in the Austin school district pay more than any others in the state to subsidize education funding across Texas. This year, the owner of the average-priced home paid $1,700 in property taxes that the Austin district was required to pass along to the state. Even as the district grapples with a budget deficit, this year it is projected to send $534 million in property tax revenue...
Computer chief, chemistry prof quit UT amid sexual misconduct inquiries

Computer chief, chemistry prof quit UT amid sexual misconduct inquiries

When Jay Boisseau abruptly resigned in 2014 after 12 years of building the University of Texas’ supercomputing center into an international powerhouse, school officials gave no reason for his departure. The university made no public announcement when Bradley J. Holliday, a tenured chemistry professor, quit in 2016. Records obtained by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information...
As Texas special education overhaul stalls, TEA answers don’t add up

As Texas special education overhaul stalls, TEA answers don’t add up

At 5 p.m. on a Friday, the Texas Education Agency abruptly announced that it had pulled the plug on a special education data-mining project it had defended for months. Parents and advocacy groups had too many concerns over the $4.4 million, no-bid contract, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said. He promised to review the agency’s contracting processes. But documents, contracts and emails obtained...
Why the best autism treatment is out of reach for poor Texas families

Why the best autism treatment is out of reach for poor Texas families

Thousands of autistic Texas children covered by Medicaid are denied access to what is considered the most effective treatment for autism, even as children in most other states have access to the treatment through Medicaid. Texas saves an unknown amount of money by keeping applied behavior analysis therapy, an expensive but the most evidence-based treatment for autism, out of reach of children from...
After losing 40 principals, Austin ISD gets boost from Bush Institute

After losing 40 principals, Austin ISD gets boost from Bush Institute

At least 40 Austin schools have new principals since January 2016 after their leaders left, signaling the need for better district training and stronger retention of campus leadership. The district, which serves more than 81,000 students on 130 campuses, recently has taken steps to improve the quality of its school leaders, including launching a principal training program in 2016. The district will...
These 28 Austin ISD schools are frozen to transfers in 2018-19

These 28 Austin ISD schools are frozen to transfers in 2018-19

The Austin school district has announced 28 schools that are frozen to transfers in the 2018-19 school year because the campuses are expected to be above capacity. The school district in recent years have limited more transfers. Priority transfer requests, including sibling, majority-to-minority and tracking transfers, will not be accepted at the frozen schools. The following campuses will not accept...
Austin district to devise local system for grading schools

Austin district to devise local system for grading schools

The Austin school district is one of 20 districts and charter systems statewide chosen to participate in a pilot program to develop a local system of grading schools. The program was established under a new law, House Bill 22, that also scaled back the A-F accountability system, unpopular among school district officials. One of the criticisms of the state’s accountability system is that it&rsquo...
Austin among districts piloting a new way to rate schools

Austin among districts piloting a new way to rate schools

The Austin school district is one of 20 districts and charter systems chosen to participate in a pilot program to develop its own system of grading itself. The pilot was established under a new law House Bill 22, which also scaled back the A-F accountability system, unpopular among school district officials. READ: Austin district calls on lawmakers to repeal A-F school rating system Under the A-F...
Panel recommends every Austin school campus have a registered nurse

Panel recommends every Austin school campus have a registered nurse

The Austin school district should place a licensed medical professional on every campus, according to new recommendations by a subcommittee tasked with examining school health services. The group, composed of health care experts, district staff and parents, pointed to various local and other urban Texas school districts that offer school nurses at each of their schools, and said Austin should fund...
Texas cancels no-bid contract for special education analysis

Texas cancels no-bid contract for special education analysis

The Texas Education Agency has canceled its contract with a technology company charged with analyzing special education programs. The TEA had contracted with SPEDx, a Georgia-based company, to look for trends and patterns in special education records. But the $4.4 million project incurred the ire of advocacy groups and parents, who said they worried about privacy and the fact that it was a no-bid...
Dripping Springs High School engineering team competes in Abu Dhabi

Dripping Springs High School engineering team competes in Abu Dhabi

A team of engineering students from Dripping Springs High School spent a week in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates competing in the Land Rover 4x4 World Championships. The students placed 12th in a field of 23 teams from 18 countries after ranking as high as third during the multiday competition. The event involved each team designing and building a radio-controlled four-wheel drive vehicle to...
Students in 47 counties will get STAAR reprieve because of Harvey

Students in 47 counties will get STAAR reprieve because of Harvey

Public school students in 47 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey won’t be held back a grade if they fail state standardized tests this school year. Typically, students in the fifth and eighth grades must pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. Mike Morath, head of the Texas Education Agency, told school districts on Thursday that students in...
Eanes school district pulls out of special education analysis project

Eanes school district pulls out of special education analysis project

As special education advocates continue to spar with state leaders over a $4.4 million, no-bid contract to data mine student records, one school district has decided to walk away from the project — at least for now. Eanes Independent School District told the Texas Education Agency Wednesday that it wants time to re-evaluate its part in the project, which has generated controversy over privacy...
Abbott: Testing requirements should be dropped for Harvey-hit schools

Abbott: Testing requirements should be dropped for Harvey-hit schools

Gov. Greg Abbott is putting pressure on the Texas Education Agency to give students in school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey a reprieve from state testing requirements. Students in the fifth and eighth grade must pass the math and reading State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. In a letter on Monday, Abbott asked TEA Commissioner Mike Morath to waive...
Abbott urges TEA to give Harvey-hit schools a reprieve from STAAR

Abbott urges TEA to give Harvey-hit schools a reprieve from STAAR

Gov. Greg Abbott is putting pressure on the Texas Education Agency to give students in school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey a reprieve from state testing requirements. Students in the fifth and eighth grade must pass the math and reading State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to move on to the next grade. In a letter on Monday, Abbott asked TEA Commissioner Mike Morath to waive...
Texts raise questions about Texas special education director’s firing

Texts raise questions about Texas special education director’s firing

Newly released text messages are raising questions about why the Texas Education Agency fired its special education director after less than four months on the job. Laurie Kash was fired in late November, one week after a lawsuit accused her of trying to cover up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl while working at a small school district in Oregon. The TEA said that Kash told them...
Reports: UT grad found dead in San Francisco Bay

Reports: UT grad found dead in San Francisco Bay

A recent University of Texas graduate who was working as a software engineer for Google was found dead Thursday in the San Francisco Bay, according to the San Jose-based Mercury News.  Chuchu Ma, 23, was identified Saturday as the person whose body was pulled from the bay near San Jose, the Mercury News reported.  The San Jose newspaper received a statement from Google about her death...
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