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Education

Austin board to vote on land parcels, preview revised facilities plan

Austin board to vote on land parcels, preview revised facilities plan

The Austin school board on Monday night is expected to approve the purchase of three land parcels for the expansion of Bowie High School and a future high school in Southeast Austin. Trustees will consider two smaller tracts next to the overcapacity Bowie High School that would go toward a multimillion-dollar expansion and modernization of the school. The district plans to pay $2.5 million for 39...
Photos: Save Texas Schools rally at Texas Capitol on March 25

Photos: Save Texas Schools rally at Texas Capitol on March 25

Hundreds at Texas Capitol gather to demand resources for public schools

Hundreds at Texas Capitol gather to demand resources for public schools

11:25 a.m. update: State Rep. Gina Hinojosa and state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin rallied with hundreds of others on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on Saturday to demand that the Legislature provide more resources for public schools. “Teachers and parents in the state of Texas are sick and tired of excuses,” said Hinojosa, a Democrat who once served on Austin’s school board...
Revised AISD facilities plan removes school names from closure list

Revised AISD facilities plan removes school names from closure list

A revised facilities master plan, a 25-year guide to modernize the Austin district’s campuses and help plan for future bond packages, removes the names of schools listed for closure or consolidation, though the criteria for future consolidations remain part of it. That criteria includes schools with enrollment at 75 percent or below for three or more years and a declining student population...
Austin ISD to buy three parcels for Bowie expansion, new high school

Austin ISD to buy three parcels for Bowie expansion, new high school

The Austin school board on Monday night is expected to approve the purchase of three land parcels for the expansion of Bowie High School and a future high school in Southeast Austin. Trustees on Monday will consider two smaller tracts next to the over-capacity Bowie High School that would go toward a multimillion-dollar expansion and modernization of the school. The district plans to pay $2.5...
San Marcos teacher honored

San Marcos teacher honored

‘Private school voucher’ bill approved by Senate panel

‘Private school voucher’ bill approved by Senate panel

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition among other non-public educational expenses. Senate Bill 3, which has emerged as one of the most divisive education measures so far this session, won the approval of seven senators in the committee — Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville was the only Democrat to...
Commentary: Our schools are broken; it’s time to demand change

Commentary: Our schools are broken; it’s time to demand change

Last year, the Texas Supreme Court called our state’s school funding system awful, inadequate and basically a mess – yet still ruled that it met some minimum standard for Texas students. When I asked one legislator to explain this, he said that only three or four people in Texas understood the school finance system — and he wasn’t one of them. Another legislator told me that...

Kyle police drop probe of teacher, aide accused of assaulting student

Update: The Kyle Police Department in October 2014 dropped its investigation of two people who worked at Fuentes Elementary School and were accused a month earlier of assaulting a special-education student, according to a police document. The two employees were Kelly Cedillo and Shannon Wages. The document says Kyle police detectives were “unable to prove an offense occurred.” The Texas...
Crowd turns out for hearing on ‘private school voucher’ bill

Crowd turns out for hearing on ‘private school voucher’ bill

Public school officials and their advocates told Texas lawmakers Tuesday that an effort to redirect state money to private schools is unconstitutional and unlikely to improve academic performance, particularly for low-income minority students. “There has been a lack of any real evidence to show that this works,” said Yannis Banks with the Texas NAACP. “I’ve heard people mention...
Photos: School rating system hearing at the Capitol, March 21, 2017

Photos: School rating system hearing at the Capitol, March 21, 2017

Texas educators weigh in on proposed changes to school grades

Texas educators weigh in on proposed changes to school grades

About two dozen education advocates, many of them school district superintendents, weighed in during a public hearing Tuesday afternoon on proposed changes to a new state grading system for schools and districts. House Bill 22, filed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, who is also the House Public Education Committee chairman, would scale back the new A-F accountability system, which is set...
Photos: Education rally and Senate hearing at the Capitol, March 21, 2017

Photos: Education rally and Senate hearing at the Capitol, March 21, 2017

David Brooks: The unifying American story

David Brooks: The unifying American story

One of the things we’ve lost in this country is our story. It is the narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project, that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history. For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story. The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt...
Lawmakers, advocacy groups divided over ‘private school voucher’ bill

Lawmakers, advocacy groups divided over ‘private school voucher’ bill

11:02 a.m. update: State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, presented Senate Bill 3 Tuesday morning before the Senate Education Committee started to hear input from the public. Taylor said that the bill is meant to expand educational opportunities for parents while saving school districts money by relieving them of costs of educating more students. The bill would lessen the blow to school districts...
Unions have concern with teacher impropriety bill

Unions have concern with teacher impropriety bill

A bill filed by a Cedar Park legislator would require anyone applying for a job in a Texas public school to disclose whether he or she had been accused of improprieties with a minor. House Bill 218 by Republican state Rep. Tony Dale is intended to crack down on the rising number of improper relationships between teachers and students, an issue that has become a priority for lawmakers. The bill, which...
Lockhart teacher accused of having improper relationship with student

Lockhart teacher accused of having improper relationship with student

A Lockhart High School science teacher has been arrested after being accused of having an improper relationship with a student, the Lockhart school district announced Monday. Sarah Fowlkes, who taught anatomy and physiology, was suspended from her job. The district also was notifying the State Board for Educator Certification about the case. The district said it first received a report about the relationship...
DACA students seek studies abroad, despite immigration uncertainty

DACA students seek studies abroad, despite immigration uncertainty

Despite an uncertain fate for thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries and recommendations to refrain from overseas travel, some University of Texas students are not letting their undocumented status get in the way of studying abroad. UT junior Yahaira Pamela, a DACA recipient who recently returned from a study abroad program in Mexico City, is planning to go on another trip...
Lockhart High teacher accused of improper relationship with student

Lockhart High teacher accused of improper relationship with student

3:25 p.m. update: A Lockhart High School science teacher has been arrested after being accused of having an improper relationship with a student, the Lockhart school district announced Monday. Sarah Fowlkes, a school district employee since October 2014, also was suspended from her job. The district said it was alerting the State Board for Educator Certification about the case. The district said it...
PolitiFact: School voucher bills are nothing new for Texas Legislature

PolitiFact: School voucher bills are nothing new for Texas Legislature

Near the start of this year’s legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stood on the Capitol’s steps and exhorted lawmakers in the House and Senate to vote on “school choice” legislation, saying it’s “easy to kill a bill when no one gets to vote on it.” An advocacy group opposed to using public money to support students going to private and religious schools...
No matter what they’re called, vouchers won’t improve public schools

No matter what they’re called, vouchers won’t improve public schools

As the saying goes, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet. Similarly, vouchers by any other name still stink. You would think that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other lawmakers in love with vouchers would know as much by now, after more than a decade of pushing to get them passed into law. Instead, they continue romanticizing them as the answer for improving public schools, especially low-performing...
Herman: Judge ponders whether Hooters is school trip appropriate

Herman: Judge ponders whether Hooters is school trip appropriate

Once again (and this makes twice, as far as I know), Your State Government is wrestling with a particular existential issue of our day. This is no less than a real-time review of something sociologists, psychologists, archaeologists and all kinds of ologists someday will somehow make a living studying. It is this: What’s the deal with Hooters? TAKE A BREAK AT MIDDAY: Click here for our midday...
Lake Travis Middle School student dies from illness, school officials say

Lake Travis Middle School student dies from illness, school officials say

A Lake Travis Middle School student died from an illness on Wednesday evening, the school district said in an email to parents and employees Thursday. Chloe Sanders was an eighth grader, school officials said. “Chloe had such a sweet and loving heart,” Principal Jodie Villemarie said in the email. “She brought happiness and smiles to those around her. Chloe was very outgoing and...
Herman: 35 years later, A+ for Austinite who got Constitution amended?

Herman: 35 years later, A+ for Austinite who got Constitution amended?

Looks like we’re heading for a happier new ending on a happy old story that some of you might not know about. Gregory Watson seems headed for an upgrade. We begin back in spring 1982 when Watson, then a University of Texas student, signed up for Sharon Waite’s GOV 310 course on American Government. For his term paper, young Watson researched the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U...
Report: Bill could cut $86 million from Central Texas school districts

Report: Bill could cut $86 million from Central Texas school districts

Central Texas school districts could lose $86 million next year if lawmakers pass a contentious bill that would divert state money to private schools, according to an analysis by the liberal think tank Center for Public Policy Priorities. The biggest blow would be to the Austin school district, which could lose $26 million if Senate Bill 3 passes, according to the group. Statewide, districts could...
Bill Hammond: Reading to your kids has a life-changing impact

Bill Hammond: Reading to your kids has a life-changing impact

One of the things I always have believed is that Texas must improve education to have a workforce that is ready to meet our future needs. It is critical for our state to produce more college and career-ready students, something we are not doing now. While we must improve our schools to achieve that, there is something each and every one of us as parents and grandparents can do to ensure future success...
Commentary: Parents want real choice — public school choice

Commentary: Parents want real choice — public school choice

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few months reading and listening about “what parents want” when it comes to their children’s education. If we are to believe the bought-and-paid-for-messaging of the pro-voucher media machine, we’re told that parents “want” to fund private schools rather than do the serious work of creating great public schools...
Commentary: Both LASA, LBJ high schools benefit from split, more space

Commentary: Both LASA, LBJ high schools benefit from split, more space

The Austin Independent School District’s Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee has reaffirmed its recommendation that the Liberal Arts and Science Academy become a stand-alone school with a 1,600-student capacity and that the school be moved to a more accessible central location. LASA currently shares a campus with LBJ Early College High School in the northeast corner of Austin. The...
Austin district stalls recommendations on school closures, rebuilds

Austin district stalls recommendations on school closures, rebuilds

The final recommendations for the Austin school district’s facilities plan weren’t yet ready Friday, forcing the district to postpone a planned public hearing on the issue until after spring break. Administrators and facility advisory committee members were unable to finish the recommendations Friday, which was necessary to post the agenda within the legal requirements for the March 20...
Photos: 2017 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award finalists

Photos: 2017 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award finalists

Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature pre-K program in danger of going unfunded

Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature pre-K program in danger of going unfunded

A multimillion-dollar prekindergarten grant program, a legislative priority of Gov. Greg Abbott two years ago, is in danger of going unfunded this session as House leaders so far are ignoring Abbott’s pleas to spend money on the initiative over the next two years. School administrators, meanwhile, are split on whether the program should continue. Established in 2015, the grant program...
Austin district cancels hearing on school closures, renovations

Austin district cancels hearing on school closures, renovations

The final recommendations for the Austin school district’s facilities plan are not yet ready, forcing the district to postpone a planned public hearing on the issue after spring break. Administrators and facility advisory committee members were unable to finalize the document prior to today, which was necessary to post the agenda within legal requirements for the March 20 public hearing, said...
H-E-B names eight local educators as finalists for excellence awards

H-E-B names eight local educators as finalists for excellence awards

Eight Austin-area educators are finalists in the 2017 H-E-B Excellence in Education awards. H-E-B is doling out nearly $100,000 in awards to 40 finalists across the state. The winners, including teachers in three categories — Rising Star, for those with less than 10 years of experience; Leadership, for those with 10 to 20 years; and Lifetime Achievement, for those with 20 or more years of experience...
Commentary: All lose when charter, public schools presented as rivals

Commentary: All lose when charter, public schools presented as rivals

With Betsy DeVos as the secretary of education and several education bills in the Texas Legislature, the debate about charter schools is in the spotlight. As someone who has been researching schools for more than 20 years, I can tell you that regardless of which side of the debate you may fall, pitting charter schools against public schools does not lead to better education for anyone. Research shows...
Bill scales back contentious system that grades Texas schools with A-F

Bill scales back contentious system that grades Texas schools with A-F

A bill filed Thursday would scale back a new state grading system for school districts and campuses. House Bill 22 filed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston and the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, would change the A-F accountability system that school districts have criticized since it was proposed in 2015. The A-F system hasn’t gone into effect yet, but the state assigned...
Senate unanimously approves bill to curb teacher improprieties

Senate unanimously approves bill to curb teacher improprieties

The Texas Senate unanimously approved sweeping reforms Wednesday intended to crack down on the growing problem of improper relationships between teachers and students. Among the provisions of Senate Bill 7 filed by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and co-authored by the rest of the senators: • A teacher could be charged with improper relationship with a student regardless of where the...
Senate passes bill to curb improper teacher-student relationships

Senate passes bill to curb improper teacher-student relationships

The state Senate unanimously approved sweeping reforms on Wednesday intended to crack down on the growing problem of improper relationships between teachers and students. Among the provisions of Senate Bill 7 filed by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and co-authored by the rest of the members of the Senate: A teacher would be charged with improper relationship with a student, even...
Districts: $1.6 billion school finance bill a good first step

Districts: $1.6 billion school finance bill a good first step

A bill that would give a $1.6 billion boost to public education over the next two years received support from school districts and their advocates on Tuesday. Although top-down reform of the state’s troubled school finance system won’t occur this year, legislators on Monday proposed addressing some of school districts’ most pressing financial problems. House Bill 21 would add $210...
House bill would boost Texas public education by $1.6 billion

House bill would boost Texas public education by $1.6 billion

New legislation filed Monday would add $1.6 billion in school funding, providing a boost to most school districts in Texas over the next two years. House Bill 21 by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, would add $210 per student for more than 95 percent of school districts, for a basic allotment of $5,350 per student. Because lawmakers aren’t likely to pass a top-down reform of the state&rsquo...
New bill would give $1.6 billion boost to Texas public education

New bill would give $1.6 billion boost to Texas public education

Under a new proposal by House lawmakers, most school districts in Texas would receive a piece of a $1.6 billion boost in total state funding over the next two years. State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, filed House Bill 21 on Monday that would increase the basic amount of money that school districts get per student by $210 to total of $5,350 per student. Since lawmakers aren’t likely to pass a...
Commentary: Why small elementary schools are essential to the future

Commentary: Why small elementary schools are essential to the future

The Austin Independent School District is currently working with its Facilities and Bond Planning Committee, private consultants and the community to update its Facilities Master Plan, a road map that will guide the district for the next 20 years. The school board is scheduled to vote on the plan later this month. The Facilities and Bond Planning Committee, or FABPAC, has a clear vision for district...

Texas Digest: Two Fort Worth police leaders reassigned amid leaks

FORT WORTH Police officials reassigned amid leaks Two police commanders have been temporarily replaced as investigators determine who leaked police video and other material in the controversial arrest of a black woman and her daughters by a white Fort Worth police officer. KXAS-TV in Dallas reported that an assistant chief and a deputy chief were questioned in the matter. The Fort Worth Police Department...
Hays district seeks $250 million bond for new campuses, upgrades

Hays district seeks $250 million bond for new campuses, upgrades

The Hays school district trustees have called for a $250 million bond package in May that, if voters approve, would build three new schools and new facilities or upgrades for student programs. It is the largest school bond in the district’s history. The proposal comes 50 years after the school district was founded, consolidating three school systems (Buda, Kyle and Wimberley) into one with,...
High-tech firms, educators push bills to fund computer science classes

High-tech firms, educators push bills to fund computer science classes

High-tech companies in Austin and across Texas struggle to find workers with the computer science and technical skills they need. More often than not, they have to poach workers from other companies or recruit them from other states and countries. Even at full capacity, the Central Texas higher education pipeline produces only half the computer science graduates needed to fill the open jobs in...
Commentary: School Breakfast: The Most Important Meal in Texas

Commentary: School Breakfast: The Most Important Meal in Texas

In just a few days Texas schools will start putting a new, more positive spin on the old schoolyard taunt, “I dare you to eat that!” March 6th marks the start of National School Breakfast Week, and this year’s theme is “Take the School Breakfast Challenge.” Many adults may not particularly want to be challenged at breakfast, at least not before we have had our coffee...
Austin, Manor school districts launch workforce training academies

Austin, Manor school districts launch workforce training academies

Starting right after spring break, counselors and teachers in the Austin school district will pitch eighth-graders on a new sort of high school – one that lasts for up to six years, but ends with an interview for a job such as a cybersecurity analyst with Dell Inc. or a nurse with the Seton Healthcare Family. Students slated to attend LBJ and Reagan high schools will get the first shot at the...

SantaCruz: AISD suspension ban a positive step; still needs tweaks

We have known for some time that suspending very young children, even those in kindergarten, affects the academic success of students. Numerous studies and experts cite such negative effects. Yet in Austin, kids younger than 10 are sent home for disruptive behavior. Thankfully, that won’t be the case much longer since the Austin Independent School District school board unanimously voted to eliminate...
Pared-down school choice bill filed by House Republican

Pared-down school choice bill filed by House Republican

A Republican legislator has filed the House’s first major school choice bill, a pared-down version of a Senate bill that has the backing of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. House Bill 1335 would create an education savings account for certain students who want to leave public school. The accounts, tied to debit cards, would be loaded with state money — equivalent to 90 percent...
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