Education

Austin district: $1.1B would fuel revamp of LBJ, Eastside high schools

Austin school leaders plan to modernize the entire district and all 130 schools if voters approve a $1.1 billion November bond measure — with $106.3 million earmarked for lifting two high schools with histories of academic struggles and low enrollment. Bond plans call for Eastside Memorial High School, currently located at the former Johnston High campus in East Austin, to be built at the site...
Herman: Fame or shame for the guy who delivered Confederate mail?

Herman: Fame or shame for the guy who delivered Confederate mail?

Once again, and with unprecedented fervor, we’re wrestling with what to do about statues of and things named for Confederate leaders. That means we’re again talking about Texan John H. Reagan, who’s always identified as postmaster general of the Confederacy. It’s a perennial reference that often makes you say, “Wait a minute, the Confederacy had a postal service?&rdquo...
Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools

Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools

Natural lighting, movable furniture, state-of-the art technology, and open and collaborative learning spaces. That kind of learning environment is what Austin district leaders envision for their campuses of the future. The average Austin school building is 40 years old. Many of the classroom spaces still resemble industrial-era classrooms with their front-facing rows, a single wood door to enter and...
AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ

AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is seeking to move its headquarters to the Baker Center, one of 40 bids and proposals for 10 of the Austin school district’s surplus properties that remain in negotiations. Baker, a former school built in 1911, had a minimum bid of $10.6 million. Alamo was among the six bidders, and one of three (including the city) that made separate proposals for the property...
Commentary: Let’s debunk falsehoods about school choice and special ed

Commentary: Let’s debunk falsehoods about school choice and special ed

As kids begin a new school year, it’s deeply unfortunate that some of the most disadvantaged students in Texas still lack access to a quality education. When the special session for the Texas Legislature abruptly ended, the move killed two bills that would have created a tax-credit scholarship program for students with special needs. This common-sense reform received bipartisan support and the...
UT’s 4-year graduation rate rises, but still falls short of 70% goal

UT’s 4-year graduation rate rises, but still falls short of 70% goal

The University of Texas has made considerable progress in raising its four-year graduation rate — especially among minority students, those from low-income families and students who are the first generation in their families to attend college — but nonetheless fell short of achieving its 70 percent goal this year. Among freshmen who enrolled in 2013, 65.7 percent graduated in 2017, according...
UT System regents commit up to $4.5M for a bid to run Los Alamos

UT System regents commit up to $4.5M for a bid to run Los Alamos

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Monday authorized spending up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, a key part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. The UT System board also elected Regent Sara Martinez Tucker to chair the board, which oversees 14 academic and health campuses. She succeeds Paul Foster, who has led the board through...
Western Governors University names new Texas chancellor

Western Governors University names new Texas chancellor

Steven E. Johnson, a longtime executive of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, has been named chancellor of WGU Texas, effective Monday. He will oversee the Texas arm of Western Governors University, a school that occupies a somewhat unusual niche: It is private, nonprofit and mostly online, with a curriculum that lets students advance at their own pace. Johnson, 53, previously was senior...

UT regents a step closer to bidding to run Los Alamos

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Monday authorized spending up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory. The UT board also named Regent Sara Martinez Tucker to chair the board. She succeeds Paul Foster, who has led the board through a sometimes-fractious four years. The spending vote was not a surprise, as the board encouraged its staff last month...
UT-Austin tightens automatic admission cutoff to top 6 percent

UT-Austin tightens automatic admission cutoff to top 6 percent

The competition is intensifying for Texas high school students hoping to qualify for automatic admission to the University of Texas at Austin. Students aiming to enroll in the summer or fall of 2019 under the state’s automatic admission law will have to rank in the top 6 percent of their high school class. That’s a notch tougher than those enrolling in 2018, who had to rank in the top...
Austin’s Tara Bordeaux named Texas Teacher of the Year

Austin’s Tara Bordeaux named Texas Teacher of the Year

Tara Bordeaux had given up on school. She was bullied and her home life was hard. She had just turned 16, and dropped out of school. But one of her teachers, Mary Kay Canon, wouldn’t let her go. Canon waited two hours at the McDonald’s where Bordeaux worked until the teen arrived to start her shift. “She thought I was much more important than I thought I was,” Bordeaux, 40...
Austin teacher Tara Bordeaux named Texas Teacher of the Year

Austin teacher Tara Bordeaux named Texas Teacher of the Year

Tara Bordeaux had given up on school. She was bullied and her home life was hard. She had just turned 16, and dropped out of school. But one of her teachers, Mary Kay Canon, wouldn’t let her go. Canon waited two hours at the McDonald’s where Bordeaux worked until the teen came into work. “She thought I was much more important than I thought I was,” Bordeaux said. “She...
STATESMAN EXCLUSIVE: Improper teacher-student relationship cases soar

STATESMAN EXCLUSIVE: Improper teacher-student relationship cases soar

Amid increasing scrutiny from top state officials of teachers accused of soliciting romantic relationships from students, the number of such cases has jumped for the ninth year in a row. In the one-year period that ended Sept. 1, the Texas Education Agency opened 302 cases against public teachers who have been accused of having improper relationships with students, a 36 percent increase from the year...
Report: Most Texas high schools aren’t registering students to vote

Report: Most Texas high schools aren’t registering students to vote

No private high schools and just 14 percent of public high schools in Texas requested voter registration forms from the secretary of state’s office in 2016, a report released Wednesday found, even though a state law requires them to do so. The report by the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law found that 198 out of 1,428 public high schools requested...
After parent complaints, Seton sends more nurses into Austin schools

After parent complaints, Seton sends more nurses into Austin schools

After pushback from parents and nurses who voiced concern over student safety, Seton Healthcare Family announced Wednesday it will pay up to $1.8 million to increase the number of nurses the Austin school district has on its campuses. The district contracts with Seton for student health services, this year paying $7.1 million, which includes mental health services. Seton this year reduced the number...
After tossing ‘racist’ textbook, state board considers new one

After tossing ‘racist’ textbook, state board considers new one

After rejecting a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook that critics lambasted as a racist portrayal of Latinos, the State Board of Education is considering adopting another textbook. The board last November tossed “Mexican American Heritage” from a list of recommended textbooks, reopening bids for other books. The board on Wednesday considered the latest proposal — ...
Report: Few high schools in Texas comply with voter registration law

Report: Few high schools in Texas comply with voter registration law

No private high schools and just 14 percent of public high schools in Texas requested voter registration forms from the secretary of state’s office in 2016, a report released Wednesday found, even though a state law requires them to do so. The report by the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law found that 198 out of 1,428 public high schools requested...
HURRICANE HARVEY: Some damaged Texas schools still closed

HURRICANE HARVEY: Some damaged Texas schools still closed

Most Texas school districts in counties hit by Harvey have opened or will soon reopen, but officials at eight school districts in the Beaumont area as well as some in the Corpus Christi area still aren’t sure when they’ll start classes. State Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the State Board of Education Wednesday morning that more than 1.4 million public school students are in counties...
Girls’ School makes community service challenges

Girls’ School makes community service challenges

To celebrate its 15th anniversary, the Girls’ School of Austin launched a ‘15 Years, 15 Hours’ challenge to its community. Students, teachers and parents have each been challenged to complete 15 hours of community service over the course of the school year. The challenge began with a school-wide service project benefiting victims of Hurricane Harvey. Students made cards and banners...
Fenves says UT to boost financial aid, faculty pay, career advice

Fenves says UT to boost financial aid, faculty pay, career advice

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves announced Tuesday that UT would increase financial aid for low- and middle-income students, boost faculty salaries to be more competitive, expand job-placement services for graduating students and, later this fall, launch a patient care group practice at the Dell Medical School. Fenves outlined these and other initiatives at his third state of the...
UT professor Goodenough receives $500,000 prize for battery insights

UT professor Goodenough receives $500,000 prize for battery insights

John B. Goodenough, a University of Texas engineering professor, has been awarded the $500,000 Welch prize in chemistry for pioneering lithium-ion battery technology. His work led the way for the extraordinary growth in portable electronic devices in recent decades. “The global impact of Dr. Goodenough’s research of electronic structure and bonding metal oxides is so vast, it is truly...
2018 U.S. News college rankings: Nothing new for UT, but A&M jumps up

2018 U.S. News college rankings: Nothing new for UT, but A&M jumps up

The University of Texas at Austin is still a bridesmaid.  In U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 rankings of the best colleges in the nation, UT tied for No. 56. According to Texas Tribune, UT was also tied for No. 56 on the 2017 list. That makes UT the list’s second-best university in Texas, behind Rice University at No. 14. In 2017, Rice was ranked No. 15, and UT had...
A&M gets $20 million grant to develop implanted health sensors

A&M gets $20 million grant to develop implanted health sensors

Texas A&M University researchers will lead a $20 million federally funded program to develop under-the-skin sensors and hand-held devices for tracking health conditions, especially for people who, for geographical or income reasons, lack ready access to medical care. The five-year National Science Foundation grant, announced Tuesday, is of a special type that is likely to be renewed for an additional...
LIVE COVERAGE: UT’s Fenves outlines health care, financial aid initiatives in annual address

LIVE COVERAGE: UT’s Fenves outlines health care, financial aid initiatives in annual address

3:45 p.m. update: UT President Gregory L. Fenves started his state of the university address with a soaring quote from the late Barbara Jordan. University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves will deliver his third state of the university address Tuesday. He is expected to announce new initiatives intended to educate leaders, accelerate research and transform health care. A year ago...
What’s the tax impact of $1B in Austin school bonds? Hint: It’s not $0

What’s the tax impact of $1B in Austin school bonds? Hint: It’s not $0

Austin school leaders say they can take on $1.05 billion in bond debt without raising the district’s tax rate, based largely on climbing property values and the district’s ability to pay down more than half of its existing debt in the next decade. Keeping the tax rate the same is a central feature of the district’s political campaign for the bond proposition going before local voters...
Houston students start classes after delay from Harvey

Houston students start classes after delay from Harvey

Students in Houston on their first day of classes after citywide flooding from Hurricane Harvey were greeted Monday with hugs from teachers and staffers, and many of those hugs came from school secretary Demitra Cain. The longtime school district employee said she had probably given out at least 200 hugs as she stood outside Codwell Elementary and greeted students and parents as they began the school...
Feds, Texas offer choices for students homeless after Harvey

Feds, Texas offer choices for students homeless after Harvey

Michael Evan Hilburn says he can’t wait to start kindergarten this week at a school about 20 miles from the Houston shelter where he and his father have been living since Hurricane Harvey devastated the city. The 5-year-old is a beneficiary of state and federal laws that seek to make it easier for homeless kids to go to school — a blessing, his father said, as they try to overcome the...
PolitiFact: Just what are Austin schoolkids learning about gender?

PolitiFact: Just what are Austin schoolkids learning about gender?

A supporter of basing student access to bathrooms and locker rooms on gender identity at birth declared that Austin’s schools teach children to choose their genders. Spicewood attorney Glenna Hodge, testifying before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee, said parents should recognize that, without a protective law, their children can’t count on privacy. Hodge went on, “We also...
Grisham principal: Loaded 9mm gun found in student’s backpack

Grisham principal: Loaded 9mm gun found in student’s backpack

3:28 p.m. update: A loaded 9mm handgun was found in the backpack of the student who was arrested at Grisham Middle School on Friday afternoon, according to an email the school’s principal sent to parents. “There was no indication that any students were threatened at any time,” the letter from Principal Paige Hadziselimovicsaid. “Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken...
Commentary: My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen

Commentary: My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen

Like so many of my colleagues, I have been consumed by the reality that Hurricane Harvey’s destruction was worsened by climate change. Penn State climatologist Michael Mann has explained that climate change had a measurable impact on Harvey’s intensity and damage. Rising sea levels caused storm surges to be higher. Rising sea temperatures drastically increased the strength of the storm...
Police accuse former Austin, Eanes principal of luring girls for sex

Police accuse former Austin, Eanes principal of luring girls for sex

A principal who spent two decades in schools across Central Texas now stands accused of soliciting young girls for sex, the Phoenix-area Pinal County sheriff’s office said, prompting investigators to question whether there were any incidents of impropriety here. Karl Waggoner was arrested Tuesday near Four Peaks Elementary School in Arizona, where he had just begun his job as principal this...
Regent Steve Hicks says his $25 million donation to UT is personal

Regent Steve Hicks says his $25 million donation to UT is personal

Steve Hicks knew he wanted to donate $25 million to his alma mater, the University of Texas. But which of the various colleges and schools would be the recipient? “It really wasn’t that hard to figure out which one helps people the most,” Hicks said, explaining his choice of the School of Social Work. UT announced the donation Wednesday, saying it ranks among the largest gifts to...
Supporters rally for Austin district’s $1.1 billion bond package

Supporters rally for Austin district’s $1.1 billion bond package

A group of East Austin parents and Austin school leaders gathered this morning to voice support for the district’s $1.1 billion bond package that will go before voters in November. The group — which includes the Eastside Memorial High School PTA president; representatives from labor group Education Austin; Trustee Jayme Mathias, who represents the area that includes Eastside Memorial...
Reports: Former Austin, Eanes, Round Rock principal accused of luring girls online for sex

Reports: Former Austin, Eanes, Round Rock principal accused of luring girls online for sex

A former school official who worked in districts across Central Texas has been arrested in Arizona, where he stands accused him of soliciting young girls for sex, the Phoenix-area Pinal County sheriff’s office said. Karl Waggoner was arrested Tuesday near Four Peaks Elementary School in Arizona, where he had just begun his job as principal this summer, the sheriff’s office said. ...
Austin police chief to urge City Council to nix juvenile curfew

Austin police chief to urge City Council to nix juvenile curfew

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said Tuesday he plans to urge the Austin City Council to do away with the city’s nighttime curfew for young people under the age of 17. Manley, who had supported the curfew earlier this year, told the city’s Public Safety Commission during its monthly meeting that data he has reviewed since then led him to change his mind, and he plans to say so at the...
UT Chancellor McRaven, other college leaders urge Congress to fix DACA

UT Chancellor McRaven, other college leaders urge Congress to fix DACA

Higher education leaders in Texas and nationally said Tuesday that Congress should act quickly so that students brought illegally as children into the country can study here, work here and become citizens. “They, like others, have served our nation with distinction in their academic pursuits, in our nation’s military, and as productive members of society,” said University of Texas...
UT Chancellor Bill McRaven calls on Congress to protect ‘dreamers’

UT Chancellor Bill McRaven calls on Congress to protect ‘dreamers’

University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven said Tuesday that Congress must act quickly to provide “a bridge” so that students brought illegally as children into the country can remain here and become citizens. “They, like others, have served our nation with distinction in their academic pursuits, in our nation’s military, and as productive members of society,&rdquo...
HARVEY RECOVERY: ACC, others launch fund to help college students

HARVEY RECOVERY: ACC, others launch fund to help college students

Austin Community College has joined six other educational organizations to launch the Harvey HELP Fund, a crowd- sourced relief fund to aid the close to 500,000 students impacted by Hurricane Harvey. HELP, which stands for Higher Education Learning Pathways, will provide emergency funds to enable students in southeast Texas to stay on or more quickly return to their education pathway. “The storm...
Austin trustees revive talk of renaming schools with Confederate ties

Austin trustees revive talk of renaming schools with Confederate ties

The Austin school board is renewing its discussion of whether a handful of Austin district campuses with names linked to the Confederacy need to be renamed. After a rally by white supremacists fighting removal of a Confederate monument turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., Austin board President Kendall Pace said she wants the issue on the board’s agenda. In a tweet last week, Pace said, &ldquo...
From texting to legal knives, 700 new laws take effect

From texting to legal knives, 700 new laws take effect

Starting Friday, it will be illegal to text while driving in Texas, long knives will be legal almost everywhere, and children will have increased protection from online bullying and from teachers seeking inappropriate sexual relationships. About 700 new state laws, passed by the Legislature before the regular session ended in May, take effect just past midnight to coincide with...
Mayor Adler, Superintendent Cruz welcome students displaced by Harvey

Mayor Adler, Superintendent Cruz welcome students displaced by Harvey

At a 9 a.m. press conference today, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Austin district Superintendent Paul Cruz will welcome students displaced by Hurricane Harvey. The Austin district says it is preparing for the possibility of taking in thousands of students from storm-swamped areas of Texas. This is a developing story, check back for updates. For live coverage, follow @melissataboada on Twitter...
Austin schools prepare to enroll thousands of Harvey student evacuees

Austin schools prepare to enroll thousands of Harvey student evacuees

Austin school district leaders are preparing to enroll up to thousands of students displaced by Hurricane Harvey. It is unclear how many student evacuees the district will take in, school leaders said, but the district is preparing for a substantial number. School Superintendent Paul Cruz and Austin Mayor Steve Adler will hold a Thursday morning press conference discussing enrolling evacuee students...
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