Education

Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say

Federal money to connect Texas schools to fiber at risk, officials say

Delays and denials by the federal government are putting Texas schools at risk of losing millions of dollars in potential subsidies that would help pay for installing high-speed fiber internet in classrooms, according to state officials. Last year, state lawmakers approved $25 million to help school districts over the 2018-19 budget period replace or install fiber-optic cable, arguably the fastest...
Thousands of Central Texas students rally for gun laws

Thousands of Central Texas students rally for gun laws

Kelsey Tasch knows she’s far more likely to die in a car accident than a school shooting. The McCallum High School sophomore said she hears the statistics, in some form or another, over and over again as adults try to quell her fears and reassure her that she won’t be the next student to take a bullet while cowering in a classroom. Kelsey said her father was telling her the same thing...
NEW DETAILS: Westlake student arrested after sharing gun photo in social media 

NEW DETAILS: Westlake student arrested after sharing gun photo in social media 

A 17-year-old Westlake High School student was arrested after he shared a photo on social media Wednesday of a gun inside a bag with the caption “ready for school,” according to his arrest affidavit. Holden Cooper Smith is charged with making a terroristic threat, jail records show. He was booked into the Travis County Jail on Thursday and posted bail on Friday, records show. Friends...
UT boosts financial aid for low- and middle-income students

UT boosts financial aid for low- and middle-income students

The University of Texas has expanded its annual spending on financial aid by $5 million to help students from low- and middle-income families. Starting this fall, incoming freshmen from Texas with family incomes as high as $100,000 could be eligible for grants depending on financial need as determined by a federal formula that takes the size of the family and other matters into account. The new program...
UPDATE: ‘We want change,’ Austin-area students say at rally for stricter gun laws

UPDATE: ‘We want change,’ Austin-area students say at rally for stricter gun laws

2:23 p.m. update: Thousands of Central Texas students gathered at the Texas Capitol on Friday to call for stricter guns laws. Around 2,000 students from a variety of Austin-area schools walked out of their classes on Friday morning and met up at Wooldridge Square Park to march to the Capitol with other student protesters. At 1 p.m., the group gathered around the steps of the building and shouted...
Thousands of Central Texas students rally in National School Walkout

Thousands of Central Texas students rally in National School Walkout

When LASA High School sophomore Emma Rohloff hears about another school shooting, she isn’t so much scared or angry anymore as she is tired. She’s tired when she hears what she says is rhetoric about why there shouldn’t be stricter gun laws. Tired that nothing more has been done to stop gun violence. At 15, Emma is one of Austin’s organizers of the latest National School Walkout...
Police question Austin-area student who posted gun photo

Police question Austin-area student who posted gun photo

An Austin-area student Thursday morning posted a photo of a gun on the Snapchat social media network with the words, “Ready for school.” The photo prompted school officials in Hays and Travis counties to quickly investigate as they tried to determine whether it was one of their students. District officials confirm the image was posted by a Westlake High School student. Law enforcement...
Thousands of Austin students will rally in National School Walkout

Thousands of Austin students will rally in National School Walkout

When LASA High School sophomore Emma Rohloff hears about another school shooting, she isn’t so much scared or angry anymore as she is tired. She’s tired when she hears what she says is rhetoric about why there shouldn’t be stricter gun laws. Tired that nothing more has been done to stop gun violence. At 15, Emma is one of Austin’s organizers in the latest National School Walkout...
Poll: Ted Cruz-Beto O’Rourke race too close to call

Poll: Ted Cruz-Beto O’Rourke race too close to call

The Senate race between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, is “too close to call,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Cruz has 47 percent support from registered voters to O’Rourke’s 44 percent, according to the poll. The poll comes on the heels of surprising fundraising numbers posted by O’Rourke. In...
Texas facing a challenge in push to improve straight-to-college rate

Texas facing a challenge in push to improve straight-to-college rate

Barely half of Texas high school graduates enroll directly in college, but 65 percent will need to do so by 2030 for the state to meet goals intended to produce an educated populace and a skilled workforce, Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said Wednesday. The rate in Texas has slipped in recent years, from 54 percent in 2014 to 53 percent in 2015 and 52 percent in 2016. The figure...
White: Use border security dollars, expand gambling to fund education

White: Use border security dollars, expand gambling to fund education

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White said Wednesday he wants to increase public education spending by $6.5 billion and would pay for it by expanding gambling in Texas, ending a property appraisal law and redirecting the state’s share of border security funding. White, an investor in Houston and son of the late Gov. Mark White, is running against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez...
Commentary: Schools need good maintenance, like your car and home

Commentary: Schools need good maintenance, like your car and home

In Monday’s New York Times, the sorry state of public education was on display. Tattered textbooks, broken and outdated equipment and facilities in disrepair were featured, as teachers reported on how much of their own money they spend each year to try to close some resource gaps for their students. A teacher in Palacios in South Texas was among those featured. But if we are honest, we know...
Texas pre-K poorly funded but still excels for one key student group

Texas pre-K poorly funded but still excels for one key student group

While Texas continues to lag in the quality of education offered to its youngest learners, the Lone Star State ranks among the best in the nation when it comes to preparing prekindergarten students who speak little to no English for elementary school. A new national study published Wednesday shows Texas is among the best in the country for educating English language learners in those early years....
Phillips: Billy Harden opened doors and brought passion to the stage

Phillips: Billy Harden opened doors and brought passion to the stage

Billy Harden was an Austin treasure. Not just because he was a towering figure in the African-American community, but because Billy — who I knew for over 25 years — was a mover and shaker in Austin’s arts and education communities. Austin School Independent School trustees plan to pay tribute to Harden on April 30 for his efforts helping students succeed. The Austin native died last...
Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage

Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage

People rally in front of the State Board of Education building last week before a preliminary vote on whether to create a statewide Mexican American studies course. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN The decision by the State Board of Education to approve an elective course for Mexican-American studies in Texas high schools should have triggered triumphant celebrations...
3rd threat made against Reagan High; public meeting set for 5:30 p.m.

3rd threat made against Reagan High; public meeting set for 5:30 p.m.

Police are investigating the third threat this week made against Reagan Early College High School in Northeast Austin, school officials confirmed on Tuesday. Austin Independent School District officials said in a letter to parents that a threat had been made Monday night against the school at 7104 Berkman Drive. Classes are on a regular schedule Tuesday, but school officials said police would increase...

1 dead, 2 charged after downtown Austin crash, police say

DOWNTOWN AUSTIN A three-vehicle crash early Monday on Cesar Chavez Street at Interstate 35 resulted in one man’s death and criminal charges against two people, Austin police said. Dean Michael Hood, 27, died at the scene of the crash, police said. A man and a woman, both estimated to be in their 20s, were hospitalized with injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening, Austin-Travis...
UPDATE: No threat found at Reagan High, classes on 2-hour delay, officials say

UPDATE: No threat found at Reagan High, classes on 2-hour delay, officials say

9:45 a.m. update: Authorities said nothing suspicious was found Monday morning on the campus of Reagan Early College High School in Northeast Austin after school officials received reports of a threat made to the campus. However, the police investigation forced the school to run classes on a two-hour delay Monday, Austin school district officials said. Classes would begin at 11 a.m., officials said...
Texas panel gives final OK to Mexican-American studies course

Texas panel gives final OK to Mexican-American studies course

The State Board of Education officially approved the creation of a statewide Mexican-American studies course for high school students Friday. Before the 15-member board unanimously approved the course, board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville, tried to persuade the board to call the course “Mexican-American Studies,” but nine Republicans voted against the idea while all five Democrats...
Billy Harden (1953-2018) opened doors and shaped minds

Billy Harden (1953-2018) opened doors and shaped minds

Teacher Don Webb greets Dr. Billy Harden (center) then-head of Goodwill industries’ charter school, and Traci Berry, senior vice president of community engagement. Goodwill launched a pilot program with funds from the Texas Legislature to help students 19-50 receive their high school diplomas. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN   Billy Harden&rsquo...
Trailblazing mariachi maestro Zeke Castro to retire

Trailblazing mariachi maestro Zeke Castro to retire

After bolstering Austin’s mariachi scene, inspiring generations of students and blazing a musical trail across the country, maestro Ezekiel “Zeke” Castro — who directs the mariachi ensemble at the University of Texas — will take his final bow in May when he retires after a noted career. On Sunday, the longtime music educator and musician will direct the last spring...
UT, A&M to learn fate of Los Alamos bids by end of May, if not sooner

UT, A&M to learn fate of Los Alamos bids by end of May, if not sooner

The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System will learn by the end of May, if not sooner, the outcome of their competing bids to operate a major federal nuclear weapons laboratory. The UT System has at least one undisclosed corporate partner in its proposal to run Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The A&M System is partnered with the University of California System...
Texas panel OKs controversially-named Mexican-American studies course

Texas panel OKs controversially-named Mexican-American studies course

The State Board of Education approved the creation of a statewide Mexican-American studies course for high school students on Friday. Before the 15-member board unanimously approved the course, board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville, tried to get the board to call the course Mexican-American studies, but it failed with nine Republicans voting against it and all five Democrats voting for it. On Wednesday...
Flagship bias? Longhorns, Aggies dominate UT, A&M boards of regents

Flagship bias? Longhorns, Aggies dominate UT, A&M boards of regents

Of the 50 people who have served on the University of Texas System Board of Regents since 1985, 41 went to the same school, UT-Austin. There are 13 other campuses in the system, but just one regent graduated from one of those schools. Similarly, alumni of the College Station flagship have predominated on the Texas A&M University System’s governing board, which oversees 11 schools, for decades...
McNeil High students charged with invasive recording booked into jail

McNeil High students charged with invasive recording booked into jail

Two McNeil High School students charged for recording another student in the bathroom and posting the video on social media were booked into jail on Thursday, records show. Cory McMahan, 18 — who is the son of McNeil athletic director and football coach Howard McMahan — and Corbin Banda, 17, were charged two weeks ago with invasive visual recording for the incident that happened in November...
Bids sought as parents call for a nurse at every Austin ISD school

Bids sought as parents call for a nurse at every Austin ISD school

Months after an advisory committee recommended the Austin school district put a licensed medical professional on every campus, school officials now are seeking a new provider to offer such comprehensive student health care services. The district on Tuesday issued a request for proposals for nursing and mental health services to “improve on the services we provide today.” But it is unclear...
PHOTOS: Panel OKs Mexican-American studies course with new name

PHOTOS: Panel OKs Mexican-American studies course with new name

The State Board of Education tentatively approved creating a statewide Mexican-American studies course for high school students Wednesday, April 11, 2018, but with a catch: the optional elective will be called "Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent."
Panel: Mexican-American studies course OK, but not with that name

Panel: Mexican-American studies course OK, but not with that name

The State Board of Education tentatively approved creating a statewide Mexican-American studies course for high school students Wednesday, but with a catch. The Republican-dominated board voted to name the optional elective “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent” to appease its more hyphen-averse members. David Bradley, R-Beaumont, who is arguably the most conservative...
Boys & Girls Club of Austin to build 10-acre East Austin campus

Boys & Girls Club of Austin to build 10-acre East Austin campus

The Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area is moving forward with a 10-acre campus in East Austin that will serve 250 to 500 low-income children and teens a day. The new 32,000-square-foot facility, located at 6648 Ed Bluestein Blvd., near Manor Road, will enable the nonprofit organization to boost its reach with after-school and summer programs. The new facility “will address real challenges...
Rice, Texas A&M universities top UT Austin on Forbes list of ‘Best Value Colleges’

Rice, Texas A&M universities top UT Austin on Forbes list of ‘Best Value Colleges’

The Owls have another college ranking to hoot and holler about. Forbes’ annual “America’s Best Value Colleges” list ranks 300 schools across the country, examining factors like price, debt, and even the earnings of alumni. The ranking aims to “help students and their families evaluate the likely return on their investment,” according to Forbes.  Rice...
Texas panel tentatively OKs but renames a new Mexican-American course

Texas panel tentatively OKs but renames a new Mexican-American course

3 p.m. update: The State Board of Education has given preliminary approval to create a statewide high school elective course for Mexican-American studies but with a catch. A majority of the board approved calling the Mexican-American studies course “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.” Board member David Bradley, the Republican from Beaumont who is arguably the...
Austin, Pflugerville look to Teach for America to boost diversity

Austin, Pflugerville look to Teach for America to boost diversity

When Kettisha Jones launched her career in education more than 20 years ago, she noticed there were few other African-American teachers in her cohort. Now, as an assistant superintendent in the Pflugerville school district, Jones is hoping a new pilot program will help boost minority representation among teacher ranks, as well as increase retention in hard-to-fill positions. “We’re here...
Several Central Texas school districts affected by STAAR glitch

Several Central Texas school districts affected by STAAR glitch

Many students were temporarily kicked off the online version of the state standardized test on Tuesday, the first day of major statewide testing. A server went down that caused a 20-minute outage in the morning and resulted in students losing access to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test, was able to fix...
Austin ISD committee chooses Communities in Schools as Mendez partner

Austin ISD committee chooses Communities in Schools as Mendez partner

An evaluation committee of parents, teachers and staff has recommended the Austin district work with a local nonprofit to help turn around Mendez Middle School. The 700-student campus is at risk of closure by the state for failing to meet academic standards for four consecutive years. But a new law offers a lifeline to the struggling campus if the district works with a state-approved...
QUIZ: Could you pass a STAAR exam?

QUIZ: Could you pass a STAAR exam?

STAAR testing -- which can be stressful for students, parents and educators alike -- began Tuesday across Texas. READ: Glitches with the STAAR have been reported in Central Texas schools The annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness require Texas students to take exams on varying subjects, starting in the third grade, to determine grade promotion and graduation of students...
Indicted McNeil High student is coach’s son, sources say

Indicted McNeil High student is coach’s son, sources say

One of the two McNeil High School students recently accused of recording a person in one of the school’s restroom stalls is the son of the school’s football coach, sources told the American-Statesman. Cory McMahan, 18, who sources said is the son of McNeil football coach and athletic director Howard McMahan, and Corbin Banda, 17, were both indicted on charges of invasive visual recording...
Glitches with the STAAR have been reported in Central Texas schools

Glitches with the STAAR have been reported in Central Texas schools

Some students ran into technological glitches with the STAAR test on Tuesday, the first day of major testing statewide. Texas Education Agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson told the American-Statesman that a server went down and some students lost access to the test for 20 minutes. About 40,000 students in about 1,000 Texas school districts were affected and New Jersey-based Eduational Testing Service...
Commentary: Texas should be learning about Mexican-American culture

Commentary: Texas should be learning about Mexican-American culture

The year is 1968 and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission is holding a hearing in San Antonio to hear Mexican-Americans from across the nation, but especially San Antonio, plead their case. They are there to hear about political, economic, cultural and educational problems. Mexican-Americans began to state their case in 1845, when the United States forcefully incorporated them into the nation. A 1911...
Austin students lead nation’s urban districts in eighth-grade reading

Austin students lead nation’s urban districts in eighth-grade reading

The Austin school district has outperformed other urban school districts, scoring at the top in eighth-grade reading for the first time on the Nation’s Report Card assessment. Students in Austin also scored high among urban districts in fourth-grade reading and fourth- and eighth-grade math scores, according to results being released Tuesday morning by the National Assessment of Educational...
Austin ISD committee chooses Communities in Schools for Mendez partner

Austin ISD committee chooses Communities in Schools for Mendez partner

An evaluation committee of parents, teachers and staff has recommended the Austin district work with a local nonprofit joined with an academic partner to help turn around Mendez Middle School. The 700-student campus is at risk of closure by the state for failing to meet academic standards for four consecutive years. But a new law offers a lifeline to the struggling campus if the district...
As teacher health costs rise, Texas hasn’t increased its share

As teacher health costs rise, Texas hasn’t increased its share

Seven years ago, health insurance premiums and deductibles were so high for San Marcos teacher Susan Seaton that she said she couldn’t afford her diabetes medication and she had a stroke. This year, because of changes in her benefits under the only health insurance plan she can afford through the state, she’s spacing out her rheumatoid arthritis injections to make the medication last longer...
Town hall on school shootings discusses fears, political inaction

Town hall on school shootings discusses fears, political inaction

Before U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez sounded off against opponents of gun safety legislation during a town hall Sunday to discuss school shootings, students who shared the panel with them took a moment to describe the daily tensions they experience on campus. Julia Heilrayne, a sophomore at Austin High School, relayed a story from a friend during a lunch period. “Someone...
Austin trustees have choice of 2 partners to save Mendez Middle School

Austin trustees have choice of 2 partners to save Mendez Middle School

Austin school district trustees Monday will weigh two proposals from two nonprofits active in local schools that have stepped forward to help turn around Mendez Middle School, at risk of closure by the state for chronically failing to meet academic standards. Austin Voices for Education and Youth, led by Executive Director Allen Weeks, and Communities in Schools of Central Texas, led...
UT now more likely to discipline employees who commit crimes

UT now more likely to discipline employees who commit crimes

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves announced Thursday that school employees who commit crimes off campus could be subject to discipline even if officials find no threat to campus safety, security or other university operations. The new, more stringent policy comes after an American-Statesman investigation found that the university did not discipline Richard A. Morrisett, a tenured pharmacy...
Two potential partners offer help to save Austin’s Mendez Middle School

Two potential partners offer help to save Austin’s Mendez Middle School

Two potential partners have stepped forward to help turnaround the Austin district’s Mendez Middle School, which is at risk of closure by state education officials. Austin Voices for Education and Youth, led by executive director Allen Weeks, and Communities in Schools of Central Texas, led by chief executive officer Suki Steinhauser, both have submitted proposals to boost student achievement...
UT now more likely to discipline employees who commit crimes

UT now more likely to discipline employees who commit crimes

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves announced Thursday that school employees who commit crimes off campus could be subject to discipline even if officials find no threat to campus safety, security or other university operations. The new policy comes after an American-Statesman investigation found that the university did not discipline Richard A. Morrisett, a tenured pharmacy professor...
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