Education

Paxton’s office warns AISD in flap over church’s gay-marriage beliefs

Paxton’s office warns AISD in flap over church’s gay-marriage beliefs

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office on Friday warned Austin school district officials against blocking a Christian church that opposes gay marriage from using district facilities, saying such action would violate state law and the First Amendment. Celebration Church of Georgetown has been holding services most Sundays since Aug. 26 at the Austin district’s Performing Arts Center...
Creative options on table as UT, city negotiate regarding Muny’s future

Creative options on table as UT, city negotiate regarding Muny’s future

The city of Austin and the University of Texas are getting creative in their negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement to preserve Lions Municipal Golf Course as important deadlines near and political pressure intensifies. The city-operated course sits on UT-owned land in West Austin, and the university wants to realize upward of 10 times the nearly $500,000 a year it receives in lease payments...
Commentary: Spend education dollars helping students, not buying guns

Commentary: Spend education dollars helping students, not buying guns

In the past month, despite apprehension, parents have sent their kids back to school. However, school safety remains a cloud over the U.S. education system, given the persistent school shootings around the country. Secretary Betsy DeVos’ solution for assuaging parents’ worries about school violence is to put more guns in schools. The Education Department intends to allow states to use...
Health premium increase for retired teachers unlikely in 2019

Health premium increase for retired teachers unlikely in 2019

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas appears unlikely to raise health insurance premiums for retired teachers under the age of 65 next year amid pressure from state officials. A board committee of the pension and health care system on Thursday followed a staff recommendation to keep premiums and deductibles the same. The full board likely will agree to the decision Friday. The board has been considering...
Former UT President Powers hospitalized after fall outside law school

Former UT President Powers hospitalized after fall outside law school

Former University of Texas President Bill Powers was hospitalized Wednesday after a fall outside the School of Law, where he is a professor. Powers, 72, was taken to the Dell Seton Medical Center at UT for treatment and tests, according to university officials. “Bill Powers is recovering at Dell Seton Medical Center from his fall,” Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman, said Thursday in a statement...
Texas state officials recommend no premium hikes for retired teachers

Texas state officials recommend no premium hikes for retired teachers

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas on Thursday recommended to its board to not raise health insurance premiums for retired teachers under the age of 65 amid pressure from state officials. The board will likely agree to staff’s recommendation during its meeting Friday. The board had been considering raising premiums for retired teachers and their dependents under the age of 65 — about...
Amid church protests, AISD considers limits to facility rentals

Amid church protests, AISD considers limits to facility rentals

The Austin school district is considering limiting the use of its Performing Arts Center by outside entities amid protests by LGBT activists who say the district is renting the facility to a church that opposes gay marriage. Georgetown-based Celebration Church has been holding services most Sundays since Aug. 26 at the performing arts facility in the Mueller neighborhood under a short-term agreement...
AISD driver on trial for touching student, 6, says they only hugged

AISD driver on trial for touching student, 6, says they only hugged

Walnut Creek Elementary students were greeted with Life Savers candy when they boarded driver Leon Young’s bus in the 2014-15 school year — he rewarded well-behaved children with frequent handouts while declining to offer candy to the troublemakers. That practice came up during a police interview three years ago after a 6-year-old female student said he had touched her. Young, who had...
Commentary: Quality child care yields many benefits

Commentary: Quality child care yields many benefits

OK, let me clear up a semantic issue: A lot of people interchange “day care” with “child care.” My daughter has spent almost three decades in child care management. Years ago, she admonished me when I innocently used the term “day care.” “Daddy, our industry takes care of children, not days of the week.” Now, let’s get serious and address the benefits...
Hays school district gives YMCA $5 million for joint-use natatorium

Hays school district gives YMCA $5 million for joint-use natatorium

With access to just one swimming pool, Hays school officials are working with the YMCA of Austin to build a joint-use natatorium, a 10-lane, 25-yard indoor pool facility. The Hays school district will spend $5 million from its reserves for the $6.2 million facility, which will be operated and maintained by the YMCA. The YMCA will cover the remaining cost. The Hays pool facility, expected to open in...

Commentary: What Austin ISD is doing to close its budget deficit

Public education is a bedrock of American life, enshrined as a right of all Texans by the Texas Constitution. Keeping public education healthy requires vigilance, especially when state public education funding is broken. Making this even more challenging is that the Austin Independent School District is struggling with a large and unsustainable structural budget deficit. The district and the newly...
Panel: Remember the Alamo, but cut Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller?

Panel: Remember the Alamo, but cut Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller?

Texas high school students would no longer be required to learn about Hillary Clinton’s role as the first woman nominated for president by a major political party, according to proposed curriculum standards given preliminary approval by the State Board of Education on Friday. Also eliminated from the proposed social studies standards: Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee...
SBOE: Remember the Alamo, but cut Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater?

SBOE: Remember the Alamo, but cut Hillary Clinton, Barry Goldwater?

Texas high school students would no longer be required to learn about Hillary Clinton’s role as the first woman nominated for president by a major political party, according to proposed curriculum standards given preliminary approval by the State Board of Education on Friday. Also eliminated from the proposed social studies standards: Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee...
Lake Travis High teacher honored at Texas Teacher of the Year ceremony

Lake Travis High teacher honored at Texas Teacher of the Year ceremony

Megan Holden, a Lake Travis High School English and art history teacher, was among the six state finalists for 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year. Holden was selected from among 40 regional teachers of the year and was honored Friday along with the other five finalists at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Holden, who has taught for 21 years, started the school’s “Fight Club,” an...
24 Texas schools land on U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best National Universities’ ranking

24 Texas schools land on U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best National Universities’ ranking

Rice University continues its streak as the top school in Texas, according to the latest ranking from U.S. News and World Report. The private university in Houston cracked the top 20 of “Best National Universities,” landing at No. 16. The University of Texas at Austin ranked No. 49 on the list, making it the second best in the state. Southern Methodist University rounded out the state&rsquo...
McNeil teacher placed on leave after mocking student who supported Trump, officials say

McNeil teacher placed on leave after mocking student who supported Trump, officials say

A McNeil High School teacher was placed on administrative leave for mocking a student who supported President Donald Trump, according to officials with the Round Rock school district. District officials declined to identify the teacher, but said she is an Advanced Placement science teacher. “In Round Rock ISD, our goal is to create a classroom environment where students feel safe and respected...
AISD administrators want to modernize Sanchez instead of Metz, Zavala

AISD administrators want to modernize Sanchez instead of Metz, Zavala

East Austin elementary schools Metz and Zavala, which have seen sharply declining enrollment in recent years, could be passed over for renovations, raising the specter that they could be shuttered if low enrollment persists. At the same time, school district administrators are expected to recommend giving Sanchez Elementary, another East Austin elementary school, a $25 million face-lift. If the...
UT’s Fenves touts health research, financial aid in annual address

UT’s Fenves touts health research, financial aid in annual address

Lifting students to their potential. Expanding research. Reinventing health care. These have been some of the running themes for Gregory L. Fenves as University of Texas president, and on Thursday he announced new initiatives along those lines during his fourth state of the university address. UT will start building a universitywide career center next year inside the Flawn Academic Center to...
UT’s Fenves touts health innovations, financial aid in annual address

UT’s Fenves touts health innovations, financial aid in annual address

Lifting students to their potential. Expanding research. Reinventing health care. These have been some of the running themes for Gregory L. Fenves’ presidency of the University of Texas, and on Thursday he announced new initiatives along those lines as part of his fourth state of the university address. UT will start building a universitywide career center next year in the Flawn Academic...
Amid criticism, state panel tentatively OKs restoring Alamo teachings

Amid criticism, state panel tentatively OKs restoring Alamo teachings

The State Board of Education decided in a preliminary vote late Wednesday to continue requiring students to learn about heroism and a letter by William B. Travis in lessons about the Alamo. The unanimous vote came a day after several people pleaded with the board to retain such language in the Texas history curriculum standards that middle school students must learn. Concerns arose after a board-nominated...
Republican education board officials at odds with George P. Bush

Republican education board officials at odds with George P. Bush

The GOP-dominated State Board of Education is blasting Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a Republican running for re-election, for taking undue credit in funding Texas public schools while reducing the amount of money schools will receive in the next state budget. Tensions stem from a recent decision by the School Land Board, which is housed within the General Land Office and run in part by...
ACC trustees raise tax rate to fund voter-approved bonds

ACC trustees raise tax rate to fund voter-approved bonds

Austin Community College trustees have raised the college’s tax rate by a little less than half a cent, to 10.48 cents per $100 of valuation. That works out to a $33.70 increase in the annual tax bill for the owner of an average-value house. The increase from the previous rate of 10.08 cents applies to the budget year that began Sept. 1. As a result, the college’s tax bill for a home with...
State Board of Education under fire over Alamo curriculum

State Board of Education under fire over Alamo curriculum

Heeding concerns by conservatives that the State Board of Education is trying to water down how Texas history is taught in middle school, a board-nominated committee has backtracked on a recommendation to remove references to heroes and a letter by William B. Travis in lessons about the Alamo. More than 60 people signed up to testify before the board Tuesday to express concerns about proposed changes...
Commentary: Time for the State Board of Education to teach the truth

Commentary: Time for the State Board of Education to teach the truth

Before kickoff in the Super Bowl, the first pitch in the World Series, and tipoff of the NBA Championship Finals, both teams have already pre-printed T-shirts proclaiming themselves as world champions. When the games are over, the losers’ shirts are sent overseas to impoverished countries, which explains why children across the world grow up thinking that the Buffalo Bills won four straight...
References to heroism restored in teachings of Alamo, group recommends

References to heroism restored in teachings of Alamo, group recommends

12 p.m. update: Heeding an outcry from conservatives, a work group nominated by the State Board of Education has backtracked on its recommendation to remove references to “heroic defenders” and a letter by William B. Travis from the Texas school curriculum on the Alamo. Stephen Cure, former director of education with the Texas State Historical Association, said he and his colleagues on...
Ten candidates compete for four Leander school district board seats

Ten candidates compete for four Leander school district board seats

Ten candidates are vying for a place on the Leander school board. Four of seven at-large board seats are contested on the Nov. 6 ballot. Those elected will serve three-year terms for no pay and will oversee the district’s continued fast growth, as 1,100 new students are projected to enroll each year. Trustees in the Leander district, which encompasses 200 square miles of Cedar Park, Leander...
Seven running for three seats on ACC Board of Trustees

Seven running for three seats on ACC Board of Trustees

Three of nine seats on the Austin Community College Board of Trustees, which oversees 11 campuses and a vast taxing district, are being contested in the Nov. 6 election. Trustees serve six-year terms for no pay and are elected at large in the district, which takes in the city of Austin — including portions of the Eanes and Pflugerville school districts within the city — as well as the...
Editorial: Texas must make schools a place to thrive, not just survive

Editorial: Texas must make schools a place to thrive, not just survive

Students returning to school a few weeks ago likely noticed new security features at their campuses. More locked doors and secure entrances where visitors must be buzzed in. Fewer fire alarms that can be pulled by anyone. A new police presence on some campuses, and unbeknownst to students, a growing number of armed employees trained to take out anyone who opens fire on a school. Even as districts...
Ten compete for spot on Leander district school board

Ten compete for spot on Leander district school board

Ten candidates are vying for a place on the Leander school board. Each of the four at-large board seats up for election will be contested on the Nov. 6 ballot. Those elected will serve three-year terms for no pay and will oversee the district’s continued fast growth, as another 1,100 new students are projected to enroll each year. Incumbent Trish Bode, a communications director for state lobby...
UT regents endorse campuses’ $1.2 billion in construction bond requests

UT regents endorse campuses’ $1.2 billion in construction bond requests

A wish list of 13 construction projects at University of Texas System campuses, including the Austin flagship, won unanimous endorsement from the Board of Regents at a specially called telephone meeting Thursday. But members of the Legislature will have the final say when they converge on Austin in January to begin negotiating a state budget for the next two years. UT System campuses are seeking $1...
36,000 retired teachers have left Texas health insurance program

36,000 retired teachers have left Texas health insurance program

About 36,000 retired teachers and their dependents abandoned their state-created health insurance system this year after Texas officials enacted higher deductibles and premiums. Most of the retirees who left were 65 or older and opted to choose cheaper Medicare plans elsewhere, putting the Teacher Retirement System of Texas’ health insurance system, called TRS-Care, and its remaining 230,000...
How auditors say TEA officials failed to safeguard taxpayer money

How auditors say TEA officials failed to safeguard taxpayer money

Officials at the Texas Education Agency failed to ensure contracting safeguards, missing a conflict of interest in a flawed contract that ultimately failed, among other things, the Texas State Auditor’s office announced Wednesday. Drilling down into two contracts — one involving a special education database project and another for web design services — the auditor’s office...
Texas lawmakers to discuss rising retired teacher health costs

Texas lawmakers to discuss rising retired teacher health costs

Texas House lawmakers are expected to discuss Wednesday funding problems within the state health insurance program for retired teachers. Among the issues that the House Appropriations Subcommittee could discuss include a proposal by the Teacher Retirement System board to increase premiums by $600 a year for retired teachers under the age of 65. The board is expected to vote on the proposal later this...
Activists: Overhaul AISD school boundaries or split district into two

Activists: Overhaul AISD school boundaries or split district into two

A group of community activists Wednesday morning will call on Austin district leaders to redraw school boundaries to end long-standing segregation or allow eastern Austin to form its own school district. The demands are among a list of changes the coalition — which includes leaders of the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens and teacher labor group Education Austin and a sitting school...
Search vaccination exemption rates across Texas

Search vaccination exemption rates across Texas

In 2017-18, 1.07 percent of Texas students were exempt from vaccines for non-medical reasons, a four-fold increase from the 2007-08 school year. The map and table below contain vaccination exemption rates reported to the Department of State Health Services from the 2007-08 to 2017-18 school years for counties, school districts, charter schools and private schools. The percentage-point differences...
Vaccine exemptions in Texas quadruple in last decade, state data show

Vaccine exemptions in Texas quadruple in last decade, state data show

The rate of Texas students forgoing vaccinations has soared over the past decade, with more parents questioning the wisdom of vaccinating their children, even as public health experts warn of the dangers of opting out. Slightly more than 1 percent of Texas public and private school students received conscientious exemptions from state-mandated vaccinations during last school year, a fourfold increase...
In Milliken, UT finds a chancellor with deep experience, people skills

In Milliken, UT finds a chancellor with deep experience, people skills

University of Texas System regents could hardly have found a more experienced higher education hand than James B. Milliken, whom they appointed chancellor last month. But people who know him say Milliken’s political savvy, fundraising acumen and other leadership skills honed in 30 years at university systems in three states are complemented by an engaging conversational style, intellectual breadth...
Plan to alter campus sex assault rules gets mixed reviews in Texas

Plan to alter campus sex assault rules gets mixed reviews in Texas

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is planning new rules that would bolster the rights of college students accused of sexual misconduct. The rules also would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and hold schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities regarding conduct on campus. Here is some of the reaction in Texas to the plan, for which proposed rules have...
Commentary: More guns in the classroom is not good policy

Commentary: More guns in the classroom is not good policy

The national debate on school safety continues. Some groups are calling to arm teachers, while others are asking for significant investment into school security. President Donald Trump has called for arming teachers to harden campuses and most recently, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began considering allowing schools to use federal money to purchase weapons. Political agendas focused on arming...
Report: Texas schools beef up security, expand school marshal program

Report: Texas schools beef up security, expand school marshal program

Three months after the Santa Fe school shooting, Texas school districts have beefed up security at their campuses, including tripling the number of teachers and other staff members authorized to carry a gun onto school property, according to a report Gov. Greg Abbott’s office released Thursday. The 13-page document catalogs the measures school districts, agencies and organizations have taken...
INSIGHT: In Texas, armed staff stand ready to protect students

INSIGHT: In Texas, armed staff stand ready to protect students

Craig Bessent used to be a bull rider. Now, he’s an assistant superintendent who stays on top of school bus schedules and cafeteria complaints. But the black bulletproof vest tucked in the corner of Bessent’s office is proof that he hasn’t left danger behind. The 60-year-old administrator, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 215 pounds, is a school “marshal,” one of about 165...
Teacher groups sue state over turnaround partners for failing schools

Teacher groups sue state over turnaround partners for failing schools

Two teacher labor groups are suing the Texas Education Agency over allegations that Education Commissioner Mike Morath is leaving teachers and staff vulnerable to termination at certain failing schools. The suit, which questions the way Morath has rolled out a 2017 law known as Senate Bill 1882, was filed Wednesday in state District Court in Austin by the Texas American Federation of Teachers and...
Report: Texas schools have beefed up security, school marshal program

Report: Texas schools have beefed up security, school marshal program

Three months after the deadly Santa Fe school shooting, Texas school districts have beefed up security at their campuses, including tripling the amount of personnel trained to carry a gun onto school property, according to a report from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office released Thursday. The 13-page report details the measures several districts, agencies and organizations have taken over the summer...
Austin school taxes jump $400 this year, up 54 percent since 2012

Austin school taxes jump $400 this year, up 54 percent since 2012

The average homeowner in the Austin school district is expected to pay about $400 more in school taxes this year, the seventh consecutive annual increase. The rise in school taxes will come on top of expected tax increases by Travis County’s other main taxing entities. The increase in Austin school taxes is 54 percent higher than in 2012 and reflects rising property values across the district...
Texas saved billions cutting special education. Now the bill comes due

Texas saved billions cutting special education. Now the bill comes due

Texas’s 5.4 million students are returning to school amid the usual scramble for textbooks, lockers and desks. The state is also facing a huge problem of its own creation: how to find, evaluate and properly teach as many as 200,000 students wrongly denied special education or overlooked as it sought to limit spending for the nation’s fastest-growing school population. And then there&rsquo...
AISD commits to save mental health centers in jeopardy of closure

AISD commits to save mental health centers in jeopardy of closure

The Austin school board Monday night approved an agreement with Integral Care to keep 16 campus mental health centers open this school year. The campus centers were in jeopardy of closure after the school district in June approved a $7.1 million student health services plan with Seton Healthcare Family that discontinued funding for 16 of 40 campus-based mental health centers with an on-site therapist...
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