Education

Commentary: Let’s celebrate the value in working together

Commentary: Let’s celebrate the value in working together

Our national celebration as Americans will soon be here with the red, white and blue prominently displayed. Celebrations draw our attention from the ordinary to the inspired. Something inspiring happened at the Texas State Board of Education that merits celebration. We bemoan the fact we are becoming a people divided — society that lives in separate cultural and political silos. The board &mdash...
T. rex dinosaurs couldn’t stick out their tongues, according to UT researchers

T. rex dinosaurs couldn’t stick out their tongues, according to UT researchers

It’s shocking, we know. But according to research released Wednesday by a team at the University of Texas and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, everyone’s favorite fierce dinosaur couldn’t stick out its tongue like a lizard. Instead, Tyrannosaurus rex tongues were likely rooted to the bottoms of the creatures’ mouths, similar to alligators, researchers say. ...
Commentary: Austin ISD prefers to see us appease parents than teach

Commentary: Austin ISD prefers to see us appease parents than teach

Austin ISD has adopted an “improved” approach to working with families. In this customer-service model — called AISD Cares — educators will prioritize parent requests regardless of professional judgment. This new focus shifts attention away from student needs to submit to the public. In an age when students are at greater risk than ever, now is not the time to turn efforts...
UT regents approve terms for Larry Faulkner as interim chancellor

UT regents approve terms for Larry Faulkner as interim chancellor

University of Texas System regents on Wednesday approved employment terms for Larry Faulkner as interim chancellor at a salary of $500,000 a year, prorated over the length of his service. Faulkner, 73, is a former president of UT-Austin and agreed to come out of retirement to fill in as chancellor after Bill McRaven resigned and until a new chancellor is hired. Faulkner’s appointment became...
ACC will launch bachelor’s degree program for registered nurses in fall

ACC will launch bachelor’s degree program for registered nurses in fall

Austin Community College this fall will begin offering a bachelor’s degree for the first time, now that accreditors have signed off on its plan to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The program is designed for people who are registered nurses, meaning they have passed a licensing exam after earning a credential such as an associate degree from a two-year college or a diploma from a hospital-based...
Austin trustees approve plan to leave some schools without nurses

Austin trustees approve plan to leave some schools without nurses

The Austin school board Monday night approved a $7.1 million student health services plan that will continue to leave some campuses without a school nurse and others with a part-time nurse. The new contract also eliminates school mental health therapists from 16 schools. Seton Healthcare Family, which has provided the district’s student medical services for 22 years, will provide 75 nurses and...
Austin trustees approve $1.4B budget, with 1.5-percent teacher raises

Austin trustees approve $1.4B budget, with 1.5-percent teacher raises

The Austin school board Monday night adopted a $1.4 billion general budget, which requires dipping into its reserves for nearly $30 million to cover the district’s shortfall. It is the second consecutive year the district will need to pull from its fund balance to cover expenses. The board voted 7 to 1, with Trustee Ted Gordon voting against. Gordon said he wouldn’t support the budget...
Austin nonprofit under fire for housing thousands of migrant children

Austin nonprofit under fire for housing thousands of migrant children

Even as it’s being criticized for taking in children separated from their parents crossing without legal permission at the southern border, an Austin-based nonprofit that runs 16 shelters in Texas is asking state regulators for permission to house more children. Southwest Key Programs perhaps is best known locally for its education programs, including East Austin College Prep, a public charter...
ACC celebrates renovated, revitalized African American Cultural Center

ACC celebrates renovated, revitalized African American Cultural Center

Austin Community College has completed a renovation of its African American Cultural Center, and a celebration Monday showcased the center’s artifacts as well as palpable enthusiasm about the need for cross-cultural appreciation during turbulent racial times. The center has existed for years at ACC’s Eastview campus, offering movies, financial aid advice, motivational speakers...
Austin board to vote on plan that leaves some schools without nurses

Austin board to vote on plan that leaves some schools without nurses

Despite outcry from parents and medical professionals who lobbied for more nurses in Austin schools, trustees at tonight’s board meeting are expected to approve a new health services contract that continues to leave some campuses without one. Administrators are recommending a $7.1 million student health services contract with Seton Family of Hospitals, which has provided the Austin district...
Austin school board on path to deplete district reserves in 3 years

Austin school board on path to deplete district reserves in 3 years

As Austin school board members on Monday weigh a $775.2 million operating budget, their spending plan for the 2018-19 school year is overshadowed by future budget forecasts that threaten the school system’s solvency. For the second consecutive year, the district will pass a budget with a deficit – this year $29 million — and pull from its reserves to cover the expenses. If the district...
FINAL VOTE: Texas panel OKs Mexican-American course name change

FINAL VOTE: Texas panel OKs Mexican-American course name change

The State Board of Education unanimously approved Friday a new name for a social studies elective course in public high schools focusing on the history of Mexican-Americans. “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies” replaces “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” which drew criticism for not having “Mexican American” in the course title...
A&M System’s charge at Los Alamos includes improving safety culture

A&M System’s charge at Los Alamos includes improving safety culture

Texas A&M University System officials were thrilled earlier this month when the system and its two partners won the contract to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb. Now comes the hard part: changing the lab’s culture to improve safety, security and efficiency. The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous arm of the...
Austin schools leader proposes spending $1.7 million on safety measures

Austin schools leader proposes spending $1.7 million on safety measures

Austin school district leaders want to spend $1.7 million in its upcoming budget on more police officers and cameras, enhanced background checks, and a bus tracking system, Superintendent Paul Cruz said in a letter Wednesday. “The safety of our students is our most important priority, especially as events throughout the state and nation continue to affect them,” Cruz said, without...
Texas panel tentatively OKs using ‘Mexican American’ in course title

Texas panel tentatively OKs using ‘Mexican American’ in course title

Heeding the calls of scholars and activists who said a proposed name for a Mexican-American studies course was insulting, the State Board of Education tentatively approved changing the name Wednesday. Instead of “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” the high school social studies elective course will be called “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies&rdquo...
Texas panel tentatively OKs restoring ‘Mexican American’ in course title

Texas panel tentatively OKs restoring ‘Mexican American’ in course title

Heeding the calls of scholars and activists who said a proposed name for a Mexican-American studies course was insulting, the State Board of Education tentatively approved changing the name Wednesday. Instead of “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” the high school social studies elective course will be called “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies&rdquo...
12 percent of Austin students have safety concerns, a new survey shows

12 percent of Austin students have safety concerns, a new survey shows

About 4,600 students in the Austin school district, or 12 percent of students questioned, said they never feel safe at school or only feel safe “a little,” according to the annual survey done by the district. The percentage of students who said they felt safe at school dropped 4 percentage points since the 2016-17 school year to 87 percent this year. The 2017-18 survey, completed by more...
Idea of arming teachers draws sharp response at Capitol hearing

Idea of arming teachers draws sharp response at Capitol hearing

The prospect of arming teachers and administrators to counter school shooters drew a sharp response Tuesday as a special committee of the Texas Senate held its second hearing in two days on school safety. Opponents said the practice has not been shown to improve safety, places a massive responsibility on already overwhelmed teachers and fosters a siege mentality that damages the learning environment...
Will Republican-led Texas panel put ‘Mexican-American’ in course name?

Will Republican-led Texas panel put ‘Mexican-American’ in course name?

Dozens of scholars and activists called Tuesday on the State Board of Education to change the name of a new statewide Mexican-American studies course to include the term “Mexican-American.” The Republican-led board voted in April to start developing the curriculum for a high school social studies elective course called “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent...
Mexican-Americans call on Texas panel to change course name

Mexican-Americans call on Texas panel to change course name

1:30 p.m. update: About 40 Mexican-American activists and scholars have signed up to speak to the State Board of Education to ask members to change the name of a new Mexican-American studies course. Instead of “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” they want the course to be called “Mexican-American Studies.” About 10 people have spoken so far including...
Fewer Austin students feel safe at school, new survey shows

Fewer Austin students feel safe at school, new survey shows

About 4,600 students in the Austin school district, or 12 percent of students questioned, said they never feel safe at school or only feel safe “a little,” according to the annual survey done by the district. The percentage of students who said they felt safe at school dropped 4 percentage points since the 2016-17 school year to 87 percent this year. The 2017-18 survey, completed by more...
Lockhart ISD board names Mark Estrada as lone superintendent finalist

Lockhart ISD board names Mark Estrada as lone superintendent finalist

The Lockhart school board has tapped Assistant Superintendent Mark Estrada to lead the 5,900-student district. The trustees voted Monday night to name Estrada as the lone finalist for superintendent, but state law mandates the board must wait 21 days to offer him a contract. “I am humbled by the opportunity to be selected to lead Lockhart ISD,” Estrada said in a statement released by the...
Texas senators tackle school safety, call for more guns in classrooms

Texas senators tackle school safety, call for more guns in classrooms

As Texas lawmakers took their turn Monday to consider ways to prevent school shootings, they found little consensus on whether schools should be equipped with metal detectors or teachers should be allowed to carry guns. Monday’s discussion in a select committee of state senators kicked off a series of Capitol hearings expected over the next few months as state officials continue to respond to...
Ousted principal at high school in Taylor fights proposed termination

Ousted principal at high school in Taylor fights proposed termination

A former high school principal in Taylor is fighting for her job after the school board replaced her and proposed to terminate her contract. Rosemary Kelly, the former principal of Legacy Early College High School, said she thinks “voicing” her concerns to officials about a student who returned to school after making a terroristic threat prompted the board’s decision May 21. &ldquo...
Central Texas authorities thwart potential school violence

Central Texas authorities thwart potential school violence

As Texas grapples with the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School mass shooting, attention has focused on what went wrong and what more can be done to prevent future similar tragedies. But for every mass shooting, many more potential acts of violence are thwarted in Texas schools, providing valuable lessons in keeping schools safe. “It’s hard to quantify how many incidents are thwarted...
Group including Texas A&M System wins contract to run Los Alamos lab

Group including Texas A&M System wins contract to run Los Alamos lab

A team consisting of the Texas A&M University System, the University of California and Battelle Memorial Institute has won a contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, a major part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, federal officials announced Friday. The contract for the team, known as Triad National Security LLC, includes a five-year base with five one-year options, for up to 10...
Texas A&M System part of team winning contract to run Los Alamos

Texas A&M System part of team winning contract to run Los Alamos

A team consisting of the Texas A&M University System, the University of California and Battelle Memorial Institute has won a contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, a major part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, federal officials announced Friday. The contract for the team, known as Triad National Security LLC, includes a five-year base with five one-year options, for a total...
If you went to this Texas university, you’re more likely to get a job

If you went to this Texas university, you’re more likely to get a job

If you went to school at this Texas university, you have a great chance of landing a job after graduation. And no, it’s not the University of Texas. Or Texas A&M. Or Rice, or Baylor, or any of the ones you’re thinking about. RELATED: Rice, Texas A&M universities top UT Austin on Forbes list of ‘Best Value Colleges’ It’s actually McMurry University, a private...
New Austin school district police chief does not want to arm teachers

New Austin school district police chief does not want to arm teachers

Austin school district’s new police chief plans to protect students without arming teachers, he said Thursday. Austin school district Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez discussed school safety in his first public appearance at the district’s downtown headquarters Thursday. Gonzalez replaced former Chief Eric Mendez, who left nearly a year ago for a job at the Cypress-Fairbanks school district...
Austin school district introduces recently picked police chief to public

Austin school district introduces recently picked police chief to public

The Austin school district’s new campus police chief, Ashley Gonzalez, will introduce himself to the community with a question-and-answer session with reporters Thursday morning. Gonzalez, who was selected at the end of April after a nationwide search, previously served as the deputy chief of police in Norwalk, Conn. The veteran cop is bilingual and was the first Hispanic deputy chief of...
KLRU-TV to move from longtime UT home to ACC’s Highland campus

KLRU-TV to move from longtime UT home to ACC’s Highland campus

KLRU, the public television station that has operated from the University of Texas since it went on the air in 1962, will move to Austin Community College’s Highland campus in 2020, where it will have more space as well as an expanded role in community initiatives and workforce development. “This is going to be a great collaboration,” Richard Rhodes, ACC’s president and...
TEARFUL GOODBYE: Austin’s beloved Doss Elementary closes for rebuild

TEARFUL GOODBYE: Austin’s beloved Doss Elementary closes for rebuild

Wade Owens took a Sharpie and printed his name, his wife Jennifer’s name, and the names of their three children on the concrete wall at Doss Elementary, along with the dates that each of them attended the school in Northwest Austin. All of them walked the same halls, going back to 1978. They even had a few of the same teachers. The Owenses are one of several families with two generations...
Voters in Pflugerville school district to consider joining ACC

Voters in Pflugerville school district to consider joining ACC

Austin Community College trustees are one step closer to scheduling a November election for voters in the Pflugerville school district to decide whether to become part of ACC’s taxing territory. The trustees certified a petition Monday evening from residents of the school district who want to put the annexation question on the ballot. The Pflugerville Friends 4 ACC committee collected signatures...
Austin school transformation plan sputters after board president’s ouster

Austin school transformation plan sputters after board president’s ouster

The Austin school district’s plan to tap millions in state funding to help low-performing schools is in jeopardy after a lack of interest from its campuses and the ouster of a school board president who once appeared to support it. Administrators initially looked to the state’s Transformation Zone program as a way to boost up to eight struggling schools in North and Northeast Austin...

Texas takes it: Dallas-area kids are tops at National Spelling Bee

The end of the biggest Scripps National Spelling Bee in history came abruptly, and it wasn’t the conclusion that many expected. Naysa Modi, a poised and charismatic four-time participant whose long spelling career seemed to be building toward triumph, sat next to a newcomer whom she had already beaten this year — at the county level back in Texas. But 12-year-old Naysa blinked immediately...
Central Texas school officials’ reaction mixed on Abbott’s safety plan

Central Texas school officials’ reaction mixed on Abbott’s safety plan

Central Texas school district officials offered mixed reviews of Gov. Greg Abbott’s school security plan, with many applauding his suggestions to improve mental health services but not embracing his idea to arm more teachers with guns. Already grappling with dwindling state education spending in recent years and with no long-term funding allocated for Abbott’s plan, district officials...
McRaven leaves methane issue on UT lands for his successor

McRaven leaves methane issue on UT lands for his successor

Bill McRaven, whose last day as chancellor of the University of Texas System was Thursday, has left a question about methane emissions from system-owned oil and gas lands in West Texas to his successor. The question: whether to convene a task force to reduce releases of what is considered a significant contributor to global warming. The retired president of Shell Oil Co., a prominent Austin real estate...
UT Austin, Texas A&M included in ranking of top universities in the world

UT Austin, Texas A&M included in ranking of top universities in the world

How about another accolade for the University of Texas at Austin? The university secured the No. 36 spot on the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. The list is based on the results of an “invitation-only opinion survey of senior, published academics.”  Last year, the Austin university was ranked No. 32 on the U.S. News and World Report “Best Global Universities&rdquo...
Lead detected in drinking water at five Austin schools, new data show

Lead detected in drinking water at five Austin schools, new data show

Lead has been detected in the drinking water of five Austin schools, new data released this week show. Boone and Patton elementaries, Bailey and Covington middle schools and Lanier High School all tested positive for lead, Austin district officials confirm. The lead levels in the water at the schools were slightly higher than 1 part of lead per billion parts of water, according to the district. One...
Former UT president Faulkner to step in as system’s interim chancellor

Former UT president Faulkner to step in as system’s interim chancellor

When Larry Faulkner stepped down in 2006 after nearly eight years as president of the University of Texas, he predicted correctly that he wouldn’t pursue “a leisure existence.” Since then, he has served as president of a charitable foundation for six years; chairman of a national panel to advance the teaching and learning of math; head of a committee that reviewed admissions practices...
Abbott to unveil school safety plan after Santa Fe shooting

Abbott to unveil school safety plan after Santa Fe shooting

Responding to the May 18 attack that left 10 dead at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott plans to unveil policies aimed at reducing gun violence in schools during two events Wednesday in Dallas and San Marcos. Abbott’s announcement gave no details about his proposals beyond noting that the Dallas event will start at 10:30 a.m., followed by a 2 p.m. event at the Hays County Law Enforcement...
A day in the life of an Austin teacher

A day in the life of an Austin teacher

It’s 7:30 a.m., and Juan Haney is preparing to welcome students into his classroom at Mendez Middle School in Southeast Austin. This workday, like many of Haney’s, will stretch for nearly 12 hours. In addition to teaching six periods of seventh-grade science, Haney will complete a smorgasbord of other tasks that include participating in a conference for a student in need of therapy services...
Friends, family, an 'impossible dream': Watch UT student president's inspiring commencement speech

Friends, family, an 'impossible dream': Watch UT student president's inspiring commencement speech

School just wrapped up for graduating Longhorns, but before those students left the Forty Acres, they got a quick life lesson from one of their own.  At this spring’s university-wide commencement ceremony, UT-Austin’s first Latina and physically disabled student president, Alejandrina Guzman, gave a powerful speech about helping others.  Guzman spoke about her family&rsquo...
Girls complete volunteer challenge

Girls complete volunteer challenge

To commemorate its 15th anniversary, the Girls’ School of Austin launched a ‘15 Years 15 Hours’ challenge to their students faculty, and staff. The goal was for each girl to volunteer 15 hours over the course of the school year on their own time. Ultimately, all 150 girls participated in the community service challenge with 66 girls reaching the goal of 15 hours before the end of...
As Austin district cuts student suspensions 30%, some raise concerns

As Austin district cuts student suspensions 30%, some raise concerns

Fewer Austin students are being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, as district leaders attempt to move away from traditional punishments that hinder their learning and keep students in school instead. Administrators handed out 3,675 home suspensions this school year, 32 percent fewer than last year. The data from mid-April, the most recent available, show the district will meet its target...
Long-awaited ACC campus about to open in Leander

Long-awaited ACC campus about to open in Leander

Leander has been waiting a long time for this. Thirty-three years after property owners in the Leander school district began paying taxes to Austin Community College, ACC is about to open a campus here. Dubbed San Gabriel, for the river fed by a nearby tributary, the campus will host a grand opening celebration Wednesday, with classes starting Aug. 27. “We could not be more pleased that it&rsquo...
Herman: My turn at the wheel of the school bus

Herman: My turn at the wheel of the school bus

The wheels on the bus, as generations of gleeful children have told us in song, go round and round, round and round, round and round. But those school bus wheels don’t go anywhere unless there’s somebody behind the wheel at the driver’s seat. On a recent Saturday, I was that somebody. Oh, don’t worry. There were no kids on the bus and I was not allowed to leave the bus parking...
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