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Education

Texas Senate resurrects school finance, ‘school choice’ bill

Texas Senate resurrects school finance, ‘school choice’ bill

House Bill 21, the school finance and school choice bill that was declared dead earlier this week, might have been resurrected. Without much discussion, the Texas Senate on Saturday appointed senators to a conference committee to hash out differences in the bill with members of the House, who were appointed on Wednesday. Without a compromise by midnight Saturday, HB 21 is dead — again. Senate...

Instead of cuts, UT would get 3 percent increase in appropriations

The University of Texas at Austin, whose budget seemed to be on the chopping block a few weeks ago, instead would see a 3 percent increase in legislative appropriations under the two-year state spending plan approved by a House-Senate conference committee. Senate Bill 1, which the two chambers will consider this weekend, would provide a total of $835.6 million to the flagship campus for the 2018 and...
Campus sex assault reporting measures gain traction, Abbott’s support

Campus sex assault reporting measures gain traction, Abbott’s support

A package of measures addressing sexual assault involving college students has come together in recent days, with two bills bound for Gov. Greg Abbott and a third expected to be approved this weekend by the House and Senate. The measures include protections against prosecution and other sanctions for underage drinking by victims or witnesses of sexual assault who report such incidents, as well as...
To send students to quiet rooms, Texas educators must follow 7 rules

To send students to quiet rooms, Texas educators must follow 7 rules

A Bastrop mom this week posted a photo on Facebook of a padded room where she found her son without supervision, sparking outrage over the practice. A similar controversy flared up in New Braunfels in 2015. Here are seven rules Texas educators must follow when sending students to such quiet rooms: 1. Time out rooms, also called cool down, calm, quiet or safe rooms, are permissible by the state for...
Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans would have us believe that few issues require the immediate attention of state lawmakers more than regulating which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. Such urgency for a manufactured problem conjured by Republicans has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with mandating the type of bathrooms transgender Texans, including students, can use in...
School-rule amnesty in sex assault cases bill sent to governor

School-rule amnesty in sex assault cases bill sent to governor

A college student who is a victim of or witness to a sexual assault would have amnesty for violating the school’s code of conduct at or near the time of the incident under legislation headed to Gov. Greg Abbott. The Texas Senate approved the measure on a 30-1 vote Thursday evening. Senate Bill 969, authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, is intended to encourage reporting of sexual assault among...
Texas Senate trims House bills to address STAAR, A-F rating system

Texas Senate trims House bills to address STAAR, A-F rating system

The Texas Senate early Thursday passed stripped-down versions of House bills that would address state standardized tests and how the state evaluates school districts and campuses starting in 2018. House Bill 22, which passed 29-2, would reduce the number of categories from five to four in which schools and districts would be graded under the A-F accountability system. Those categories would evaluate...
Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Our schools should be safe places for our children and youth to learn and advance. The toughest challenges they face should be solving math problems and choosing a career and college path. With Senate Bill 7 now signed into law in Texas, we have taken much-needed steps to forever bar from our classrooms any teacher who would prey on our students and to penalize administrators who turn a blind eye...
Gov. Abbott: ‘Plenty of time’ to avoid special legislative session

Gov. Abbott: ‘Plenty of time’ to avoid special legislative session

Gov. Greg Abbott said on Thursday that he is not yet ready to talk about a special session to address what he considers insufficient efforts to restrict bathroom use by transgender people and rein in property taxes. The regular legislative session ends Monday. “We’ve got plenty of time to continue in this regular session. I think it is highly inappropriate for a football player playing...
New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

New Texas law aims to crack down on teacher misconduct with students

Superintendents and principals who intentionally hide improper relationships between students and teachers will now face jail time. Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law Senate Bill 7, one of the priority bills this legislative session that’s aimed at cracking down on the rising number of cases of improper relationships between students and teachers. “Unfortunately, a small number...
Special House-Senate panel expected to review higher ed funding

Special House-Senate panel expected to review higher ed funding

The state’s approach to funding the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and other institutions of higher education would undergo a top-to-bottom review by a special committee of the Legislature under a recommendation by House and Senate budget negotiators. Such a review could lead to major changes in how legislative appropriations are divvied up among the schools. Of course, any such exercise...
Austin trustee candidate lapsed in filing taxes, paying child support

Austin trustee candidate lapsed in filing taxes, paying child support

The likely front-runner to fill a vacated Austin school board seat failed to file his income taxes for several years and lapsed in paying child support for months, both which resulted in liens against him, records show. Seton Healthcare Family executive Geronimo Rodriguez Jr., who is seeking to represent South Austin in the District 6 seat vacated mid-term by Trustee Paul Saldaña, had liens...
Rep. Giddings revives ‘school lunch shaming’ measure in Texas House

Rep. Giddings revives ‘school lunch shaming’ measure in Texas House

After her measure to end so-called school lunch shaming died at the hands of tea party-aligned Republicans, state Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, successfully tacked it onto a separate bill on Wednesday. Giddings’ amendment to Senate Bill 1566, which passed 138-4, would require school boards to adopt a policy allowing a two-week grace period for students with no money on their meal accounts to...
House, Senate disagreement on ‘vouchers’ kills school funding bill

House, Senate disagreement on ‘vouchers’ kills school funding bill

The prospect of Texas public schools getting any additional money over the next two years is gone. The Texas House on Wednesday took yet another overwhelming vote against so-called school choice, which would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition. Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said the move killed House Bill 21, which over the last few weeks has...
Texas House tentatively approves allowing guns in school parking lots

Texas House tentatively approves allowing guns in school parking lots

The Texas House on Tuesday tentatively approved a measure that would allow school employees to store guns in their cars parked on school property. The provision, along with several others related to public schools, was tacked onto Senate Bill 1566, which would make changes to how school boards operate. The gun amendment originally was proposed in standalone House Bill 1692 by Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mt...
Middle school official accused of choking 10-year-old at roller rink

Middle school official accused of choking 10-year-old at roller rink

An assistant vice principal in the Round Rock school district was arrested Monday after Austin police accused him of choking a stranger’s child at a roller rink. Police say Chad Warren Sanders assaulted the 10-year-old at Playland Skate Center in North Austin on May 12 after refusing to let the boy have some leftover food from a party reserved by his wife, an arrest affidavit says. Sanders,...
Assistant vice principal accused of choking child at North Austin roller rink

Assistant vice principal accused of choking child at North Austin roller rink

An assistant vice principal in the Round Rock school district was arrested Monday after Austin police accused him of choking a stranger’s child at a roller rink. Police say Chad Warren Sanders assaulted the 10-year-old at Playland Skate Center in North Austin on May 12 after the boy had asked if he could have some leftover food from a party, an arrest affidavit says. Sanders, 40, was booked...
Lawmaker circumvents Texas Legislature to address school lunch shaming

Lawmaker circumvents Texas Legislature to address school lunch shaming

After tea party-aligned legislators in the Texas House derailed her so-called school lunch shaming bill, Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, is circumventing the Texas Legislature to address a problem she has identified in public schools. During a news conference on Tuesday, Giddings announced that her office has partnered with Feeding Texas, a nonprofit whose mission is to end hunger in Texas, to launch...
No UT students currently in Manchester through university programs, officials confirm

No UT students currently in Manchester through university programs, officials confirm

No University of Texas students are currently on official university travel in Manchester, England, where an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert killed 19 people and injured about 50 others, university officials confirmed. Still, the school’s international office is in the process of contacting students currently or soon to be studying abroad in the United Kingdom to verify...
Barbara Smith Conrad, 79, remembered as renowned singer, trailblazer

Barbara Smith Conrad, 79, remembered as renowned singer, trailblazer

Barbara Smith Conrad, a world-renowned opera singer who was part of the small first group of African-American students to receive their undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas, died Monday. She was 79. Her life is the topic of the documentary “When I Rise,” which was produced by UT’s Briscoe Center for American History in 2010 and still airs on PBS periodically. &ldquo...
School funding bill fate uncertain because of school choice

School funding bill fate uncertain because of school choice

The Texas Senate early Monday approved a bill, 21-10, that would inject about $530 million into the public education system while creating a so-called school choice system that would redirect state money to help special education students pay for private school tuition. The bill, however, faces an uncertain fate — the Senate has made it clear that House Bill 21 dies if school choice isn&rsquo...
Texas House passes bill to extend STAAR reprieve until 2021

Texas House passes bill to extend STAAR reprieve until 2021

The Texas House on Tuesday approved 141-2 a Senate bill that would extend for four years a policy allowing students to graduate high school even if they fail up to two state standardized tests. A high school senior who has failed up to two end-of-course State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness but has passed all classes and fulfilled other requirements can graduate as long as a committee made...
Bill to shift Muny to state parks unit dies — but could return in 2019

Bill to shift Muny to state parks unit dies — but could return in 2019

The University of Texas has dodged a chip shot: proposed legislation that would have forced it to preserve Lions Municipal Golf Course. UT and the other 36 public universities in the state also avoided legislatively imposed limits on tuition. And a measure allowing some junior colleges — Austin Community College among them — to seek approval to offer bachelor’s degrees in a handful...
Commentary: Texas should follow New Mexico’s plan to end ‘lunch shaming’

Commentary: Texas should follow New Mexico’s plan to end ‘lunch shaming’

The lunchroom is an aspect of school that some remember fondly — a place for friendships to be formed, dates to be asked or potential food fights to be averted. For many others, the lunchroom experience is one of shame, humiliation and — at best — a cold cheese sandwich. When a child can’t pay a school lunch bill, the school will hold the child publicly accountable, meaning...
Texas House tentatively OKs bill to continue STAAR reprieve until 2021

Texas House tentatively OKs bill to continue STAAR reprieve until 2021

The Texas House on Monday tentatively approved a Senate bill that would extend for four years a policy allowing students to graduate high school even if they fail up to two state standardized tests. A high school senior who has failed up to two end-of-course State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness but has passed all classes and fulfilled other requirements can graduate as long as a committee...
Texas Senate passes school finance, school ‘voucher’ bill

Texas Senate passes school finance, school ‘voucher’ bill

The Texas Senate approved 21-10 a bill early Monday morning that would inject about $530 million into the public education system while creating a so-called school choice system that would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition. House Bill 21, originally would have injected $1.6 billion extra into the public school system through updating and adding various elements to...
Texas school grades: Nonprofit gives Austin-area campuses high marks

Texas school grades: Nonprofit gives Austin-area campuses high marks

Schools in the Austin district still outpace their urban peers, with most scoring A’s and B’s, but 29 percent continue to lag behind in academic performance, according to the latest ratings by Houston-based nonprofit Children at Risk, which annually ranks campuses in the state’s largest urban areas. “Austin is one of those bright spots in the state,” said Children at...
Cedar Park, Westlake, Vandegrift schools take home top robotics awards

Cedar Park, Westlake, Vandegrift schools take home top robotics awards

Three Austin area schools took home top honors at the 2017 University Interscholastic League state robotics championship this weekend, handcrafting robots from the ground-up and pitting them head-to-head in the competition. Vista Ridge High School’s team “Static Void” and Westlake High School’s all-girls “Philobots” were crowned state champions, alongside a team...

House signs off on bachelor’s degree at ACC, campus sex assault bills

Legislation that would allow certain public junior colleges, including Austin Community College, to offer bachelor’s degrees in some workforce-oriented fields was approved by the Texas House on Saturday. The House also signed off on two measures addressing campus sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking. It’s starting to become clear where these and other higher...
Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

We urge Austin school district trustees to craft a bond package that is transparent, efficient and equitable and avoid waging an all-or-nothing gamble that might backfire with voters and leave schools — some in deep disrepair — in the lurch. Unfortunately, some school leaders seem headed in that direction by leaning toward a bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot that would offer voters a single...
Austin student, 11, hacks smart toy, wows security experts in Europe

Austin student, 11, hacks smart toy, wows security experts in Europe

Austin fifth-grader Reuben Paul this week gave cyber security experts an important lesson: any connected smart toy can be weaponized. The 11-year-old Harmony School of Science Austin student on Tuesday hacked into his smart toy teddy bear and first turned on and off the LED, then proceeded to stealthily flip on the microphone of the teddy bear, transforming into a spying device and recording the audience...

House approves underage-drinking amnesty in reporting sex assaults

The Texas House on Friday gave final approval to a measure granting underage-drinking amnesty to a minor who reports a sexual assault, as well as preliminary approval to two other bills dealing with campus sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence and stalking. All three measures were authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin. Senate Bill 966, which now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott, would amend...
Senate expected to consider school finance, school choice bill Sunday

Senate expected to consider school finance, school choice bill Sunday

The Texas Senate could consider and vote as early as Sunday evening on a House bill that would create a so-called school choice system while fixing various elements of the school finance system. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said he is still making some final tweaks to House Bill 21 originally filed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston. He confirmed that the changes that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick revealed...
Senate approves bill to ban suspension of Texas’ youngest students

Senate approves bill to ban suspension of Texas’ youngest students

The Texas Senate passed a bill Wednesday, 17-13, that would bar school officials from suspending students in third grade and lower. Senate Bill 370, by state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, makes some exceptions for violent behavior, bringing a weapon onto school property or dealing drugs or alcohol. The House passed a similar bill last week. “It’s hard for me to even imagine what a little...
St. Edward’s campus placed on lockdown Tuesday for police search

St. Edward’s campus placed on lockdown Tuesday for police search

ST. EDWARD’S UNIVERSITY Campus placed on lockdown for search St. Edward’s University police placed the campus on lockdown Tuesday evening while Austin police searched for two people following a robbery at the parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart. Police said they received on Tuesday a report of a robbery, possibly at gunpoint, in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart at Ben White Boulevard and Interstate...
Two Views: Why cuts to school funding would undo classroom innovation

Two Views: Why cuts to school funding would undo classroom innovation

At IDEA Public Schools, we believe that every student has the potential to matriculate to and through college. We also understand the value that academic enrichment and character-development programming provide to ensure students are spending adequate time studying after school and are preparing for the rigors of college. Programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, funded by the...
Two Views: How Texas’ pre-K programs keep students on path to college

Two Views: How Texas’ pre-K programs keep students on path to college

In 1985, the Texas Legislature began funding prekindergarten for eligible children. Over the years, our state has seen a significant return on that investment. Students who participated in public pre-K in 1999 persist in college today at a rate 6.8 percent higher than their peers who were eligible but did not attend public pre-K, according to a 2017 report from the Texas Education Agency. As commissioner...
House plans to counter Patrick’s school finance offer with no ‘vouchers’

House plans to counter Patrick’s school finance offer with no ‘vouchers’

5:20 p.m. update: House Education Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, told the American-Statesman Wednesday afternoon that he’s standing firm in opposing any voucher program but would support more tutoring and charter school funding for special education students. The move comes in response to a deal offered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that included school choice — a non-start for a majority...
UT study: Banned internet-supervised abortions are safe

UT study: Banned internet-supervised abortions are safe

University of Texas research into abortion has yielded a conclusion in stark contrast to state law: Abortions properly supervised over the internet are safe for women. In Ireland and Northern Ireland, where abortion is a criminal offense in most cases, women are increasingly turning to organizations such as Women on Web, a nonprofit that provides abortion-inducing medicines and remote real-time instruction...
AISD letter: No proof of sex assault at Boone Elementary

AISD letter: No proof of sex assault at Boone Elementary

The Austin school district sent a letter home to Boone Elementary School parents Tuesday afternoon informing them of the Travis County District Attorney’s office decision that there is “insufficient evidence to support the allegation of sexual assault” of a 4-year-old student. On Friday, the American-Statesman reported that Travis County prosecutors completed their investigation...
Police: Fredericksburg High School evacuated after bomb threat

Police: Fredericksburg High School evacuated after bomb threat

Police evacuated Fredericksburg High School after receiving reports of a bomb threat on Tuesday morning. Fredericksburg police said authorities were sent out to the school at 10:41 a.m. after a student called in to report a text message from an unknown suspect who said a device was inside the school. Both students and faculty exited the buildings and a nearby primary school was locked down while...
Power restored in Kyle after outage knocks out electricity at Hays County schools

Power restored in Kyle after outage knocks out electricity at Hays County schools

The lights went out across a swath of Hays County — including at several public schools — for about a half-hour Tuesday morning as a power out hit the Kyle area, authorities said.  However, authorities said that initial information posted to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s website suggesting that thousands were affected by the outage was inaccurate. Instead, PEC spokeswoman...
House panel advances Senate bill to loosen STAAR requirements

House panel advances Senate bill to loosen STAAR requirements

As the legislative session draws to a close in less than two weeks, bills that would reduce state standardized test requirements in Texas are nearing the finish the line. The House Public Education Committee approved a Senate bill on Tuesday, 9-0, that would continue for two more years a reprieve that allows high school seniors to graduate even if they fail up to two State of Texas Assessments of...
Teacher misconduct crackdown sent to Gov. Abbott

Teacher misconduct crackdown sent to Gov. Abbott

Alarmed by a sharp increase in reports of teacher misconduct, Texas lawmakers have sent legislation to Gov. Greg Abbott that would crack down on inappropriate relationships between educators and students. Senate Bill 7 received final approval Monday after the Texas Senate agreed to changes made by the House. The measure received unanimous approval in both houses. “This is one of my highest priorities...
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