Education

Split vote likely on removing Confederate names from Austin schools

Split vote likely on removing Confederate names from Austin schools

A split vote is expected Monday night as the Austin school board decides whether to remove Confederate names from five campuses. At least five of trustees, the minimum needed to move the measure forward, have expressed support for the measure. But others on the board continue to raise concerns about the name changes, saying the board’s action on the matter has felt very top-down because it was...
Ideology tops facts in Texas history curriculum, experts say

Ideology tops facts in Texas history curriculum, experts say

When the State Board of Education last produced history curriculum guidelines for public schools, experts complained that its members were attempting to promote religious and conservative ideology over facts. Now the state is considering revisions to the 2010 standards, which a group of academics slammed in a report last week. Among their complaints: lessons downplaying slavery as the Civil War&rsquo...
Texas teachers, officers buck Trump’s idea to arm teachers with guns

Texas teachers, officers buck Trump’s idea to arm teachers with guns

Texas teachers, school district officials and school resource officers are panning President Donald Trump’s idea to arm more educators, even as state law already permits certain teachers to carry guns into classrooms. “As superintendent, I don’t believe most teachers would welcome the idea of being armed,” Round Rock school Superintendent Steve Flores said. “While they...
Police ID teen accused of threats to Akins High School

Police ID teen accused of threats to Akins High School

A 17-year-old accused of making threats to shoot up and bomb Akins High School was released Friday from the Travis County Jail, posting bail on charges that carry the possibility of 10 years in prison, according to court records. After a campus lockdown and police search, Ariel Alex Ramirez Navarro was taken into custody about 10:25 a.m. Thursday at the Southpark Meadows shopping center in South Austin...
About 1,500 Austin students protest, demand stricter gun control laws

About 1,500 Austin students protest, demand stricter gun control laws

At least 1,500 Austin students walked out of classes Friday to demand stricter gun laws in the second day of local demonstrations this week after the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people. Students in at least five middle schools and two high schools in Austin, with the largest gatherings at Bailey Middle School and Anderson High School, participated Friday in the...
PolitiFact: Patrick’s teacher raise idea didn’t actually supply money

PolitiFact: Patrick’s teacher raise idea didn’t actually supply money

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says in a campaign video posted in advance of the March primary that he’s championed a big bump in teacher pay. The Houston Republican, who seeks a second term as lieutenant governor, says: “Last year, I proposed directing more of the education budget to teacher salaries, a move that would have resulted in an average $10,000 raise for teachers.” That&rsquo...
SCHOOL WALKOUTS: Anderson High School students join demonstrations demanding gun control

SCHOOL WALKOUTS: Anderson High School students join demonstrations demanding gun control

1:20 p.m. update: Students at Anderson High School in northwest Austin walked out of their classrooms on Friday afternoon, joining several demonstrations throughout Austin to demand stricter gun laws. About 400 students huddled near the front of the high school carrying signs, observing 17 minutes of silence to honor the 17 students who were killed in a shooting in Florida last week...
Teen charged with making threats, prompts Akins High lockdown

Teen charged with making threats, prompts Akins High lockdown

A 17-year-old former student was arrested after he “threatened to shoot and blow up” Akins High School on Thursday, the Austin school district police chief said. The teen, who up until two weeks ago had been a student, made threats in person at the school and on a school bus, interim Chief Chris Evoy said. Police seized a magazine and ammunition from him, but no gun, the chief said. The...
These Texas schools, including St. Edward’s, are ideal for B students, study says

These Texas schools, including St. Edward’s, are ideal for B students, study says

You know what they say: C’s get degrees. But wouldn’t you feel a little better getting a B instead? U.S. News & World Report compiled a list of “A-Plus Schools for B Students,” ranking universities and colleges that “accept a significant number of students with nonstratospheric transcripts.” Each college on the list had to admit a “meaningful...
Hundreds of Austin-area students walk out in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of Austin-area students walk out in wake of Florida shooting

Nearly 500 students at schools across Central Texas staged walkouts Wednesday to demand safer campus policies, call for stricter gun laws and show their solidarity with students in Florida after a high school shooting there that left 17 people dead. The demonstrations came one week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and amid a nationwide call for stronger...
In two days, two handguns left unattended in women’s restrooms at UT

In two days, two handguns left unattended in women’s restrooms at UT

In the space of two days this week, handguns were left unattended in two women’s restrooms at the University of Texas. A holstered pistol was found Tuesday on top of a toilet paper dispenser in a restroom stall at the Graduate School of Business building on the main campus, said Cindy Posey, a university spokeswoman. Then, on Wednesday, a pistol was found in a bathroom at the Commons Learning...
Commentary: Why Texas classrooms aren’t silent about Florida shooting

Commentary: Why Texas classrooms aren’t silent about Florida shooting

I hate lying to kids. I hate watching a naiveté they think they’ve long outgrown die in their tearless eyes. Most of all, I hate the idea that kids’ lives are worth less than an adult’s political expediency. Because I value kids’ lives, I refuse to lie to them about adults. Hence the end of innocence. It started with the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School...
Officials investigate Lockhart High coach after complaints

Officials investigate Lockhart High coach after complaints

Wednesday update: Earlier: Officials are investigating a Lockhart High School coach after administrators learned of complaints against him, the Lockhart school district superintendent said in an email to parents Tuesday. Coach Zach Underwood was placed on administrative leave Thursday, Lockhart Superintendent Susan Bohn wrote. The school district also notified local law enforcement and has notified...
BOIL-WATER ALERT: No drinking water at Lake Travis Middle School on Tuesday

BOIL-WATER ALERT: No drinking water at Lake Travis Middle School on Tuesday

A boil-water advisory has been issued Tuesday for Lake Travis Middle School that bars students and staff from using the running water on campus, according to a letter from the school to parents. Under the advisory issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, students and staff will be unable to use water fountains, ice makers, filtered water dispensers and sinks on campus Tuesday, the...
Should Austin ISD change Confederate school names? Give your input

Should Austin ISD change Confederate school names? Give your input

As Austin district trustees near a vote on whether to change school names with ties to the Confederacy, community members this week will get a chance to give input on the proposal. The public can provide feedback, starting tonight, on school namesakes during two community conversations. District leaders will provide historical context surrounding school names and will facilitate small group discussions...
UT alum earns place in Longhorn Band history with $12 million donation

UT alum earns place in Longhorn Band history with $12 million donation

A graduate of the University of Texas now holds the record for the largest planned donation to the Longhorn Band after giving $12 million to the program. Rick Church, a 1977 engineering graduate who still plays his tuba in the “X” of the “TEXAS” formation during Alumni Band Day, also committed $7 million from his estate to the university’s mechanical engineering department...
PolitiFact: Do Texas school districts offer sex education?

PolitiFact: Do Texas school districts offer sex education?

Houston businessman Andrew White, a Democratic aspirant for governor, said that when he’s elected, he’ll step up sex education in schools. White, speaking on Texas Public Radio, declared: “There is a large number of schools in Texas that don’t even offer sex education. Now that, to me, it’s bizarre. So we have to make these investments. If you really are serious about...
Central Texas schools rely on drills, training to prep for shootings

Central Texas schools rely on drills, training to prep for shootings

Even before Wednesday’s deadly shooting rampage at a Florida high school, several Austin-area schools had stepped up efforts to assure parents that their kids are safe on campus and touted new programs and drills aimed at protecting students. Authorities said the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, admitted he opened fire on former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School...
UT Board of Regents adopts rule requiring ‘self-assessment’

UT Board of Regents adopts rule requiring ‘self-assessment’

The Board of Regents of the 14-campus University of Texas System, which is already engaged in a bit of self-reflection with some new members and an outgoing chancellor, adopted a rule Thursday requiring board “self-evaluation” every two years. The rule is intended to comply with new accreditation requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Among other things, the...
Paxton: 3 Texas school districts illegally supported candidates

Paxton: 3 Texas school districts illegally supported candidates

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday sent cease-and-desist letters to three Texas school districts — Brazosport, Holliday and Lewisville — that he said had illegally used school resources to advocate for political candidates and measures. “My office fully encourages Texas schools to educate their students on civic duties and assist them in registering to vote. But pushing...
Paxton: Three Texas school districts illegally endorsed politicians

Paxton: Three Texas school districts illegally endorsed politicians

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday sent cease and desist letters to three Texas school districts — Brazosport, Holliday and Lewisville — which he said are illegally using school resources to advocate for certain political candidates and measures. “My office fully encourages Texas schools to educate their students on civic duties and assist them in registering to vote...
Austin school board to vote on renaming schools with Confederate ties

Austin school board to vote on renaming schools with Confederate ties

After months of debate, the majority of the Austin school board has agreed to vote Feb. 26 on whether to change the names of five schools that have ties to the Confederacy. The trustees Monday night debated issues regarding policy changes, financial costs and community input surrounding renaming schools but ultimately decided it was time to bring the issue to a vote. If the majority agrees to change...
Dripping Springs school district puts $132 million bond on May ballots

Dripping Springs school district puts $132 million bond on May ballots

Dripping Springs voters in May will decide on a $132 million school bond package, the largest in the district’s history. The bond projects are aimed at addressing growth in the 6,464-student district, which is projected to continue growing by about 6 percent annually. The bond would fund construction of an 850-student elementary school, expansion of Dripping Springs High School and the building...
ACC considers, then drops, plan to outsource student advising

ACC considers, then drops, plan to outsource student advising

Austin Community College, determined to improve retention and graduation rates, recently took the rare step of inviting companies to bid for a contract to help students earn degrees or certificates. It’s not unusual for community colleges to work with civic, nonprofit and other groups in guiding students through the education pipeline. However, requesting proposals for “student coaching...
Dripping Springs school board calls for $132 million bond election

Dripping Springs school board calls for $132 million bond election

The Dripping Springs school board Monday night approved putting a $132 million bond before voters in May. The bond package is aimed at addressing district growth. The bond would fund a fifth elementary school, an expansion of Dripping Springs High School, construction of a new Walnut Springs Elementary School and conversion of the current elementary into space for administration and child care facility...
Austin ISD board will vote on Confederate school name changes

Austin ISD board will vote on Confederate school name changes

9:30 p.m. UPDATE: After months of debate, the majority of the Austin school board is in consensus to vote Feb. 26 on whether to change the names of five schools that have ties to the Confederacy. The trustees Monday night debated issues regarding policy changes, financial costs and community input surrounding renaming schools but ultimately decided they must bring the issue to a vote in two weeks...
Austin district to renew debate over Confederate school names Monday

Austin district to renew debate over Confederate school names Monday

The Austin school district on Monday will revive discussions to remove the names of Confederate figures from a handful of schools, a topic that has sparked division on the board in recent weeks. The school board will consider whether to rename five campuses — three of which bear the names of people who served in leadership roles in the Confederate army, and two others named after noted Austinites...
Austin ISD fails to find partner to save Mendez Middle School

Austin ISD fails to find partner to save Mendez Middle School

Time is running out for Mendez Middle School after the Austin school district didn’t receive any response to its request for proposals to help turn around the chronically failing campus. District administrators last month sought to partner with an outside entity, such as a nonprofit or university, to save Mendez from closure by the state. The school, located in southeast Austin, has not met...
UT System shuts Institute for Transformational Learning to cut costs

UT System shuts Institute for Transformational Learning to cut costs

The University of Texas System has closed a unit that works to expand online classes and competency-based education after allocating it nearly $100 million since its inception in 2012. The action last week was not surprising, given that a reconstituted Board of Regents wants to cut system administration spending to free up more money for the various UT campuses. In all, the system’s Institute...
Texas teachers defend public schools on Twitter

Texas teachers defend public schools on Twitter

Over the last several days, many Texas public school employees have reported receiving letters asking them to report their colleagues for using public money to illegally endorse political candidates. By Tuesday, scores of public school employees and their supporters had taken to Twitter to express their dismay at Empower Texans, the conservative group who sent the letters, and to laud the work public...
UT System shuts tech-style learning unit as it works to pare spending

UT System shuts tech-style learning unit as it works to pare spending

The University of Texas System has closed a unit that works to expand online classes and competency-based education after seeding it with nearly $100 million. The action last week was not surprising, given that a reconstituted Board of Regents wants to cut system administration spending to free up more money for the various campuses. The executive director and the chief innovation officer of the system&rsquo...
This Austin mentor refuses to give up on kids

This Austin mentor refuses to give up on kids

Mentoring the children of parents who are incarcerated or on probation might not have seemed like a natural retirement career for certified public accountant Leroy Nellis. For numerous reasons that will become clear, it was exactly right. First, he had seen the need with his own eyes. For nearly 20 years, Nellis served as Travis County budget director. During his tenure, he toured all the county jails...
Abbott calls for crackdown on sexual misconduct, crimes

Abbott calls for crackdown on sexual misconduct, crimes

Responding to growing reports of sexual misconduct raised by the #MeToo movement, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday unveiled a series of proposals that included allowing the Texas Rangers to investigate harassment claims against state officials and creating a “do not hire” list for school employees convicted of inappropriate student relationships. The policy proposals, announced during a campaign...
Two Bastrop 17-year-olds arrested for lewd Snapchat account identified

Two Bastrop 17-year-olds arrested for lewd Snapchat account identified

Three Bastrop students were arrested last week after being accused of circulating nude and graphic photos of female students on the social media platform Snapchat, prompting an outcry from parents and students and a silent demonstration at Cedar Creek High School. Thomas Wayne Fryer III and Weston Wayne Narro, both 17, were charged with unlawful disclosure of intimate visual materials, a state jail...
Commentary: Texas has another chance to fix funding for public schools

Commentary: Texas has another chance to fix funding for public schools

Educators always try to keep an open mind about new ideas — and we are trying to keep an open mind about the state’s new school finance study. Although previous studies have failed to produce results for Texas’ 5.3 million public school children, we still have hope. But at the outset, we have reasons for concern. The two main drivers behind this study were Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt...
PolitiFact: Abbott’s vow to cut tests is unfulfilled

PolitiFact: Abbott’s vow to cut tests is unfulfilled

Through Gov. Greg Abbott’s term, we’ve been tracking and updating progress on his campaign promises through the PolitiFact Texas Abbott-O-Meter. One promise came as Abbott told delegates to the Republican Party of Texas convention: “Teachers and parents know far better how to educate our children than do a bunch of bureaucrats in Austin or Washington, D.C.” Abbott then vowed...
White supremacists who demonstrated at UT were with ‘Patriot Front’

White supremacists who demonstrated at UT were with ‘Patriot Front’

Masked demonstrators with burning torches who gathered in front of the University of Texas Tower in November to speak of an “existential threat” against the nation were members of an increasingly active white supremacist group known as Patriot Front, according to university records, a nonprofit watchdog organization and the group’s own online propaganda. University officials previously...
JUST IN: Burnet school district employee arrested for inappropriate behavior with teen, officials say

JUST IN: Burnet school district employee arrested for inappropriate behavior with teen, officials say

A Burnet County school district bus driver and substitute teacher was arrested Thursday evening for inappropriate behavior with a teen, superintendent Keith McBurnett told parents in a letter Friday.  Daniel Dilworth, 22, is charged with attempted indecency with a child, a third-degree felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The arrest is in relation to a June 26 incident, Burnet County...
Special report: How DACA put these Austin teachers in the classroom

Special report: How DACA put these Austin teachers in the classroom

Karen Reyes counts along verbally and through sign language as her five prekindergarten students jump in place on a recent Monday morning. Most of the children hop with great effort — so much so, some tumble over in a fit of giggles. Reyes laughs too as she often does in the classroom. “This is the best profession,” said Reyes, a special-education teacher to hearing-impaired children...
2018 deficit means another lean year for Austin teachers making $50K

2018 deficit means another lean year for Austin teachers making $50K

Elementary school teacher Caroline Sweet can feel the pinch. Sweet, a 13-year teacher veteran with a master’s degree and bilingual certification who teaches fourth grade, has seen rising health insurance costs in the Austin district, and despite recent annual raises, earns $50,130, still $2,400 a year less than the average teacher in Texas. After health insurance premium hikes, Sweet...
Collision between campus free speech and heckling confounds lawmakers

Collision between campus free speech and heckling confounds lawmakers

Incidents of hecklers shouting down controversial figures on college campuses are anathema to free speech but pose a difficult challenge to overcome, a state Senate panel chairwoman said Wednesday. “No one should be shouted down,” said Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, whose State Affairs Committee held a hearing on campus free speech issues hosted by Texas State University. “We need...
Lawmakers host discussion on campus free speech at Texas State University

Lawmakers host discussion on campus free speech at Texas State University

Today’s hearing on campus free speech issues in Texas started with a declaration from State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, the chairwoman of the panel hosting the discussion: “We need to put an end” to the blocking of free speech on campus, she said. Political and social views at Texas State University range from well to the right to well to the left, and the school strives...
Talks begin to implement a high school Mexican-American studies course

Talks begin to implement a high school Mexican-American studies course

Four years after rejecting a statewide high school Mexican-American studies course, the State Board of Education on Tuesday reprised talks about implementing one in the next few years. “It helps them identify with their roots,” said board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville, recounting what he’s heard from Mexican-American studies students. “One of them said, ‘My grades...
Senate hearing at Texas State to delve into campus free speech issues

Senate hearing at Texas State to delve into campus free speech issues

When a legislative panel meets at Texas State University in San Marcos on Wednesday to consider freedom of speech on college campuses, it will be wading into a topic fraught with legal, political and safety overtones. At first blush, the two-sentence charge to the Senate State Affairs Committee from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, seems straightforward enough: “Ascertain any restrictions...
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