Aliyya Swaby / The Texas Tribune | KERA News

Aliyya Swaby / The Texas Tribune

Aliyya Swaby started as the public education reporter in October 2016. She came to the Tribune from the hyperlocal nonprofit New Haven Independent, where she covered education, zoning and transit for two years. After graduating from Yale University in 2013, she spent a year freelance reporting in Panama on social issues affecting black Panamanian communities. A native New Yorker, Aliyya misses public transportation but is thrilled by the lack of snow.

Students gather in an auditorium before class.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

For the first time since 1997, Texas education officials will consider a new statewide sexual education policy, and it could include teaching middle schoolers about birth control options beyond abstinence.

Students gather in an auditorium before class.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas education officials are envisioning a largely hands-off approach to helping school districts bring students back to campus this fall, imposing few mandatory safety precautions but recommending staff and students wear masks, hand sanitize regularly and stay six feet away from each other, according to draft documents found on the Texas Education Agency's website Tuesday.

The University of Texas Child Development day care center in Austin on April 6, 2020.
Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

As child care centers across Texas slowly reopen, reported COVID-19 cases among children and staff are rising even as the state eliminates temporary safety rules put in place to lower risks during the pandemic.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texas students will be returning to public schools in person this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers Thursday morning.

The state's top education officials confirmed the plans in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

Police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at several demonstrators in Austin on May 31, 2020.
Jordan Vonderhaar / For The Texas Tribune

As tens of thousands of Texans took to the streets this week to protest police brutality against black people following the death of George Floyd, police departments in the state’s largest cities brought varying levels of force to bear on the protesters.

Students and teachers walk through the halls at Cactus Elementary School.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to destabilize public education, Texas school districts are waiting to learn whether a federal stimulus package could help shore up rocky budgets.

Day care center
Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

The Texas Workforce Commission voted Tuesday to begin phasing out temporary child care subsidy programs for low-income parents and essential workers started in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as Gov. Greg Abbott launches phase two of the state's attempted economic jump-start from coronavirus shutdowns.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas public school districts may offer summer school in their classrooms as early as June 1, but they cannot require any students to attend in person.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texas schools might start bringing students back to classrooms on staggered schedules in the fall. Or they might have some students show up at school while others continue their coursework online.

Or they might stay completely virtual until 2021.

Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

Restaurant servers, retail cashiers and movie theater concession workers in Texas could be called back to work as soon as Friday, in the first phase of the state's emergence from a coronavirus shelter-at-home order.

Around this time of the school year, Karen Sams expects to be in the "sweet spot" with her 17 third graders — the point at which, after months of watching them closely, she knows their quirks and understands how to motivate them.

Robyn Garza / Texas Tribune

Losing the stability of a school day frustrates 14-year-old Logan Heller. He regularly melts down: screaming at the top of his lungs, hitting himself in the face and fleeing from anyone who tries to calm him.

Full-time public school teachers across Texas are finagling digital setups to teach classes online, calling to check in on students and their parents, and volunteering to help hand out meals — all while knowing their salaries are secure.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / For The Texas Tribune

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told school superintendents and lawmakers Sunday to be prepared for long-term school district closures, potentially through the end of the school year, especially in areas where the new coronavirus has spread.

A student in a classroom at Cactus Elementary School
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

In an unprecedented move, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he would waive testing requirements for this year’s STAAR exam, as many schools expect to be closed at least through the April testing window, due to the new coronavirus.

The longstanding academic failure of Wheatley High School was cited as one reason for the district takeover.
Pu Ying Huang / The Texas Tribune

A state judge Wednesday evening immediately blocked Texas from taking over the Houston Independent School District until she issues a final ruling on the case, complicating the state's plan to oust the district's school board by March.

Thomas Williams-Platt
Angela Piazza / For The Texas Tribune

Before entering the halls of Channing School high atop the Texas Panhandle last year, students were required to roll up their shirt sleeves to show they weren’t sneaking in e-cigarettes. 

Rune Mathisen

Were the reading and writing passages on standardized tests that Texas elementary and middle school students took this spring too challenging for their grade levels?

Laura Skelding / The Texas Tribune


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announce a deal on the top three legislative priorities.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texas’ top three political leaders declared Thursday that the Legislature had reached agreements on its three main 2019 priorities: A two-year state budget, a comprehensive reform of school finance and legislation designed to slow the growth of rising property taxes.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / Texas Tribune

Texas' top three political leaders — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — threw their support Wednesday behind a proposal to increase the sales tax by one percentage point in order to lower property taxes across the state.

Natasha Boone high fives a student as they went over a story the class was reading Jan. 14, 2019 at Edward Titche Elementary School in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas.
Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

When third-grade reading teacher Natasha Boone told her peers she was considering a job at Titche Elementary School, a chronically low-performing school known for its low test scores and rowdy classrooms, they all asked, "Why?"

Robin Hood was put in place to ensure poorer school districts get more resources to educate kids.
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune


For some in the debate over how to fund Texas' schools, "Robin Hood" is decidedly a villain.

Commission member Todd Williams of Dallas, left, meets with TEA Commissioner Mike Morath and State Sen. Royce West at the Texas Commission on Public School Finance on Jan. 23, 2018.
Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune


Karen Hill's father, A. Maceo Johnson, lost an election for Richardson ISD's school board in 1963. Since then, the district has had just one black school board member.
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

In Karen Hill’s eyes, not much has changed since her father’s unsuccessful bid for Richardson Independent School District's board in 1963.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

For years, school finance reform has been a messy political challenge that Gov. Greg Abbott has been reluctant to wade into.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Two teacher associations sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday, arguing they rolled out a law incentivizing partnerships with school districts and charter schools in a way that weakened protections for public school employees.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

Federal education officials are considering letting school districts use federal money to buy guns for educators — and the idea may have come from Texas, according to national education outlet Education Week.

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is urging the Teacher Retirement System not to raise health care premiums for retired teachers, arguing that state lawmakers should take on the burden of increased costs.

Erika Rich for The Texas Tribune

In exactly a week, Texas will give its school districts official grades for the first time, rating them on a scale from A through F, with state officials promising a more transparent system that will show parents how their schools are educating students.