Laura Isensee | KERA News

Laura Isensee

Students at Lyons Elementary school pass by logos for major universities on their way to lunch in this archive photo.
Courtesy of Houston ISD

For 40 years, Robin Stauffer has taught high school English in seven different school districts in three different states. Most recently, Advanced Placement English in Katy, where she says working with kids has kept her young and lighthearted.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

Colleges in Greater Houston, including Lone Star College, Rice University and the University of Houston, are planning a return to campus in the fall, after the the pandemic quickly shuttered campus at higher education institutions this spring and sent students home to learn remotely.

The Texas Education Agency says there's been a 56% increase in the last several years of the number of children tested for a disability.
Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media

When Houston ISD Superintendent Grenita Lathan emailed parents about the district moving to online learning, Jane Friou quickly looked for updates for students like her 12-year-old daughter Elise — students with disabilities.

She didn’t find any.

Skidmore senior Luz De Leon studied abroad in Madrid in the spring of 2019. She's expected to graduate in May.
Courtesy

Senior Luz De Leon usually never leaves her Skidmore College campus for spring break, Thanksgiving or other holidays. A flight from Albany to Houston can be pricey.

Britany Miller said that she's tried at multiple charter schools to get her son Nicholas Davis, 13, the support he needs. Nicholas was diagnosed with ADHD and depression in elementary school.
Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media

Twice, Britany Miller has asked for special education services and accommodations at two different Houston-area charter schools for her son, Nicholas Davis, who struggles with depression and an attention disorder. 

Interns in Fort Bend ISD's program to grow its staff of licensed specialists
Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media

In the last three years, Fort Bend schools have seen the demand for special education almost double. More teachers and parents are asking for children to be tested for a disability — which district leaders say is a huge step forward since the end of a Texas policy that denied services to tens of thousands of children for over a decade.

Carolinda Acevedo, 13, says she feels calmer and more supported at her new online school than at her public school, where she was denied special ed services.
Chris Paul / Houston Public Media

Last year, as a seventh-grader at Lake Jackson Intermediate, Carolinda Acevedo struggled in class — even though she loves learning. She'd stay up late to finish her homework, but then did poorly on state exams. 

They are early risers and hard workers. They have a "talent for struggling through" and the determination that follows. Some are the first in their family to go to college — or even graduate from high school — and many are financially independent from their parents. They're often struggling to pay for rent, groceries and transportation while taking classes. And that means working while in school — in retail, on campus or even with a lawn care business.

It's 5 o'clock in the morning, and Sarah Salazar would rather be sleeping. Not just because it's early. Or because she's a teenager and can't seem to get enough sleep. Doctors say the shotgun pellets embedded in her shoulder, lung and back have sent her lead levels skyrocketing and leave her feeling tired much of the time.

Lotus Hoey teaches English as a second language at Pershing Middle School in southwest Houston. She said she learned from her student Emiliano Campos not to take all of her students' attitudes and behavior personally.
Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media

When Lotus Hoey started teaching English as a second language a few years ago, she felt right at home. Her own parents immigrated from China, so she had to learn English at school, too.

Back-to-school shopping has been different this year for Annette Holder, whose son Clayton is an incoming freshman at Santa Fe High School.

The school’s new metal detectors mean more composition books, fewer three-ring binders – or really anything with metal.

Several hundred people gathered Wednesday night at the Santa Fe Junior High School football stadium to grieve and try to understand the school shooting that killed eight students and two teachers last week.

A group of local pastors organized the service, which they called a “night of hope and healing.”

Jen Rice / Texas Station Collaborative

Gov. Greg Abbott spoke for almost an hour Tuesday in his “State of the State” address. Almost as notable as the contents of that speech were the hot topics he didn’t mention.

Houston Public Media

As of this fall, the eight largest cities in Texas have Latino superintendents leading the school districts. The latest to join the list: Richard Carranza in Houston. He impressed the Houston Independent School District with his credentials — and his voice.

When teachers and activists demanded schools in Texas, where more than half of the public school students are Hispanic, teach more Mexican-American studies, the State Board of Education responded by calling for more textbooks on the subject.

So far, though, the only book submitted for approval has drawn fierce criticism.

This week, activists voiced that criticism in front of the Texas Board of Education in a public hearing in Austin. Dozens attended, with some driving hours to the capital from Dallas, Houston and other parts of the state.

San Francisco Unified School District

When school starts this fall, the two biggest systems in Texas will be led by Latinos. Last year, Dallas rehired Michael Hinojosa as superintendent. Today, Houston's board of trustees unanimously chose Richard Carranza as sole finalist for its top job.

The Texas Supreme Court just doesn't want to get involved in how the state pays for its public schools. That was the signal the nine justices sent Friday when they unanimously ruled the state school funding system, which historically has been one of the country's most controversial, constitutional.

In 1973, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that there was no federal right to equal school funding in the Constitution.

That was more than 40 years ago, and today Patty Rodriguez, a teacher in the same school district in San Antonio where that fight started, says nothing has changed.

Her father, Demetrio Rodriguez, filed the suit. It became a landmark case, a turning point when the focus around school funding shifted from the federal government to the states.