Education | KERA News

Education

Liberty High School in Frisco has grown rapidly and become more diverse since opening in 2006.
Credit Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Every week, KERA reporters go inside the classroom, meeting students, teachers and administrators, to explore the latest in education in North Texas. KERA's ongoing education coverage is part of the national public broadcasting initiative American Graduate

Explore in-depth education multimedia projects: Race, Poverty and the Changing Face of Schools, a look at the changing demographics at four North Texas high schools; What’s Next For The Class Of 17?, stories about North Texas students from eighth grade to graduation; Homeless in High School, how schools and kids deal with homelessness; and Generation One, meet first-generation Texans who are reshaping schools.

Support for KERA’s education coverage is made possible in part by:

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The Richardson Independent School District plans to change how school board members are elected.

The new electoral system is part of a settlement agreement reached between the district and former board trustee David Tyson, Jr. Tyson sued the district last year saying the current electoral system violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by denying fair representation of African-Americans and other voters of color.

Students in several rural school districts in Northeast Texas are getting access to college-level courses through a program called Pride Prep.
Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

About 10 percent of students enrolled in college courses in Texas are still in high school. They're taking dual credit classes – that's where they get high school and college credit. These dual credit classes are growing in popularity, but in rural areas, access to college can be a struggle.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

As Texas’ Republican leadership calls for property tax cuts and a school finance overhaul, the Texas House on Monday pitched a bold proposal: Pump roughly $7 billion more state funds into public schools — but only if lawmakers can satisfactorily overhaul the school finance system to slow the growth of property taxes.

From Texas Standard:

Monday, about 34,000 teachers will walk off the job in Los Angeles – a move described as "historic." It echoes what happened almost a year ago when a West Virginia teacher walkout triggered similar strikes elsewhere in the US. Teachers all over the country are lobbying for higher pay.

Here in Texas, 10 percent of all first-year teachers leave their jobs before their second year. Better pay may be key to keeping more of them in the classroom, and last week, top state lawmakers pledged that 2019 will be the "Year of the Teacher" in the Texas Legislature, promising to boost salaries. But there's still many details yet to be decided.

After failing to pass legislation to reform public school funding in 2017, state leaders have pledged to make it a top priority this legislative session.

The Texas Public School Finance Commission spent 2018 creating a roadmap for lawmakers to enact that reform, but key questions remain.

On a bulletin board at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, a flier advertised a storytelling event for first-generation students to share their experience in their own words.


Wait, you mean adding a couple of descriptive words to a particular situation, puzzle or problem can help lead to clarity and a solution? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton discuss this thought-provoking practice.

A for-profit higher education company will no longer collect nearly a half-billion dollars in student debt, now that the firm has reached settlements with 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Jack Silva didn't know anything about how children learn to read. What he did know is that a lot of students in his district were struggling.

Silva is the chief academic officer for Bethlehem, Pa., public schools. In 2015, only 56 percent of third-graders were scoring proficient on the state reading test. That year, he set out to do something about that.

"It was really looking yourself in the mirror and saying, 'Which 4 in 10 students don't deserve to learn to read?' " he recalls.

A 16-year-old is scheduled to graduate from high school in Kansas and Harvard University within the span of two weeks.

Braxton Moral, a senior at Ulysses High School, plans to attend the school's commencement May 19, then the university's ceremonies later in the month, reported The Hutchinson News.

"I'm not any different; I just do a little thing on the side," he told NPR. "I try to play it down at high school because if I talk about it, it becomes a divide."

From Texas Standard:

"What My Students Taught Me" is produced in partnership with the Teacher Project at Columbia Journalism School.

For her first four years teaching history at Lakeview High School in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Karen Sowers didn’t have any big challenges. That changed the day she met Donald Pierson, 29 years ago.

The University of Texas System's building in Austin on Feb. 7, 2018.
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Bolstered by booming oil prices, the University of Texas' endowment hit $31 billion in value this summer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News — making UT's endowment second only to Harvard University's in size among the country's institutions of higher education.

From Texas Standard:

Still hot off the presses is a list of 34 recommendations that's meant to guide Texas lawmakers to find ways to fix the state's public education system. Recommendations by the Texas Commission on Public School Finance will be taken up during the legislature's 2019 session, beginning in January. Their list is a compilation of ideas the commission has been discussing over the past year.

It's the time of year when schoolchildren and, let's be honest, sometimes their parents, face a big decision: what gift to give their teacher for the holidays. There's the old standby, an apple on the desk. Gift cards are also convenient; and homemade cookies can earn bonus points. But many students get far more creative.

Students in U.S. schools were less likely to be suspended in 2016 than they were in 2012. But the progress is incremental, and large gaps — by race and by special education status — remain.

This data comes from an analysis of federal data for NPR in partnership with the nonprofit organization Child Trends. And it comes as the Trump administration is preparing the final report from a school safety commission that is expected to back away from or rescind Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

In this Dec. 10, 2018 photo, Janet Fein, 84, poses for a photo in Richardson, Texas. Fein completed her bachelor's degree and will graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas with the winter undergraduate class.
Associated Press

After raising five kids and retiring at age 77 from her secretarial job, Janet Fein couldn't be blamed for finally relaxing, but that's not her.

Noel Jett, left, with her mother, Nancy Shastid
Noel Jett, left, with her mother, Nancy Shastid / KERA News

The youngest known doctoral student to graduate from University of North Texas in Denton gets her diploma Friday. Noel Jett, 19, has lived on the UNT campus the last three years studying educational psychology.

What My Students Taught Me: Search For – And Nurture – Hidden Gifts

Dec 12, 2018
Sharon Luyre / The Teacher Project

Sandy Lyons heard about Da’Keondrick Whitley a long time before he set foot in her second-grade classroom at Presidential Meadows Elementary School in Manor, Texas, northeast of Austin.

Two students share a laptop in the atrium of the chemistry building at the University of Michigan. One, Cameron Russell, is white, a freshman from a rice-growing parish in Louisiana; the other, Elijah Taylor, is black, a senior and a native of Detroit.

They are different, yes, but there is much that unites them.

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.

People react outside the unification center at the Alamo Gym, following a shooting at Santa Fe High School Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.
Associated Press

A growing number of students are leaving the Houston-area school district where 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in May.

Baylor University president Ken Starr, center, applauds as he joins the student section during an NCAA college basketball game between the Baylor women against Iowa State Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Waco, Texas.
Associated Press

Presidents of America's private colleges and universities saw their pay increase by nearly 4 percent in 2016, with dozens receiving more than $1 million, according to a new report. Topping the list was Ken Starr, the former president of Baylor University. Victor Boschini of Texas Christian University was No. 4 on the list.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Across the state, about 10 percent of teachers don’t return to their jobs each year, according to the Texas Education Agency. School districts and others are trying to change that. That includes Dallas Teacher Residency, a year-long teaching program that could make the difference between a new teacher staying or quitting.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Perhaps the hardest part of being a high school teacher is seeing students drop out or fail to graduate. But sometimes, students and teachers get a second chance.

Everything in Rebekah Ozuna’s classroom is designed for the little bodies and fast-firing neurons of 3- and 4-year-olds.

Tiny chairs. A carpet for story time. Colorful bins full of blocks and toys. Even the windows are low to the ground so her students can see outside.


Texas Education Board Moves To Reinsert Hillary Clinton, Helen Keller Into Curriculum

Nov 14, 2018
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and author and political activist Helen Keller (1880-1968).
REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein: Clinton/Public domain: Keller

The Texas State Board of Education backed a motion Tuesday evening to reinsert Hillary Clinton into the state's 11th-grade U.S. History standards, two months after voting to remove the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee from the state's curriculum. In a separate action Tuesday, the board backed restoring disability rights advocate Helen Keller to the state's third-grade social studies curriculum standards.

The front of the new Fannie C. Harris Youth Center, near Fair Park in Dallas. Dallas ISD and several non-profits held a ceremony t
Stella Chavez / KERA

An estimated 4,000 students in the Dallas Independent School District are considered homeless. On Tuesday, Dallas ISD and several non-profit groups marked the opening of the first phase of a homeless youth center. 

From Texas Standard:

A federal appeals court last week affirmed that the state of Texas owes more than $30 million to the federal government after it cut funding for special education in 2012. Now, disability rights advocates say they've found documents that could put the state on the hook for over $40 million more.

Texas Education Board Set To Approve Curriculum Some Say Is Historically Inaccurate

Nov 12, 2018
Gaby Mondragon teaches AP U.S. History to a class of juniors at United South High School in Laredo.
Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

After a politically-charged September meeting, the State Board of Education meets this week to approve "streamlined" social studies curriculum standards. Teachers' responses are mixed.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Texas Education Agency owes the federal government millions of dollars for failing to match a special education grant.

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