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. 

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:

Right now, students across the country are in the process of choosing where to go to college. For many, that decision is closely tied to a school's financial aid offer. But with no current standardization of these offers, letters look vastly different from one college to the next. They're often filled with confusing terms and jargon, and not all colleges define and calculate these terms the same way.

As the first wave of Texas students sit down to take the state standardized test this week, many parents, educators and lawmakers are wondering whether those tests are fair. Some are convinced the answer to that question is no.


An asylum-seeking boy from Central America runs down a hallway of a shelter in San Diego after arriving from an immigration detention center on Dec. 11, 2018. Experts say when parents are detained or deported, the children's trauma can last a long time.
Associated Press

In the small town of Honey Grove, Texas, several families face an uncertain future after an immigration raid in August.

Experts say that for children whose parents are detained or deported, the trauma can last a long time.

If you're naming top colleges, you might not think of the City University of New York right away. It's not selective — it serves what one former official called "the top 100 percent." It also has a pretty low graduation rate.

But if you look deeper, at metrics like diversity and sheer number of lives changed, then CUNY can make a strong case.

Food distributor Marty Renaud (right) hands a fruit popsicle to eighth grader Mia Martinez at Dallas ISD's Fresh Food Fest on March 28, 2019.
Miguel Perez / KERA News

The Dallas school district hosted a taste test of potential menu items Thursday, and the food went before about 150 of the toughest critics: children.

The University Texas campus in Austin
Associated Press

Eight universities embroiled in a massive college admission cheating scheme, including the University of Texas in Austin, are now being investigated by the U.S. Education Department.

For the second time in as many years, the nation is in the midst of a frenzy over who gets to sleep in the extra-long twin beds at a tiny fraction of highly selective colleges and universities. Last year, it was a lawsuit over Harvard University's admissions process, particularly its treatment of Asian-Americans.

UT Faculty, Students Feel The Impact Of Airbnb Blacklist

Mar 27, 2019
The iPhone Airbnb app. March 26, 2019.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

When Amanda Bosky, a graduate student in sociology, goes to an academic conference, she often uses Airbnb to save money. Now the University of Texas at Austin student is worried that she can't anymore.

The University of Texas at Austin is among eight schools now being investigated in connection with a nationwide admissions bribery scandal.

Damon Richardson, in a classroom at LIFT, using the app Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis. "It was a wonderful success. I had people come to me and ask me how it works."
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

As many as one-third of Dallas adults are barely literate. Each year, literacy groups only reach 1.5 percent of them. 

Texas received an F when it comes to lead levels in drinking water at schools, according to the Texas Public Interest Research Group and Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. That was the same grade it got in 2017. Texas was among 22 states that received the failing grade.

School districts ranking high in feeding low-income students supplement the traditional cafeteria line with breakfast in the classroom using a grab-and-go model.
Shutterstock

Irving, Dallas, Garland, Crowley and Arlington all rank highly among Texas school districts when it comes to feeding students in need.

Today, ethnic studies is an accepted part of academia. Many if not most college students have taken a course or two. But 50 years ago, studying the history and culture of any people who were not white and Western was considered radical. Then came the longest student strike in U.S. history, at San Francisco State College, which changed everything.

The groundwork was laid for the strike a couple of years before, when black students organized to press for a black studies department and the admission of more black students.

Ben Margot / Associated Press

Recent federal indictments of dozens of parents, coaches and an admissions consultant put in the spotlight the lengths some will go to to place students in prestigious schools.

As a master teacher at the San Antonio Independent School District, Michelle Olivarri gets a $15,000 stipend to teach at a school with a history of low student outcomes.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

For five years, KERA followed a group of high school students for a series called Class of '17. One of the students was Chance Hawkins, who graduated last year from Fort Worth's Dunbar High School. He had a rare degenerative muscle disease. Chance died last weekend; he would have turned 21 on Sunday.

Members of the Children and Families Lab at UT Dallas study a video as part of the Dallas Project on Education Pathways project.
UT Dallas

The Dallas Project on Education Pathways has been described as one of the most comprehensive studies into childhood development and school readiness in the nation. The multi-year project has been following the lives of hundreds of low income African-American and Hispanic children.

It's no secret that wealth brings advantages when it comes to sending your kids to college. Rich and famous parents can donate large sums of money to schools or lean on their names and connections. Some ritzy colleges explicitly prefer the children and grandchildren of alumni — at Harvard University, an investigation found last year that these "legacy" admits were over five times more likely to get in than the average Joe.

Gov. Greg Abbott is urging Texas universities to re-evaluate their admissions processes in the wake of a federal investigation that led to bribery charges against a coach at the University of Texas at Austin.

UT Austin men's tennis coach Michael Center has been arrested and charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar college admissions scandal.

Go to college, we tell students. It's a ticket out of poverty; a place to grow and expand; a gateway to a good job. Or perhaps a better job. But just going to college doesn't mean you'll finish. To unlock those benefits — you'll need a degree.

And yet for millions of Americans, that's not happening. On average, just 58 percent of students who started college in the fall of 2012 had earned any degree six years later, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Former UT Austin President William Powers Jr. died Sunday from complications after a fall in September. According to a press release from the university, Powers had oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, a rare adult-onset muscle disorder. He was 72.

Texas Senate Unanimously Passes $5,000 Teacher Pay Raises, Adding Librarians

Mar 5, 2019

The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians, at a cost of $4 billion over the next two years.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

For Angelica and Diana Canchola, meeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the highlight of their day.

The 16-year-old twins introduced Pelosi to their peers and teachers at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in downtown Fort Worth on Monday.

From Texas Standard:

College has become a prerequisite for most high-paying jobs in the U.S., but college itself is out of reach for millions, and that number is growing. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that in the past 10 years, student loan debt has grown by more than 100 percent. People ages 19 to 29 hold more than $1 trillion in student debt, and that's just the Millennial generation. With a wide-open Democratic primary field, it's almost certain that college affordability will be an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Adam Harris writes in The Atlantic that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have focused their attention on how to make college affordable in the future,  proposing free college tuition or policies that would allow students to leave school without debt.

Harris says that prior to the 2016 election, momentum had been building nationally for some sort of free college program. But once Donald Trump was elected president, that momentum shifted to the states.

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?"

Shutterstock

From dealing with memory loss to regrowing brain cells, Veronica Blackman's mind was buzzing with new ideas as she waited for a ride to the airport. Blackman is a teacher in Detroit who works with students from kindergarten to third grade. 

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools are unconstitutional.

In 2018, on the 64th anniversary of that ruling, a lawsuit filed in New Jersey claimed that state's schools are some of the most segregated in the nation. That's because, the lawsuit alleged, New Jersey school district borders are drawn along municipality lines that reflect years of residential segregation.

After a contentious three-hour public hearing Monday, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that would provide annual $5,000 pay raises for all full-time classroom teachers in the state.

Why The STAAR Test May Be Setting Students Up To Fail

Feb 22, 2019

From Texas Standard:

From botched distribution of exams to concerns about so-called teaching to the test, educators and parents alike have been critical of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, standardized tests since their rollout in 2012. And over the past few years, something unusual has been happening: students who are otherwise successful in the classroom are failing the exams.

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