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:

The current wave of teacher walkouts started a year ago this week, when educators across West Virginia were out of the classroom for nine days. The movement spread to five more states before the school year was over.

From Texas Standard:

As Texas lawmakers begin tackling one of this session's top legislative priorities – school finance reform – a state Senate measure proposes giving public-school teachers a raise. How much money is on the table and what difference would it make for teachers living paycheck to paycheck? It depends on whom you ask and where you live.

From the 1880s to the early 1960a, the African American Freedmen's Community called Little Egypt was in this neighbodhood, at the corner of Thurgood and Shoreview in Dallas' Lake Highlands. It spread across 35 acres.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Texas is dotted with Freedmen’s communities — African American neighborhoods that sprouted after the Civil War in the era of segregation. They range from Ellis Alley in San Antonio to the Fourth Ward in Houston to Deep Ellum in Dallas. Another one in Dallas that's been nearly forgotten, Little Egypt, is getting a renewed look thanks to Richland College.

Getting students to show up is one of the biggest challenges schools face: How can someone learn at school if they're not there in the first place?

A new study suggests living in a high-crime area, or simply passing through one on the way to school, can impact how often students show up to class.

"Teacher's pet." "Know-it-all." "Brown-noser." These are just some of the terms students lob at each other in (and out) of school - especially at students who demonstrate strong mastery of a subject or are enthusiastic in class. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton  explore how and why those labels are used and why they might not pack the punch they used to.

SMU professor Corey Clark is a member of the grand prize winning PeopleForWords team. The team shared the Bush XPrize for creating a successful literacy app.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

More than 36 million adults nationwide lack basic English literacy. A team from Southern Methodist University and Literacy Instruction for Texas are hoping to help chip away at that number with their award-winning phone app.

Four years ago, Gates Elementary on San Antonio’s east side was on the state’s list of failing schools. Only 15 percent of its students were reading at grade level.

Now Gates is one of the fastest improving campuses in the San Antonio Independent School District. School officials credit its success in part to teachers like Kayla John.


Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The new manufacturing lab at the University of North Texas could put Denton’s engineering school at the forefront of 3D printing technology. In the lab, engineers are working to change the way many things are made.

How One Tiny School District In Rural West Texas Is Making It Work

Feb 1, 2019
Rebekah Oñate is the youngest teacher at Valentine Independent School District. Eighty percent of her colleagues are old enough to retire.
Sally Beauvais, Marfa Public Radio

From Marfa Public Radio:

In the tiny West Texas town of Valentine, population 130, there’s no gas station, and it’s a 30-mile drive to the nearest grocery store. But there is a school, and somehow, year after year, it outperforms the state average in academics.

Onetime Dallasite, and UT-Austin student, Sahana Srinivasan is the host of the Netflix series, "Brainchild."
Netflix

Most people know Bill Nye the Science Guy. Well, Texas has its own science booster of sorts, but she is what the Dallas Observer called "the hipper, more accessible Bill Nye for the digital generation."

Sahana Srinivasan is a University of Texas at Austin senior who was born in Houston, raised in Dallas and is the daughter of engineers. Her Netflix science show "Brainchild" has made her one of the fastest-rising young celebrities in streaming TV.

Students at John Paul II High School in Dallas discuss immigration during the campus-wide Solidarity Week.
Stella Chavez, KERA News

The debate over immigration and funding for a border wall has dominated the headlines. Against that backdrop, students at one North Texas Catholic high school spent the past few days in a campus-wide conversation about immigration – from government policies to personal stories.

From Texas Standard:

The possibility of an emergency at a school isn’t an idea most of us like to dwell on. But as schools continue to be targets for those intent on causing widespread harm, training teachers and kids on what to do “just in case” has become common practice.

But though it’s common, that training is hardly standardized across Texas – or even at different schools within the same county. That’s why one Texas county decided to take the lead on designing a program to get everyone on the same page – that includes even the very youngest students.

James E. Smith and his son James Jr., 6, stand in front of Kashmere Gardens Elementary School in Houston on Sept. 7, 1960. The Texas Tribune explored the legacy of desegregation and its continuing impact in a series of stories called "Dis-Integration."
Associated Press

Texas has a long history of neglecting schools tasked with educating students of color. Poor facilities, underfunding, less experienced or qualified staff — they're just a few of the complaints mentioned in lawsuits filed against Texas towns and school districts.

Thousands of people will rally at the Capitol today to call for more K-12 options as part of National School Choice Week. But inside the Capitol, the once-prominent conversation isn't happening.

Should Texas Eliminate The High-Stakes STAAR Test?

Jan 22, 2019

From Texas Standard:

Stakes can be high for students and teachers in Texas when it comes to standardized testing – specifically, STAAR testing. Students usually need to pass to advance to the next grade, and eventually, to graduate. Families, teachers and teacher groups have been vocal in the past about how stressful the tests can be. They're concerned that spending the entire school year on preparing for the STAAR takes away from other learning opportunities.

Now, a Republican lawmaker has filed a bill in the House that would repeal STAAR testing.

Dallas ISD / Twitter/@dallasschools

Students in the Dallas school district recently competed in the annual Foley Gardere Oratory Competition that honors Martin Luther King Jr. This year’s eight finalists, fourth- and fifth-graders, delivered speeches answering the question: "What would Dr. King say to the children of today's world?"

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

 

Shutterstock

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.

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