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Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Lots of pushback on HISD’s school closure proposal

People don’t like it when schools get closed. With the temperature near freezing, Maria Salazar bundled her three young children in jackets on Tuesday and walked them eight blocks to Port Houston Elementary School. She dropped off Joaquin, 7, and Arianna, 5, and then hiked home with her 2-year-old son on her hip. She doesn’t […]

School finance retrial wraps

We’re back where it all began. The Texas Legislature failed to bridge funding gaps between wealthy and poor school districts despite partial restoration of funds that were cut, lawyers representing schools told a state district judge Friday. “They have put a Band-aid on a Band-aid on a Band-aid,” said Rick Gray, attorney for the Texas […]

KIPP departs Galveston

I have two things to say about this. The popular KIPP charter school chain is pulling out of Galveston, where it operates two campuses with about 900 students combined under a contract with the school district. Because of statewide school funding cuts, Galveston ISD superintendent Larry Nichols said, the district has dipped into savings over […]

HISD on HB5

Good information on the changes made to school curricula and graduation requirements. With most details of the state’s new reform of public education – known as House Bill 5 – settled only last week, HISD is ready with a multimedia toolbox to assist students, families, and support staff in making the most of the guidelines […]

HISD proposes closing five schools

Not sure about this. Houston ISD officials are proposing to close five small schools at the end of this academic year, a move likely to set off protests from parents and alumni. Some on the school board – which ultimately must approve the plan – already are expressing concerns about the closures, which would affect […]

School districts deal with ACA paperwork

The headline for this story says that Texas school districts are “struggling” to deal with requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but there’s not much evidence of actual struggles in the story itself. Texas school districts are scrambling to meet an Affordable Care Act provision that requires them to offer health insurance to thousands of […]

School finance retrial, Day One

And they’re off, again. Back in the courtroom after a 2013 legislative session in which lawmakers added money back to the state public education budget, lawyers representing nearly two-thirds of Texas school districts argued on Tuesday that the funding boost was short term, and that other changes had increased costs for schools. “Any and all […]

School finance retrial starts today

Back in the saddle again. A fight over the state’s controversial school funding system is headed back to court Tuesday before the same judge who declared it unconstitutional nearly a year ago, with state lawyers hoping they can persuade him that an infusion of new money and other legislative remedies have restored the requisite measure […]

Teaching creationism in Texas

Zack Kopplin reports on some unconstitutional behavior by a national charter school operator that has several campuses in Texas. When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will […]

Funding after school programs

This should be a no-brainer. To combat youth crime, a former Houston police chief says the city must first solve another problem: unstable and inadequate funding for after-school programs. City Councilman C.O. Bradford said it is more urgent than ever to make after-school programs a public-safety priority as federal grants continue to dwindle or expire, […]

HISD gives final approval to revised mascot/nickname policy

That’s that. Four HISD campuses will have to adopt new mascots after the school board gave final approval Thursday to a policy banning certain nicknames, such as the Redskins. The proposal from Superintendent Terry Grier drew some debate among students, alumni and community members, but the change puts the school district in line with others […]

Rolling out the laptops

I look forward to seeing how this goes. Tens of thousands of local students will receive taxpayer-funded laptops or tablets this month as the Houston and Clear Creek school districts join the national movement toward digital education. School leaders say dispatching the devices can help bridge the gap between rich and poor families and lead […]

New accountability standards, more schools on the failing list

Not a good headline. The number of officially faltering public schools in Texas almost doubled last year, in part because of higher accountability standards imposed by state education policy. The Texas Education Agency released Thursday a list of 892 schools that fell short of minimum standards and which have been placed on the Public Education […]

SBOE backs down on Algebra 2

So much for that. Only high school students who pursue an honors plan or a diploma specializing in math and science will have to take algebra II under recommendations that the Texas State Board of Education preliminarily approved Thursday. Despite an initial proposal that had included the advanced math course in all five new diploma […]

More on the Fort Bend ISD iPad failure

The Observer presents a good overview of the disastrous iPad experiment at the Fort Bend Independent School District. An audit of Fort Bend ISD’s iAchieve program released last month, details the ways the effort was cursed. (You can read the report below.) In short, Fort Bend ISD expected too much from its program too soon. It […]

Magnet reprieve

This was unexpected. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has reversed course and decided to give 20 struggling magnet programs another year before eliminating all their extra funding. The sudden switch from the plan he unveiled last month comes after some parents and school officials expressed surprise their programs were on the chopping block. Under Grier’s new […]

There are no new ideas, but there are plenty of bad ideas

There’s so much wrong with what Greg Abbott wants for Texas that it’s hard to know where to begin. In his first major policy address as a gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott proposed tighter constitutional limits on state spending and increased constraints on the multibillion-dollar Rainy Day Fund. Abbott laid out his “Working Texans” […]

Mostly good news for Apollo

That’s the story so far. A three-year, multimillion-dollar experiment to improve 20 struggling HISD schools yielded big gains in math and limited progress in reading, according to partial results of a study released Wednesday. Now, Superintendent Terry Grier and the school board face decisions over what, if any, changes to make to the district’s nationally […]

Demagnetized

Some unhappy changes are about to occur at Houston schools. HISD officials unveiled a plan Thursday to cut funding and end bus rides next year for transfer students at 20 struggling magnet schools, tackling a politically tough topic that has confounded the district for years. The campuses will be the first to feel the consequences […]

Fort Bend ISD halts iPad program

This is a surprise. Widespread problems found by a consultant have prompted Fort Bend school district officials to shelve a $16 million initiative to integrate thousands of iPads into the classroom experience at 14 schools. A review commissioned by the Fort Bend Independent School District found that the program, known as iAchieve, was rolled out […]

School finance trial still moving ahead

Ready or not, here it comes again. A Travis County District Judge has decided to move forward with the state’s school finance trial despite some wavering about re-opening the case. Earlier this month Travis County District Judge John Dietz revisited an order to re-open the case, which takes a look at if the state is […]

A new day in North Forest

I’m really really rooting for this to work out well. [Maria] Cortez used to teach at Burbank Elementary in the Houston Independent School District but agreed to follow her principal to a tough new assignment – and to transfer her daughter, too. [Thurgood Marshall Elementary] was part of North Forest ISD in northeast Houston until […]

Ratliff and Patrick spar over CSCOPE

Sounds like fun. The state curriculum system known as CSCOPE — little known until recently — can now add two hours of lively and at times testy debate to a long list of public appearances that includes State Board of Education meetings, legislative hearings and the Glenn Beck Show. On Saturday evening, SBOE member Thomas […]

Just so we’re clear, cities don’t run the schools

Lisa Falkenberg does some fact checking. Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall seems to have done his homework before he began claiming that, if elected, he’d have statutory authority over local schools. But he apparently didn’t check his interpretation of the statute with the Texas Education Agency. In an interview last week, Hall criticized Mayor Annise […]

On selling junk food in Texas schools

Every session, there’s at least one bill that gets passed with little to no notice that has completely unforeseen effects. The Lunch Tray breaks a story about one such bill from this past regular session, which has to do with the sale of junk food in Texas schools. When it comes to the sale of […]

What would Ben Hall do for schools?

Ben Hall made his official filing for Mayor on Wednesday, and had a campaign rally after ward. This story is about that and about a new video his campaign released, and it contains three ways in which Hall says he is different than Mayor Parker. One of them is worth highlighting here: 2. Education: “We […]

LA goes big on iPads in schools

I feel like we’re still on the tip of the iceberg, but that a lot more of this is coming soon. Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will receive 31,000 free iPads this school year under a new $30 million program launched by the district. The goal is to improve education and get […]

Show them the data

Interesting. A major donor to HISD’s key school reform effort is putting its remaining $3 million check on hold amid concerns that detailed research about the success of the program is lacking. The president of the Houston Endowment, Ann Stern, wrote a letter to top school district officials this month criticizing the recent progress report […]

No more RFID for Northside ISD

Nortside ISD in San Antonio has quit using RFID trackers in student IDs to keep tabs on them, and has embraced an alternate technological solution to the problem of ensuring an accurate headcount instead. Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told me that the microchip-ID program turned out not to be worth the trouble. […]

CSCOPE still in scope

Every once in awhile, whether they intend to or not, the SBOE does something worthwhile. The State Board of Education concluded its July meeting without providing further guidance as to whether Texas school districts continued to use lessons from CSCOPE, the controversial state-developed curriculum system. “It’s not up to the state board,” chairwoman Barbara Cargill, […]

HISD budgets for teacher pay raise and more Apollo

Whether that will mean a tax hike, and if so how much, remains undetermined. Houston ISD employees will see a 2 percent pay raise and many schools will receive more money to help struggling students under the budget that trustees approved on a 6-3 vote Monday. Left unsettled was whether property owners will face an […]

Patrick versus Ratliff

TFN Insider: Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, has already made clear his disgust over the political witch hunt that forced the state’s Education Service Centers to stop writing lesson plans in their CSCOPE curriculum management system. In May, for example, he tore into Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, […]

Back to court for the school finance lawsuit

Like deja vu all over again. State district court Judge John Dietz likened the state’s school finance case to the soap opera As The World Turns when he opened Wednesday’s hearing on whether to reconsider evidence in the trial that concluded in February. He drew the comparison not because of the trial’s drama but because […]

Perry signs HB5, adds transportation to the special session

There had been some buzz about a possible veto, but in the end this was to be expected. When Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 5 on Monday, he ended weeks of speculation that he might veto the high-profile education legislation because of concerns that it would weaken high school graduation standards. The bill, by […]