Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Abbott denies his pre-k plan means standardized testing for 4-year-olds

Glad we cleared that up. After questions were raised about language in a policy proposal that appears to call for the biannual testing of pre-kindergarten students, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s campaign is clarifying his early education plan, saying he is not calling for such tests. The proposal — the first detailed glimpse at Abbott’s education policy — […]

HISD board votes for Mexican-American studies class

You would think this wouldn’t be a big deal. The Houston school board, representing the largest district in Texas, threw its support Thursday behind the creation of a Mexican-American studies course in Texas public schools. The 9-0 vote followed some debate over whether the district would appear to be favoring one culture over another. “Unanimous […]

Calculator apps

This seems reasonable to me. Despite concerns about test security, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced Thursday that he would allow some students to use calculator “apps” on state exams next school year. Under current rules students may use only traditional calculators. But with more districts giving students iPads or other tablets, some school officials […]

Makeup days

Sorry, kids. Houston area schools are facing possible cuts in state funding, and a bruising in the court of public opinion, by making up days missed earlier this year because of icy roads. With little fat built into the spring school calendar and several days of mandatory state testing, Houston schools have little choice but […]

Let them sleep

Jilly Dos Santos is a hero to teenagers everywhere. Jilly Dos Santos really did try to get to school on time. She set three successive alarms on her phone. Skipped breakfast. Hastily applied makeup while her fuming father drove. But last year she rarely made it into the frantic scrum at the doors of Rock […]

Dodson to be closed, Jones to be revamped

In the end, only one school was closed by HISD, but a lot of people are still upset about the whole thing. During a rowdy meeting where police had to quiet shouting protestors, the Houston school board narrowly agreed Thursday to close Dodson Elementary but accepted a compromise plan that would turn the long-struggling Jones […]

Last stand against school closures

Last chance, too. Community activists called Tuesday for HISD to spare two schools from closure in a last-ditch effort that included filing a federal civil-rights complaint alleging racial discrimination. Charles X. White, president of the city’s South Park Super Neighborhood group, said he had asked federal authorities to investigate HISD’s proposal to close schools in […]

Three of five schools escape closure

For now, at least. The other two are still on the block. Three small schools will be spared from closure at the urging of Houston school board president Juliet Stipeche, but Jones High and Dodson Elementary remain on the potential chopping block. Facing mounting community pressure against Superintendent Terry Grier’s closure proposal, Stipeche eliminated Fleming […]

The state of HISD

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier assesses the district in his State of the Schools address. While not mentioning the closure controversy Wednesday, Grier touted the district’s progress – being named the nation’s top urban school district in 2013, for example – while conceding he has more work to do in the two years left on his […]

On schools and neighborhoods

Efforts to revitalize neighborhoods in the Fifth Ward are running into HISD’s proposal to close five schools. Nearly half the students who attend Nathaniel Q. Henderson Elementary School live steps away from campus in an aging, rundown apartment complex. The neighborhood, in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward, is at a crossroads. The city is seeking a […]

Help HISD review its design plans

HISD would like your input in determining the designs for the schools to be built or rebuilt with the 2012 bond money. The Houston Independent School District is hosting another series of community meetings for the first 17 schools slated for construction in the 2012 bond program to give participants a chance to review designs […]

Tracking diplomas

From the Texas Tribune: Among young Texans who started eighth grade in 2001, less than one-fifth went on to earn a higher education credential within six years of their high school graduation. And rates were even lower among African-American and Hispanic students and those who were economically disadvantaged, according to data analyzed by two state […]

HISD gets more diverse

Which in this case means it’s getting a little whiter. After decades of free fall, Houston ISD’s white enrollment is inching upward, suggesting that more families with the resources to choose are selecting Houston public schools. Enrollment of non-Hispanic white students in the Houston Independent School District bottomed out in 2010 at 15,340 students, or […]

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 […]