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Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Meet your “education reform” groups

The Observer provides a primer. For 20 years, Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) has been protecting our hospitals and business leaders from meddling trial lawyers, convincing the Texas Legislature to cap damage awards and closing the courthouse doors to some potential plaintiffs. For two decades, TLR has been wildly successful, perhaps the most successful special […]

What is the deal with Vanguard funding?

It started with an urgent action email sent to Travis Elementary School parents: As you may have heard, the Houston ISD Board’s proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year would eliminate HISD Vanguard Magnet funding. These drastic cuts would threaten the viability of the Vanguard program at Travis. (see the April 24 Budget and PUA […]

More on Achievement School Districts

Chris Barbic, the founder of YES Prep and the superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, one of the models for Greg Abbott’s education plan, weighs in on what these things are and are not. First, by law, the Tennessee ASD charters can’t pick and choose their students; the charters are not open-enrollment schools. When a […]

Jay Aiyer: Consider a local option for pre-k

Note: From time to time, I solicit guest posts from various individuals on different topics. While I like to think I know a little something about a lot of things, I’m fortunate to be acquainted with a number of people who know a whole lot about certain topics, and who are willing to share some […]

HISD does have a role to play in the Bush Foundation literacy effort

I learned this from a Terry Grier op-ed in the Chron. That’s why last week’s release of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s “Houston’s Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action,” was such a welcome event. The foundation’s plan to unite educators, government and community programs – plus human and financial capital – in a […]

Lawsuit filed over teacher evaluation system

A new front is opened in the war on standardized testing. Seven HISD teachers and their union are suing the school district to try to end job evaluations tied to students’ test scores, arguing the method is arbitrary, unfair and in violation of their due-process rights. The lawsuit, filed in federal court late Wednesday, could […]

Yik Yak

News flash: A new app that enables the posting of anonymous unfiltered thoughts can cause headaches for school administrators. Film at 11. A recent bomb threat alerted many Memorial High School parents and administrators to something that many Houston-area students already knew about: Yik Yak, a smartphone app that functions as a kind of cyber-bathroom […]

More on the Bush Foundation literacy effort

We had the preview story, now we have the rollout story about the efforts by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to tackle the problem of illiteracy. The nascent campaign to improve Houstonians’ reading skills got a $300,000 kick-start Thursday from the federal agency that oversees community service. The three-year grant will fund 15 workers […]

Falkenberg on Abbott’s education plan

Lisa Falkenberg has a balanced take on Greg Abbott’s education plan. Progress has been tragically slow for the students of North Forest. And their saga makes great fodder for those beating the drum to create something called an “achievement school district” in Texas. It would have the power to take over low-performing schools with the […]

Abbott’s education plan

Some actual policy from Greg Abbott. In the 27-page, footnoted report that accompanied the press conference, he proposed to “create a swift, automatic process under which the very worst schools would be removed from the control of their local school districts each year” and instead run through the Texas Achievement School District. That district’s superintendent, […]

On improving literacy

I have three things to say about this story. In Houston, a city known for its brilliant doctors and energy executives, adults are waiting in line for classes that teach basic literacy skills – reading, writing and speaking clearly. They can’t land jobs or promotions, can’t help their kids with homework. At the same time, […]

HISD unveils new mascots

Here they are. The cafeteria at Hamilton Middle School showcases a painting of a Native American in a feathered headdress. Students wear collared shirts with a similar symbol. They were, until Tuesday, the Hamilton Indians. Now, with a new school district policy banning mascots deemed culturally offensive, the Houston Heights campus has adopted the Huskies […]

Another trip down Demography Lane

From the Sunday Chron op-ed pages: Texas is headed for the ditch, but few people are aware of the state’s perilous path. The demographers have seen the future, though, because it’s foretold in their numbers. And they’ve been sounding the alarm. There hasn’t been much of a public-policy response, so far. Texas could be the […]

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 […]