Texas' education push underwhelms voters
Texas lawmakers' recent push to boost education spending and provisions has underwhelmed voters, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, which indicates that only 30% of those surveyed approving of how state leaders and the Legislature are handling public education. Despite Gov. Greg Abbott announcing it “a monumental moment in public education history in the state of Texas” when he approved about $6.5bn in new public education spending and about $5.1bn devoted to lowering Texans’ property tax bills, James Henson, who runs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-directed the poll, says: “Nobody’s looking at what the Legislature did on property taxes and K-12 education and handing out awards.”
Schools underreporting restraint and seclusion data
Public schools have significantly underreported their use of restraint and seclusion to control students’ behavior, according to the federal Government Accountability Office, which has highlighted reporting errors in New York City, Philadelphia and other districts, who entered zeros in the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection for 2015-16 when they should have indicated the data was actually "unavailable". Seven out of 10 - of more than 17,000 U.S. districts - reported zero incidents of students being physically restrained or isolated in a separate area, the GAO said.
Districts propose wide-ranging raises
Houston ISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan has unveiled proposals for employees to receive raises of at least 3.5% next school year - with some educators and staff members earning up to 8% more depending on their experience level. The $135m spending proposal received mixed reviews from HISD trustees and staff unions however, with some criticizing relatively small salary increases for the district’s lowest-paid staffers. Separately, teachers returning to Katy ISD have the potential to earn up to 8% more in 2019-2020, according to a compensation plan presented by district leaders. All employees would receive a 4% increase, under the proposals, approximately $2,475 for teachers, and all employees would receive a one-time 1% lump sum in December, approximately $635 for teachers.
Houston Chronicle KHOU Katy Times Community Impact
Uvalde gives second chance to alternative school program
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s Crossroads Academy is set to host its inaugural students in the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. The campus will be led by Hector Lopez, former principal of Batesville School, and will be housed in the Benson Educational Complex and is designed to help at-risk and non-traditional students achieve a high school education. Mr Lopez, and UCISD Superintendent Hal Harrell, say the design is similar to the district’s Excel Academy, which closed in 2014 during then-superintendent Jeanette Ball’s tenure.
Santa Fe extends superintendent's contract
The Santa Fe school board has extended Superintendent Veronica García's contract by a year to June 2021 - and also approved a 6% raise.
San Antonio Express-News
North Texas charter school among nation's best
Westlake Academy has established itself as one of the top academic schools in the country, ranking 13th in the state and 30th among charter schools across the U.S. in a report by U.S. News & World Report. “We’re very proud of the class of 2019. We’re well on our way to achieving the vision the board of trustees and town council set out when we started this process more than 15 years ago when the school first opened its doors,” Westlake Superintendent Amanda DeGan said.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bryan expands to full-day pre-K
The Bryan school district is preparing to expand its full-day pre-kindergarten services. The district currently serves 690 students in its half-day program at six sites, Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Barbara Ybarra told the school board at its Monday meeting. With those six sites, the district tries to keep an 11:1 student-to-teacher ratio in pre-K classrooms; if every student entitled enrols in the program, she added, the district will need 20 additional teachers and 26 additional instructional aides. Following Ms Ybarra’s presentation on the full-day pre-K program, board members agreed to spend $600,000 to equip approximately 20 additional pre-K classrooms.
Texas Tech gets vet school backing
Governor Abbott has signed legislation to fund the Texas Tech veterinary school in Amarillo. Texas Tech President, Lawrence Schovanec, revealed that the school will receive $17.35m from the state to go toward hiring 32 faculty members and starting a teaching facility.
Everything Lubbock Texas Tribune
SOCIAL & COMMUNITY
Kids ride-sharing services on the rise
Transportation giant National Express, which serves about 600 school districts across 30 states, has led a funding round in kids’ ride sharing service Kango - which has raised $3.6m for expansion. Hinting at the shape of things to come, the announcement follows the recent $40 million secured by another child ride-sharing service, Zum, and underlines growing investor appetite for services that shuttle kids around.
People believe in ‘teachers-turned-lawmakers'
Education Week profiles several teachers-turned-lawmakers as they finish their first few months in office - to determine their transition from "the schoolhouse to the statehouse." Last year, at least 43 teachers were elected in nearly two-dozen states, and lawmakers featured here underline similarities between the two roles - Oklahoma state Sen. David Bullard, a Republican who taught high school history in Texas, says: "Relationship building in the legislature is a lot like teaching. Everything is built on relationships up there." Maryland state Del. Harry Bhandari, a Democrat who teaches high school English, who has already introduced legislation requiring the state education department to lend hearing aids and other language resources to parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, reveals of attitudes to his new role: "People like a more authentic voice. I've been teaching for years. People believe in you."