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Our readers talk back.
Columns  November 18, 2005
"...What an insulting way to offer 5% of teachers a pay raise ["Pay, Performance, Politics, and Education," News, Nov. 11]...."

Creative Capital?
In the City of Ideas, the people with ideas are dancing with day jobs.
News Story  February 28, 2003, by Michael Erard
"...That's what Carnegie-Mellon economist Richard Florida does in The Rise of the Creative Class, his bestselling book of pop urban studies, in which he anoints Austin the nation's second-most creative city (after San Francisco). For Florida, the creative class is big enough for Kitto and Bedgood -- plus architects, engineers, teachers, librarians, writers, actors, and musicians, as well as bureaucrats, financiers, and sports stars..."

Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond
News Story  November 28, 2008
"...AISD Teachers Get an A..."

Lege Notes
Odds and ends – mostly odds – from beneath the pink granite dome
News Column  July 22, 2005
"...• Chalk up a victory for the legion of teachers battling belittling legislation this session. Under the auspice of reforming the Teachers Retirement System, the unsuccessful Senate Bill 8 would have set teacher retirement at the age of 60, breaking with the "Rule of 80," where retirement with unreduced benefits is possible once an educator's age and years of work total 80 or more..."

Shrinking Schools
While the suburbs sprawl, central city schools count their children – and their blessings
News Story  May 20, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"...It's the kind of school that it's sometimes easy for Austinites to forget exists – a good school on the Eastside. Its test scores (if you're into that sort of thing) aren't the greatest, but it's a place where teachers value creativity, where parents turn out in droves for events, and where kids can walk a few shady blocks and hang out with grandma after school...."

Johnston High Turns Triplet
AISD moves on plan to divide Eastside school into three smaller 'learning communities'
News Story  February 25, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"..."Smaller learning communities are a necessary but insufficient strategy," says principal Steve Amstutz of Lee High School in Houston, which five years ago undertook a redesign that created 10 academies of about 200 students and a dozen teachers each. "It's a place to start..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  May 30, 2003
"...The Texas Supreme Court held that even though the driver promised to let the man back on the bus to protect him, and then failed to do so, the driver was protected by sovereign immunity. The Texas Legislature is soon to pass a bill (HB 4, among others) broadening immunity to include teachers, school bus drivers, firemen, and many more government employees..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  March 29, 2002
"...Often administrators make decisions and choices for the staff, and a sense of community, trust, and shared vision does not get built. Teachers are easily criticized, blamed for low test scores, and made to feel inadequate either directly or indirectly...."

Sterling Lands' New Mission
Sterling Lands II and the Eastside Social Action Coalition fight for equity in Austin's public schools.
News Story  January 12, 2001, by Jordan Smith
"..."Not only would the Feds be on us like a duck on a June bug, but the parents would not be happy either. The kids that go into special ed are referred from teachers or parents and they have to meet certain criteria, which are federal criteria."..."

"Still Separate and Still Unequal"
News Story  January 12, 2001
"...We need smaller classes and reduced administrative burden on teachers. We need resources for high quality education for all students, especially those with the highest needs..."

School of Hard Knocks
Number Discrepancies
News Story  May 13, 1999, by Kevin Fullerton
"...The pressures of high school are a shock to many teenagers. They leave the relative security of middle school, where teachers are responsible for smaller groups and better able to assist struggling students, and land in giant high schools where the work is harder and help less plentiful...."

Lege Lines: The Voters Speak, the Governor Listens
Abbott leaves the red-state red-meat back at the mansion
News Story  February 7, 2019, by Mary Tuma, Sarah Marloff and Mike Clark-Madison
"...Instead, the governor is thinking of the children; less than 40% of students who took the SAT or ACT were prepared for college, said Abbott, calling for school finance reform that includes paying teachers more and earning an ovation from both sides of the aisle. "We must provide incentives to put effective teachers in the schools and classrooms where they are needed the most, and we must create a pathway for the best teachers to earn a six-figure salary," he said...."

Fixing the Gap
Mayors tackle school finance at SXSWedu
News Story  March 17, 2016, by Richard Whittaker
"...This being Austin, the subject turned to gentrification, and cities' use of planning, permitting, and affordable housing funds. Taylor argued for finding ways to get underpaid teachers living in their community, so they are better connected to their students and their families, and more reflective of that community..."

The Hightower Report
Moneyed elites get richer the old-fashioned way: stealing
News Column  October 15, 2015, by Jim Hightower
"...Get ready to swallow your "Statistic of the Day!" But first, to help you absorb the big one, here's a preliminary statistic: 158,000. That's the number of kindergarten teachers in America, and their combined income in 2013 was $8 billion..."

Save Our Schools!
Texans advance on Capitol in bid to preserve public schools
News Story  March 11, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...As the 82nd Texas Legislature reaches its midpoint, lawmakers are facing a gut check moment: Do they push through the $10 billion in planned cuts to public schools, or do they protect classrooms? The Save Texas Schools coalition wants them to do one thing: Come out of their offices on March 12, walk onto the Capitol grounds, and listen to the thousands of ordinary Texans who will be rallying for public education. The coalition's plan is to gather families, teachers, administrators, trustees, union activists, and business interests from across the state to tell legislators that cutting school funding is a terrible idea..."

AISD: Holes Plugged ... Temporarily
The 2009 AISD budget balances the books, but the financial future's not bright
News Story  July 31, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...But – neither is free money. Indeed, West points out that most of it is already allocated for educational mandates, like student/teacher staffing levels and an $800 pay raise for teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, and speech pathologists..."

AISD: Carstarphen Seals the Deal
Folks, we've got ourselves a new school superintendent
News Story  March 27, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...(Before the vote, St. Paul Federation of Teachers President Mary Cathryn Ricker said she understood the sources' caution: "If she signs today ....."

Vote Yes on Prop. 1
Postmarks  October 8, 2008
"...Because of the current school finance system, Austin voters will be asked to approve a 3.9-cent increase to their property tax rate in support of AISD Proposition 1. The measure will allow the district to provide teachers a 3% pay raise for this school year..."

Point Austin: Bare Necessities
Budget decisions are about money ... and justice
News Column  August 15, 2008, by Michael King
"...Because the Legislature has historically resisted every attempt at sufficient and equitable funding of the public schools, individual districts go to war over matters that should be common public welfare. Why are public school teachers and employees, for God's sake, reduced to begging school districts for health insurance? Ask your legislator. Unequal Shares..."

Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and elsewhere
News Story  August 1, 2008
"...• TEACHER GROUPS BACK DOHERTY Democratic congress­ion­al candidate Larry Joe Doherty, running for the Austin-to-Houston District 10 seat currently occupied by Republican Michael McCaul, received the endorsements of major teachers' unions last week, including the National Education Association, the Texas State Teachers Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. In a press release, Doherty attacked McCaul for voting "to strip $806 billion in vital funding" from the No Child Left Behind program and for voting against federal student-aid programs..."

AISD Grossly Underpays
Postmarks  June 25, 2008
"...Dear Editor, Did you know that AISD pays teachers considerably less than [districts in] outlying areas, considerably less than most Texas schools, and considerably less than most school districts nationwide? I find that appalling. An adequate wage for all AISD employees needs to be a conscious goal of every member of this community. I am a certified educational aide, otherwise known as a paraprofessional..."

Capitol Briefs
News Column  June 1, 2007
"...• All public school employees will be fingerprinted under SB 9, a bill sponsored and passed by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, that received plenty of emotional testimony from parents whose children were involved in inappropriate sexual relationships with teachers..."

Naked City
Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond
News Story  September 15, 2006
"...The teacher, Michael Poliakoff, had been at Bailey for 12 years; he is also active in Education Austin, the teacher's union, which has filed a grievance against AISD on Poliakoff's behalf. According to a union statement, Poliakoff was one of 49 teachers who sounded the alarm three years ago when Bailey principal Julia Fletcher changed student grades without informing either parents or the teachers who assigned the original grades..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  May 26, 2006
"...Speaking of teacher pay raises ["Triumph in the Lege?," News, May 12], can someone please explain to me why the Legislature gave the judges/justices (some of whom make anywhere in the range of $100,000 a year) of this state a 25% to 35% pay increase, and our children's teachers are getting a whopping pay increase of $2,000 a year? The state leaders obviously need a greater respect and understanding of the need to hire and maintain excellent teachers as they did for the judges! Thanks for your article. The public needs to be constantly reminded of what is important...."

On the Lege
Opening day of the special legislative session featured more plot lines than a MASH episode.
News Column  April 21, 2006, by Amy Smith
"...Perry, for his part, greeted the surplus by suggesting that an even larger property tax cut is in order. Not to be outdone, Strayhorn laid out some proposals of her own on Monday, calling for a $4,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers and the full restoration of funds to the Children's Health Insurance Fund..."

5% an Insult
Postmarks  November 14, 2005
"...Dear Editor, What an insulting way to offer 5% of teachers a pay raise [“Pay, Performance, Politics, and Education,” News, Nov. 11]. If incentive pay for teachers is the way to go, then I suggest we give 5% of all governors in the country "incentive pay" to those whose initiative ideas get the most votes..."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  May 13, 2005, by Lee Nichols and Cheryl Smith
"...• Three East Austin/African-American properties were recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Teachers State Association of Texas Building at 1191 Navasota, the George Washington Carver Library at 1165 Angelina, and the Limerick-Frazier House at 810 E..."

Get in Line
In the new Texas arithmetic, nothing for nothing leaves nothing
News Column  July 23, 2004, by Michael King
"...The board members did not entirely take leave of their senses. They deferred the new curriculum – which would cost $200 million just for new labs (teachers to be acquired later) – until 2007..."

Naked City
Forgione proposes dipping into savings to boost teacher salaries
News Story  June 18, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...The $732 million budget that AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione proposed to the district's board of trustees Monday night is one that bets the lean years will soon be behind the city, and better times are on their way. In contrast to last year's budget debacle, when shortfalls caused massive staffing cuts and a de facto pay cut for teachers, this budget includes $15 million for a 5% across-the-board pay raise, plus funds for teachers' health insurance premiums...."

Coming Up Lemons
The House Bill on public school finance goes to the floor, and it's all about tax cuts and slot machines
News Column  May 7, 2004, by Michael King
"...Heflin also grumbled dyspeptically at the late amendment, offered by Dianne Delisi, to move $175 million from public school "performance incentives" back into the health care fund for teaching staff (granted and cut in half and promised again over the last two sessions). You realize, he asked Delisi, that this amendment "takes money from a fund to reward teachers who add academic achievement and gives it to teachers who just keep their jobs?" Heflin apparently considers health insurance a bonus for exemplary employees, although by that standard he and most of his colleagues should certainly not be enjoying excellent health coverage at state expense...."

What's So Special?
Gov. Perry calls a special session, and pits property taxes against schoolchildren
News Column  April 23, 2004, by Michael King
"...In the best of times, with clear leadership, it's a hard deal – now you have 30 freshmen running around saying, 'No new taxes.' What's a tax in that environment?"Wild Cards If there's little early consensus on the big issues – recapture and property taxes – is there anything else in the grab bag of education proposals that might get accomplished in a month? Waco Rep. Jim Dunnam, chair of the Democratic caucus, says that while Democrats have not been privy to most of the preparations, "Some people have been saying all along that this is just a bait and switch for policy changes that haven't passed the Legislature on their own." Both the governor's plan and Grusendorf's substitute bill lead with variations on the "performance incentives" fund that would provide $500 million in financial bonuses for high-scoring teachers and schools..."

Juan Meza's World
The Juan in a Million restaurateur's Eastside embrace has turned him into an Austin icon
Food Story  January 23, 2004, by Rachel Feit
"...Juan Meza and his wife, Myrna, came to Austin from Laredo in the Seventies. Austin ISD recruited them as teachers for their fledgling bilingual program..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  November 8, 2002
"...This letter represents the formal response of the student members of the Griffin School Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is made up of three student representatives (elected by the student body), two teachers, and one administrator, and is responsible for the creation, alteration, and removal of all policies at the school..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  September 27, 2002
"...I have to agree that many of the textbooks history teachers have to use are bland enough to put the reader into deep hibernation ["Making Everyone Happy," Sept. 13], but the problem in history classes in the state of Texas is not just textbooks..."

Naked City
Barrientos implores Forgione and AISD not to drop its successful dropout prevention program.
News Story  July 5, 2002, by Michael King
"...Forgione reiterated that he "had no desire to eliminate any of the new programs, but that he felt obligated to put them on the table to see how much money could be generated for teacher pay raises." Welch says the district remains hopeful that when property appraisals are finalized in July there will be sufficient money to cover the need. "It will be real difficult to do even a 2% raise," Welch said, "if the property values aren't there to support it." Welch repeated that neither the administration nor the board wants to cut the dropout prevention program, "but there must be a pay raise for teachers, and it will have to come from somewhere..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  May 10, 2002
"...I have to wonder how many other parents are forced to comply with the same rules. Meanwhile, students and teachers are sick and the district continues to downplay the poor state of breathable air in the classrooms..."

May 4 Election
It's time to pick ACC Board members again.
News Story  April 26, 2002, by Cathy Vaughan
"..."It's more important this time, then it has been in a long time," says Austin Community College/American Federation of Teachers President Myra Bradley of the May 4 Austin Community College Board elections. Although only three out of the nine spots on the ACC Board of Trustees are up for grabs, Bradley is not alone in assigning a special weight to this year's election..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  December 14, 2001
"...No neighborhood parents were interviewed on the subject. (The majority of parents don't even know at this minute that Liberal Arts is gone to LBJ.) No other teachers' opinions were gathered, and you failed to dig deep into the Alliance program, led by a group of good-intentioned teachers and volunteers, but nicely brainwashed by Interfaith..."

Opening the Doors
As college access tightens, minority students and families, and educators, look for ways to help more students.
News Story  December 15, 2000, by Kevin Fullerton
"...It's not a concise system of education," says UT System spokesperson Monty Jones. University officials have complained about the preparedness of high school graduates, but public educators have rejoined that it's the universities that train the teachers..."

A-to-Z Guide to Education in 1999
News Story  January 7, 2000, by Kevin Fullerton
"...With strong advocacy from Governor Bush, the Legislature told schools that passing third-graders who can't read on par is no longer acceptable. Money was also approved to intensify elementary teachers' literacy training, but will it be enough to prevent hordes of teens with driver's licenses from packing our middle schools?..."

Don't Cry for Rainey
Columns  July 22, 1999
"...Let me tell you, it sucks to sit there and see the same kids get awards for "academic achievements" when that same kid has been mean to you all year. It sucks that "the teachers who spent countless hours preparing the award ceremony" forgot my parents and other parents who were not "cheap with their generosity or time." It sucks that the kids that did get awards for high TAAS scores were the same kids that teased and bullied others for being the last to finish the TAAS test..."

Bush on Borderline
Columns  June 10, 1999
"...It seems that only the award winners were allowed to have snacks. The thought came to me, "No wonder kids bring guns to school." AISD -- you can do better than this! I know there were teachers at that assembly who cared about kids..."

AISD Notebook
News Story  June 27, 1997, by Roseana Auten
"...AISD Director of Personnel Services Paul Shooter told the board that all teachers (and librarians) will be paid at least $380 above the state minimum salary schedule, and many will be paid well above the minimum. To help reward the district's most experienced teachers, who are already at the top of the salary schedule and would otherwise not realize much benefit from the 5% average hike, the district will move them up an extra step on the pay ladder..."

Emory & Young Not Conservative
Columns  May 16, 1997
"...We are concerned with the effect the TAAS Test is having upon our children and school system. Undue emphasis has been placed upon this test for several reasons: 1) School districts are rated and money allocated to them based on their TAAS results, 2) Teachers are evaluated based on the TAAS scores and, 3) students, regardless of grades, must pass this test in order to graduate..."

AISD's Johnston and Webb: Test Score Role Reversal
TAKS scores for district's two most struggling schools confusing
News Story  May 25, 2007, by Michael May
"...Considering the incredible turmoil the school went through this year, it seemed unlikely the students would show improvements on the test. The teachers spent half the year worrying about their jobs, and the students were essentially being blamed for shutting down their neighborhood school..."

On the Lege
Lawmakers accomplish what they failed to do so many times – approve a new education funding package that doesn't look half bad on paper
News Column  May 19, 2006, by Amy Smith
"...In case you blinked and missed the excitement, lawmakers accomplished this week what they've failed to do in so many sessions past – approve a new education-funding package that doesn't look half bad on paper. The new tax plan, which Perry said he will sign "with great passion and joy," will cut school property taxes 33% over two years, give teachers a $2,000 pay raise, and provide an average 4% increase in new money for school districts, with low-income districts getting additional state aid without wealthier school districts feeling quite the same squeeze from the "Robin Hood" days of old..."

Naked City
Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond
News Story  March 24, 2006
"...• And then there's the issue of teachers' salaries. Two gubernatorial hopefuls – Democrat Chris Bell and state comptroller and GOP-turned-indie Carole Keeton Strayhorn – urged Perry in separate press conferences Monday to include across-the-board teacher pay raises in next month's special session..."

Family Flight
Will AISD abandon its shrinking schools?
News Story  February 3, 2006, by Rachel Proctor May
"...AISD says the repurposing plan is a way to make more out of less in a brutal state school-finance environment. Under Texas' redistributive system disdainfully known as Robin Hood, AISD's revenue is flat, even as teachers need raises, utility costs increase, and a growing population of low-income and immigrant students require extra services like tutoring..."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  December 16, 2005
"...• Ten AISD teachers earned national board certification this week, bringing the number of teachers with the respected qualification to 70 – the largest number for any district in Texas. The idea behind board certification is that professional development helps educators teach better and encourages them to stick with a profession where about half of all recruits quit within five years..."

Lege or Circus?
A lack of democracy turns education 'reform' into an unfunny joke
News Column  August 12, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...If and when state leaders ever agree on a school finance plan, textbook publishers and teachers will have enough material to devote entire chapters and lesson plans to "How the 79th Legislature Messed With Texas."..."

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