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Our readers talk back.
Columns  January 5, 2001
"...King's "character education" bill from making it out of committee. Tell us what we can do to make sure HB 12 gives our teachers decent health insurance..."

Naked City
Four candidates compete for the Place 7 position on the Austin Community College Board, which Hunter Ellinger is vacating.
News Story  April 14, 2000, by Meiling Guentzel
"...Mink, who commutes between Austin and Santa Barbara, says she can bring "over 30 years of direct experience in higher education" to the board. Mink also has raked in several key endorsements, including those of the ACC chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO's Central Labor Council..."

Complete Freedom
A profile of Bad Livers banjo player Danny Barnes
Music Story  November 5, 1999, by Raoul Hernandez
" suffer. One of my music teachers told me that..."

It Gets Better
Columns  August 5, 1999
"...School-age children dissociate because they cannot understand why compassionate, instinctive values -- like tolerance, kindness, and respect -- are not reinforced or rewarded. They rebel because they sense that teachers and administrators are, at best, helpless to control the bullying of the in-crowds and, at worst, co-conspirators with the popular children..."

The Information Junkie
Screens Story  November 20, 1998, by Jon Lebkowsky
"...On the other hand, the ability to converse and collaborate in a professional setting -- lawyers, teachers, librarians, whatever -- can be a real attraction; added value, as you suggest, in the appropriate context...."

Austin, California?
The West Coast Goes to the Southwest
News Story  June 30, 1995
"...In many ways, they're a lot like those of us who are already here. They may work in such local growth industries like high-tech, or the film and the music business, or they may be waitresses, bookkeepers, or teachers..."

AISD Notebook
News Story  June 16, 1995, by Roseana Auten
"...Jeff Travillion, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, reminded the board that AISD is essentially ending its 16-campus Priority Schools program without "a comprehensive assessment" of the quality of each school's instruction or the qualifications of its teachers and administrators. "We cannot support moving Priority Schools funding without this type of analytical data," he said...."

Austin at Large: Put on Your Shrinking Caps
So why – let alone how – do we "need" to "reform" Texas property taxes?
News Column  February 7, 2019, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Most of all, of course, we've pushed that spending down to local governments, which can't run deficits to cover their operating expenses, and which have to make payroll in part or in whole by raising property taxes. For schools, that's led to the sticker shock in the suburbs that has driven recent cries for "relief," and districts now rather routinely hold tax ratification elections (TREs) to bust through the current 8% revenue cap just to, say, pay for teachers' health care or buy computers..."

Election Ticker: Last Chance for Controversy
E-Day is tomorrow! Here's the latest news before it's too late.
DAILY News  November 5, 2018, by News Staff
"...“I made a stupid mistake. Carmen did not approve or see the email.” But the Evite caused a minor panic within opponent Arati Singh’s camp; Tilton asked Dell to take it down, but on Friday hit Singh for accepting “thousands in PAC and out of state money to pay consultants.” Singh said she was “proud” to have the support of the local teachers union, Education Austin, and that she works “with the best professionals in the field” along with volunteers, because “the nearly 80,000 students of Austin ISD are worth it.” *Correction: Due to an editorial error, Laura Pressley was initially identified (in part) as a "chiropractor." As she points out below, that was inaccurate, and the mistake has been corrected...."

Location, Location, Location
AISD is moving its administrative offices from West Sixth Street to Highway 290. Why would any government entity do that?
News Story  January 25, 2018, by Richard Whittaker
"...Yet Zarifis is not completely convinced about the centralization argument. While there may be advantages to keeping departments on the same corridor, by swapping one office block for another he felt the district had missed an opportunity "to discuss how we could co-locate some of the facilities," or some of the departments, "in a way that allows us to take advantage of the fact that we have teachers, employees, and students in those very workspaces that would allow us to stay connected on the ground, in real life, in the schools." No Matter Where You Are … [image-3-right]..."

DPS Troopers Push Undocumented Immigrants Into a Deportation Pipeline
Spike in traffic stops raises concerns about racial profiling, faulty record keeping, and the damage done to families
News Story  June 1, 2017, by Debbie Nathan
"...Polo brought home $500 a week and lived with his family in a colonia, in a double-wide trailer with plywood floors and a bathroom with holes in the wood by the toilet, through which he can see the land he was diligently purchasing in monthly installments. He was a regular churchgoer and a volunteer at his stepson's grade school, showing up on his free time to help the teachers photocopy lessons and cut out pictures for the students to use in class...."

Questions of Church-State Separation at Dell Seton Medical Center
Do the hospital’s ties to the Catholic church and limits on women’s reproductive health care compromise Dell Med students' training?
News Story  January 19, 2017, by Mary Tuma
"...Among its legal citations, AU references a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court case out of Arkansas that found the state had violated the Establishment Clause by prohibiting teachers from teaching evolution due to religious beliefs...."

Reasonable Doubt
Did misleading DNA analysis land an innocent man on death row?
News Story  April 28, 2016, by Chase Hoffberger
"...Barz, who worked with Fulwiler at the Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center, spent the day working, but left abruptly after 5pm when she didn't receive an expected phone call from her daughter. Mitchell walked home at 3:30pm, her teachers told investigators..."

Nick Broomfield Tells Tales of the Grim Sleeper
Filmmaker talks about his new HBO doc, LA, race, and death
DAILY Screens  April 26, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"..."He said the problem in this city is that the racial dialogue has finished, and we need to get it restarted." However, what afflicts South Central, and a thousand communities like it, is not simply a race issue. It's another aspect of the cycle of disenfranchisement: the area's elected office holders aren't funded by local donors, but by the police association or the teachers' union..."

Bleak Day at SCOTUS for Women, Unions
Hobby Lobby ruling hits reproductive rights, Illinois wings labor
DAILY News  June 30, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...In this instance it was the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (another head of the Koch Bros. hydra) facing a coalition of labor unions, including Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Teachers, which had been working to organize these most vulnerable of government workers...."

The Hightower Report
The highly educated working poor: Adjunct professors
News Column  January 17, 2014, by Jim Hightower
"...The sorry secret of higher education – from community colleges to brand-name universities – is that they've embraced the corporate culture of a contingent workforce, turning professors into part-time, low-paid, no-benefit, no-tenure, temporary teachers. Overall, more than half of America's higher-ed faculty members today are "adjunct professors," meaning they are attached to the school, but not essentially a part of it...."

ACC Throws Book at Affordable Care Act
Administrators trim adjunct faculty hours to avoid providing health coverage
News Story  December 13, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...The ACC American Federation of Teachers, ACC's staff union, is fighting against the change, which they see as yet another blow to employees. The union's vice president for faculty, adjunct associate professor David J..."

Point Austin: Making Connections
Organized labor reaches out to all workers
News Column  March 2, 2012, by Michael King
"...It's arguable, of course, that in light of the concerted current attacks on workers' rights in general, and unions in particular, taking place in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and elsewhere, the undermining of teachers' unions in Texas – indeed the entire Republican presidential campaign – an outreach effort that focuses on happy talk about worker connections might not seem the most effective means of self-defense. Shuler says that this project does not replace active organizing efforts, but complements them, by reaching beyond union activists to people not accustomed to thinking of their work in terms of solidarity..."

The Reality of Capitalism
Postmarks  September 16, 2011
"...It's about demand. Build bridges and roads, put solar panels on every government building, run fiber to every household, hire 100,000 teachers..."

The Hightower Report
Gov. Perry boasts his job numbers, but the facts belie him
News Column  September 16, 2011, by Jim Hightower
"...But peek behind that ideological curtain and you'll find this startling fact: During Perry's decade, the growth in private sector jobs has been a relatively paltry 9% while the public sector has more than doubled that, increasing the number of local, state, and federal workers in Texas by 19%. One out of six employed Texans are now teachers, police officers, highway engineers, military personnel, or other government workers – and many of these jobs were created with federal money, including cash from Barack Obama's stimulus program..."

Three Guys, a Girl, and a Dog Named Friday
Austin film collective Jollyville Pictures on its ingredients for success
Screens Story  December 18, 2009, by Marc Savlov
"...Johnson, whose day gig tends to revolve around animation (check out his promo spot for the Secular Student Alliance here:, has one of the more interesting fan bases I've ever heard of, thanks to his 2007 animated adaptation of Edwin A. Abbott's cult novel Flatland, which, while it features the voices of Hollywood heavyweight Martin Sheen and former Logan's Runner Michael York, is more beloved by high school math teachers than either Apocalypse Now or anything the once-upon-a-D'Artagnan has done of late..."

Marijuana Coast to Coast
Hot pot news from California and Washington, D.C.
DAILY News  July 8, 2009, by Jordan Smith
"...In support of the measure, the Marijuana Policy Project rolled out this national ad, which notes that California's budget woes could be helped (significantly) by taxing the millions of marijuana consumers living there – indeed, the ad claims, revenues from pot could pay for the salaries of 20,000 teachers...."

News Story  February 13, 2009
"...• Austin Independent School District announced that 34 more teachers have received National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, bringing the district's list to 170 – more than a third of the state total and more than any other school district in Texas...."

Movin' on Up
Melissa Villareal's life was changed by Ballet East
Arts Story  December 5, 2008, by Jonelle Seitz
"...And when Larkin offered up her apartment and Mendez came up with the plane fare, Villarreal obtained leave at her day job and, for the first time, crossed the Texas state line. Though New York City was initially intimidating, the influential teachers and talented classmates challenged and inspired her..."

Regardless of Outcome on Referendum, 'I Lose'
Postmarks  October 15, 2008
"...Can you believe AISD can't do any better than that? With my obscene property taxes set at about $7,000 a year (for a two-bedroom house in Clarksville built in the Thirties) I continue to fall further and further into debt for the "privilege" of teaching young adults. But hey, what's another $50 to $100 on my tax bill if it'll give me a raise that doesn't even cover an increase in the cost of living. If AISD and the city of Austin are trying to push experienced teachers out of the profession and out of the area, they're doing a really good job of it..."

On the Lege: Itty Bitty Steps
Minority Dems savor a few budget victories, and other news from the Capitol
News Column  April 6, 2007, by Amy Smith
"...The House moved through the budget bill, House Bill 1, at an agonizing crawl, before finally passing the biennial octopus 129-14. Apart from spurts of punchy debate, the showstopping moments arrived late, with Houston Democrat Rick Noriega's proposal to scrap a teacher incentive-pay program and replace it with an across-the-board pay hike for teachers this fall..."

We Were the Urban Pioneers
Our search for the just-right million-dollar condo, in the wilds of Downtown
News Story  March 23, 2007, by Wells Dunbar and Jordan Smith
"...Once upon a time, Spring's Vancouver-style point tower was touted by developer Perry Lorenz as "affordable." In 2005, the Spring partners told reporters they planned to sell the building's 220 units for between $200,000 and $400,000 – a feat of which Lorenz seemed especially proud: "For the first time," he told the Austin American-Statesman, "living in downtown Austin will be a real option for teachers, firefighters, young professionals, and middle-income families, not just the very wealthy." But shopping at the Spring sales office, we – or, rather, Burton and Shanti – discovered that the promise of Spring's affordability has, apparently, been scrapped, a fate blamed largely on the increasing cost of construction materials. The one-bedroom apartments – at just less than 700 square feet and without much of a view, a balcony, or room for more than the fine fabrics on our backs – will cost at least $235,000, hardly the sort of mortgage one could easily imagine an Austin public-school teacher (let alone an alt-weekly journalist) affording...."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  October 27, 2006
"...To your readers who are supporting Kinky because he's a maverick, or "Why the hell not?" I say, if you are truly a progressive, take a look at what Bell stands for and don't make assumptions just because he's from a major party that has disappointed all of us. Then ask yourself, what do you really know about Kinky and what has he come out in support of that makes you think he'll improve things for our children, our teachers, our minimum-wage earners?..."

Naked City
Fundamentalist leader still hiding, while prosecutors try to tie the purse strings
News Story  August 19, 2005, by Jordan Smith
"...Arizona lawmakers this spring passed a law allowing the SBOE to revoke local control over a school district in response to state officials' concerns that FLDS members running the CCUSD were channeling taxpayer funds intended to support the Colorado City public schools into the pockets of Jeffs and other high-ranking FLDS members. During FY 2004-2005 the school district "exhausted all available funds," failed to pay its teachers, and has yet to repay a $1.4 million loan it took from state lenders, Goddard wrote..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  July 29, 2005
"...Yes, construction is happening, but for the rich and wealthy. Tax relief should be given to builders who are willing to set up a percent of the construction to benefit teachers, firemen, etc..."

Lege Wrap-Up
News Story  June 3, 2005
"...Budget writers did see fit to restore dental and benefits for CHIP, but they didn't right all of the wrongs from the 2003 session. With education funding still in limbo, teachers are left high and dry without a pay raise and without the restoration of the 2003 cuts to their health benefits..."

Point Austin: Prevailing Winds
AISD says it can't afford bond-project benefits, but local workers beg to differ
News Column  May 6, 2005, by Michael King
"..."I can't accept any more risk," Forgione says. "If I open up a roof and there are problems, if we find asbestos that needs removing – we need to maintain that contingency fund for unanticipated costs." The threat to the contingency fund has been a steady drumbeat in the administration's presentations to the board, eerily reminiscent of the bloody flag of the "fund balance," waved every time someone suggests that laying off reading teachers might not be the best way to balance the district budget...."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  August 27, 2004, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...The AISD board of trustees Monday night unanimously approved the $731 million budget Superintendent Pat Forgione proposed last month. The budget includes a 5% compensation increase for teachers (a 4% raise, plus health insurance premiums, covered by the district's fund balance), and small staffing increases in the district's most-stretched areas..."

An AISD teacher fights against cancer … and the insurance company that refuses to treat it
News Story  July 23, 2004, by Rita Radostitz
"...Mire – ever the teacher – sees Mary as an example of the good that can come out of her terrible battles with her illness and the insurance system. She intends to continue her fight – not only to get back her health, but to ensure that AISD teachers are informed about the limitations of their insurance policy..."

Naked City
The public keeps to itself its view of school spending plan
News Story  July 2, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...Only five people addressed the board, four of them representatives of Education Austin, who praised the proposed budget for making teacher compensation a priority. The budget, which Superintendent Pat Forgione released last week, includes $18 million for a 4.2% pay raise and health insurance premiums for AISD teachers...."

Senate Wheels Still Spinning
The upper house dawdles (thank God) as the special session clock ticks
News Column  May 14, 2004, by Michael King
"...Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, chair of the Senate Education Committee, entertained a string of expert witnesses on various education subjects – just as if the past year or so of interim committee studies had never taken place. First on the agenda were "performance incentives," high on the governor's list but less so on those of teachers groups, who question whether "value-added" rewards can be fairly applied, and whether they are simply a method of avoiding pay increases for all teaching personnel...."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  May 7, 2004
"...The AISD board should not miss this opportunity to remedy the fundamental problems faced by students and teachers at older schools. Students at older schools deserve the same first-class educational opportunities provided to students at new schools...."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  May 7, 2004, by Mike Clark-Madison
"..."It's been a longstanding goal of ACC to have a high percentage of full-time, credentialed faculty who are completely involved with ACC," said faculty senate President Daniel Traverso. "And the fact that some faculty who need some remediation or to get some coursework done won't be teaching in the fall is an opportunity to bring in some highly qualified adjuncts." At the same time, Mark Goodrich, the president of ACC's teachers union, urged the board to ask SACS to allow faculty to keep teaching while they address holes in their credentials, whether those come from missing paperwork or missing coursework, and for ACC to provide tuition support for the faculty who may need it..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  October 24, 2003
"...If we add to this the cost of lost productivity, etc., the true cost of marijuana prohibition is probably closer to $20 billion a year. Twenty billion dollars would pay the salaries of 300,000 additional school teachers or alternatively would buy a complete monorail system for each of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., Austin included, in five years..."

Naked City
The GOP primary season begins as the comptroller blasts the Lege's fees and cuts
News Story  September 5, 2003, by Michael King
"...The big-ticket items include $1.08 billion untaxed out of the pockets of teachers and school employees (between a cut to their health care stipend and a raise in their retirement premiums); $596 million in other health care assessments, including $4.8 million in fees on rural doctors (the same folks anointed as poster children for tort reform); $71.5 million extracted from parents (mostly in increased costs for C.H.I.P. participants); and $36.4 million in fees assessed against a variety of businesses and professions..."

Page Two
The House Democrats' walkout was their best option in light of Republicans' vicious and highly partisan day in the sun; ending The Chronicle Hour quiets the right-wing voices in our head.
Columns  May 16, 2003, by Louis Black
"...Insurance rates will rise. Teachers will either quit the profession or move..."

Naked City
Austin Stories
News Story  May 9, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Austin ISD officials on April 30 unveiled plans for a districtwide comprehensive safety plan review and the formation of a Community Safety Task Force. The 15-member (at least) task force will advise AISD Superintendent Pat Forgione on "how best to enhance the safety of students, staff, and the community throughout the district." The task force, to be composed of parents, teachers, principals, and members of the faith community, will also gather input from campus-level meetings, and by July 18, the panel will collect and analyze safety data and create checklists for AISD's 107 campuses to use as they create individual safety plans..."

Capitol Chronicle
Always count on the Texas Legislature to remember: The gold rules
News Column  May 9, 2003, by Michael King
"...Rather, it's a cost-saving measure, to be handily deployed to balance an overburdened state budget. And it also makes it easier to understand why we would ask teachers and other school workers to give up their health insurance and schoolchildren to go without textbooks so that the governor can dispense additional financial lagniappes to indigent corporations like Toyota, Sematech, and Boeing...."

Naked City
Austin Stories
News Story  April 4, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...Mosley's former boyfriend, Marcus McTear, 16, has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of a weapon in a prohibited place. A handful of students and teachers allegedly saw McTear assault Mosley with a butcher knife..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  March 28, 2003
"...Or would we bet on the lesser evil, a casino, which would employ lots of people, fix lots of streets, and fund lots of teachers and social services? Which way would you personally rather "roll them bones"? Maybe the local and professional alarmist Stratfor Inc. could spy a solution and help us determine our axis, though I'd give you odds we'll need more pawn shops either way...."

Naked City
Beyond City Limits
News Story  March 21, 2003, by Mike Clark-Madison
"...The school voucher race got more crowded last week as House Public Education Chair Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, filed HB 2465 to create a "pilot program" to allow low-income students in 11 major urban districts (including Austin ISD) to get what Grusendorf is now calling "freedom scholarships" -- money from public school funds to pay tuition at private schools. One of Grusendorf's co-sponsors, Ron Wilson, D-Houston, who earlier filed his own voucher bill, said, "Many, many private schools are in place today which offer outstanding curricula, dedicated teachers, and forward-thinking administrations..."

Capitol Chronicle
The legislative fight over vouchers and school finance has a long history and deep roots.
News Column  February 28, 2003, by Michael King
"...A mother of four, Gloria Zapata, said she discovered that the private school she tried didn't have the standard programs -- tutoring, after-school care -- taken for granted and free at Edgewood, and that her children were not being fully prepared for high school. Ritabel Garza learned that the private school would not accept her child with special needs ("It's not our choice, it's the school's choice") and that the teachers in the "nondenominational" school were in fact teaching fundamentalist doctrine..."

Capitol Chronicle
The legislative leadership sends out feelers about a pilot voucher program.
News Column  December 20, 2002, by Michael King
"...Their educational needs will continue to be evaded by politicians intent on solving the problem of public school finance by ignoring it until they are forced to do otherwise. Meanwhile, the Fort Worth school district is considering "saving" $7 million by increasing teachers' class loads and cutting back on prep time, and the Houston ISD is trying to find another $154 million in budget cuts..."

Will AISD Magnetize Eastside Sixth-Graders?
Kealing Junior High may add a sixth grade -- at the expense of its three Eastside elementary feeder schools.
News Story  November 8, 2002, by Michael May
"...Only three students from those three schools entered the junior high's magnet program this year, and Kealing Magnet Director Carol Hovland feels that a Kealing sixth grade could do a better job of preparing them to apply. "We can expose them to more advanced academics, extracurricular activities, more specialized teachers," says Hovland..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  October 18, 2002
"...Griffin is different, and the kids are happy (well, most of the time) and are respected for their individuality and creativity. The school is still filled with diversity, students still call their teachers by their first names, and everybody can be themselves..."

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