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Point Austin: Activate This!
One insider's fight to make 'good old liberal Austin the city it thinks it is'
News Column  December 30, 2011, by Amy Smith
"...19, for example, she delivered a Crock-Pot of warm oatmeal to her Occupy allies outside Austin Independent School District headquarters on West Sixth Street. The sleepy crew had sacrificed warmth and a good night's rest to reserve space in line for parents, teachers, and students wishing to speak that night against the AISD board's decision to relinquish control of two East Austin schools to a South Texas charter school company. An Occupy Spin-Off..."

News Story  July 29, 2011
"...• Texas teachers and students find out the fate of their schools on Friday when the Texas Education Agency is scheduled to release its accountability scores. Austin ISD is already moving ahead with restructuring the three schools most at risk of being labeled "academically unacceptable" – Eastside Memorial Green Tech High School and Pearce and Garcia middle schools...."

Mr. Show Busy
Michael McKelvey's just a guy who cain't say no (to musicals)
Arts Story  July 22, 2011, by Robert Faires
"...Having some of my colleagues look at me funny. Having some of my teachers look at me funny..."

Dis-Harmony From the Right
Austin ISD gets caught in right-wing fight over Turkish programs
News Story  July 15, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...State-backed districts like Austin have regularly reached AA or AAA bond ratings, "and the best a charter school's been able to get has been triple-B plus," he said, meaning they either cannot afford to issue bonds or they pay more in the bond market. However, the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas State Teachers Association both warned against leveraging the already overstretched Permanent School Fund to arrange cheaper loans for private charters, no matter their faith or creed...."

The Hightower Report
Seismic Jolts in Shreveport; and Hoovernomics, Part II
News Column  April 15, 2011, by Jim Hightower
"...Not to be outdone, a covey of extremist right-wing governors are demonizing, disempowering, and firing thousands of public employees. These Little Hoovers maniacally shriek that with state revenues down and so many families out of work, the smart thing to do is eliminate more jobs! They're shoving teachers, firefighters, and other public employees out the door – thus shutting off the taxes that these employees pay to the state, while simultaneously increasing the number of out-of-work people looking for jobs...."

Schools: Under Siege
School districts around the state remember the Alamo
News Story  March 4, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...Senate Bills 468 and 738 are shell bills that school advocates fear will be stuffed with ways to reduce the state's obligations to students. "Those [bills] are not about giving districts local control," said Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison, "as much as they are about passing the buck."..."

Texas Children Are Being Left Behind
Postmarks  March 3, 2011
"...Dear Editor, The problems Paul Krugman described in his op-ed column in The New York Times “Leaving Children Behind” are happening right now here in Austin! My grandson, Isaac, goes to a very fine elementary school that was attended by his father – my son, Gabriel – and Isaac's uncle Travis. On Saturday a gentleman in his 80s, Walter Timberlake, told me that he, too, had gone to Pease Elementary – an exemplary school in continuous operation for 137 years! Sadly Austin ISD plans to close it along with eight additional Austin schools, laying off 1,200 teachers and support employees due to funding shortages! Why? Because Rick Perry lied about the economy of Texas until after his re-election, surprise! We are really $27 billion behind! He refuses to accept the funded-mandate-infusion of federal money for the schools because Congressman Lloyd Doggett put a rider on the funding that it must not substitute for state funding..."

News Story  February 18, 2011
"...• Staff and families say they were blindsided by the announcement late Friday afternoon that AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is proposing laying off 1,017 employees, including teachers, support staff, and administrators; see "AISD Takes Stock of Impending Layoffs."..."

Point Austin: Why Vote?
The real choices at the top and bottom of the ballot
News Column  October 29, 2010, by Michael King
"...They will vote accordingly. Does it mean White, by contrast, is the inveterate champion of working people? Not really, but politics is all about coalitions of interest groups, and the coalition sustaining White – teachers, wage workers, unions, minority voters – will have seats at the legislative and executive table under a White administration..."

The Hightower Report
Katrina Trailers Attack; and Averting the 'Long Depression'
News Column  July 23, 2010, by Jim Hightower
"...I don't see how their minds can put those two words together without having their heads explode! Excuse me, Einsteins, but there's no such thing. You can spin your data 'til the cows come home, but an economy that has nearly 20% of the work force either unemployed or underemployed, that has no plan for replacing the 8 million jobs we lost in the last two years, that is now proceeding with mass layoffs of such essential workers as teachers and firefighters, and that is willing to accept poverty pay as the new American normal is not by any stretch of the imagination a recovery...."

Keeping Up With the Joneses
A century of Austin music in one arrangement
Music Story  June 18, 2010, by Margaret Moser
"...I was the supervisor of music for Williamson County schools, but all these were segregated schools. Some of these schools didn't have but two teachers..."

ACC Board Elections: Meet the Candidates
The candidates on taxing districts, remedial boot camps, and student culture
News Story  April 16, 2010, by Lee Nichols
"...Villarreal has the endorsement of the ACC teachers union...."

Back to School
Carstarphen and Austin ISD trustees wrestle over priorities, budget, and power
News Story  March 5, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...How to bridge the gap? Education Austin, the union representing teachers and staff, has proposed tapping the unallocated "fund balance" (reserve funds) – predicted to stand at $128 million at the beginning of the next school year – but the administration rejects that idea, saying it could endanger the district's hard-earned AA bond rating. Conley-Abram said she would actually prefer a fund balance closer to $140 million, or even higher, if the district were to adopt one suggested cost-cutting measure of becoming self-insuring..."

Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond
News Story  January 22, 2010
"...TCTA Silver Apple awards, presented since 1983, are judged according to how well the stories "promote understanding of teachers and education in Texas public schools" and are "informative, timely, objective, fair and accurate." TCTA will honor award winners in February in Fort Worth during the association's annual convention. – Michael King..."

Res Publica
Citizens' calendar, Dec. 31-Jan. 6
News Story  January 1, 2010
"...7pm. Texas State Teachers Association, 316 W..."

Media Watch: 'A Sense of Purpose'
Texas Tribune makes its debut in realm of nonprofit journalism
News Column  October 30, 2009, by Kevin Brass
"...Already there are signs the Tribune will be a player on the news beats. Last week Thev­enot broke a story on the Texas Weekly site about a snafu that might result in thousands of Texas teachers not meeting federal standards..."

Throwdown at Travis High
LULAC, NAACP square off against principal
News Story  October 9, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...29 meeting, where they defended Cruz and attacked Garganta's record. (Garganta also has his supporters, including Travis High teachers and the Austin Association of Professional School Admin­i­strators.) Ultimately, the board accepted an administration recommendation to terminate Cruz's employment, which begins that process..."

Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond
News Story  September 4, 2009
"...The local study draws on data gathered between 1998 and 2006 on Austin Interfaith's relationship with the Austin ISD, using a combination of interviews, teacher surveys, and student performance data. The authors promote the value of having an outside community entity encourage real dialogue between parents, teachers, and administrators and specifically praise the receptiveness of former Superintendent Pat Forgione to working with the group..."

Zapping Me Into the Present Moment
Arts Story  August 28, 2009, by Clayton Maxwell
"...I don't know if any of the five teachers I had in my year of classes knew that they were, week by week, making me a happier person. They just wanted us to do entertaining scenes..."

A Plan for Pearce
AISD release new Pearce repurposing proposal ahead of Monday's board meeting
DAILY News  July 31, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...Here's some quick-glance highlights: – Keep the school within the district, with extra administrative support, and re-open as a middle school this August. – Grade Level Teams to create instructional models based around "real-world applications," with extra ESL, after-school and summer programs available. – An on-campus Opportunity Center "for students who are not succeeding in a traditional setting." – Emphasis on science teaching, including integrating new equipment the district had already ordered before the closure. This also involves replacing all current science staff with veteran science teachers. – Better community involvement and integration, especially bringing the Hispanic majority and the Mueller development population on-board. – More mentoring, long-term planning, and student tracking, in part using the existing ParentConnect system – Extra cash for incentive and retention pay, as well as increased academic support staff – Optional enrollment, allowing parents of Pearce kids to either stay with the school or choose from a short list of alternatives. The district will be expecting stakeholder feedback at the AISD Board of Trustees meeting on Aug..."

Where's the Other $66 Million?
Congressman Doggett savages Texas budget for misusing stimulus dollars meant for schools
DAILY News  July 28, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...They took several regular big-budget items and paid for them with stimulus cash. Topping that list are the $1.2 billion for school books (which is supposed to be paid for by the Permanent School Fund) and the state-mandated pay raise for teachers, counselors, speech pathologists and nurses (which comes straight out of the $12 million that AISD is getting, so there's really only $6 million in discretionary funding)...."

TEA to Pearce: Drop Dead
School officials and community are blindsided by agency's decision to close Pearce Middle School
News Story  July 17, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...District staff are now working on that plan, based on the realignment proposal that was already in place but with more emphasis on science and the teaching of English as a second language. But district leaders and stakeholders fear Scott has set impractical deadlines that mean they cannot assure parents, teachers, and students that there will be a Pearce to attend in the fall...."

Crime and the City Solution
How safe do you feel exiting the Sixth Street/Red River Austin music crucible at 2am?
Music Story  June 26, 2009, by Marc Savlov
"...It's impossible to imagine a tougher job in Austin right now than that of chief of Police. The city is expanding, amoebalike, well outside of its Travis County origins into both Williamson and Hays counties, it's fast approaching the 1 million population mile marker, and budget decreases are resulting in problems ranging from social-services shortfalls to less pay and longer hours for teachers, firefighters, and, natch, the police..."

Naked City
News briefs from Austin, the region, and beyond
News Story  June 26, 2009
"...Instead of appointing qualified experts to guide them, they are appointing ideologues. Instead of listening to teachers and scientific experts, they listen to pressure groups..."

APD Overpaid, Greedy
Postmarks  June 23, 2009
"...Your agreement to forgo a raise, though wrapped comfortably in the "recession" blanket, is clearly your own guilt surfacing. Admit it, a $50,000 base salary ain't bad – ask our teachers, the preventive medicine for crime..."

AISD Ledger
Feds to the rescue
News Story  June 12, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...On the finance side, HB 3646 adds extra funding of at least $120 per student, which will pump about $12 million extra into the Austin Independent School District's coffers (admittedly, that's all being paid for by one-time federal stimulus cash). Half of that cash will go to pay increases, meaning AISD's teachers, nurses, counselors, and speech language therapists should see a $970 raise next year; Malfaro said he'll push for the rest to go to support staff..."

Letters at 3AM
Anthony Powell is the least known of the greatest 20th century novelists
Columns  June 5, 2009, by Michael Ventura
"...Another warning: Powell's punctuation, grammar, and usages – though always clear – would drive American editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and English teachers to fits and frenzies. One pleasure of reading England's more expansive novelists is that they justifiably feel it's their language, to do with as they please, so long as they remain comprehensible..."

Dissecting Mercer's Anti-Evolution Editorial
Because shooting fish in a barrel is fun!
DAILY News  February 16, 2009, by Lee Nichols
"...For the last twenty years, teachers have been required to present both the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories; and I challenge the Express-News to find one science book approved by the SBOE that includes either creation science or intelligent design...."

Warm Fuzzies Follow AISD Linux Flap
All is well after a teacher's misunderstanding about open-source software sparked much unexpected ire
News Story  December 26, 2008, by Justin Ward
"...When asked about the possibility of dumping Windows in favor of Linux, AISD technol­o­gy director Gray Salada said that in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, it simply isn't worth it. Windows comes preinstalled on most computers, he said, so there is little savings to be realized from removing it and incurring the costs of retraining teachers and the district's 12 engineers, who are already proficient in Windows, to support Linux...."

Page Two: Opportunity Born Anew
In working together as Americans, there is hope
Columns  November 7, 2008, by Louis Black
"...Even when I was a student teacher in Bellows Falls, during those storms I stayed inside of the red house where I lived, in Putney. My students and the other teachers stayed home as well..."

Voces de Vivo: Voces de la Cultura Latina
Four very different short dramas that share a similar sense of wonder about life
Arts Review  August 22, 2008, by Robert Faires
"...A young woman who sees trees as teachers. An older woman who hears the voice of Jesus when she's at church..."

Naked City
News Story  March 7, 2008
"...Berlanga, who represents the Corpus Christi area, was angry an alternative proposal, championed a decade ago by former teacher and conservative ally Donna Garner, included a reading list that fails to recognize both modern and multiethnic authors. Berlanga warned that the alternative document is vastly inferior to the work recently completed by a team of current teachers..."

Strange but True
Jad Fair making art out in Manor with monsters, aliens, and dead dogs
Music Story  January 25, 2008, by Audra Schroeder
"...You're already in love, I know ... I wouldn't want you to break up because of me." Fair airs his revenge fantasies on the ambling "Dumb Animals," where he takes several of his high school teachers to task, and "High School Tonight," where he dreams of trashing the principal's office..."

Stupid Working on a Saturday
DAILY Promotions  November 4, 2007
"...A Saturday!!!! So let me tell you what these things are like. Two people, who act like they are the best teachers in the world, treat you like you are one of their middle school students..."

Letters @ 3AM
An economy of speculation is an economy of debt
Columns  October 12, 2007, by Michael Ventura
"...had an economy of commerce, a skilled laborer worked for one company most of his life and could buy and own a family-sized home in a reasonable amount of time. This, in fact, was the prime embodiment of what was famously called (minus the derision attached to that phrase today) "the American dream." As the economy became essentially speculative, home prices gradually rose out of the reach not only of skilled laborers but of many professionals, such as teachers..."

Naked City
News Story  September 14, 2007
"...It's demoralizing." The district gives three such benchmark tests, and most schools also give standardized tests every six or nine weeks, depending on the grade. Education Austin is asking teachers to keep a log of how much time they spend on testing..."

Naked City
News Story  August 31, 2007
"...• Austin Independent School District is using the First Things First model to implement its high school redesign program at Johnston, LBJ, Reagan, Crockett, and Travis high schools. The national model, which has proven successful in Houston and Kansas City, works by providing additional training to teachers and administrators, breaking the school into smaller learning communities of 300 to 400 students focused on a central theme and creating what's known as the Family Advocacy System..."

Mr. Marmalade
Capital T Theatre Company brings a brightness to Noah Haidle's Mr. Marmalade that keeps the whole affair surprisingly light
Arts Review  August 24, 2007, by Robert Faires
"...In that classic of the funny pages, Charles Schulz was commenting on postwar American society by having grownup talk literally come out of the mouths of babes, and Haidle is doing much the same thing, albeit with much more raw language, cocaine, and sex toys. It's good ol' Charlie Brown and the gang, as ghost-written by Christopher Durang (who, as it happens, was one of Haidle's playwriting teachers)...."

Naked City
News Story  August 24, 2007
"...The preliminary budget for this year is $762.9 million, up from last year's $604.4 million. Around $9 million more will go toward staffing, including an average 3.9% raise that brings the starting salary for teachers up to $40,240 a year..."

Study: Everyone Benefits From Pre-K
If Texas improved and expanded its prekindergarten program to include all children, state would get $8 back for every $1 invested, new research indicates
News Story  July 13, 2007, by Michael May
"...Texas now spends around $2,600 per student for a half-day of pre-K. The Chicago model costs $6,000 per student, because it has low student-teacher ratios, teachers who have degrees in early childhood education, and provides some health services and parental outreach...."

Beside the Point
Funky day care the latest gentrification victim
News Column  May 18, 2007, by Wells Dunbar
"...In the Capitol-view corridor of my mind, I'd like to think there was something approximating a rough consensus that VMU and design standards were lofty, laudable goals – but only in tandem with real affordable, sustainable growth – for the "teachers, firefighters, young professionals, and middle-income families" idealized before the zoning or planning commission, yet always conspicuously absent from the finished project. Maybe there's hope – as endorsed by the Austin Neighborhoods Council, People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources, and several neighborhood associations, an Eastside VMU moratorium may be in order until we figure out how to capture VMU's benefit – not just its expensive, gentrifying side effects..."

Teacher Found Guilty of Injuring Child
Jurors find teacher at Hyde Park Baptist Church's day-care center intentionally injured at least one young child in her care
News Story  May 11, 2007, by Emily Pyle
"...According to investigative records, after Parker's fall, Ratliff spoke to Braeckow about that and other incidents, and Braeckow phoned a report to the Department of Child Protective Services. After CPS began investigating, center administrators began their own investigation and questioned Ratliff, Braeckow, and other teachers..."

Naked City
News Story  April 19, 2007
"...The organization is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spearheaded a nationwide effort to improve high schools and has invested heavily in Austin's high school redesign effort. The money from United Ways will go toward efforts to reach out to parents, teachers, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that have a stake in improving local public education..."

Naked City
News Story  March 30, 2007
"...• Also, Mexico's highest-ranking rights official recently told the country's Senate Commission on Human Rights, "The Mexican government was an accomplice in the killing of 20 people in last year's conflict in the tourist city of Oaxaca and permitted torture and illegal arrests," reports Reuters. José Luis Soberanes, head of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, said in presenting the report to the commission on March 15, "'Authorities and public officials … either by action or omission caused rights violations,' including the right to life of 20 people." During an approximate six months of turmoil, a combination of striking teachers, indigenous groups, students, and leftists was demanding the resignation of Gov..."

Point Austin: One for the Books
All the sound and fury is upballot, but the real work is on the ground
News Column  November 3, 2006, by Michael King
"...But even more discouraging was the parallel bolt of the teachers' unions, so desperate to stop the state's bleeding of the public schools that they eagerly swallowed Carole Keeton Strayhorn's latest high-speed snake oil instead of waiting to see the race develop. Her current TV commercial of union officials, local TFTers among them, grimly reciting Strayhorn's putative virtues looks like nothing so much as an educated tumbril rolling to the gallows.Sharing the Load..."

Blank Generation
Amy Sedaris on 'Strangers With Candy'
Screens Story  July 21, 2006, by Steve Birmingham
"...I was obsessed with her, and I remember when I was a kid wanting to be her, just wanting to be other people. I can remember moments with all my teachers where I would just lose myself and think, "Okay, I'm her now." You know what I mean? Maybe I just lived in my head too much, but I was pretty shocked I had to repeat it..."

Naked City
News Story  April 7, 2006
"...To add insult to injury, Roadstar is touting the "upscale" new West Sixth address as a selling point for the new festival. – Rachel Proctor MayBeyond City Limits• Public education advocates have launched an electronic petition drive asking Texans to support more funding for public schools and teachers..."

A Dream Pursued
The Young Eight is showing the world of classical music what it means to be young, gifted, and black
Arts Story  February 24, 2006, by Robert Faires
"...That relationship goes beyond instruction, however. "We're not only their teachers but their mentors," says Morris, sharing the essentials on what it takes to become a professional chamber musician..."

Here Comes the Guv
Kinky Friedman lights up his campaign
News Story  February 17, 2006, by Jordan Smith
"..."I want to get the politicians out of politics," he says, rising now from his chair and spreading his arms wide before pointing an unclipped and unlit Cuban cigar toward his chest. "That's the difference between me and Perry and Strayhorn and the Democrats." No matter where on the political spectrum his opponents place themselves, he says, turning on his heels to address an invisible audience, they've failed to offer the electorate anything more exciting than a choice between "paper and plastic"; or worse, the choice between the "Crips and Bloods." And, Friedman continues, sitting down now to clip and light the Cuban, he's tired of the monotony: They're simply "out of touch – with the teachers and with the young people and with the working people and with the spirit of Texas."..."

Howard Defeats Bentzin
Dems claim a 'Republican' district
News Story  February 17, 2006, by Amy Smith
"...After that, an army of volunteers, including a dedicated network of teachers and UT students, pitched in to get out the vote for Howard, while Bentzin resorted to placing a newspaper ad and offering to pay workers $11 an hour to hang campaign material on doorknobs...."

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