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Pulling From TEA Report, Ratliff Argues Public Schools Better Than Charters
Ratliff gets rebuke from federal education heads for saying public schools outperform charters
News Story  July 23, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...Traditional public schools outperform charter schools: That's the aggressive stance taken by State Board of Education Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff, and he says he's got the numbers to prove it...."

Deconstructing the Public Schools
News Story  May 2, 2003, by Michael May
"...HB 2465: "Freedom Scholarships" Grusendorf's "scholarship" (i.e., voucher) bill would provide some of the poorer students in the 11 largest districts in Texas (including Austin ISD) with vouchers directly from the districts' budgets and redeemable at private schools. The cost of the two-year "pilot" program is estimated at $260 million..."

Weekend Warriors for Public Schools
Save Texas Schools and Texas AFT to rally at capitol
DAILY News  June 2, 2011, by Ramon Martinez
"...After a day of testimony at House and Senate public hearings on the state budget, public school advocates including Save Texas Schools, Texas AFT and Texas Forward have organized multiple events for those still holding out hope on public education here in the Lone Star State...."

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..."

Public Education Back Under Fire
Republicans set anti-school agenda at national and state level
DAILY News  November 10, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...Democrats have spent their post-election depression fearing that the GOP is hoping to roll back the Affordable Care Act. But as the Republican agenda gets rolled out, it's pretty clear that the right wing is gunning hard for public schools...."

The Life and Death of Schools
Educational warrior Diane Ravitch takes on the "school reform" movement
News Story  September 28, 2012, by Richard Whittaker
"...assistant secretary of education doesn't employ hidden cameras or purloined documents, and she doesn't entrap teachers or find evidence of financial malfeasance by district administrators. Instead, she uses cold, hard numbers to expose the Big Lie: that the education reforms of the last two decades – from No Child Left Behind to high-stakes testing and the ongoing, bipartisan, national love affair with charter schools – have done much, or anything, to fix American public education...."

Public Ed Bill Escapes the House – Barely
Dems – and a few Republicans – try to hold back the privatization wave
News Column  March 18, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...As public education advocates see it, one of the most frightening features of the school finance bill that limped out of the House last week is a provision that could spell the beginning of the end of public schools in Texas. This unraveling process would start by empowering the state education commissioner to turn over control of low-performing schools to private, for-profit companies..."

Kashmere HS Marching Band Saves Texas Schools?
Public education needs more ‘Thunder Soul’
DAILY Music  February 22, 2013, by Abby Johnston
"...With legislative discourse choking public education, activists, parents, and students descend on the capitol tomorrow for Save Texas Schools. The rally runs noon-1:30pm, but the march on state government begins at the Congress Ave..."

Allan Elementary Public Meetings Begin
Public meeting at Eastside Memorial tonight
DAILY News  October 16, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...Allan controversially closed as a neighborhood school in 2012 and was handed over to the IDEA Public Schools charter group to run. After huge public outcry, the district cancelled that contract, and has now taken full ownership of the campus again...."

New Rules or New Roles for Charter Schools?
TEA proposes a crackdown on failing charters, but can it be enforced?
News Story  January 14, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"...As the curtain rises on the 79th Legislature, a key element in the resumption of the debates over education – charter schools – is getting a well-timed touch-up by the state agency that oversees them. In a Monday hearing, the Texas Education Agency took public testimony on a new set of rules designed to make it easier to close low-performing, mismanaged, or fraudulent charters – schools that are publicly funded but privately run..."

Schools in Session
Legislators Study Issues: From Vouchers to Combat Pay
News Column  January 3, 1997, by Roseana Auten
"...Texas is also one of 26 states that has charter school legislation (not to be confused with home rule charters). Per state law, Texas has now granted 20 open-enrollment charters to non-profit organizations or colleges, which operate the schools in privately owned facilities..."

Neighborhoods, Schools, and Budgets
Austin ISD's looming financial crisis is a statewide story
News Story  February 11, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...There was the Austin Independent School District's Facility Master Plan, being developed by a district task force. There was the AISD budget, which pays for the district's schools..."

From Schools to ... Nuts
The 79th Lege hasn't been here before – it only seems like it
News Story  January 14, 2005
"...Texans should expect an education. Not necessarily about public schools and their needs and resources, but about the nature of political power and its exercise in Texas..."

Start With Schools
Postmarks  July 11, 2016
"...Most white people feel somewhat helpless as to what they can do to support efforts for real equality – myself included. Besides writing letters to police chiefs and legislators, how does the average white person contribute in any meaningful way to the cause? One idea is to help desegregate Austin’s schools..."

Back by Popular Demand: Save Texas Schools
Public schools march and rally set for March 24
News Story  March 23, 2012, by Richard Whittaker
"...Last year, Save Texas Schools put more than 11,000 students, families, teachers, and education advocates on the front lawn of the Capitol (see "Keeping Texas Smart – and on the March," March 18, 2011.) Now the group returns on March 24 to take its pro-schools message back to the Capitol. Advisory committee chair Allen Weeks explained, "I said at the rally last year, this is the beginning of a movement."..."

Out of the Schools and Into the Polls
Lege (and voters) still fighting over how much to cut public schools
News Story  May 27, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...Earlier this session, right-wing think tank Americans for Prosperity launched its Red Apple Project to "name and shame" what it saw as profligate districts. Fellow conservative ideologues at Texans for Fiscal Respon­si­bility have a website, Protect the Classroom, hosting a series of videos promoting the idea that Texas public schools are larded with profligate administrators and that anyone who is not a classroom teacher is a drain on school resources..."

Wants Better Schools but Less Taxes
Postmarks  October 6, 2003
"...3]? Tell that to the homeowners, many of them young working people with average incomes, who are confronted with property tax bills equivalent to 6-9 months of additional mortgage payments each year. (I personally know many average Austin residents with modest homes who are getting property tax bills of $4,000, $5,000, even $6,000.) And tell that to the people of limited means who face an 8.25% sales tax as they struggle to pay for daily necessities and keep themselves and their kids clothed and shod. The authors have certainly got it right when they say the schools are underfunded..."

News Roundup: Schools, Fair(?) Housing, and Plastic
TEA releases rankings, Linda Curtis returns, and more
DAILY News  December 29, 2014, by the News Staff
"...In this week's News Roundup, the TEA ranks schools, Linda Curtis returns, the city releases its draft report on "Impediments to Fair Housing," and the Fifth Circuit takes on free speech in advertising...."

Three Plans for Four Eastside Schools
Four schools, three very different plans
News Story  February 7, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...Eastside may be the poster child for the damaging effects of constant intervention and reconstitution. In the five and a half years since Johnston High was renamed Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus, it's been split into two schools (Global Tech and Green Tech), reintegrated, almost handed over to IDEA Public Schools to become an in-district charter, almost closed, and is now on its fifth principal..."

Defending Virtual Schools
Postmarks  April 5, 2005
"...Dear Editor, In reference to Amy Smith and Rachel Proctor May's recent articles on pending legislation, connecting virtual schools with "vouchers" is misleading [“Lege Notes,” News, April 1; “A Voucher Is a Voucher, Even if It's Virtual,” News, April 1; “Vampire Vouchers Rise Again,” News, March 25]. The presumption that virtual schools are unsupervised learning reveals a lack of understanding of what virtual education is. eLearning is growing in the public school sector as well as in the corporate training sector..."

Public Notice: Does Business Really Hate Education?
It's way past time for some new voices on education policy
News Column  October 9, 2014, by Nick Barbaro
"...Predictably, the first person quoted in the Austin American-States­man story on the matter is right-wing ideologue Bill Hammond, head of the anti-public-education Texas Association of Business. And also predictably, Hammond took the opportunity to double down on the failed policies that he's been assaulting Texas schools with for the last decade or so: more "accountability" for students (high-stakes testing) and schools (withhold money from those that need the most help)..."

Point Austin: Squeezing the Schools
Failing all its courses, the Lege sends a love note to Highland Park
News Column  July 15, 2005, by Michael King
"...Ricky's special session has anything to do with school finance reform. Whatever twisted legislation, if any, comes slouching out of the Capitol next week, it will do nothing to address either the structural inadequacies or the glaring inequities in the funding of the state's public schools..."

Rankings Give Schools a One-Two Punch
Both state and federal accountability measures leave Austin ISD cold
News Story  October 8, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...About 10,000 Austin ISD students at eight schools are eligible – in principle – for transfer to schools with better performance measures, thanks (or no thanks) to the 2004 federal accountability rankings released Sept. 29..."

Public Notice: Clowns to the Left of Us, Jokers to the Right
The overwhelming hubris and audacity of Uber continues
News Column  June 9, 2016, by Nick Barbaro
"...Returning to a few of my favorite topics today: the overwhelming hubris and audacity of Uber, and the unholy alliance between charter schools and the development lobby...."

Public Notice: Test Your Water Knowledge
Everywhere you turn, the issue is water
News Column  February 19, 2015
"...26 includes some 17 zoning cases already. The backup materials for these items alone constitute some 400 pages of very dense reading indeed – and the contested cases include the intractable Garza Tract, and a small but complicated case at 4500 Speedway that's goofy on the face of it, but is being kept alive by the influence of developer attorney Nikelle Meade and the goodwill engendered by her client Navid "Tony" Hooman­rad, one of the principles in the beloved "Flag Store" at 45th & Duval. Save Texas Schools' Conference, Workshops, and Lobby Day..."

The Alamo Schools Letter
Superintendent's letter remembers the Alamo
News Story  March 4, 2011
"...It's been dubbed "The Alamo Schools Letter." On Feb. 11, Superintendent John Kuhn, from the small, rural Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District in North Texas, sent an open letter to several of his local lawmakers, begging them to help..."

No More For Schools
House rips out Howard amendment adding excess Rainy Day Funds
DAILY News  June 17, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, got bipartisan support to take any excess over the predicted $6.5 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and put it into schools (up to $2.2 billion to cover increased enrollment.)..."

When to Stop Punishing Schools
Accountability bill slowed by important questions
News Story  March 27, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...House Bill 3, the mammoth public school accountability bill, and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 3, are taking longer than expected to come back to committee after public testimony showed broad concerns that the new rules keep punishing schools for failure rather than helping them reform. After lengthy hearings March 17, the Senate Education and House Public Education committees started gathering the material together for a new committee substitute that would take the concerns into account..."

Youth Activists: 'Demilitarize Our Schools'
The military leaves no child behind
News Story  September 23, 2005, by Diana Welch
"...The Youth Activists of Austin, made up of students from Garza, McCallum, LBJ, Dripping Springs, Waldorf, Westlake, and other area high schools, have been meeting once a week for months, busily preparing for their Students Not Soldiers: Demilitarize Our Schools rally on Oct. 1..."

Public Notice: Out of Their Cold, Dead Brains
GOP refuses to be sensible about guns
News Column  January 7, 2016, by Nick Barbaro
"...The Austin History Center will host a reception in honor of Mathews and Metz Elementary schools' 100th birthdays on Tue., Jan. 12, 6:30-8:30pm, at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe..."

Doggett: Keep School Funds in Schools
Perry demands right to gut Texas education funding
DAILY News  August 5, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...Of course, to the Texas Republicans it's all just another enormous federal intervention. Education Commissioner Robert Scott said that "congress has crafted legislation that will exclusively harm Texas public schools and our teachers." Meanwhile Perry, claiming that it will deprive Texas students of $800 million in federal funds, said: "This amendment mandates that the governor guarantee the Legislature will provide a certain level of state funding through 2013, a funding scheme prohibited by the Texas Constitution..."

TPPF: Sneering at Workers and 'Blowing Up' Public Policy
At its annual conference, the Texas Public Policy Foundation sticks to its mantra of less government, fewer taxes
News Story  January 30, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...James Leininger. The bulk of the program consisted of panel discussions on conservative touchstones like charter schools and eminent domain..."

A Walking Contradiction: Texas High Schools, Football, and Concussions
Thousands of students mash helmets every weekend – at what cost?
DAILY Sports  October 30, 2013, by Joseph Baucum
"...A complete recovery is tantamount and requires abstaining from any mental or physical activity during portions of the process, which can be a week at minimum but can also take months. Yet a large number of Texas high schools – whose mission is to educate students largely through classroom enrichment – continue to zealously embellish the culture of a sport capable of leaving its participants brain-damaged or at the very least absent from significant class attendance...."

Save Texas Schools Gets Back in the Game
Protesters call foul on education funding
DAILY News  March 24, 2012, by Richard Whittaker
"...Teachers, students, families and politicians gathered at the capitol today as part of the second Save Texas Schools rally. Many spoke to the crowd, but it may have been John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, who finally found the perfect metaphor for Texas school funding: Football...."

Good Work on Charter Schools
Postmarks  April 6, 2004
"...Well, I'm taking the time (although one year past the publication of the article) to compliment The Austin Chronicle. I found several great articles in The Austin Chronicle database comparing charter schools to traditional public schools..."

Public Notice
"Public Notice" finds out where the Laydeez are this week, catches up on its reading, and gets ready to tune into Austin's newest radio station while finding a dress for the prom.
Columns  May 5, 2000, by Kate X Messer
"...This Sun, May 7, 4pm, Salon Concerts presents a special Benefit Concert to help fund its Chamber Music in Public Schools (CHAMPS) Program. Featured musicians include: violinist Robert Rudíe, KMFA's Kathryn Mishell, fiddler Eric Hokkanen, guitar-piano duo Hugh & Kay Sparks, and singer Claude Ducloux..."

Public School Bible Classes Run Afoul of Law
Classes violate state and federal provisions
DAILY News  January 17, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...Chancey's report is based on information obtained from school districts under the Texas open records law, including a request for copies of instructional materials and records related to teacher training. "As a biblical scholar and especially as a parent, I want our state's public schools to take the study of the Bible's influence as seriously as they do the study of science or history," Chancey said in a press release..."

Public Notice: A Week of Peace
One final tidbit for the year
News Column  December 23, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...They go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons. Why? Because the Democrats know that convicted felons tend to vote Democrat." Personally, I thought there were some worse choices, in line with TFN's mission of "protecting religious freedom, defending civil liberties, and strengthening public schools," but that's democracy for you...."

Schools, Sprawl, and Citizenship
Vote begins on $520 million school bond package
News Story  August 27, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...11. Austin voters will decide whether the school district should spend $520 million (or some fraction thereof) to build eight new schools and upgrade, expand, and repair the rest..."

Balancing the Books After Years of Neglecting Schools
The Texas Legislature wants to fix school finance, but how?
News Story  April 6, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...The proposal is opposed by a broad coalition of education groups, including teachers' unions Texas AFT and the Texas State Teachers Association, Texas PTA, and the Texas Association of School Boards. Gon­zal­ez called TASB's opposition "unequivocal"; vouchers "take taxpayer dollars that are extremely transparent," he said, "and then put them behind a cloak of secrecy in private schools or home schools."..."

Public Notice: Schools and Environment
Big Saturday events for education and environment
News Column  April 16, 2015, by Nick Barbaro
"...That's why every Austinite who claims to care about our growing income divide needs to take two measly hours this Saturday and show up for the Save Texas Schools Rally, April 18, 10am-noon on the south steps of the Texas Capitol. The message is simple, but the stakes couldn't be higher: Stop underfunding and over-testing Texas students, and make sure each of them has access to a solid public education...."

What's at Stake in Austin's Schools?
Austin ISD faces a spring election and a brace of persistent problems
News Story  March 31, 2006, by Rachel Proctor May
"...After berating AISD for letting teacher salaries slip, the teacher compensation task force went on to roast the district for inequitable distribution of the most experienced teachers. In those AISD schools where most of the students are poor or minority, teachers have on average less experience and fewer qualifications; they also express less job satisfaction and quit sooner..."

High Tech Schools: The Future, or the Latest Fad?
Will new technology funding go to build skills or just buy stuff?
News Story  December 31, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...The idea, principal Ramona Treviño says, is to teach technology not as a separate class but to incorporate it into all areas of learning. She proudly points out that Microsoft has called the UT Elementary a "school of the future," and believes that the sooner that future comes to all schools, the better..."

Save Texas Schools Declares Independence
Have Texas lawmakers made 'adequate yearly progress'?
News Story  March 30, 2012, by Richard Whittaker
"...If Texans want their independent school districts to stay independent, they must fight for them. That was the message of the March 24 Save Texas Schools rally at the Capitol, as public education advocates gathered to turn 2012 into an education election...."

Public and Trustees Blast AISD 'Repurposing' Plan
Speed and lack of public input criticized in hearings
News Story  January 27, 2006, by Frank Rivera
"...What do the quotations "Absolutely flabbergasted that no dialogue was established," "Planning was not done right," and, "Giving lip service about valuing the community" have in common? No, they're not the latest commentary from HuffingtonPost.com about the war in Iraq. They're what critics had to say at Monday's AISD board meeting about Superintendent Pat Forgione's plan to "repurpose" three schools and a professional development academy into early childhood centers and two new "concept" high schools...."

Two Schools of Thought
The upcoming ACC and AISD elections share a ballot but address different challenges
News Story  April 30, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...The Legislature, as it did to every state agency last year, cut community-college allocations by 7% (in midyear, doubling the effect) as well as cutting health benefits to part-time employees, exacerbating two previous years of budget shortfalls. Later, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accreditation agency for community colleges, took the college to task for improperly credentialed teachers and for what they described as too much direct trustee meddling in more properly administrative affairs..."

Public Education Under Fire
New doc Starving the Beast uncovers ideological clash
Screens Story  March 10, 2016, by Nora Ankrum
"...The project began in 2011 with a focus on the University of Texas at Austin (where Mims is a lecturer in the Radio-Television-Film Department) and Texas A&M. Both schools were facing political pressure to fall in line with the ideas of conservative reformers who, in the name of cost-cutting, questioned the value of university research and encouraged evaluating instructors by the money they brought to the school...."

AISD High Schools Flunk Real-World Test
Audit says district poorly prepares grads for college or careers
News Story  October 22, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...If a good friend is one who is honest about your faults, then AISD has no better friend than the Southern Regional Education Board, which last week issued a less-than-rosy audit – commissioned by AISD – of the district's ability to prepare its graduates for college and careers. The solutions the SREB offered will shape several months of discussion and planning in the AISD community – and then the future of AISD high schools...."

Closing Schools Won't Fix AISD Budget
We have the Legislature to thank for this mess
News Story  January 21, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...When the Austin Independent School District released a draft list of nine underused campuses that could be closed to cut costs, there was immediate backlash from neighborhoods fearful of losing their schools. Yet what has been buried in the understandable parent outrage is one simple fact: Not only are the proposed closures a long-term solution to an immediate cash-flow problem, it's a solution that would not affect that problem...."

Public Notice: Common Ground?
It's always darkest before the dawn
News Column  February 4, 2016, by Nick Barbaro
"...Austin Voices for Education & Youth runs a lot of different projects around Austin, "to improve public education and expand opportunities for students and families." This week they figure prominently in Richard Whittaker's feature story about AISD's Allan campus, where AVEY has helped set up an innovative Early Childhood Center. In the past, we've praised their work both directly with students and families, and in advocating strongly for the Community Schools movement – basically, the "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy of education reform...."

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