Top 10 Education Stories

The year in local education

John Dietz
John Dietz (Photo by Jana Birchum)

1) ECONOMICS 101 Judge John Dietz issued his long-awaited ruling on the state's school finance system, deeming it unconstitutional on multiple levels.

2) ATLANTA'S PROBLEM NOW In April, AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen suddenly but not unexpectedly resigned as district CEO to head up the troubled Atlanta Public Schools system. AISD trustees spent months creating an open, transparent process to select her replacement. Then they speedily hired Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz, even though he was not originally eligible to apply.

3) DOUBLE DETHRONING The UT Austin/UT System war claimed two scalps: Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa steps down in Jan­u­ary (succeeded by Admiral William McRaven), while regents are still selecting a replacement for UT-Austin President Bill Powers, exiting in June. Lawmakers voted to censure, rather than indict, UT Regent Wallace Hall, whose witch hunt of Powers triggered the conflict.

4) BACKDOOR PRIVATIZATION? Public education advocates got a worrying glimpse of future legislative plans as Lt. Governor-elect Dan Patrick ran Senate Education Committee hearings on expanding charters and introducing vouchers.

Ken Zarifis
Ken Zarifis (Photo by Jana Birchum)

5) TEXTBOOK TANTRUMS The State Board of Education approved new social science textbook standards, rushing through politically motivated changes against an outcry from independent academics and several board members. Fortunately, under scientific pressure, major publishers Pearson and McGraw-Hill had already removed sections on climate denialism.

6) MAELSTROM IN MANOR First Super­in­tendent Kevin Brackmeyer resigned from, then was rehired by, Manor ISD. Then Assistant Superintendent Robert Peters sued the district after he was fired after alleging fraud and sexual harassment of staff by administrators.

7) BRAND NEW BOARD There was unexpected turnover in AISD as four incumbent trustees – Vince Torres, Cheryl Bradley, Lori Moya, and Tamala Barksdale – all retired.

8) GOODBYE MACK, HELLO CHARLIE Veteran UT football coach Mack Brown resigned, replaced by University of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong. The newcomer immediately cleaned house by cutting players for disciplinary and legal infractions.

9) D.C. MONEY, AUSTIN RACES Leadership for Educational Equity, the D.C.-based PAC designed to get Teach for America alums onto school boards, got into Austin politics by throwing over $20,000 behind AISD candidate, and ex-KIPP Austin charter school administrator, David "D" Thompson – who lost to Edmund "Ted" Gordon.

10) BOYS HERE, GIRLS THERE Flying in the face of education research, and with little public support, AISD closed East Austin's Pearce and Garcia middle schools and reopened them as single-sex schools: the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Lead­er­ship Academy and the Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Top 10s
Rosalind Faires' Top 10 Fiction Books of 2019
Rosalind Faires' Top 10 Fiction Books of 2019
Here’s to a year of rollicking adventures, laughing, weeping, and rooting for those crazy kids to wind up together in the end

Rosalind Faires, Dec. 20, 2019

Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
From the social upheaval of the Sixties to the double life of an intelligence agent to the secular past of an Orthodox rabbi, splits resolved into memorable books

Jay Trachtenberg, Dec. 20, 2019

More by Richard Whittaker
Nightstream Review: <i>Honeydew</i>
Nightstream Review: Honeydew
Keep an ear open for this new tale of backwoods malice

Oct. 19, 2020

Nightstream Review: <i>Anything For Jackson</i>
Nightstream Review: Anything For Jackson
The love of grandparents rips the doors off Hell

Oct. 17, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Top 10s, John Dietz, School finance, Meria Carstarphen, Paul Cruz, Francisco Cigarroa, William McRaven, Wallace Hall, Dan Patrick, charter schools, Senate Education Committee, State Board of Education, Texas textbooks, AISD, Kevin Brackmeyer, Manor ISD, Robert Peters, Vince Torres, Cheryl Bradley, Tamala Barksdale

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle