Texas education

The Texas State Board of Education gave preliminary approval this week to a sex education policy that includes teaching middle schoolers about birth control beyond abstinence — its first attempt to revise that policy since 1997.

Texas’ next higher education commissioner will be Harrison Keller, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of recent initiatives designed to improve college readiness and student outcomes. He will assume the post Oct 1.

US Departmet of Education

Texas will soon begin requiring all high school seniors in the state to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as a FAFSA, before graduating.

Laura Skelding / The Texas Tribune

Many school districts are seeing smaller gains from the state's school finance law than they predicted. Teachers are fighting to get bigger raises anyway.

From The Texas Tribune:

When state lawmakers passed their landmark $11.6 billion school finance law in late May, school employees were eager to see how mandatory raises would affect their paychecks.

Panhandle Twenty 20

As the new census approaches in 2020, Amarillo continues to lag behind many cities of similar size when it comes to educational attainment.

Texas School Funding May Be In Trouble . . . Again

Dec 2, 2018
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The Texas Legislative session is set to begin in less than a month, and one major item on the agenda has been figuring out how to increase funding to Texas schools. In fact, a state commission has been set up to tackle that very question.

New Report Indicates One In Five Texas Children Lives in Poverty

Nov 16, 2018
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From Texas Standard:

Texas often touts its record of economic growth, low unemployment rates and its success as a magnet for workers, but who's thinking about the kids in tow and how well-fed or educated they are? Many people are surprised to find that about one in five kids in Texas lives in poverty.

The Texas Education Agency has finished presenting its argument challenging a Department of Education ruling that threatens to strip millions in special education funding from Texas schools.


After exploring the idea and stirring worries and warnings from retired teachers and elected officials, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas opted Friday not to raise monthly health care premiums for a group of nearly 68,000 retired teachers.

This episode was originally published on Sept. 23, 2018.

High school seniors have something extra added to their workload in the fall semester. Those who are going on to college have to navigate the college application process. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton dissect that annual dash to compile transcripts, test scores, essays and teacher recommendations.

Jonathan Baker

Since 1939, Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch has been thought of as a safe space for at-risk youth in the Texas Panhandle. But late last year, allegations of abuse--spanning decades--surfaced.

On Friday morning, former Boys Ranch residents gathered in Amarillo to bring attention to what they say happened to them at the faith-based facility.

Texas Panhandle School Districts Receive A-F Grades

Aug 19, 2018
Who What Where Nguyen Why / Wikimedia Commons

The scores are in for Texas Panhandle school districts, under the state’s controversial new A-F grading system.

As MyHighPlains.com reports, every school in Amarillo and Canyon met state standards.

Who What Where Nguyen Why / Wikimedia Commons

School districts across West Texas start classes this week, while at the same time they await their first official report cards under a new accountability system that assigns A-F grades for all Texas school districts.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the controversial new grading system has already drawn widespread disapproval, as 600 school boards statewide have adopted resolutions opposing the ratings.

How The School Funding Formula Works In Texas

Jun 27, 2018

The most basic thing to understand about school funding is that every student in the state of Texas has a dollar figure hanging over his or her head. But not every kid is worth the same amount of money in the eyes of state.

Texas Plans To Pour Money Into Special Education

Apr 25, 2018
U.S. Census Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

Texas plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing the state’s beleaguered special-education system.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas Education Agency plans to spend nearly $212 million over the next five years to help students with special needs. The news comes in the wake of a 2016 study, which found that Texas had been systemically failing to adequately serve tens of thousands of special needs students statewide.

Lance Cpl. Scott Whiting

Child Advocates are charging Texas public schools with punishing the state's youngest students too harshly.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, last year Texas passed a law saying that students in Pre-K through second grade could only be suspended if they brought a gun to school, or committed drug offenses or acts of violence.

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A school district on the edge of Amarillo is now allowing certain teachers to carry concealed weapons, leaving some to wonder if the rest of Amarillo’s schools may be next.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the 900-student Highland Park ISD on Amarillo’s eastern edge has posted signs reading that the district, “has adopted policies that allow certain employees to carry concealed weapons on school property for the protection of our students and staff.”

The Texas Tribune

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, due to a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements. 

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Using a District of Innovation plan, districts can create a comprehensive educational program and identify provisions under Texas law that would inhibit their goals.

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The Amarillo Independent School District has voted to shorten the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The school will now be known simply as Lee Elementary School. The school’s name had been a touch point in the community, where many parents felt that the school being named after a Confederate General would ostracize students of color.

Eddie Seal / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education, addressing federal concerns about the state's failure to serve students with disabilities.

From The Texas Tribune:

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education Thursday.

In Texas, GED Numbers Are Plummeting

Jan 21, 2018
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The number of adults taking and passing the GED exam in Texas has plummeted recently, reports the Jacksonville Progress. The General Education Development test serves as a stand-in for a high-school diploma, for students who dropped out or failed to graduate.

Feds Rule Texas Special Education Law Invalid

Jan 14, 2018
U.S. Census Bureau / Public Domain

The Federal Government ruled last week that Texas Education officials illegally denied special education services to students across the state, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

The ruling rejected a long-ago decision by the Texas Education Agency that placed a cap on how many students in the state can be eligible for special education services.

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For the last 10 years, Texas elected officials have been gradually cutting funding to public schools. As a result, local school costs have been rising--and local property taxes have been rising with them.

The state Legislature has now shifted over $2 billion a year worth of funding that would have gone to public schools to other programs.

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According to a new study, the average graduation rate of Texas charter schools students is almost 30 percentage points lower than that of traditional public schools.

As Houston Public Media reports, the 2017 study from the Texas Education Agency showed that fewer than two out of every three Texas charter school students graduated on time.

Panhandle Philanthropists Give Aid To Rural Students

Oct 11, 2017
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Three big-name philanthropists from the Texas Panhandle have ensured that six high school students from Miami and Canadian will be able to pay for college, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The funding comes from the Pickens-Abraham Foundation, which is a partnership between energy magnate T. Boone Pickens and Salem and Ruth Ann Abraham of Canadian. In addition to the tuition funds for the six high school students, the foundation also provides funding for the Canadian and Miami independent school districts.

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For the first time ever in Texas, charter schools will begin receiving state funding for leasing and maintain their properties and facilities, reports The Texas Tribune.