Emotionally Drained, Financially Strapped: How Texas Teachers Weathered the School Year After Hurricane Harvey
On a bright Thursday in April, in Alief Independent School District's Mata Intermediate School, sixth-grade teacher Justin Williams walked to his classroom door from the hallway and crooked a finger, beckoning a gangly 13-year-old to come outside.
A teacher had caught Mekhi Coleman goofing around with another student, the two playfully kicking each other when they were supposed to be quietly marching to their next class.
It’s the last day of classes at Scoggins Middle School in McKinney, and a crowd of eighth-grade students are eagerly awaiting a FaceTime call from the school’s brand-new celebrity.
After some technical hiccups, Karthik Nemmani — the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion — pops up on the auditorium’s projector screen, and the students erupt in applause.
The Texas Education Agency has denied a Harvey waiver to HISD involving four district schools, and the consequences of that could be severe.
A new state education performance requirement would allow the state to close the schools or put a replacement school board in place. The schools involved are Mading Elementary, Wesley Elementary, Woodsen PK-8, and Worthing High School.
Gov. Greg Abbott Announces School Safety Plan and Proposed Changes to Gun Laws After Santa Fe Shooting
Less than two weeks after 10 people were killed in a southeast Texas school shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott laid out a wide-ranging school safety plan - including programs for mental health screenings, expanded school protections and even a few, narrow measures regulating gun usage - and left the door open to calling lawmakers back to Austin to pass some of those priorities.
"If there is consensus on some laws that could be passed, I am open to calling [a special session]," Abbott said.
What's in a name?
A community's culture and history, argue Mexican-American experts in Texas who are protesting the name change of a recently approved high school elective course on Mexican-American studies.
All is fair in the fight for talented teachers, and Fort Worth isn't holding back.
The school district expanded its aggressive recruiting efforts to another state that recently had thousands of educators protesting over pay: Arizona.
TRS-Care is the health care program provided by Texas to its retired school personnel. The program was initially created in 1985 as a stopgap measure but has continued on to become an enormous health care program. TRS-Care covers more than 233,000 lives, but recent changes to the program's benefits and costs have driven 36,400 participants away from the program.
During the 2017 Texas legislative session, TRS-Care faced a $1.1 billion shortfall. The shortfall was caused by a lack of funding for TRS-Care. The resulting legislation left many retirees with an unaffordable health care program.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday he could support stronger regulations for gun storage and quicker reporting to law enforcement when a court has determined someone is mentally ill in order to keep them from having weapons.
Abbott said those were top considerations to emerge after meeting representatives of a gun control group and gun owners as well as mental health and education experts in discussions on school safety after the shooting at a high school killed 10 people near Houston.
Less than a week after the Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 people dead and 13 others injured, political and education leaders across Texas are proposing ways to avoid the next campus shooting: more law enforcement officers, more counselors, more metal detectors.
All of which requires more money — something many cash-strapped school districts do not have right now.
Hey, Texplainer: How much is spent educating the average public school student in Texas?
It depends on who you ask.
Both the Texas Education Agency and the National Education Association track per-pupil funding. But their numbers don't quite add up.
Administrators on Thursday recommended Houston ISD seek voter approval for a $1.7 billion capital projects bond in May 2019, charging forward with long-term spending plans even as the district faces uncertainty about its leadership and ability to maintain local control over decision-making.
District leaders said the $1.7 billion bond would finance much-needed rebuilding of 18 existing elementary and middle schools, construction of three new campuses, security upgrades at all 280-plus schools and the purchase of new buses, among other costs. HISD administrators said it was unclear whether the proposed bond package would result in a tax increase, saying they will have a better idea when the Harris County Appraisal District finalizes property values in August.
State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, wants to legalize sports betting in Texas, and has drafted a bill to do it. This follows a ruling from the United State Supreme Court that cleared the way for each to decide whether sports betting would be allowed in its borders.
Lucio applauded the SCOTUS ruling, and said in a release he was "looking forward to beginning a conversation with my fellow members of the House this legislative session."
Across the nation, there is a simmering discussion about education funding. In places - Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia - that simmer has reached the boiling point. Here in Texas, we have tasked a commission to study education funding - again.
Amid years of ongoing study, what have we learned? We have learned there are no easy answers and certainly no magic bullets to fix education funding. However, amid the vast array of data there is some clarity. First, poverty makes educating students more difficult and more expensive. Second, lack of English language skills makes educating students more difficult and more expensive. Unfortunately, about 60 percent of Texas students fall into the poverty category. Almost one in five Texas students speaks limited English.
Houston ISD’s 10 longest-struggling schools likely would not trigger major state sanctions this year if they all receive academic accountability waivers because of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said Wednesday.
However, the district still would face punishment — either campus closures or a state takeover of the district’s locally elected school board — if Morath opts against accountability waivers for the schools and a single one fails to meet state academic standards.
As a state, we are required to provide a free, appropriate public education for all students, regardless of ability. Not doing so would make Texas the target of various intervention mechanisms in our country, as evidenced by the recent action by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the 8.5 percent cap on special education enrollment encouraged by state policies. We fund public education; and therefore, we fund special education.
Texas, like much of the country, is struggling with funding for public education. Some state leaders point out that Texas is putting in more money than ever before. So, what’s the problem? Texas’ funding per student is still below 2008 levels despite the fact that we’re demanding more from our schools. This is especially true in funding levels for small and rural districts, special education services, services for English-language learners, and career and technical education.
The fate of Houston ISD and its 10 longest-struggling schools now lies with the Texas Education Agency.
Texas’ largest school district missed an April 30 deadline to submit plans to the TEA detailing how it would hand operations of those 10 schools to a third-party group, according to Houston ISD spokesman Tracy Clemons. If approved by the TEA, such a plan would have triggered a two-year grace period and protected the district from state takeover and the 10 schools from closure.
The end of the school year is a busy time for students, faculty, staff, and families. Finals exams are looming; seniors may be on the hunt for a job; and many students have to say goodbye to friends and teachers. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and I discuss the origins of stress; the role it can play in education and learning; and how to successfully manage it (both in and out of school).
Teachers walked out in Colorado and Arizona Thursday demanding more school funding, but it's an unlikely scene for Texas teachers. The protests Thursday come on the heels of several other states protesting low teacher salaries.
In Texas, education advocates say it’s unlikely there will be an organized strike since teachers who do could lose their teaching certificates or pensions under state law. Still, they say it’s time for change.
As the Houston ISD board of trustees scrambles against a tight deadline to try and secure a partner for struggling schools at risk of closure, the Houston teachers union and other advocates are raising a host of concerns over the group.
Late Friday, the HISD administration revealed it was recommending Energized for STEM, a charter network authorized by HISD and operating four schools, to take on the management, budget, curriculum and turnaround efforts for 10 HISD schools that haven’t met state standards in several years. The HISD board will consider the proposal at a special meeting Tuesday.
When Allison Hartzell discovered several white spots on her tongue in January, she knew it could only mean one thing: The oral cancer that the 31-year-old Coppell Middle School West choir teacher had spent the past year battling with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation was back.
This time around, the Coppell West community is stepping up its game by pitting Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers fans against each other to raise $1 million for Hartzell's medical treatment and oral cancer research.
For eight-straight years, Cypress-Fairbanks and Conroe ISDs earned the Texas Smart Schools Award, bestowed on school districts with prudent financial practices and high academic achievement.
Now, Cypress-Fairbanks faces a $50 million deficit next school year, and Conroe is projected to face its first deficit in nearly a decade in the next two to four years.
Jaculyn Zigtema, a special education director in Whitehouse ISD in East Texas, told state education officials Monday that she planned to hire two diagnosticians, four teachers and two behavioral specialists to handle an anticipated spike in students considered eligible for special education.
Wearing her silver Dallas Cowboys earrings and bracelet, Nancy Miller patiently waits for a bus full of kids from Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Out of the 20 students who are visiting, the Presbyterian Village North resident has her mind set on one in particular — a 9-year-old Cowboys fan named Ahan Jain.
Apple on Monday announced a new app to allow users to get reports on how much their kids are using particular apps on their iPhones and iPads.
Apple is calling the app Screen Time, and it will let parents set time limits on how long their children can use apps, from Netflix to Snapchat, said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. Screen Time would also allow parents to limit access to some apps and websites. One option is designed to get kids to unplug from their devices at bedtime.
Summer is here (in the Northern Hemisphere) but that doesn't mean that the learning has to stop. PBS Learning Media recently published set of resources designed to help you help the learning going throughout the summer.
PBS Kids Summer Adventure is a set of eight online and interactive activities designed to help kids ages 4-8 acquire and practice new math skills. Each activity should take roughly an hour to complete. All activities are aligned to national math standards as listed here.
Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.
In high school, Napier didn't have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.
Math anxiety is much more than a dislike for the subject—it’s a real problem for students, one that blocks the brain’s working memory and starts a self-perpetuating cycle of math avoidance, low achievement, and fear. This form of anxiety manifests as early as kindergarten, and nearly half of elementary school children experience it.
"I want The Three Bears!"
These days parents, caregivers and teachers have lots of options when it comes to fulfilling that request. You can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audiobook, or even ask Alexa.
During his 10 years as a Republican state representative from Central Texas, Killeen veterinarian and rancher Jimmie Don Aycock, 71, gained prominence as a champion of public education. His legacy includes legislation to reduce the amount of testing required, enable academically troubled schools to more readily reform themselves and fix a creaky school finance system that no less than then-Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett described in 2016 as “byzantine.” The latter concern was particularly frustrating for Aycock, who in 2015 crafted a bipartisan House bill to add $3 billion to the budget to more adequately and equitably fund public schools. The bill was withdrawn in the session’s final days because of opposition in the Texas Senate.
On Sunday, May 6, H‑E‑B announced statewide winners of the 17th annual H‑E‑B Excellence in Education Awards during an awards ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Houston. During the ceremony, H‑E‑B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt personally handed out $430,000 in cash awards and grants, and congratulated eight educators, two school districts, one early childhood agency and a public school board for being among the best in Texas. The program has given away more than $9.5 million in cash and grants since 2002.
A teenage brain is a fascinating, still-changing place. There's a lot going on: social awareness, risk-taking, peer pressure; all are heightened during this period.
Until relatively recently, it was thought that the brain was only actively developing during childhood, but in the last two decades, researchers have confirmed that the brain continues to develop during adolescence — a period of time that can stretch from the middle school years into early adulthood.
Using digital media is a surefire way to grab students’ attention, and using everyday topics students encounter in their personal lives is an even better way to engage them in learning.
With a wealth of resources online, educators can find content that meets students where they’re comfortable learning, with interactive and engaging presentation. TED-Ed Lessons are among the resources that help students learn while engaging them in the subject matter.
Scott Barry Kaufman was placed in special education classes as a kid. He struggled with auditory information processing and with anxiety.
But with the support of his mother, and some teachers who saw his creativity and intellectual curiosity, Kaufman ended up with degrees from Yale and Cambridge.
“Why did you cheat in high school?” I posed the question to a dozen former students.
“I wanted good grades and I didn’t want to work,” said Sonya, who graduates from college in June. The students’ names in this article have been changed to protect their privacy.
The IRS encourages everyone to use the Withholding Calculator to perform a quick “paycheck checkup.” This is even more important this year because of recent changes to the tax law for 2018.
For many of us, reading is as automatic as breathing. But for the millions of students with dyslexia, reading is a difficult task that poses constant academic and emotional challenges. To simulate the experience of reading with dyslexia, try using this key to decipher the coded statement below.
More than 9 in 10 teachers say they joined the profession for idealistic reasons — "I wanted to do good" — but most are struggling to some extent economically.
Those findings come from a nationally representative survey by NPR and Ipsos of more than 500 teachers across the country. The poll was conducted in April amid widespread walkouts in several states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and currently Arizona.
On May 18 and 19, Columbus, Texas is hosting the 2018 Magnolia Days Festival on the Courthouse Square. In the shade of both oak and magnolia trees that are at least a century old, the Magnolia Days Festival offers family fun for those of all ages, including historic charm, food and beverage stands, a wine garden and Biergarten, live entertainment, and a Family Fun Zone. While you’re there, get your picture taken with the Magnolia Belles, shop the Farmers Market and Vendor Marketplace, and try some tasty treats ranging from filling lunch/dinner options, and end your day with sweet dessert.
At the tiny public library in Winterport, Maine, 43-year-old Robert Hartmann bends over The Little Engine That Could and slowly sounds out the first line.
Classroom management is an essential tool for an effective teacher, but it’s not always easy to do well. Without an orderly classroom it’s hard for teachers with upward of 25 kids in their classrooms to lead effective lessons, help students who are struggling, and perhaps most important, to trust students. That’s why getting behavior under control was Michael Essien’s number one goal when he started as the assistant principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School (MLK) in San Francisco.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, in which a few thousand ill-equipped Mexican citizens defeated a much larger army of highly trained French soldiers. Although the victory did not result in the immediate end of French occupation, many historians believe it indirectly affected the outcome of the American Civil War and led to Mexico's eventual independence. Today, people in both the United States and Mexico celebrate Cinco de Mayo -- the Fifth of May -- as a day of freedom and goodwill.
College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.
About ten years ago I started to notice a lot of alternatives to PowerPoint popping-up on the web. Some of those presentation tools like Google Slides and Prezi are still going strong while others have faded away. Through it all, PowerPoint kept chugging along even though it wasn't a darling of Web 2.0 users. Today, PowerPoint has all of the features students and teachers need, including collaboration, but often those features are overlooked. If you haven't taken a look at PowerPoint in a while, here are five PowerPoint features that you should try.
For 50 years, the National PTA Reflections arts program has helped millions of students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.
"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance."
That's one of the first things Larry Cagle says on the phone. He is spitting nails. The Tulsa English teacher is one of the leaders of a grassroots organizing group, Oklahoma Teachers United, that they say represents thousands of public school teachers around the state. His group, and both of Oklahoma's teachers unions, support the walkout and rally happening across the state Monday in support of higher wages and more state revenue.
Poetry is not a given in AP Language and Composition—in fact, some teachers use only nonfiction texts because a major focus of the class is rhetorical analysis. But rhetoric is everywhere, and its compact form and concentrated language make poetry a particularly effective vehicle for introducing students to rhetorical analysis.
So when we were in the midst of a unit on civil disobedience and had read Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., articles on the “take a knee” protest, and some interesting political cartoons, I introduced the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”
If you've ever gone down the rabbit hole that is OK Go's YouTube channel, then you know how insanely cool the band's music videos are.
Sure, OK Go is a rock band. Their songs get on the radio, they've played sold-out shows, but the group is far better known for their really complex and elaborate videos.
Do you see Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein? It may seem hard to confuse the two, but AsapSCIENCE explains how people can see both in this eyesight test.
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), a day that "encourages our friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events ... to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities," the official WDSD site reports.
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. But getting help for children who have it in public school can be a nightmare.
"They wouldn't acknowledge that he had a problem," says Christine Beattie about her son Neil. "They wouldn't say the word 'dyslexia.' "
Have you ever noticed how best friends tend to talk like each other?
Whether it's chickadees or chimps, scientists have found that numerous species will tweak their calls to resemble those of their closest compatriots.
With Father's Day approaching—it's June 17, for those of you who were about to Google—we asked chefs from around the country to reflect on the most important lessons they learned from their fathers in the kitchen, and it got very cute very fast.
Italy's Amalfi Coast boasts a classic Mediterranean landscape, a sensual blend of both natural and cultural wonders. The breathtaking terrain includes dramatic coastline topography scattered with terraced vineyards, orchards, and pastures—often with enchanting views of the vibrant waters below.
Posted on the Delish website, Texas Toothpicks are the backyard barbecue/Texas summer gathering appetizer you never knew you would love so much. Easy to make and certainly delicious, these tangy bites make perfect use of the beloved jalapeño in a practically effortless preparation process.
To encourage a love of nature, two National Parks started the internet’s most wholesome war.
London's skyline is one of the world's most famous -- from this sleek modern glamor of the Shard to St Paul's Cathedral's classic dome. Now this striking cityscape is the subject of an innovative gigapixel panorama photoshoot.
Meet the Juicy Lucy, the ultimate cheeseburger with the cheese inside the patty.
Getting out to a Texas Hill Country farmers market has long been a tradition of many locals. The fresh produce, homemade entrees, baked goods, fresh flowers, and cold beverages (some made right in front of you) simply can’t be beaten. The prospect of discovering a find you can’t turn away from is strong, and the opportunity to shop local stimulates the area’s economy and helps your local farmer. Here are three Texas Hill Country farmers markets you should visit soon!
Jimmy Kimmel took a unique approach to Teacher Appreciation Week on Wednesday night. Instead of simply encouraging people to thank their favorite teachers for inspiring them, the host acknowledged that many former students remember a teacher they "put through the ringer." So he gave them a chance to apologize.
The host started things off by apologizing to his high school Spanish teacher on behalf of the student who erased his chalkboard and drew NSFW pictures. "Teachers have difficult jobs," he reminded viewers, before turning to people on the street to offer their own apologies.
Sometimes, things pop up in places where we least expect them. So when an apex predator was sneaking through a saltmarsh where Brian Silliman was studying crabs and snails, he was shocked.
“I was being stalked by alligators,” says Silliman, a marine conservation biology professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “Alligators are thought to be freshwater specialists. [Seeing one in a saltmarsh] just completely challenged everything I was taught about alligators.”
One of the world's wildest mountain drives, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route in Japan has reopened to tourists for another season.
Stretching across the Toyama and Nagano prefectures north of Tokyo, the 90-kilometer sightseeing route -- dubbed the "Roof of Japan" -- offers incredible views of the 3,015-meter Mt. Tateyama and 2,478-meter Mt. Akazawa-dake peaks, while providing access to everything from Japan's highest altitude hot spring to the country's highest waterfall.
I lied to my students today.
You see, today was the first day of state testing. They showed up filled with anxiety. So I did what any good teacher would do. I lied.
Hearty and comforting, this lamb ragu is just the thing you need to keep away the winter blues. There’s something about a huge portion of pasta covered in saucy meat ragu that is ultra warming. The second best part about making this, aside from the fact that you get to eat it, is that it fills your house up with the most delicious smells.
Here is what several weeks’ worth of brewer’s yeast looks like, collected after a month or two of beer-making: melted caramel ice cream. That, or whipped mud.
In addition to a recent revamping, David Chang's Italian-inflected Momofuku Nishi unveiled a brunch menu in March, debuting a triple-stacked Dagwood Sandwich with sardines and roasted chicken thigh and a smoky, mapo tofu-esque Eggs in Purgartory, plus a slew of morning cocktails, our favorite being the Resting Brunch Face with rye, averna amaro, cold brew coffee, and orange bitters.
Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, wants to ferry people to Mars by the hundreds, with the first humans landing on the red planet around 2025. President Barack Obama published an op-ed in October 2016 recommitting to his goal to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. It’s enough to give Earthlings a bad case of interplanetary wanderlust, but you can’t book your tickets just yet. For budding space tourists eager for a celestial-body experience, here are some terrestrial destinations with distinctively off-planet flavor.
There’s a planet with poles that flip, a supersized moon, and landscapes that harbor acidic pools, boiling rivers and living clouds.
We call it Earth.
Avid viewers of Iron Chef watch the show in awe. The task before the elite chefs (the likes of Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Stephanie Izard) and challengers on the cooking competition is Herculean: Cook a perfect meal in an hour, using just the ingredients provided, plus a secret ingredient—anything from halibut, to beer, to coconut—while the world watches. Though most of us succumb to the pressure of cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for family let alone creating world-class dishes for discerning judges, it’s hard to watch the show and not wonder, could I become an Iron Chef?
Who isn't Pinterest-obsessed, TBH?!
Why bother going into one of the casino gambling halls?" asks Jacky Higgins, co-founder of MacauSoul, a Portuguese wine lounge housed inside a traditional colonial building.
"Just walk around the streets. It's totally fascinating."
With Easter coming up and summer potlucks following right behind, there are many hard-boiled eggs in our near future. Sometimes they can be a little tricky to pull off—peels included!
Everyday in Russia’s capital, residents commute like clockwork through an underground labyrinth filled with treasures. Soaring marble walls hold gilded mosaics, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes from Russian history under crystal chandeliers. Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former–but not forgotten–stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses.
These delicious recipes include gooey cheese-topped guacamole and chilled avocado soup with crab.
San Antonio introduced “Lanterns on the Water,” the beginning of its newest River Walk tradition in 2018, bringing together locals and tourists alike to enjoy the beauty of these artfully crafted and visually appealing lanterns as they floated down the river. From February 17 – March 3 of this year, the River Walk became something of a glowing appeal!
Us mere mortals might be hanging around waiting for the arrival of spring, the semi-annual time change and the return of good lighting, but mathematician types (not to mention Albert Einstein groupies) look toward the coming days, see March 14 on their calendar, and commence getting just a little bit excited.
Sundown-to-sundown on March 9–10 is observed as the National Day of Unplugging. As a challenge, or rather “digital detox,” it is asked that we detach from our cellular devices for 24 hours in an effort to highlight the value of reconnecting with yourself, your loved ones and your community in real time.
People around the world are encouraged to attempt a number of impressive, odd, and sometimes completely meaningless world records in order to simply achieve such a feat. Here in Texas, however, people have been known to do that unprompted, all the time!
Good deeds have ripple effects. Give your students this experience firsthand. From simple acts done in a few minutes to in-depth lessons, you can teach how to pay kindness forward in whatever time you have available.
Terrific short rib recipes, from Indian-spiced short ribs to short rib farrotto with carrots and parsnips.
Earlier this month, an orangutan was found brutally shot to death in Borneo. In January, one was found decapitated and floating in a river. In 2017, oil plantation workers were accused of killing and eating one of the island's orangutans.
The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo kicks off on Thursday, February 8! The Western Heritage Parade and the Wrangler Cowboy Breakfast have already taken place (did you attend?) and the Stock Show Stampede went off without a hitch. Rodeo season can now commence, and Texas is ready for it!
Every two years, bids are made by cities around the globe to the International Olympic Commission (IOC) for the chance to host the Olympic Games. The winner is chosen through a rigorous process that, for one, takes into account whether the city can convince residents that the benefits of hosting the games outweigh the increased taxes that may come with it.
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