Spotlight Texas

First School District Set to Join Parents' Lawsuit Over STAAR

Ben Becker, the Houston father who helped organize a legal fight over last year's STAAR exams, has repeatedly challenged superintendents over the last few months to join him in court to fight for their students.

Becker describes his group as a handful of Texas parents up against the state of Texas, backed by a legal team funded through a crowdfunding campaign. In a year when the STAAR exam went so horribly awry, and outraged so many school officials across the state, Becker says, "as parents [we] look around and wonder, where are the school districts?"

DeSoto High School Volleyball Team Kneels in Protest During National Anthem

Taking a page from professional athletes around the country, members of the DeSoto High School volleyball team knelt during the national anthem before a match Tuesday night.

Players said they were kneeling to protest the treatment of black Americans by police, telling KXAS-TV (NBC5) that the next black man shot could be their dad, brother or boyfriend.

Hays County Pulls the Plug on School Zone Traffic Citation Cameras

Hays County Commissioners voted Tuesday to scrap their school zone camera program amid a pending lawsuit challenging the program.

The program uses two vehicles equipped with radar and cameras to catch drivers speeding through school zones; citations are later issued through the mail. The vehicles are used primarily in western parts of the county at about half a dozen schools.

School Districts Face Uncertainty Over Camera Law for Special Needs Classrooms

The author of "cameras in the classroom" legislation said Thursday he plans to draft a clarification bill when the regular session starts in January over concerns the current law places an unexpected financial burden on school districts across the state.

State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr, (D-Brownsville) said SB507 went through several changes during the 2015 session.

Texas SBOE Vice Chair: Mexican-American Textbook 'Dead on Arrival'

The textbook experts say is laden with errors, omits key history and characterizes Mexicans as lazy is "dead on arrival" at the State Board of Education, according to the board's vice chairman.

Former boards of education known for heated debates over teaching creationism and the promotion of Moses as a major influence on the U.S. Constitution probably would have approved the textbook, but the current board probably will not, said Thomas Ratliff, a Mount Pleasant Republican.

GOP Pitches Private School Choice at Education Panel

Republican state senators bolstered their case for a private school choice program Wednesday during a marathon hearing of the Senate Education Committee, debating not whether to help Texas families pay for private, religious or home school but how.

Small Class Size Recommended for Pre-K, AISD Wants More Funding

To improve pre-kindergarten education, Texas schools should keep class sizes small and student-teacher ratios low, according to a newly released state report.

The study, conducted by the Texas Education Agency and the Department of Family and Protective Services, recommended a limit of 22 children and a student-teacher ratio of 11-to-1 for pre-kindergarten classes. Officials with local education advocacy groups stress the importance of Pre-K.

University of Texas at San Antonio President to Retire at End of School Year

Ricardo Romo, the longtime president of the University of Texas at San Antonio, announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the school year.

Romo has been president of the university for almost 18 years. He said he plans to take a year off and then return to the university as a historian at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures. His total compensation last fiscal year was $448,000, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

Houston Mayor Urges State Board To Reject Controversial Textbook

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking the Texas Board of Education to reject a controversial textbook as a newly released report calls the content “flatly incorrect and offensive on many occasions.”

“I have read parts of the proposed textbook as well as reviews from experts in history and Mexican-American studies. In short, I find this textbook to be offensive,” Turner said in a news release sent out Tuesday. “The purpose of instructional material is not to undermine our educational system, to push an ideological agenda or to disseminate inaccuracies, stereotypes and errors about our collective history.”

School Finance Equity Begins by Eliminating Inefficiency

Our inefficient public school funding system results in significant lost funding to the majority of districts and an increased burden on their taxpayers. It may be a cliché, but it remains true: there are no free lunches - someone always pays.

Our basic system is geared to reflect differences in the cost of providing educations across the state. The statutory objective is that all districts willing to exert the same tax effort would be able to provide appropriate educational opportunities of similar quality for all children. This principle is the foundation of the Texas Supreme Court's first school funding decision and was reiterated in the most recent decision: Districts must have substantially similar revenues per pupil at similar levels of tax effort.

Finalists Named for 2016 Superintendent of the Year Award

Five public school administrators from across Texas were selected as state finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award. Sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984.

The 2016 finalists and their regions are Angi Williams, Galena Park ISD, Region 4; David Harris, DeSoto ISD, Region 10; Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD, Region 11; Robin Battershell, Temple ISD, Region 12; and Greg Gibson, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Region 20.

Nonprofit IT Disaster Resource Center Helps Deweyville, Texas, High School Post-Flood

In March, the town of Deweyville, Texas, experienced a historic flood — it was completely cut off from surrounding towns as waters in the nearby Sabine River reached over 30 feet. Part of Deweyville's emergency management requirements included resources to recover its technology infrastructure, including that of the Deweyville Independent School District, which experienced millions of dollars in flood-related damage.

Enter the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC). The nonprofit organization, founded in 2008, is made up of hundreds of volunteer technology professionals who provide no-cost information, communications and technology resources, as well as technical recovery assistance to help communities in times of a disaster.





Classroom Tools

The Big Move To Improve Head Start

45 CFR Chapter XIII RIN 0970-AC63.

That's the official name of the newly-revised government standards for running a Head Start program.

PBS Kids - You Choose the Candidate

October is Texas Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month

During the 82nd Legislative Session, HB 3616 was passed which designates October as Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month. The bill will encourage public schools and state agencies to celebrate the accomplishments of people with disabilities, highlighting the achievements of Texans with disabilities who made significant contributions to the state and the extraordinary Americans who led the way in the disability rights movement.

Schools And Mental Health: When The Parent Has To Take Charge

In the waning days of summer vacation, Sydney and Laney are enjoying their final moments of freedom flipping over a high bar at a playground close by their house in Spartanburg, S.C.

"You've got to pull your hips into the bar," says their mom, Selena, motioning to the girls, "you've got to kick up like that!"

Good News For Pandas!

They are cute and cuddly round-faced animals and look like they are almost smiling. They are probably one of the most loved of all animals. These creatures are slow and gentle, with white and black fur.

Beginning Teacher Scholarships Available

After considerable discussion, the trustees serving on the board of the Foundation decided to replace its current Student Scholarship program — which provides funds to graduating high school seniors and current college students — and create a new program that would reward students who have completed their college education and are about to enter the classroom as professional educators for the first time.

Encourage Texas Voters to Consider Public Education When Choosing Candidates

Go to Texas Educators Vote. Take an oath to support public education with your votes in 2016

K-12 Student Video Contest

BE CREATIVE! Encourage your students to give answers that the next president can implement. Video entries must be less than 60 seconds. All entries must be submitted by September 30th, 2016. Please note that CEE is bipartisan so no candidates can be mentioned by name or imitated.

Texas Tuition Promise Fund Scholarships

Seems like it happens every time you turn around: you see so much promise in their eyes, as the future unfolds and their horizons expand. Now there's a way you can match that promise.

Best Buy Foundation Accepting Applications for National Youth Technology Program

The Best Buy Foundation provides underserved teens with access to technology that bridges the digital divide and helps prepare them for success in the twenty-first century.

6000+ Children's Books Available for Free

The University of Florida's Digital Collections offers a huge library of digitized children's books. Thanks to Open Culture I discovered this collection this afternoon and immediately started to browse through it. The books that you will find in the collection consist of works that are in the public domain. You can search for books according to topic, language, publisher, genre, and publication date.

Field Trip Grants

It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, we launched Field Trip Grants in 2007. Since then, we’ve made it possible for millions of students to go on a field trip.

Enhancing Students’ Vocabularies and Stepping Up Your Practice

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a word nerd. I have always loved language - as a teacher and a writer. Vocabulary knowledge, I first noticed years ago as a young teacher, is the key to unlocking meaning for your students. It also gives educators insights into the world, as lifelong learners. How can we make learning interesting, colourful and complex words an exciting part of the fabric of classroom life? Or, how can we cultivate word geeks in our classrooms? And how can digital tools help?

Parsing The 'Free' In Free Community College

Let's say you have invites to two parties that advertise "free drinks!"

At the first party, there's simply an open bar. At the second party, though, you have to bring in your tax return, fill out a long form, and register to receive a cocktail grant in a given amount based on your annual income.

National Grandparents Day Upcoming

The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

When Teachers Take A Breath, Students Can Bloom

Garrison Institute looks a little like Hogwarts. The retreat center is housed in a former monastery amid tranquil green hills overlooking the Hudson River, 60 miles north and a world away from New York City.

Inside the airy chapel on a recent summer afternoon, about 35 educators from the U.S. and at least five foreign countries are seated quietly, shoes off.



15 Things That'll Make Staying Organized So Much Easier

Easier than sorting the recycling.

World's Most Luxurious Chain Hotels

With the growing popularity of Airbnb and boutique hotels, large international hotel chains have had to work harder than ever to win travelers' loyalty. Now, more than ever, high-end luxury chains like The Four Seasons and St. Regis are endeavoring to banish brand-name boredom.

These Are the Forgotten Victims of the West's Drought

Last summer Nevada was so dry that rancher Darryl Brady grabbed a shovel and hacked into a dusty pit, once a lush spring that gurgled onto fields thick with wild hay. The snows hadn’t come to the mountains and the river was dry, so Brady was desperately trying to tap into the earth’s watery veins to save his herd of about 85 cattle. But it was a failure; the earth had no water to give.

Uber Tests Autonomous Cars

Mike Isaac of The Times was among journalists who traveled to Pittsburgh to test Uber’s driverless vehicles.

What Makes an Antique Toy Worth $100,000?

Like every collectibles market, the world of antique dolls is subject to towering heights and devastating lows.

"It's almost like the wind, or almost like fashion," said Jay Lowe, the head of the doll department at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa. "What people want this year might be different than what people will want 10 years from now."

Mini Dorayaki with Azuki Bean

Growing up, sweet red bean paste was one of my favorite treats. I especially loved the flower shaped buns, hot and fluffy from the Chinese bakery, glistening with egg wash, dotted with a couple of cursory sesame seeds, filled to the brim with creamy, sweet red bean paste. For some reason, I don’t remember red bean paste being very popular back then. It probably had something to do with the color: deep, dark burnished amber, almost flirting with black.

How to Make Galaxy Glaze

I have a very obsessive personality. I can fixate on one thing for hours and hours, days, even weeks. Lately it’s been galaxy donuts. I could spend hours looking at their delicious, glossy glaze. That mix of blues and purples with sparkly silver…swoon.

World's Oldest Fossils Discovered Due to Climate Change

The oldest fossils yet known—an estimated 3.7 billion years old—were announced Wednesday, pushing back evidence of life on Earth by about 220 million years. These remains of ancient microbes were found in Greenland after they were exposed by melting ice—something that may become more common as the planet warms.

Art in Pond Scum

Sally Warring, a biologist, isn't afraid of getting her hands wet. She collects water samples from New York's murkiest waters and examines the colorful life within them.

Gene Wilder, ‘Willy Wonka’ Star and Comedic Icon, Dies at 83

Gene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.

The Bittersweet Life Story of a Captive Orangutan

There are more than 4,000 great apes (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, and bonobos) in zoos worldwide. But, unlike the wild primates that naturalists like Jane Goodall or David Attenborough have turned into global media superstars, these captive apes have largely been forgotten, as though their lives behind bars make them less worthy of our attention.

But for Chris Herzfeld, author of Wattana: An Orangutan in Paris, captive great apes lead lives every bit as interesting as their wild cousins—in some ways, more so. By interacting with their human keepers, they learn skills that wild apes can never master—like the elaborate and beautiful knots that Wattana, a female orangutan, ties.

Lemongrass Beef Salad Rolls

I’m reliving that camp life every time I look through our camp photos. I miss cooking in the great outdoors! We’re definitely going to camp s’more this summer, we just need to get out butts in gear. I made these lemongrass beef salad rolls way back in May, when the sun came out after two days of camping in the rain.

NASA Is Painting Rocket and Plane Models Hot Pink ... for Science

To see how new rocket and aircraft designs perform under pressure, NASA's aeronautical innovators are painting model prototypes an eye-searing hot pink for wind tunnel tests in California and Virginia.

The wild paint job isn't just for looks. NASA engineers are using a pressure-sensitive paint (PSP) that can show — with a dazzling glow — how the surface of a rocket or aircraft model responds to pressure. NASA is conducting the tests in wind tunnels at the agency's Ames Research Center in California and Langley Research Center in Virginia.

5 Gazpachos to Make if You Don't Like Tomatoes

When most of us hear gazpacho, we think tomato. But there's more than one way to make a refreshing summer soup. Here, five delicious summer gazpachos that are tomato-free.



Subscribe to Before the Bell E-Newsletter

Sign Up Now


Search Before the Bell