Spotlight Texas

Zach's Journey: Heading to High School, Blind Teen Sees Opportunities Instead of Obstacles
Zach's Journey: Heading to High School, Blind Teen Sees Opportunities Instead of Obstacles

The students packed the auditorium, diplomas in hand, on a Thursday in late May: the newest eighth-grade graduates of Mary Immaculate Catholic School. Over cake, they and their families marked the transition from one life stage to another while reveling in memories of the past, played out on a screen high above the crowd.

As the slideshow began, Zach Thibodeaux, 14, relinquished a stack of papers to his stepfather so he could focus on holding a cup of punch and a white cane. The graduates howled and giggled as the photos traced their lives from infancy to childhood to adolescence, but Zach could see none of this.

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Texas Education Commissioner Kicks Off Statewide Tour in Abilene
Texas Education Commissioner Kicks Off Statewide Tour in Abilene

The Texas Education Commissioner kicked off a statewide tour in Abilene Tuesday afternoon to get the word out about a new report card designed to help parents help their kids.

Commissioner Mike Morath visited with students at AISD's Academy of Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Science, or ATEMS campus. It's his first stop on a tour across Texas to let people know about a new tool for parents.
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Texas School Districts Cut Costs to Avoid Closure as State Funding Cuts Loom
Texas School Districts Cut Costs to Avoid Closure as State Funding Cuts Loom

Doug Rice will take over next school year as principal of a single-campus rural school district east of Amarillo, close to the Oklahoma border. There's just one problem: He's already the superintendent.

He's putting on a second hat to save money since Kelton ISD will likely lose almost half its operating budget next year. A stalemate between the Texas House and Senate crushed any hopes of lawmakers making school funding formulas more equitable and simple this legislative session. That leaves school superintendents preparing to either work with much less in their coffers or risk having to shut their doors and forcing students to transfer to other districts.
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In the Texas Capitol This Year, University Leaders' Worst Fears Never Materialized
In the Texas Capitol This Year, University Leaders' Worst Fears Never Materialized

Some of Texas’ top lawmakers entered the 2017 legislative session with big plans to shake up higher education in the state. Instead, their 140 days' worth of work was most notable for what they didn’t do to public universities.

The Legislature didn’t overhaul how the universities are funded — or hit them with big cuts. It didn’t freeze tuition. It didn’t repeal the state’s controversial automatic college admissions law. It didn’t pare back a free tuition program for veterans and their kids. And it didn’t eliminate a widely used but controversial financial aid program for poor students.

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Krum, Ponder ISDs Brace for Loss of Millions in State Funding
Krum, Ponder ISDs Brace for Loss of Millions in State Funding

With a state legislative session dominated by divisive issues, the state of public school finance reform was left in the air, much to the chagrin of area superintendents who could stand to lose millions of state dollars.

Following a Texas Supreme Court decision that pointed to the flaws of the current school finance system, reform was a top priority for lawmakers going into the biennial session. In the end, disagreements between the House and Senate about a school voucher system killed a sweeping school finance bill.
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Texas Senate Approves Bill Tweaking A-F School Grades
Texas Senate Approves Bill Tweaking A-F School Grades

The Texas Senate early Thursday approved a bill that would tweak a plan to grade school districts — two and a half hours after a midnight legislative deadline.

The Senate voted 29-2 to pass its version of House Bill 22, which would make changes to a plan for grading school districts on an A-F scale. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, the bill's sponsor, made some compromises to appease educators but did not include several of the provisions they want the most — including a delay to the start date of the rating system from 2018 to 2019 and a limit on how much of their grades depend on standardized tests.

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Rogers ISD Students Agree to Share Valedictorian Title
Rogers ISD Students Agree to Share Valedictorian Title
One day after the family of a Rogers High School senior filed for a temporary restraining order against Rogers ISD to prevent the district from announcing the class Valedictorian and Salutatorian, her attorney announced she and the other student will be co-valedictorians.
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Texas Education Agency Will Not Take Over Hearne ISD
Texas Education Agency Will Not Take Over Hearne ISD

The Texas Education Agency has announced it will not take over the Hearne Independent School District.

The decision came in a letter from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath that they will not replace the Hearne school board following a second review of the district's appeal of the initial decision.
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Educators Take Issue With Senate Plan for School Assessment
Educators Take Issue With Senate Plan for School Assessment

Educators on Thursday turned up to a Senate committee hearing on a bill that would change how the state assesses schools and districts with a message for legislators.

"We were for the House-passed version," said Patty Quinzi, legislative counsel for the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, presented a substitute version of House Bill 22, which would tweak the state's proposed system for grading schools and districts on an A-F scale. Taylor changed many provisions in the House's bill to bring it closer to Senate Bill 2051, which passed out of his committee last week.

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Austin ISD Says $850K Marketing Campaign to Boost Student Enrollment Helped Mitigate Loss
Austin ISD Says $850K Marketing Campaign to Boost Student Enrollment Helped Mitigate Loss

The Austin Independent School District has struggled with enrollment decline in the past few years.

Aside from changing its transfer policy, the school district also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars for advertising to attract more families to enroll.
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