Spotlight Texas

Texas Earns Low Marks on Education Week's State Grades
Texas Earns Low Marks on Education Week's State Grades

Texas ranked 41st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in how it funds schools, the opportunities it provides to students and how students perform academically, according to Education Week's annual state grades.

The publication gave Texas a C- overall for its education system, while the national average grade was a C.

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School Ratings Debate After Hurricane Harvey
School Ratings Debate After Hurricane Harvey

Close to 20 percent of the state's student population was impacted by Hurricane Harvey - that's more than one million students affected by the storm. School is back in session for those students, but now the state's superintendents are fighting to waive a new law impacting school ratings.

At a House Public Education Committee hearing last month, superintendents asked the state to waive the accountability ratings that are tied to students' scores on state standardized tests this spring.

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Disability Rights Advocates Call For Texas To Halt Education Data Mining Contract
Disability Rights Advocates Call For Texas To Halt Education Data Mining Contract

Disability rights advocates are asking the state to suspend a $4.4 million no-bid contract with Georgia-based company SPEDx to mine data from students receiving special education services in Texas public schools.

Leaders from Disability Rights Texas and the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education sent a letter Tuesday evening to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath urging him to review the purpose of the project with parents and advocates, share documentation of the process of procuring the contract and strengthen the protections for students' privacy. TEA contracted with SPEDx this May through August 2018 to digitally analyze specialized plans for serving students with special needs — which include information such as students' medical conditions and educational progress — and identify trends to help improve special education.

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State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding
State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding

Texas school districts in the 60-county path of Hurricane Harvey must submit tax collection projections for 2017 to find out how much it will impact education funding.

Why should North Texans care?

Less property tax dollars means less money in the Texas’ school funding pool.

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State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding
State Measuring How Will Hurricane Harvey Impact Texas School Funding

Texas school districts in the 60-county path of Hurricane Harvey must submit tax collection projections for 2017 to find out how much it will impact education funding.

Why should North Texans care?

Less property tax dollars means less money in the Texas’ school funding pool.

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Firing Leaves Texas Without a Special Education Director at a Critical Time
Firing Leaves Texas Without a Special Education Director at a Critical Time

After just over three months on the job, the state's special education director was fired last week after she filed a federal complaint against the Texas Education Agency for awarding a multi-million dollar, no-bid contract to a company that is mining data on disabled students.

A TEA representative said Laurie Kash's firing had nothing to do with her complaint. Rather, said TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan, Kash was fired because of allegations that she covered up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old girl in her previous school district. Two former employees filed a civil lawsuit making the allegations in Oregon days before Kash was fired.

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Without Recovery Funds, More than 50 Texas Day Cares Close After Harvey
Without Recovery Funds, More than 50 Texas Day Cares Close After Harvey

With her husband incarcerated on a murder charge, Jacquene Fontenot single-handedly wakes and dresses five kids under the age of 5 every morning, drops them off at a local child care center and drives two hours to her job as a custodian in central Louisiana.

Fontenot, who lost her furniture when her apartment in Orange flooded during August's hurricane, could not imagine what she would do if she lost her child care. "I really don't have a second option," she said.

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Learn About the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation's Classroom Assistance Grants
Learn About the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation's Classroom Assistance Grants

In 2018, TRTF will award $500 to 30 Texas public educators, double the amount provided in 2017! The deadline to submit completed applications is March 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

Today's classroom teachers use a variety of tools to educate children, but due to lack of sufficient funding, many find new technology items out of reach. TRTF's Classroom Assistance Grant program helps teachers improve the learning environment for students by giving $500 towards projects, learning platforms, software, and much more. Since 2008, TRTF has provided $63,500 in grants to active educators all across Texas.

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Texas Education Agency Back in the Headlines Over Special Education Firing
Texas Education Agency Back in the Headlines Over Special Education Firing

For the second time in as many years, the Texas Education Agency is under fire over how it manages special education in the state.

Last week, the agency fired its new special education director, Laurie Kash, after employees at a prior job filed a civil lawsuit against her alleging she had covered up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old. Kash attributes her firing to a different legal incident: She reported the TEA to the federal government the day before her termination.

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Kilgore High School Junior Invited to Perform at Carnegie Hall
Kilgore High School Junior Invited to Perform at Carnegie Hall

Jacob Stone was in sixth grade when he first picked up a bass violin, trying out all of the string instruments before deciding which one he wanted to learn how to play.

The Kilgore High School junior said it "felt natural for me."

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