More tax dollars are spent on public education than on any other governmental program in the state. Public elementary and secondary education in Texas is financed by a combination of state, local, and federal revenue, a system that has produced inequities among the state's 1,030 traditional school districts and 207 charter operators.
As of 2010, more than 4 ...
Get acquainted with a phrase that will be oft-repeated in the upcoming 82nd Legislature’s brawls over public education: unfunded mandate. To help schools cope with any reduced funding, lawmakers will look to relax state regulations that create costs local school districts bear on their own or with limited help from the state. But will dropping these requirements hurt educational quality?Full Story
Ramshaw on how hard it is to sue over emergency room mistakes, Galbraith on paying for roads in an era of fuel-efficient vehicles, Aguilar on a disagreement about gun regulation, my interview with tort reformer Dick Trabulsi, Grissom on Perry's parsimonious pardoning, Hu and Chang interactively look at House committee chairs, M. Smith on an election challenge and who'll settle it, Ramshaw and Stiles on Dallas County's blue streak and Hamilton on a Valley school district that leads the nation in preparing kids for college: The best of our best from Dec. 20 to 24, 2010.Full Story
In the 1980s, when the state’s education accountability systems were first put into place, Hidalgo’s high school was ranked among the bottom 10 percent of all schools in academic performance. Today, its students graduate at higher rates than the state average, and 98 percent complete a recommended or distinguished curriculum — all thanks to an unprecedented level of collaboration between local leaders in public and higher education that has permeated Hidalgo for the last five years and is taking hold elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley, providing new opportunities in some of the country’s poorest counties.Full Story
Ramsey on what a GOP supermajority means, Ramshaw on a crime victim not eligible for crime victims' compensation, M. Smith on grave matters and state regulation, Hamilton on the college pipeline at San Antonio's Jefferson High, Hu on a senator's anticlimactic return, Grissom on the coming closure of juvenile lockups, Aguilar on the return of residents to their drug-war-torn Mexican town, Galbraith on next session's energy agenda, Philpott on the legal fight over federal health care reform and Stiles on the travel expenses of House members: The best of our best from Dec. 13 to 17, 2010.Full Story
The interim principal of San Antonio's Thomas Jefferson High believes that the current juniors will be the school’s first with a 100 percent graduation rate and that many will go on to respected universities. One key factor: Allison Najera, a 2010 University of Texas graduate placed at Jefferson through a new program: the Texas College Advising Corps.
The budget shortfall — estimated to be as much as $28 billion — will require the Legislature to take a paring knife and possibly a machete to government agencies and programs. The largest single consumer of state dollars is public education, so it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which funding for teacher salaries, curricular materials and the like isn’t on the chopping block, especially if lawmakers want to make good on their promises of no new taxes. But where is that money going to come from?Full Story
M. Smith and Butrymowicz of the Hechinger Institute on charter schools and public schools making nice in the Valley, Ramsey's interview with House Speaker candidate Ken Paxton and column on the coming budget carnage, Hu on the Legislature's disappearing white Democratic women, Grissom on the sheriff who busted Willie Nelson, Hamilton talks higher ed accountability with the chair of the Governor's Business Council, Aguilar on the arrest of a cartel kingpin, Ramshaw on the explosive growth in the number of adult Texans with diabetes, Philpott on state incentive funding under fire and Galbraith on the greening of Houston: The best of our best from November 29 to December 3, 2010.Full Story
Public schools have long had a strained relationship with their charter cousins, which battle them for students and money and boast loudly about their relative success. But in the Rio Grande Valley, a federal grant has the largest public school district partnering with Teach For America and a network of charter schools to create a teacher training center with hopes of luring quality educators to one of Texas' most poverty stricken regions — and keeping them there. In the process, the competitive tension is being replaced by a spirit of constructive collaboration.Full Story
"Efficiency" is the buzzword heading into the 2011 legislative session. Lawmakers say they want to make sure the dollars spent on K-12 education are being spent as efficiently as possible — and that anything deemed inefficient could end up the chopping block. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.Full Story
Penny-pinchers at the State Board of Education opted to incorporate changes to the high school science curriculum via lower-cost electronic supplements to existing textbooks instead of spending up to $500 million to have new ones printed. Trouble is, many schools lack the technological capability to use them.Full Story
For this week's installment of our non-scientific survey of political and policy insiders on issues of the moment, we focused on the budget. Specifically, we asked how big the shortfall is going to be, how the Legislature will close the gap and which areas of the budget are most likely to be cut.Full Story
How big is the state’s budget shortfall? It all depends on who's doing the math. A big number means the coming session will be all about what’s cut — what programs and services won’t be offered. A smaller one puts lawmakers in the position of deciding, in hard times, what they can add to current spending.Full Story
According to Stuck in the Middle: The False Choice Between Health and Education in Texas Middle Schools, school administrators are choosing between improving academic performance and improving fitness — and sacrificing both as a consequence.Full Story
Whether reconditioned football helmets sufficiently protect young players from concussions and other serious injuries has become a subject of fierce debate. Texas parents are torn between the desire of their kids to play and increasingly hard-to-ignore studies about the relationship between football and long-term brain damage. Coaches struggle to balance safety with fans’ cries for harder hits, bigger players and crushing wins. And at least one upstart manufacturer is contributing to the public's unease by challenging the industry’s long-standing practice of refurbishing old helmets.Full Story
The co-founder of the KIPP charter school network on why its approach to education reform has flourished in Texas, whether the model can work for any kid or any family and if teachers' unions are really the villain they're made out to be in Waiting for Superman.Full Story
On Friday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White sat down with me for an interview co-presented by the Tribune and Austin's public broadcasting stations, KUT and KLRU. We talked about whether the big bucks he's raised from appointees qualifies as "government for sale," how he'd cut the shortfall, how he feels about Barack Obama, the health care reform he'd prefer, those lawsuits against the feds and more.Full Story
Watch highlights from Gov. Rick Perry's interview with Evan Smith on Friday. In the clips, Perry discusses whether Texas is a sanctuary state, and the effectiveness of abstinence education.Full Story
Ramsey on whether Bill White at the top of the ballot helps Houston-area candidates, Aaronson and Stiles present a treemap of Texas political ads, Stiles and Ramsey on the latest campaign finance filings, Aguilar on the Laredo mayor's race, Hamilton on anonymous tweeters who make mischief, Ramshaw interviews a disability rights activist with a thing for iPads and bibles, Hu on the accidental release of Rick Perry's "secret" schedule, M. Smith on the bitter back-and-forth over a voter registration effort in Harris County, Philpott's micro-debate on education between two House candidates, Grissom on this week's twist in the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation and, in our latest collaboration with a big-city Texas newspaper, Stiles, Grissom and John Tedesco of the San-Antonio Express News on what kind of Texans, exactly, are applying to carry concealed handguns: The best of our best from Oct. 4 to 9, 2010.Full Story