Public education

Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Stiles and Thevenot's searchable database of more than 5,800 public schools, Thevenot on why smaller high schools are better, Garcia-Ditta on the possible unification of Big Bend National Park with Mexico, Grissom on what's likely to happen on immigration reform this year (nothing), Hamilton on how Admm Bobby Ray Inman is managing a crisis, Hu on the health care reform straw man, Ramsey on the no-shoo-in-for-the-experienced-guy special election in Senate District 22, Philpott on the likely post-Arizona immigration brawls, Ramshaw on the emergence of concierge care as a response to health care reform, Aguilar on how Texas will soon become Cuba's top U.S. trading partner, Stiles and Babalola's searchable database of more 160,000 inmates in Texas prisons, M. Smith on the depressing fact that every single U.S. Attorney position in Texas is now vacant, and my on-camera sit-down with Texas Transportation Commission chair Deirdre Delisi. The best of our best from April 26 to 30, 2010.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

Smaller is Better

In a new statewide ranking of public schools that we published yesterday, the Dallas Independent School District boasts seven of the top 25 high schools but also 18 in the bottom quartile. Not surprisingly, the best ones have a small student population, while the worst ones are megacampuses — an example of a larger trend in school rankings data.

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Jacob Villanueva

Grade Stagflation

Hundreds of school districts can continue giving failing students inflated grades, after a Travis County Civil Court judge declined to rule in a lawsuit challenging the state’s interpretation of a new law mandating “honest grades.”

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Data App: 5,800+ Schools Ranked

We've built a searchable database of public school rankings based on data collected by the Houston-based nonprofit Children At Risk. In contrast to the Texas Education Agency's "ratings," which rely almost entirely on the percentage of students passing the TAKS test, the rankings blend 12 different measures for elementary schools, 10 for middle schools and 14 for high schools — including TAKS results, ACT and SAT scores, AP exams, attendance rates, graduation rates and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students on every campus. How does your school stack up?

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Slipping Through the Cracks

What's in an IQ score? For autistic or profoundly mentally ill Texans: everything. A growing number of disabled young adults are considered too high-functioning for state care services, but their families say they’re too dangerous to go without them. Admission to state-supported living centers is limited to disabled people with IQs under 70 — and community-based care is generally capped at an IQ of 75.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom on the fall of Norma Chávez; M. Smith and Ramsey on the runoffs, the results, and the aftermath; Hu on the Tea Party's birthday party; Thevenot and Stiles on the path between schools and prisons; Ramshaw on prosecutors' reaction to helping hands from Austin; Hamilton on self-appointed lawyers; Galbraith on property rights and power lines; Aguilar and Grissom sit down with the mayor of Juárez to talk about his crime-ridden city; Kraft on telling the stories of Texans and other Americans who died in Vietnam; Ramsey on slots and horses and casinos; and Hamilton goes on a field trip with Jim Hightower to hear the history of populism. The best of our best from April 5 to 9, 2010.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

"The School-to-Prison Pipeline"

A new report by Texas Appleseed spotlights two troubling trends: the high number and proportion of discretionary expulsions by school districts, often for low-level "persistent misbehavior," and the disproportionate severity of discipline meted out to African-Americans.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

The Textbook Myth

Despite all the handwringing about Texas' influence on the textbook market nationally, it's just not so, publishing insiders say. The state's clout has been on the wane and will diminish more as technological advances and political shifts transform the industry.

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Jacob Villanueva

The Wild Card

“I was taught evolution, and it didn’t shake my faith in the Almighty whatsoever,” says George Clayton, who pulled off a stunning upset of incumbent Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, R-Dallas, in the GOP primary to win a seat on the State Board of Education. “Should creationism be taught as a counter to evolution? ... No, I don’t think so. I think evolution is in the science book. It should be taught as a science.”

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Caleb Bryant Miller

TribBlog: SBOE vs. the Media

The State Board of Education accuses unnamed "media" of "erroneously" reporting its removal of Thomas Jefferson from state world history standards. Trouble is, the board statement is guilty of the same alleged lack of context, and it follows a pattern. 

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