American Graduate: Education | KERA News

American Graduate: Education

Sierra Mickell studies at McKinney North High School
Credit Lara Solt

KERA's ongoing American Graduate initiative charts the journey from childhood to graduation. It’s part of the national public broadcasting project American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen. This multiyear initiative is playing out on all of KERA’s platforms, with news stories and community outreach through radio, television, web sites, social media and events. Some highlights:

In-Depth Multimedia Projects: What’s Next For The Class Of 17?, a look at junior-year decision time for the students we’ve been following since eighth grade; Homeless in High School, about how schools and kids deal with homelessness; and Generation One, which dug into the first-generation Texans who are reshaping schools.

Stories of Champions: Nashwa Zafar, UT-Arlington Muslim student; Esther Martinez, Irving elementary teacher who makes home visits to every student’s parents; Marcelo Cavazos of Arlington, named Texas Superintendent of the Year; Gregg Anderson, a school resource officer in Carrollton; and Kecia Dennis, a middle school teacher in North Richland Hills.

Support for KERA’s American Graduate initiative is made possible in part by:

Amna Salman (foreground) and other Muslim students gather to pray inside a classroom at Liberty High. Photo/Lara Solt
Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

The city of Frisco has transformed over the last quarter century – from a country town to a booming suburb that’s home to high-end shops and the Dallas Cowboys. Its schools have been transformed, too. Here's a look at how one school — Liberty High — is changing.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Through demographic and economic changes over the years, Duncanville High School, in a suburb south of Dallas, has maintained one constant — a winning girls basketball team.

Unlikely Allies: Some Homeschoolers Fighting To Kill School Choice Bill

Feb 27, 2017
Trace Thomas for The Texas Tribune

Nicki Truesdell is a product of homeschooling and would never enroll her four younger children in a public or private school. Corrine French has spent the last five years serving on the board of a rural public school district in North Texas.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Poverty is surging at Kimball High School in Dallas. Fifteen years ago, 57 percent of the families were economically disadvantaged. Today, it’s 83 percent. The Oak Cliff school is battling those numbers and turning around a dismal academic record — in part with its hospitality and tourism program.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Kimball High School in Dallas has endured a demographic earthquake over the past 50 years. First came integration, then busing and white flight, followed by waves of immigration, economic troubles and competition from charter and private schools. Again and again, the educational landscape has been reshaped — and so has the Oak Cliff neighborhood of southern Dallas.

Lara Solt / KERA News Special Contributor

For decades, public schools across North Texas have endured demographic changes – from integration, then busing and white flight, followed by waves of immigration, economic troubles and competition from charter and private schools.

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Like schools in the state's large cities, many rural districts in Texas are worried the Legislature will embrace vouchers – which would allow families to get state money to move kids from public schools to private and religious alternatives.

They have pretty significant differences with their big-city brethren, though, when it comes to teacher retention and special services for students.

School Choice Bill Pitches Savings Accounts, Tax Credit Scholarships

Jan 30, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

One of the most anticipated debates of the 85th Legislative Session began taking shape Monday with the layout of a two-part Texas Senate bill that would allow for Texas taxpayer dollars to be used to help parents send their kids to private or religious schools.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

Addressing a crowd of cheering supporters on the Texas Capitol's south steps, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared Tuesday that he wanted both the House and Senate to take a vote on his upcoming private school choice bill.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

In Richardson, high school students are learning about all kinds of health care jobs, from emergency medical technician to nurse’s aide. They’re also getting hands-on experience, but they’re not getting it in a traditional classroom.

Eddie Seal for The Texas Tribune

With increased federal attention on the low percentage of Texas students receiving special education services, the state is poised to ensure the number of students receiving such services will increase over the next year. And disability rights advocates are hoping to go even further, aiming to improve the overall quality of those services.

Bill Zeeeble / KERA News

On an Oak Cliff boulevard near the iconic Texas Theatre stands a colorful tree-trunk-like structure with a hand on top. The 17-and-a-half-foot sculpture’s only been there a few weeks and was officially dedicated in December. 

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Texas school districts and campuses received their own report cards Friday from the Texas Education Agency, and many school officials aren’t pleased with the results or the new grading system.

John Koetsier / Flickr

The 2017 Legislative session kicks off next week. Among the many topics sure to spark debate is education. KERA looks ahead to several of the education issues Texas lawmakers will tackle when they meet.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

In 1995, Texas lawmakers approved public charter schools to give parents more education options. The law created a marketplace that’s challenging traditional public schools to compete and improve, or potentially lose students. 

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

On a frigid December afternoon, a couple dozen volunteers were busy unloading a U-Haul truck outside J.W. Ray Learning Center in Old East Dallas. They were delivering supplies to the elementary school – chairs, shelves and gym equipment.

They also brought along laundry detergent. Lots of detergent. 

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Federal officials have fanned out across the state after allegations that Texas capped special education enrollment at 8.5 percent to save money. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Keeping young kids focused in school can be tough. That’s why the Dallas Independent School District and Dallas Yoga Center are working together to create a mindfulness meditation program for students and teachers.  

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Federal and state education officials got an earful from angry parents Monday night at a meeting in Richardson. Most say their school districts have denied special education services to their kids who deserved them.

Courtesy of University of North Texas at Dallas

Betty H. Stewart will serve as the new provost and executive vice president of the University of North Texas at Dallas, university officials announced Wednesday.

Duncanville ISD

Superintendent Marc Smith is creating new programs and partnerships he hopes will help Duncanville schools stand out. With 13,000 students, Duncanville is twice as big as Marshall Independent School District in East Texas. That's where Smith had worked since 2012 before heading west this spring. 

Robert White / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A proposed bill from a Tarrant County lawmaker is causing a stir in education circles. Texas Sen. Konni Burton said the bill is intended to bolster a parent’s right to information about his or her child. But critics say it’s vaguely worded, and some worry it could put LGBT kids at risk.

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U.S. Department of Education officials want to hear from Texas families and students on getting access to special education services. The two-hour sessions are scheduled to begin Dec. 12.

Educators Say Parental Rights Bill Could Harm Trust With Students

Nov 30, 2016
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

A state senator’s bid to expand parental rights to information about their students is drawing spirited criticism from educators and LGBT activists who argue it does not protect students at risk of abuse if teachers or school officials out them to their families.

Marina Kuperman Villatoro / Flickr

In the 10 days after the election of Donald Trump, nearly 900 incidents of harassment and intimidation were reported around the country. And in a new nationwide survey, educators report the election results have had a negative impact on students.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Dallas school and county leaders have unveiled truancy reforms aimed at keeping more kids in class.

Nawal Rahman

Since the presidential election, incidents of hate have dominated headlines. Many of the incidents have been targeted at minority groups, but some have also been directed at Donald Trump supporters.

More Money, Certainty Needed To Upgrade Pre-K, Study Finds

Nov 25, 2016
Robert W. Hart

If state lawmakers want to upgrade pre-K programs in Texas schools they need to kick in more money and make a longer-term commitment, according to an early report card on a new state grant program aimed at bolstering early education.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Most kids in Dallas schools get free breakfast and lunch on campus every school day. So what happens when Dallas schools are closed all week for the Thanksgiving break?  

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Imagine coming to this country and not knowing how to speak the language. More than 7,800 refugees came to Texas during the 2016 fiscal year, and many of them didn’t know English. 

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