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:

Mark Birnbaum

Chance Hawkins has all the junior year challenges of his classmates at Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School. His personal challenge is even bigger – he’s battling a degenerative muscle disease. Chance is one of the students KERA has been following for its American Graduate series, “What’s Next for the Class of ’17?” In this latest installment, Chance talks about how this school year has been and what he’d like to do in the future.

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Highland Park High School and the Dallas school district’s Townview Magnet Center are again among the best public schools in North Texas. That’s according to the education nonprofit Children At Risk, which has rated some 1,600 schools across Dallas-Fort Worth.

Lara Solt / KERA News

Since eighth grade, we’ve been following a group of North Texas students we call KERA’s Class of ’17. 

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The Obama administration on Friday issued guidelines to protect transgender students from discrimination. In a letter to school districts, the departments of education and justice said transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The announcement has been met with applause and anger.

Lara Solt

The Class of ’17 — a group of North Texas students that KERA began following three years ago — is wrapping up its junior year. And it’s crunch time, which means these students are starting to make decisions about what will come after graduation.

Burlingham / Shutterstock

Early voting ended May 3 for a number of North Texas school board and bond elections. Here's a look at some of the items on Saturday's ballot.

Sara Ortega / Uplift Education

Many people were shocked to hear in February that kids from a Dallas charter school endured racial insults during their trip to Texas A&M in College Station. More dramatic stories came out during a symposium on Friday sponsored by the Uplift charter school chain.

As College Costs Rise, Texas Schools Open Food Pantries For Students

Apr 20, 2016
Jerod Foster / Texas Tribune

The stereotype is so old that it’s enmeshed in popular culture: College students arrive on campus to find a surplus of food — enough for food fights in dining halls or to pack on the infamous “freshman 15.” 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

On May 7, McKinney voters will head to the polls to decide on a $220 million school district bond package. It includes plans for school upgrades, new technology and a 12,000-seat stadium and event center.

Let's begin with a choice.

Say there's a check in the mail. It's meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?

It's not a trick question. It's the story of America's schools in two numbers.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Last fall, KERA reported on a new scholarship program at the University of Texas at Dallas. Students could win up to $5,000 solving challenges in a computer game similar to Minecraft. Meet some of the winners.

How UT-Dallas Transformed Itself Into A Top Texas College

Apr 11, 2016
Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

Longtime University of Texas at Dallas administrator Hobson Wildenthal has fretted for years that his university doesn’t get the credit it deserves. That’s why he was so happy last year after meeting a candidate for a tenure-track job.  

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The top 10 percent rule in Texas gives high-performing high school students automatic admission into the best public universities in the state. But that doesn’t always mean top students from low-income backgrounds will attend.

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In Dallas County, more than 30,000 eligible children are not enrolled in pre-K. The education nonprofit Commit and nine area school districts have teamed up this week to early register thousands of students for pre-K in the fall. Jaime Hanks Meyers is director of early education at Commit.

Bill Zeeble / KERA public radio

One major focus in the classroom is getting students ready for college or a career. These days, some of the hottest careers are in kitchens. One North Texas culinary college class is preparing future chefs.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dade Middle School in Dallas has had a history of problems. Some community leaders want the Dallas school district to boost neighborhood involvement and turn Dade into what’s called a community school. Some folks believe more community and parental involvement would make a difference there.

Gus Contreras / KERA News

Usually students get to class early to pick a good seat. Get to Kenton Rambsy’s class early and you’ll hear Jay Z’s music playing in the room.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Dallas Independent School District is trying out a new approach to discipline in six of its schools. It’s called restorative discipline. Instead of suspending kids from school or sending them to the principal’s office, teachers first get students together to talk about the problems they’re having, or causing. 

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Update: More than 150 Dallas school district employees had their blood tested for lead on Friday.

Joost Nelissen / flickr

About 500 Dallas school district employees have to move out of the building they work in. That’s because small amounts of lead and other substances were found in the water there.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

How do you get girls passionate about engineering? On a middle school field trip, one group is using marbles.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Some teachers are back in class, learning to teach cursive writing. It’s been cut way back in our digital, keyboarding age. Some teachers, though, say it’s vital to learning.

Fort Worth Independent School District

Texas has a handful of schools built underground. One of them is in Fort Worth. Washington Heights Elementary was built nearly 40 years ago to reduce energy costs and noise. KERA recently went underground to dig up dirt on this unusual school.

3 Ways To Build A Better University

Feb 17, 2016
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There are three major goals of highly selective colleges, according to Jonathan R. Cole, author of “Toward a More Perfect University.” They are to transmit knowledge, to research and discover scientific breakthroughs and to build an educated citizenry to participate in democracy.

The president and chancellor of Texas A&M visited a Dallas charter school Tuesday to apologize. They told students at Uplift Hampton Preparatory they were sorry about the racial taunts the Dallas kids endured during a campus visit last week. A&M’s top student leader also delivered thousands of letters of support.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The state of Texas deemed Elisha M. Pease Elementary a substandard school. Teachers and principals kept leaving the struggling Dallas campus. The kids were out of control.  Pease Elementary is one of several Dallas schools the district is trying to turn around with a new program. 

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Fort Worth’s new school district superintendent is making big changes. This week, trustees unanimously approved a plan that would cut 10 executive-level positions, reassign central office employees and put more money into struggling schools.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Debaters from across the country and around the world traveled to Dallas last week for the fourth year of what are known as the Old Parkland debates. The event was held in a new multi-million dollar state-of-the-art “debate-plex.” 

Alexandru Nika / Shutterstock

Students at Hood Middle School in Dallas took part in a historic election Friday. During lunch, they voted to change the name of their school. Some say the mostly minority school shouldn’t be named after a Confederate general.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

KERA shined a spotlight on homeless students and the adults helping them last spring in the American Graduate series "Homeless in High School." Much of the action took place at North Dallas High, which has one of the highest homeless student populations in North Texas.

A new after-school drop-in center for those kids has just opened -- in a church across the street.

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