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:

More than 400,000 Texas students will have the option of transferring to new schools because their schools have ended up on the Public Education Grant list. KERA's Shelley Kofler says making the PEG list brands a school as having poor academic standards.

There are two ways a campus can make the dreaded PEG list. It can be rated unacceptable or at least twice in the past three years at least 50 percent of its students have failed part of the TAKS test.

The Texas Association of Business wants the state to withhold some money for community colleges until graduate rates rise. The group has even put up billboards to encourage support. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports the Dallas County Community College District says the business group doesn't know the whole story.

A new billboard on Central Expressway reads "8 PERCENT OF DALLAS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS GRADUATE IN 3 YEARS. IS THAT FAIR TO THE STUDENTS? It's signed by the Texas Association of Business.

Some DISD parents and activists are demanding changes to what they call unfair school discipline policies that create a pipeline to prison. KERA's Bill Zeeble was at a demonstration outside Dallas County's Juvenile Justice Center.

Members of a group called the Texas Organizing Project cite a recent Texas study from the Council of State Governments that found more than half of Texas students were expelled or suspended over a 6 year period, and most of them were Black or Hispanic.

Dallas, TX – 16 year-old high school junior Kevin Chang, from Plano, could win a prestigious national science contest later this morning. The top prize is $100,000 in scholarship money. KERA's Bill Zeeble talked to Chang in Washington D.C., the site of the finals.

Chang attends the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a kind of specialty high school at UNT. The teen says he's loved mathematics from elementary school days.

Dallas, TX – Texas public schools are awaiting results from last month's brand-new STAAR test. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness replaces the old test and will become the required end-of-course exam. Outgoing Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, Chair of the Education Committee, sat down with KERA's Bill Zeeble to talk about this test and other education issues.

Dallas, TX – A survey by one teachers group is providing a look at how state budget cuts may be affecting Texas school districts. KERA's Shelley Kofler says the survey comes as lawsuits challenging school funding take shape.

The online survey from the Texas American Federation of Teachers isn't scientific, but it's a glimpse into what has happened in schools since the state legislature reduced their funding by more than four billion dollars.

Dallas, TX – The Cedar Hill School District says it will try convincing voters to pass another bond proposal after citizens narrowly rejected package last week. KERA's Bill Zeeble has more on Cedar Hill's dilemma.

Citizens rejected the bond by just sixty-seven votes and also also turned down a tax hike to bolster shrinking operating funds.

Dallas, TX – A newly-launched pilot education program could help more North Texans attend college. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports TexCan - the Texas College Access Network - will target first generation and low-income students.

Dallas, TX – Some Carrollton-Farmers Branch elementary students are in the "greeting card" business this year. KERA's BJ Austin says it's a money-making idea from the district's Educational Foundation - which is working to help fill the gap left by state budget cuts.

Dallas, TX – The midnight deadline has passed for excess Dallas teachers to take a resignation deal. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports the school district doesn't yet know how many took the offer, prompted by the state's education budget cuts.

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