American Graduate | KERA News

American Graduate

Lara Solt / KERA News Special Contributor

Like a lot of high school juniors, Ricky Rijos Jr. of Flower Mound High is facing uncertainty.

Lara Solt

For the past month, you’ve been hearing from North Texas high school juniors. Their stories are part of KERA's American Graduate series, “What’s Next for the Class of ’17?” Alex Gutierrez is a student at the International Leadership of Texas high school, a charter school in Garland. Alex has been struggling with math and as junior year ends, a big test looms.

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.

Lara Solt / KERA News

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.” 

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Update, Wednesday evening: In a 7 to 6 squeaker of a vote, the Dallas City Council approved a controversial new charter school in southern Dallas. Opponents were concerned the school would pull students out of the Dallas Independent School District.  

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A new initiative underway at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital is giving away free bilingual books to moms who’ve just given birth. The plan is to give away as many as 14,000 books this year.

cheng/Shutterstock.com

Only 3 percent of students who attend the country’s top colleges and universities come from low-income families. That’s according to a new report out this week from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

North Texas school districts have new calendar options, courtesy of the Texas Legislature. Some schools are lengthening days to make up for possible bad weather cancellations. Others are waiting and watching.

David Mead / University of Texas

We’ve heard about open carry, the new law now in effect in Texas. It allows license holders to openly carry guns. Later this year, another gun law called campus carry goes into effect. Guns must be concealed at colleges. Campuses are trying to figure out how the new law will work.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

We take a look back at what was an especially newsworthy year in Texas education.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Turns out recess is so much more than just monkey bars and freeze tag. In American public schools, though, recess has been on the decline – edged out to make more room in the day for testing and academics.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Dozens of students are so upset by the crumbling state of South Oak Cliff High School that they walked out Monday afternoon. The Dallas school district says the school is getting fixed, thanks to bond programs.

Aleph Studio / Shutterstock.com

There was a time when recess was part of every kid’s day. Today, not so much. A Dallas school board trustee wants to change that.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Students at Bowie High School in Arlington are learning how to fix band instruments. It might be the first high school program of its kind in the country. 

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

When homeless high school kids get to college, what happens to them during the holidays? Texas Woman’s University in Denton is a leader in helping those with no home for the holidays.

Brian Goodman / Shutterstock.com

The Dallas Independent School District is paying its teachers differently this year. The new system bases pay on merit, not years of service – and student evaluations also play a role. Some teachers love the Teacher Excellence Initiative, while others blast it.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

For the past few years, KERA’s been checking in with students who are part of the Class of ’17. Ricky Rijos is a junior at Flower Mound High School where he loves basketball and has played every year. Now he’s trying for the varsity team but he faces tall odds. 

KERA News

American Graduate Day is Saturday, October 3 and in the lead-up to the national PBS television event, KERA is profiling a few North Texas "champions" of education.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News Special Contributor

As Dallas ISD looks for a permanent superintendent, parents have a bit of advice for the district’s next leader. They agree that the next superintendent should cut down on politics, communicate and collaborate with the community.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The Fort Worth school board has unanimously named Kent Scribner to be its next superintendent. The school leader from Phoenix, Arizona was named the lone finalist at Tuesday’s board meeting where he also made an appearance.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Denzel Bailey was homeless in high school -- and since he graduated, he’s lived in a dorm at the University of Texas at Arlington. Except summer, when the dorm closes. Summertime can be a tough time for homeless college kids like Denzel. 

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

KERA is looking into the remarkable number of help-wanted ads for school superintendents across the country, from Los Angeles to Newark to Fort Worth. Today we dig into the checkered history of the top job in Dallas. With Mike Miles’ departure last month, the district is looking for its eighth permanent leader in two decades. How has that turnover shaped a struggling district that’s the second-largest in the state?

Seth Sawyers / (cc) flickr

The Dallas and Fort Worth school districts are searching for new superintendents. They’re not the only school systems with help-wanted ads. Chicago, Newark and Los Angeles also have openings.

Lara Solt / KERA News Special Contributor

For more than 15 years, Charles ‘CJ’ Johnson has unofficially fostered homeless kids from North Dallas High School.

Lara Solt / KERA News Special Contributor

Desmond Davis is one of those 18-year-olds that schools like to brag about: He’s a runner, wrestler and drum major. He’s graduating from North Dallas High School, and he’s heading to college at Oklahoma State University in the fall.

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