Education | KERA News

Education

Liberty High School in Frisco has grown rapidly and become more diverse since opening in 2006.
Credit Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Every week, KERA reporters go inside the classroom, meeting students, teachers and administrators, to explore the latest in education in North Texas. KERA's ongoing education coverage is part of the national public broadcasting initiative American Graduate

Explore in-depth education multimedia projects: Race, Poverty and the Changing Face of Schools, a look at the changing demographics at four North Texas high schools; What’s Next For The Class Of 17?, stories about North Texas students from eighth grade to graduation; Homeless in High School, how schools and kids deal with homelessness; and Generation One, meet first-generation Texans who are reshaping schools.

Support for KERA’s education coverage is made possible in part by:

U.S. Department of Education / flickr

There’s a rating Texas schools do not want – improvement required. Under a new state law, schools that have received this rating at least two years in a row have to come up with a plan that explains how they will get better. Schools are trying creative ways in the hopes of turning things around.

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From Alaska to Maine, Texas to North Dakota, public schools have dramatically changed during the past two decades. Walk into these schools and you’ll likely find that the majority of students are children of color.

ESPN

We’ll turn now to a follow-up of our American Graduate series “What’s Next for The Class Of ’17?” Earlier, we caught up with Ricky Rijos Jr., an 11th grader at Flower Mound High School. He’s a basketball fanatic – but he’s only 5’6”, and after sitting on the bench he says he’s giving up the sport.

Fran Fraschilla can relate. He’s a former college coach, a current announcer for ESPN and the father of two boys who never reached 6 feet tall. Fraschilla, by the way, is all of   5’7”.

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.

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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.  

Blanscape / Shutterstock.com

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.

wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

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.

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