KLRU News Briefs: Goodwill Excel Center’s First Graduating Class

Last fall we introduced you to the Goodwill Excel Center, a charter school which enrolls students who formerly dropped out of high school. This Sunday during NewsHour, we attend the school’s inaugural graduation ceremony. 33 of the 43 graduates are over the age of 26, which means they are too old to earn a traditional high school diploma and would have only been able to earn a GED.

A high school diploma translates into high earning potential and makes the students more competitive if they hope to earn a higher degree. But school officials tell us being able to finally graduate from high school means even more to these families.

“It’s not only about a job now, it’s about a career, and about the example they’re setting for their kids,” Superintendent Traci Berry says. “Because we know that people who drop out of school, their kids are more likely to drop out as well.”

If you missed NewsHour last weekend we have some other stories you can catch up on. Last week we looked at the debate surrounding some of Austin’s Confederate monuments. That story is in the video below. We also highlighted An Eastside Education, KLRU’s first-ever digital news project, which follows Austin’s Eastside Memorial High School as students, parents and administrators work to meet state accountability for the first time in over 10 years and keep their school doors open. You can watch An Eastside Education here.

KLRU News Briefs air locally every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30 during PBS NewsHour Weekend. Sunday’s story and An Eastside Education are part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. 

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

KLRU News Briefs: Juneteenth at the Bullock Museum, and Ann Richards Students Take Science Outside

Today, June 19, is Juneteenth or Texas Emancipation Day. On this day in 1865, the Texas State Historical Association writes, “Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, which read in part, ‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.’”  To mark Juneteenth, KLRU is airing Juneteenth Jamboree 2015. The hour-long documentary special is available online here and re-airs Sunday, June 21 at 1pm. We’ll air a short piece from the program during PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday.

Our segment looks at two art exhibits at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, which focus on African-American storytelling through artwork. “And Still We Rise” and “Reflections” are both traveling exhibits on display through mid-August.

The Bullock’s Deputy Director and Director of Exhibits Margaret Koch explained to us that these exhibits allow all Texans the opportunity to discover African-American history in a richer way.

“There are the stories of resilience, of suffering, of self-determination that you don’t necessarily see unless you’re encountering the artifacts right in the museum itself,” Koch says.

This June, Koch says, marks the 150th anniversary of Texans knowing about the Emancipation Proclamation.

Our Sunday story comes from KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener and looks at how students at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders worked together to build a new teachers’ lounge and garden.

The students refurbished a gutted 1977 Airstream trailer. They created all of the furniture, designing it using 3D modeling software, and building the pieces. Then they planted a garden for the teachers, using knowledge they learned in biology class. The experiential learning project brought together students from the 7th and 10th grades.

“And it was just a contribution that everybody did and it was really cool like the 10th graders built the trailer all the classes would work on separate parts and we were all just working as a good community,” student Marlene Mora says.

 You can see an extended version of that story on the CTG website here.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30pm. Our Sunday story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. 

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

KLRU News Briefs: Texas Tribune on Perry’s Iowa campaign swing

This weekend during PBS NewsHour our local News Briefs are back after a 2 week hiatus. On Saturday, hear again about Creative Action, which fosters creativity and academic success for young people through art. You can watch our piece about Creative Action here.

Our Sunday story comes from our partners at The Texas Tribune. Multimedia Reporter Alana Rocha traveled to Iowa last weekend for former Governor Rick Perry’s first official campaign stop of his 2016 run for president. He spent Saturday, June 6 at a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation, which trains service dogs for veterans. Perry, one of only two veterans running for the GOP nomination, has made it a priority to connect with that voting bloc.

“One of the reasons I’m running for the presidency of the United States is to make sure that every active duty member of the military and every veteran receives the type of care and recognition that they deserve in this country,” Perry told the crowd.

His second stop was U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride in nearby Boone. Perry and six of his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls had 8 minutes each to address the crowd. Perry is planning a seven-city fundraising tour around Texas during his campaign, including Dallas, San Antonio, Lubbock, Houston, Midland, Mission and Beaumont.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30. 

KLRU News Briefs: Austin Roller Derby Exhibit at Bob Bullock Museum

At the Bob Bullock Texas State History museum there’s plenty of artifacts from Texas’ legendary beginning, but go up to the third floor, and you’ll find a different kind of history exhibit. Curated by Jenny Cobb and Erin McClelland, the Bob Bullock’s Roller Derby Exhibit is a unique addition to the museum.

“It [The Roller Derby Exhibit] basically follows the evolution of roller derby from its inception in 1935 to the current evolution of the sport that we’re seeing in Austin today,” said Cobb.

Roller Derby was re-invented in Austin in the early 2000s, beginning a roller derby revival across the world. While many may not know how much Texas is at the heart of the roller derby story, today skaters everywhere view it as the epicenter for the sport.

“I had been skating in the Texas Roller Girls recreational league and what I saw was that the experience that I was having and that a lot of other women were having in the league didn’t match up with the story people were telling about roller derby and I really thought that it was a story that needed to be told more broadly,” said McClelland.

She approached the Bob Bullock Museum with the concept of a roller derby exhibit that would put forth a more well-rounded view of the sport. With contributions from the skating community, the exhibit features everything from dramatic skater ’boutfits’ to a roller derby name generator. It runs through August 8, 2015.

This story airs Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 during PBS NewsHour Weekend at 6:30pm. 

University-Bound Seniors Celebrated at College Signing Day

Higher-Ed bound students celebrate at College Signing Day.

Higher-Ed bound students celebrate at College Signing Day.

 

May saw Central Texas host its first College Signing Day, an event aimed at honoring high school seniors taking the next step into higher learning.

Over 400 students from 24 different high schools took part in the pep rally hosted by Huston-Tillotson University, where they pledged to pursue their higher education goals..

“It is a wonderful thing to be able to congratulate these young people on achieving their college dreams,” stated Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

For many students, realizing their dream of higher education is more than a personal accomplishment; it also serves as an inspiration for future generations.

“It’s not just them, it’s them being a role model,” said E3 Alliance President Susan Dawson.

Senior Delilah Miramontes echoed that mentality, hoping she can inspire those close to home.

“It’s such a big step for my family,” she said. “My parents didn’t go to college, and I know this inspires my little brother to continue.”

The event was tied to National Decision Day, a nationwide event meant to celebrate seniors for their post secondary plans.

KLRU News Briefs: Learning Cultural Heritage, and Texas Tribune highlights #txlege

“For the most part, children in our public schools are not getting a curriculum that responds to their culture, their identity, their communities that affirm who they are.  So children who come to Academia Cuauhtli have an opportunity to learn that they’re not marginal, and learn that they’re members of a community that has roots that go all the way back to the original inhabitants of this continent.”

That quote comes from Dr. Angela Valenzuela, Co-Founder of Academia Cuauhtli, which offers classes about Mexican-American and Tejano culture every Saturday at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. This weekend during PBS NewsHour we visit a recent class to learn more about how their program fills the gaps in common history courses.

“Children at this level are learning about Greek gods, and getting access to Texas history, and this is an opportunity to share from a grounded, rooted, historic standpoint what that culture, language, and arts are and have been for this community,” Dr. Valenzuela said. “A lot of children feel very alienated and distanced from school, particularly if they’re immigrants. [This] helps them to feel connected to the larger curriculum. It becomes a bridge.”

On Sunday, The Texas Tribune rounds up the past week at the Texas State Capitol. Lawmakers advanced further restrictions on abortions, including bills that would ban abortion coverage from health insurance plans, and require abortion facilities to post information about adoption. Also this week, Governor Greg Abbott reported for jury duty, a new survey from the University of Texas at Austin shows a majority of Americans support a cities’ ability to ban fracking, and a House committee voted to designate an official hashtag of the Texas Legislature. You can see the Tribune’s Political Roundup in the video below.

 

KLRU News Briefs: Social and Emotional Learning through Art, Pre-K Debate Mired in Politics

This weekend during PBS NewsHour, we talk to the members of Creative Action, a non-profit arts organization. Plus, The Texas Tribune Roundup highlights the week from the State Capitol.

Creative Action works to use art and creative expression to reinvigorate young people’s love of learning.

“We use the arts to spark and support student’s social and emotional learning,” Sophie Hopkins, Director of Teen Programs at Creative Action, said.

Social and Emotional Learning, often referred to as SEL, is a priority in AISD. In the district SEL teaches “recognizing and managing our emotions, developing caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically.”

On Sunday we once again air the Texas Political Roundup from Alana Rocha at The Texas Tribune.  This week, tensions over breakfast between Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus regarding Pre-K and ‘school choice’ legislation advances. The bill, by state Senator Larry Taylor (R – Friendswood), would set up an initial $100 million in state tax credits for businesses that donate money to fund scholarships for special-needs and low-income students. The measure now goes to the House.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30. Our Saturday story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

KLRU News Briefs: Teaching Language Through Dance, Lawmakers Dive into Shark Fin Debate

This weekend during PBS NewsHour, we talk to the Austin native behind Dance Another World, an English immersion non-profit taught through dance. Plus, The Texas Tribune highlights what happened at the State Capitol this week.

Dance Another World works with non-native English speaking girls from primarily low socio-economic areas. They currently teach dance after school at T.A. Brown Elementary in North Austin, but they recently received their vendor license from AISD, which will allow them to offer the program in more schools next school year.

The program is a mixture of dance, reading, and writing in English. 

“There’s so much research that shows the benefits of growing up bilingual. Language is such a mental thing,” says Dawn Mann, Founder of Dance Another World. “We know a dance is a story, so we will read and write our own stories, and then we’ll portray them in a dance. It lets the girls work on their English but put their energy towards the art and dance.”

You can watch that story in the video above.

This week’s Texas Political Roundup from The Texas Tribune centers around end of life care for pregnant women, the Senate budget, and the debate surrounding the sale of shark fins.

A House bill by Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) would remove a line in state law that requires pregnant women remain on life support, regardless of their last wishes. “Marlise’s Law” is in memory of Marlise Muñoz who was declared brain dead at a Fort Worth hospital and kept alive for 62 days despite her family’s wishes.

Also debated in the House this week was a bill by Rep. Eddie Lucio III which would make the practice of purchasing and selling shark fins in Texas illegal. The House passed the measure, which now goes to Senate. You can see the Roundup in the video below.

KLRU News Briefs air locally every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30 during PBS NewsHour Weekend. Saturday’s story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. 

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

Overheard with Evan Smith guests talk 2016

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We love politics at Overheard with Evan Smith and a lot of our guests do, too. This season, as always, we’ve interviewed politicians, political operatives, writers, and journalists and one topic always comes up: the 2016 presidential race.

Watch the playlist below to hear from former Congressman Barney Frank, Senator Bernie Sanders, conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Bob Woodward, political strategist and Obama adviser David Axelrod, and Mary Matalin and James Carville as they analyze the field of potential candidates. Senator Sanders is considering running for president against newly-announced presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

All of our Overheard tapings are free and open to the public. Our next taping is this Friday, April 17 at 5pm with Cokie Roberts. You can sign up here for our email evite which will notify you every time we announce a taping. You watch our full archive of past episodes online anytime here.

News Briefs: McCallum Named GRAMMY Signature School, Taxes and Tuition Debated at State Capitol

“We actually didn’t believe we were number one until later in the evening and we started googling things,” said Carol Nelson, Director of Bands at McCallum High School.

McCallum has been named the 2015 National GRAMMY Signature School by the GRAMMY Foundation, a distinction given to the school considered to have the best high school music education program in the U.S.  The award comes with a $5,000 gift. The GRAMMY Foundation creates opportunities for high school students to work with music professionals to get real-world experience and advice about how to make a career in music.

We attended the orchestra and band rehearsal this week at McCallum. You can see our story about their award in the video above and on Saturday during PBS NewsHour Weekend.

On Sunday during NewsHour, we’ll bring you the Political Roundup from The Texas Tribune. This week Multimedia Reporter Alana Rocha highlights a tax debate in the Texas House, and testimony in a Senate committee over whether or not to repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students. You can see that story in the video below.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour Weekend, every Saturday and Sunday evening at 6:30pm. Our Saturday story is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. 

Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx.