AISD looks at affordable housing options for teachers

Austin ISD Looks for Housing Solutions to Stop Teacher Flight

Austin ISD is losing about 800 teachers each year. Many of those teachers are pushed out of Austin by rising housing costs, and opt to teach in the districts in which they live. The district is working collaborating with the City of Austin and Travis County to find ways to use the large amount of public land each taxing entity owns to create affordable housing options for those teachers and for AISD students and families.

“There’s a lot of land there, but I think that’s part of the task,” Vice President of the Austin School Board Paul Saldaña says. “We’ve all shared a list of inventory that we own and it’s just a matter of prioritizing. The longer we sit around and don’t have a plan of action we’re going to continue to be ranked as the most economically segregated city, and we’re going to continue to lose students and teachers as a result.”

Melissa Adams has been teaching in Austin ISD for 6 years. A few years ago she was tempted to leave the district because of rising rent. She decided to stay out of loyalty, but worries she’ll continue getting priced out.

“It’s kind of sad when you go to apartment hunters and tell them your price range and they laugh,” Adams says.

She calls the Austin ISD Board “very pro-teacher” and appreciates their efforts on this issue. But, she thinks the district-owned land could be better utilized by selling it, making a profit, and using that money to pay Austin teachers more.

“Let’s let teachers choose where they want to live,” she says. “I think all of us have the right to safe affordable places to live when we’re providing a service to our city.”

According to Saldaña, some Austin teachers are now able to qualify for subsidized housing. Adams says she finds that fact insulting.

“I’m college educated, I got my Masters so I could be a better teacher, I love what I do,” she says. “I don’t want to say ‘Oh , I’m totally opposed,’ or ‘It’s totally nice,’ it’s just, isn’t there a better solution than this? That professionalizes and humanizes teachers more?”

Texas Tribune Political Roundup: Harris County grand jury indicts the people behind undercover videos of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

In this week’s Texas Political Roundup from Alana Rocha of The Texas Tribune, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleidan, who secretly recorded video of the Houston clinic last summer, is accused of “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly” offering to buy fetal tissue via email. Daleidan faces a class A misdemeanor charge.

Rocha also reports on Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s final push in Iowa before Monday’s Caucuses and a UT Austin professor who says it’s within his rights to ban guns in his classroom.

Outside the Box: Teens challenge gender stereotypes

Outside the Box, a collection of stories that profile teens challenging gender stereotypes, is available to watch online now! The stories were made by the NewsHour Student Reporting Lab. This series introduces viewers to Shantell, the 16-year-old commanding officer of her high school’s JROTC program. We discover Zack’s passion for designing clothes, which ultimately lands the teen a spot on “Project Runway Junior.” And we get to know youth like Semra and D.J., who by exploring their identities challenge those around them to think #outsidethebox. Watch all the Outside the Box videos now.

Two videos were produced by area schools as part of KLRU’s work with the NewsHour Student Reporting Lab.

Fix all of it from Student Reporting Labs on Vimeo.

Produced by Luisa Garcia and Karen Lopez, students at Manor High School in Manor, Texas.

What’s it like to be a female mechanic? Sofia Rodriguez is an 18-year-old Texas native who currently works at both Jiffy Lube and Dynamic Motor Repair. Working in a male-dominated field can be challenging, however, Sofia says, “bring it on.”

Gamemaker from Student Reporting Labs on Vimeo.

Produced by Patrick Cadet, Isaiah Cavanaugh, Andrew Duncan, Alyssa San Miguel, Ashley Tamez, students at Pflugerville High School in Pflugerville, Texas.

Despite what many people assume because of her gender, Jazsmin Burton enjoys coding and wants to study game design in college so she can develop games herself.

Students and educators discuss dropout crisis

Texas has ranked high in recent years for its low dropout rate, but there are still some students who don’t make it to the graduation ceremony. The Texas Education Authority reports that roughly six students out of a hundred don’t graduate. But what causes a student to drop out? In early December, students, educators, and community members joined together in Studio 6A to discuss that for a special Civic Summit taping titled Stop the Drop: Engaging Students in Their Futures.

The hour-long special delved into different aspects of the dropout crisis, including what makes students lose interest in school, what barriers prevent students from re-enrolling, and what adults can do to help motivate students to stay in school. Host Judy Maggio discussed solutions with experts and educators in the studio, and student host Ronald Elliot talked with student audience members about difficulties that kept them from engaging in school, and what adults did that either dissuaded or motivated them to pursue an education.

This Civic Summit was part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative. As an American Graduate station, KLRU is seeking a clearer understanding of the nature and impact of the dropout problem in our region, and is partnering with organizations working to increase graduation rates. You can find more information about the initiative by visiting: klru.org/americangraduate.

KLRU’s Work Impacted by New Every Student Succeeds Act

Today President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first major national education overhaul since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. KLRU’s Educational Services work is impacted in two specific ways by the passage of this law.

First, the ESSA Act includes funding for Ready to Learn, the PBS Kids endeavor which leads to the production of high-quality educational shows, apps, online games, and additional resources, and which includes funds for KLRU and 10 other stations nationwide to pilot implementation and distribution of these assets.

Second, one of the new features of the ESSA is that high schools must use graduation rates as one of several measures of progress. KLRU is a participant in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate initiative, and as such, we have been working over the last two years to assemble a body of knowledge and resources about how to enable more students to stay in school and graduate, especially in those schools and among demographic groups with chronically high dropout rates.

In fact, tonight at 5:30 pm, KLRU is taping a student town hall, in which we have gathered well over 100 middle and high school youth for a televised forum on their perspectives on key issues – what challenges do they face on the road toward high school graduation, what resources have they found meaningful, and where do we adults continue to miss opportunities to support them in their journeys? You can RSVP for this event here. Plan to watch Stop The Drop: Engaging Students In Their Futures on December 17 at 9pm.

Stop the Drop

www.klru.org/americangraduate

Green School Carnival $500 Scholarship – Apply Now!

In Spring 2015, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS worked with Campbell Elementary of Austin ISD, the Austin ISD Sustainability Program and Keep Austin Beautiful to create a “Green” school carnival. Funds to support these efforts came from a PBS Kids Explore the Outdoors grant. Using remaining funds from the grant, we would like to help three schools interested in putting on their own “green” carnival this fall with three $500 grant opportunities. Watch the video for a glimpse of what Campbell did, then think about what you can do to “green up” your carnival. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Whether you receive a grant or not, consider contacting Keep Austin Beautiful for free resources and activities.

Go to the application here

KLRU Education travels to the White House to share work on Play to Learn™

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, KLRU took part in a White House convening around the ConnectHome initiative, the plan to provide low-cost/free high-speed connectivity in over 275,000 low-income residences across the US and on tribal lands. Austin has been selected as the mentor city for the project due to collaborations including the City of Austin, HACA, Google, Austin FreeNet, United Way for Greater Austin, and KLRU, among others.

KLRU’s role in the panel was to share our work on Play to Learn™, the United Way-led initiative that brings parents and youth ages 2-4 together for a variety of fun learning activities, including the use of digital tablets. Throughout the ten-week program, the families take home books and learning materials and upon successful completion of the program, they take home a digital tablet loaded with educational apps for the whole family. We utilize PBS resources to illuminate at-home learning experiences, including video from PBS Kids, apps like PBS Parents Play and Learn and Daniel Tiger’s Day and Night, and KLRU’s own Smart Screen Time®/La Pantalla Inteligente messaging. Play to Learn™ is a powerful example of the kinds of programs that can occur once a low-income community gets reliable and affordable access to the Internet.

 

KLRU congratulates Westlake HS Teacher Natalie Cannon!

PBS-2015DigInnov-FeatureWell-700x394Cannon-Natalie

Central Texas educators continue to garner national attention from PBS LearningMedia!

Natalie Cannon is the latest educator to be named a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. Natalie teaches various levels of Latin at Westlake HS in Eanes ISD, and co-sponsors The WHS Latin Club. Natalie began teaching middle school at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School before moving to Westlake High School, where she has now taught for six years. Her favorite part of her job is finding productive uses for modern technology in order to enliven an ancient language for her students.

Over the next year, Natalie will take part in a professional development program that will prepare her to extend her influence as a digital learning ambassador in her school and community.

Natalie’s favorite PBS LearningMedia resource: A Roman’s Eye View

PBS LearningMedia is PBS’ digital archive of 100,000+ educational assets made available to educators and the US public – for free! In Central Texas, over 7,000 educators have to date created LearningMedia accounts for use in their classrooms and for their own interests. Teachers can build and archive lessons incorporating digital media, and a new student feature allows their students to create and display storyboards to demonstrate their knowledge.

Check out Central Texas’ prior LearningMedia Digital Innovator, Julie Hildebrand, here

 

Sandra Carswell, Librarian in Copperas Cove ISD, local winner in the PBS LearningMedia Get Your Tech On Sweepstakes!

Ms. Carswell, Librarian at S.C. Lee Junior High School in Copperas Cove, is the second local winner of a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a one-year subscription to the Premium level of PBS LearningMedia. A 25-year veteran educator, Ms. Carswell started her career with an abiding love of reading, which she found morphing into an interest in technology and its potential for young learners.

Copperas Cove ISD has a “bring your own device” policy for its students. With that in mind, Ms. Carswell looks forward to furthering her proficiency on her Galaxy Tablet as she helps students find and use quality digital resources – like PBS LearningMedia.

Carswell with student

Aaron Higdon, Dahlstrom MS Teacher, wins Get Your Tech On Sweepstakes

KLRU Educational Services congratulates Aaron Higdon, the Gateway to Technology teacher at Dahlstrom Middle School in Buda. Aaron recently received a Samsung Galaxy tablet and a PBS LearningMedia Custom account. Here, he gives us some background and how he incorporates technology:

This is my 11th year as a teacher, two years in Houston ISD and nine in Hays CISD.  I taught middle school science, then math, now STEM.  This is my 4th year teaching STEM.

My students use Google apps all the time.  Each student has a gmail account that is managed through the district.  they use Google drive (and all the apps with that).  They’ve created Google sites to make engineering portfolios.  And, we’re now using Google Classroom to manage assignments and feedback.  We occasionally use other apps like Kahoot! on student devices.

Like Julie Hildebrand, our 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator, we salute Aaron and his work, and we encourage all educators to submit an application now to be a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator.

higdon