Most of the children enrolled in Texas’s public pre-k programs last year were considered economically disadvantaged. Just under half of them were English language learners. Children like this can be at the greatest risk when it comes to being ready for school. But for years now, Waco Independent School District’s “Parents as Teachers” program has reached out to these families before their children even start school.

This week students from across the city returned to school. At Waco Independent School District that means kids in pre-kindergarten too. But this year’s a bit different. A bill passed during the state’s last legislative session will send more than $116 million dollars to 578 districts and charter schools in the state. The money is intended to boost pre-kindergarten programs in the state. 


The Texas Education agency has released the accountability ratings of more than 8,600 school campuses in the state, of which roughly 88 percent earned a passing grade.

Welcome to Behind the Story, a program where we take you straight to the source. In the coming days, area students from area districts across the state will be wrapping up their schoolwork with their eager eyes set on summer. In this episode, we’ll take a look at the past school year and some of the different stories that KWBU has done on education. Our first stop: Midway ISD. At several of the district’s 11 campuses, you can find a so-called “makerspace", and just like the name suggests, these spaces are designed to reinforce hands-on-learning. But they’re not quite the workshop class of year’s past.

Last August, the Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy opened its doors to an inaugural class of nearly 80 students. These high school juniors and seniors came from 10 area districts to take classes that would help them prepare for a career in the health care field. 

In 2013, the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy opened its doors to an inaugural class of nearly 70 students. Since then that number has more than doubled. The school's administration sees this growth as a reflection of the resurgence of vocational education. The high school juniors and seniors that attend the academy learn about things like robotics, electronics and even get welding experience. 

Ever since Alberto Perez was a kid growing up in Dove Springs, he knew he wanted to go to UT Austin.

“I remember telling my mom, pointing at the tower, saying, 'that’s where I’m going to go to school,'" Perez remembers.

By now, we've all heard about how body cameras could prevent more police violence, or at least catch it in the act. But what about cameras to protect special-needs kids from their own teachers — and the teachers themselves from false accusations?

It'll be a reality soon in Texas. The Lone Star State passed a law in June that made it the first in the nation to make it mandatory for schools — if asked to do so — to videotape interactions between teachers and their special-needs students.

When you hear the phrase "makerspace," you can probably take a guess at what it all means. It’s space where you make things, but it’s not quite your parents’ workshop class. Yeah, there are tools and a workbench, but there’s also a lot of high-tech gear - and it’s all recently come to Midway Independent School district.

This year, Texas public schools won’t measure instructional time by days, but they’ll do it by minutes. In the past, Texas public schools years were required to be provide 180 days of instruction. Now, a school year must provide a minimum of 75,600 minutes.

This week on Behind the Story we talk with Diane Ravitch, an education historian and researcher who also served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. In this episode, KWBU talks with Ravitch about her memories growing up in the Texas education system, her thoughts on No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, charter schools and the future of education. 

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In July, a report by the Waco Independent School District found that parents of students were moving their students out of the district, citing concerns about campus misbehavior. To help address those longstanding concerns, the district is looking at an emerging form of discipline being used in various cities across the state. KWBU’s Carlos Morales has more on the program.

A bi-partisan group of House members has found a way to change the funding formula for school districts this session.   Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports the effort related to property taxes would fully restore the cuts taken from public education in 2011.


Ryland Barton, KWBU News

Baylor students participating in a course called the Philanthropy Lab donated $100,000 to local nonprofits today. The class evaluated over 60 nonprofits and distributed the money based on qualities that would help Waco like education, health, culture, civil rights and community development.

Lawmakers Look At Revising Truancy System

Oct 23, 2014

Since 2001, Texas students who fail to attend school have been tried in criminal courts. Some advocates are trying to keep truant students and their parents out of court.