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Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators?

Aug 26, 2014

Kaitlin Morgan says, this year, her school district is going "full Google."

Morgan teaches U.S. and world history and advises the yearbook at Woodlake Union High School in California's Central Valley. At Woodlake, "full Google" means a plan to have one Google Chromebook for every two students by the spring, running Google Apps.

The Chromebook is a relatively cheap, stripped-down laptop. It's become popular in the education world, with 85 percent of its U.S. sales last year going to the ed market.

Students are heading back to campus. And when they finish writing that first paper of the year, a growing number will have to do something their parents never did: run their work through anti-plagiarism software.

One company behind it is called Turnitin. And the database it uses to screen for potential plagiarism is big. Really, really big.

Jill Ament

Waco ISD’s STAAR scores showed us that some schools are still struggling. Looking forward, the district is trying to improve behavior and college readiness at some campuses. The district has secured some big grant money to try and do that.

Update: One candidate has filed to run for the AISD School Board in District One. David "D" Thompson filed with the district Wednesday. Scroll down for a full list of the filed candidates.

Original Story (10:01 a.m.): For students in Austin schools, deadlines for homework or class projects are usually accompanied with an appropriate level of last-minute scrambling.

But, for would-be candidates vying for open seats on the Austin Independent School District’s school board, Monday’s filing deadline isn’t inspiring the same level of frenzy typically associated with school-related deadlines.

Only seven potential candidates have thrown their hat into the ring since the elections opened up on July 18, but the late-filings aren’t anything new to the campaigns for Board of Trustee races.

Jill Ament

The TEA released accountability ratings for Texas schools today. KWBU’s Jill Ament tells us how Waco ISD schools fared. 

Jill Ament

Last year Waco Transit gave about 18,000 bus rides to Waco ISD students as part of the district’s Student Ride Services program. It was part of a larger effort to improve attendance across the district. But school officials say they're disbanding the effort.

In 2013, when Texas passed its first overhaul of charter school policy since 1995 — the year the publicly funded but privately operated schools were first established in the state — lawmakers included a provision intended to speed the shuttering of poor-performing schools.

But nearly 10 months after the Texas Education Agency marked six operators for closure under the new measure, three of those schools remain open. As those charters prepare to open their doors this month for a new school year, they say they are fighting a process that does not account for the full picture of a charter’s financial or academic health.  

Over half of Texas children between the ages of three and four don't go to preschool, according to the annual Kids Count report released this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Texas schools offer free pre-K programs to 4-year-olds, but primarily only offer programs for 3-year-olds on a tuition basis. Those low numbers and access have drawn scrutiny from education advocates, lawmakers and even the candidates running for governor.

Despite the recent focus on preschool access for Texas children, efforts to expand access may to wait until after the upcoming legislative session.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants an additional year to study a new state teacher evaluation system. The additional period would delay the official roll out for two years.

Commissioner Williams wrote a letter to federal education officials Wednesday, where he also requested the federal government extend a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

In a statement, Williams said:

The planned demolition of the historic old West High School has been put on hold. The School Board’s demo decision faced heavy opposition from community members during a public forum last night.