Part of our series of conversations with leading teachers, thinkers and activists on education issues

Jordan Shapiro's recent post in Forbes in which he laid out four misconceptions about the future of education, caught my attention because, like much of his work, he tries to take a cattle prod to the conventional education narrative.

Joey Palacios / TPR News

AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that would allow Texas high school students to fail two high-stakes exams and still graduate. It is effective immediately.

Abbott said Monday that the state “must protect” students from what he called evolving testing standards. “While it is critical that the state appropriately holds public schools and districts accountable for delivering the best possible education, we must protect Texas students from being penalized as a result of evolving testing standards,” he said in a statement. 

About 28,000 students in the class of 2015 still must pass one or more of the five state exams in U.S. history, biology, algebra I, English I and English II required to graduate. Of those who need to retake exams, about half must retake more than one.

Are you a glass half-full kind of person? Or glass half-empty?

Depending on your answer, you'll find the new report on state-funded preschool programs from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University either delightfully encouraging or downright depressing.

For example, glass half-full: Pre-K enrollment is up!

Glass half-empty: It's still pretty low.

Joey Palacios / TPR News

AUSTIN — After months of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, the Texas Senate on Thursday approved Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposed pre-K upgrade — a plan that Tea Party activists condemn as socialist and educators tepidly embrace as better than nothing.

Abbott doesn’t get to sign his first flagship education initiative quite yet. But with the House only needing to agree to some minor tweaks, he is now poised to deliver a major campaign promise before the Legislature adjourns June 1.

Not everyone will enthusiastically celebrate.

Texas Senate OKs Tougher Rules for Veterans’ Free Tuition Program

May 6, 2015
Eva Hershaw / The Texas Tribune

In an effort to contain growing costs, the Texas Senate voted Tuesday to make it harder for veterans to pass free in-state tuition benefits on to their children. 

By a 24-7 vote, senators approved new restrictions to the Hazlewood program, which offers free school to veterans after they serve in active duty, and can be passed on to children if the benefits are unused. Under the new version, veterans would need to serve longer and pass on their benefits sooner if they wanted one of their dependents to be eligible. The proposed changes follow universities’ pleas for help with the spiraling costs of the program.  

Senate Bill 1735 will now go to the House, where similar legislation is already being considered. Supporters said the bill is necessary to keep the Hazlewood program alive. And even if the changes go into effect, Hazlewood will remain the most generous state-run veterans’ tuition program in the country, they said.