We publish reader letters in every issue of Texas Monthly. Below is feedback for our April 2019 issue. Have something to tell us? You can write to us here.

The Empire Writes Back 

Mimi Swartz’s article on STAAR testing [“STAAR Wars”] missed an important group: college professors. I retired in January 2019 after eighteen years teaching undergraduate psychology. While Swartz cites many sources saying the test is not accurate and students are better prepared than reported on STAAR, I can say that a common complaint among my colleagues was that many students coming out of high school are unprepared for college work. They have limited math and English language skills. They know little or no history, and even asking who is running in local elections results in a blank look. I don’t know if it’s the teachers, administration, or parents, or a combination of all, but maybe it’s the non-STAAR measures that are wrong.
Samuel Rock, San Antonio

There is no idea so good that it cannot be screwed up. The original purpose of having a statewide standardized achievement test was to identify learning gaps that students in the middle elementary-school grades would need to fill in order to succeed in their next years of school. It seemed like a logical goal at the time. The test was not intended to decide if a student would be promoted or not. The test was not intended to rate a school. I know this because I was the chairman of the task force at the Texas Education Agency that set the wheels in motion for this project. Things morphed. Your description of what happened after that is excellent. Somehow the word “Frankenstein” comes to mind.
James V. Clark,  Austin

Hurd Mentality

I was starting to get impressed with Congressman [Will Hurd] until I read in your article [“The Middle Man”] that he voted with the Trump administration 95 percent of the time. Does 5 percent below a “perfect” score make him a moderate Republican? Unfortunately it does in these times. Is he the model of the future of the Republican party? How sad.
Steven Parks, Georgetown

Hurd represents his district. He is a public servant and is not bound to political dogma. That is a good thing; he is a thinking man. There used to be more of them in Texas.
June Secrist, San Antonio

For the Love of Dogs

Thank you for this story [“Life, in Dog Years”]. We have three corgis. Our eldest, Charlie, is the same age as [the author’s] Trilby. We see how he has changed and struggles with his mobility. While I worry constantly about him, I take those signs as reminders to cherish the time we have left with him. My father passed away at ninety a few years ago. He loved it when I brought Charlie to his home, in Tulsa. Your story has brought back some lovely memories.
Jonathan Robbins, Plano

Tears are rolling down my face. What a wonderful story of compassion and love for family and our furry family members. Grief does not acknowledge two legs or four. Neither does love.
Lisa Vandermeulen, via Instagram