November 1996 Issue

On the Cover

Our Best Schools

A report card on more than three thousand public elementary schools from Abernathy to Zavalla. Does yours make the grade? Plus: How Richardson’s Brentfield, Beaumont’s Pietzsch, and Mission’s Carl C. Waitz got to the head of the class.


The Spin Doctor Is Out

Being a political consultant had its high points. I helped candidates win elections, traveled around the world, and worked side by side with James Carville and Dick Morris. But campaigns kept sinking to pathetic new lows, which is why I finally had to quit the game.

Thrill Killers

Now that the crack epidemic has leveled off and gang violence is down, urban Texas is being terrorized by a new type of criminal: the superpredator. He murders without motive, feels no remorse, and worst of all, seldom gets caught.

No-Star Schools

Austin/Blackshear Austin/Jordan Austin/Pecan Springs Austin/SimsCrockett/CrockettDallas/Daniel James Dallas/Elisha M. PeaseFort Worth/A. M. Pate Fort Worth/Carroll Peak Fort Worth/Carter Park Fort Worth/De Zavala Fort Worth/Edward Briscoe Fort Worth/Manuel Jara Fort Worth/Maude I. Logan Fort Worth/McRae Fort Worth/Versia WilliamsGalveston/MorganHempstead/Hempstead Houston/CrawfordSan Antonio/Carvajal San Antonio/David G. Burnet San

One-Star Schools

A | B | C |  D | E |  F | G | H |  I | J | K |  L | M | N |  O | P | – |  R | S | T |  – | V | W |  – | Y | – | Abilene/College Heights Abilene/Fannin Abilene/Ortiz Abilene/Valley View Agua Dulce/Agua Dulce Aldine/Anderson

Two-Star Schools

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | – | V | W | – | Y | – | Abilene/Crockett Abilene/Jones Abilene/Long Abilene/Reagan Aldine/Evelyn S. Thompson Aldine/Johnson Aldine/Stephens Aledo/Aledo Int Alice/Noonan Alief/A. J. Martin Alief/Flem Rees Alief/Liestman Alief/Petrosky

Three-Star Schools

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | – | V | W | – | Y | – | Abernathy/Abernathy Abilene/Alta Vista Abilene/Austin Abilene/Bowie Abilene/Johnston Abilene/Lee Abilene/Taylor Abilene/Thomas Abilene/Ward Academy/Academy Alamo Heights/Cambridge Alamo Heights/Woodridge Aldine/Conley Aldine/Dunn Aldine/Magrill Aldine/Oleson

Four-Star Schools

A | B | C |  D | E |  F | G | H |  I | J | K |  L | M | N |  O | P | – |  R | S | T |  – | V | W |  – | Y | – | Abilene/Bassetti Abilene/Bonham Abilene/Dyess Abilene/Jackson Alba-Golden/Alba-Golden Albany/Nancy Smith Aldine/Black Aldine/Calvert Aldine/Carroll

Social Climbers

This month, a ragtag group of wanderers will descend on Hueco Tanks state park in West Texas, where they’ll spend their nights hanging out and their days hanging on to the most challenging boulders around.


Gruene Peace

A historic dance hall, the cypress-shaded Guadalupe, a couple of rustic inns: A great weekend getaway awaits you less than an hour from Austin and San Antonio.

Dual in the Sun

What do the sculptures of Jim Magee and the paintings of Annabel Livermore have in common? Nothing—except that they were created by the same person.

Beer Necessities

To survive at a time of heady demand for craft brews, the mid-sized Spoetzel and Celis breweries have partnered with major corporations. Still, they’re keeping their local flavor.

Golden Oldie

After playing for years in relative obscurity, 57-year-old Ronnie Dawson is the latest cult hero in the cultish world of rockabilly.


Jimmy King

Jimmy King Five years after he last shot hoops for Plano East Senior High School, Jimmy King is coming home. The 23-year-old, who spent his rookie year in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, was traded this summer to the Dallas Mavericks, and he couldn’t be happier. Of course, the

Sam Donaldson

I started working for radio stations in El Paso at seventeen. I played records and ripped wire copy off the United Press International or the Associated Press wires and read it. Then, in 1954, television came to town; so my last year of college I worked for a local TV

California Scheming

HOUSTON FINANCIER (or, as he is often described in the Golden State media, “Texas tycoon”) Charles Hurwitz clearly got the better side of his recent agreement to swap 3,000 acres of ancient redwoods in Northern California for $380 million in federal and state funds plus other public forest acreage. In

Antsy Griffith

Antsy Griffith Austin’s Nanci Griffith is holed up in Nashville recording Blue Roses From the Moon(s) (Elektra), which should be in stores this spring. The album’s release coincides with the tenth anniversary of Griffith’s first collaboration with her band, the Blue Moon Orchestra, and features guest appearances by Buddy Holly’s

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDsTwo years after their wildly successful debut, Elida y Avante bounce back from label troubles with Algo Entero (Tejas). For my money, Mercedes-born Elida Reyna is tejano’s next female superstar. Her husky, throbbing voice is mature well beyond her 24 years—she has the archetypal blend of innocence and experience—and



Around the State

Around the State subheading: A selective guide to amusements and events. Edited by Quita McMath, Josh Daniel, Erin Gromen, and Cheri Ballew summary: Members of Bob Wills’s Texas Playboys and Playgirls stage a swinging comeback (Austin and Bandera). Plus: The Day of the Dead lives (Austin, El Paso, Houston, and

Cheers And Jeers

CHUCK NORRIS STANDS FOR JUSTICE, truth, and right in his portrayal of Walker in the series Walker, Texas Ranger. To many, he is an excellent example. Perhaps a hero. Mr. Norris is an acknowledged master in tae kwon do. However, he and Texas Monthly fail in firearms literacy and safety

Grand Parent

Nature photography is just part of Laurence Parent’s nature. The 37-year-old Austin-area resident, who took the pictures that accompany this month’s article on Hueco Tanks State Historical Park (“Social Climbers”), has long been known for his landscape work, from wildflower close-ups to desert vistas. “My father was in the

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