QUOTE OF THE DAY
“These guys are so small—you can put two or three of ’em on the head of a dime.”
—Jim Gallagher of the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area to Texas Standard. Those “guys” are baby horned lizards—25 of them, in fact. The hatchlings were born in Hill Country recently, giving hope that the disappearing animal can recover despite the rapid evaporation of their habitat.
The state’s school accountability ratings are in, and Texas schools did alright—nothing that will earn the Lone Star State a gold star, but also not DEFCON-5 level bad. According to the Associated Press, 94 percent of school districts and 84 percent of public schools met the minimum standards, but the Texas Tribune notes that the number of school districts and charters that were rated “Improvement Required”—the equivalent of an “F”—increased by eleven districts to 5.5 percent, a one percent jump from last year. At the same time, only 467 individual school campuses received the dreaded “Improvement Required” rating this year, compared to 603 last year. You can check out how districts and schools fared by searching the ratings database at the Texas Education Agency’s website. The ratings are based on the STAAR standardized testing system, which itself received what was basically a failing grade from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath after a school year embroiled in controversy due to widespread snafus, including wiped out test answers and lost booklets (most of the tests affected by the answer-deletion glitch were waived from the accountability system this year by Morath). This is the last year that this particular accountability system will be used. According to the Tribune, schools and districts will be graded on a normal A through F rubric next year, and test scores will likely be less important in the final report card, with the state weighing things like attendance and graduation rates.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Better In Texas
About 10,000 companies have bolted from California in the past eight years, and Texas was the number-one U.S. destination for businesses departing for greener pastures, according to a recently released review by Spectrum Location Solutions. The Austin Business Journal reports that the study shows Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth were the two metro areas that benefited the most from California’s corporate exodus, with both cities landing more businesses from California than any other metro region in the nation. It’s unclear what caused the businesses to flee, but it likely has something to do with California’s strict regulations and Texas’s much looser business climate. In related news, a few weeks ago a separate report showed that Texas cities—Dallas, in particular—were verging on New York City’s title of the financial capital of the world. According to the Dallas Morning News, from 2008 to 2013, the Big Apple saw a big loss in financial services jobs, while those same offerings grew in Dallas by nearly 20,000, the second-biggest growth in the country (San Antonio was next on the list).
Danger From Above
Heads up! Glass is falling from Austin’s skyscrapers with troubling frequency. According to the Austin American-Statesman, there have been five incidents of glass raining down from two of the city’s most recognizable tall buildings since 2011, including one last week that saw shards of glass falling from a forty-eighth floor balcony of the Austonian condominium complex, the city’s biggest skyscraper. Amazingly, no one was hurt in any of the broken glass fiascos. According to the Statesman, at least four of the five incidents involved tempered glass panels, which can sometimes shatter for no reason. In the past few years, city lawmakers have passed legislation that requires stronger guardrail coverings on balconies, and Austin amended its building code to ensure a stronger type of glass is used in buildings overlooking public places like streets or pools or courtyards. But, as the Statesman notes, those codes aren’t retroactive, so there are still plenty of buildings with sub-par safety standards when it comes to glass.
Three Texas breweries are suing the state over a 2013 law that prevents them from getting paid for their distribution rights. Austin’s Live Oak Brewing Company, Dallas’s Peticolas Brewing, and Granbury’s Revolver Brewing argued in a Travis County courtroom on Monday that the distribution law is unconstitutional, claiming that it keeps breweries from earning millions of dollars and is based on unfounded Prohibition-era fears. According to the Dallas Morning News, the state’s alcohol industry is regulated to keep producers, distributors, and retailers independent. An attorney for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said in court on Monday that repealing the law could lead to “organized crime and other ‘societal ills,'” which sounds like the plot to every classic 1940s gangster movie ever made. Later in the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Karen Watkins incredibly put forward a fictional scenario starring someone named “Distributor Al,” which, as the Morning News astutely noted, was surely an Al Capone reference. Watkins said allowing breweries to sell distribution rights could attract “unsavory” characters and prostitution rings. Apparently, nothing screams “unsavory” characters and prostitution like hipster-friendly craft breweries.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Trump spokesperson (and Texan) Katrina Pierson tries to explain her gaffes Texas Tribune
Strangest thing you’ll read this week: Houston frat bros may be behind Facebook pages for restaurants that don’t exist Houston Press
The city of Austin is looking into alternatives to jailing poor people who owe fines Texas Standard
After a string of violent goat killings, a Lubbock ISD ag barn is beefing up security Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
A Turkish hacker who goes by “Jack Sparrow” keeps messing with the City of Killeen’s website KCEN