The State of Texas: The State’s Pre-K Grant Program Can’t Deliver
Plus: H-E-B and Walmart slug it out in Texas, the Victoria County Sheriff just became a lot less transparent, and a pair of Longhorn olympians are robbed at gunpoint.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“ATTENTION: Please Be Aware That The Staff At Claude ISD Is Armed And May Use Whatever Force Necessary To Protect Our Students.”
—A big sign posted by Claude ISD, near Amarillo, according to KAMR. Superintendent Jeff Byrd says the sign isn’t meant to “threaten or intimidate or challenge anyone,” but just to let people driving by the area know that staff inside the schools are packing heat.
Class In Session
Governor Greg Abbott’s pre-K improvement grant program often doesn’t actually provide enough money needed by school districts to comply with the requirements attached with accepting the grant money, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Texas announced the grant program in July, spreading out a total of more than $116 million among participating school districts across the state to give a boost to pre-K education. At the time, pre-K advocates criticized the grant program, fearing that it wouldn’t be enough. According to the Statesman, quite a few districts that applied to the grant program only got about half the amount of money they had expected, and 21 districts opted out of the grant program completely because the small sum wouldn’t have been enough to pay for the grant’s requirements, which include “reporting student progress, increasing training or certifications of teachers and doing more to engage families,” the Statesman writes. The most a school district in Central Texas received was $6 million, which went to Austin ISD. The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to take a look at the grant program, which has no more funding after this upcoming school year, according to the Statesman. Meanwhile, according to KTRK, a new state law will add 15 minutes to the school day, which districts are approaching by either ending the school day 15 minutes later or (gulp) starting 15 minutes earlier. And when the new school year starts, ten Texas schools will have less Confederate-y names than they did last year, per the Texas Tribune.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
H-E-B and Walmart are slugging it out for the hearts of Texas grocery shoppers. According to the Dallas Morning News, H-E-B tops Walmart’s market share of shoppers in eight out of Texas’s ten biggest metro areas, though Walmart has a whopping 572 total stores throughout Texas compared to H-E-B’s 370. As the Morning News notes, this is certainly a heavyweight battle, and Texas obviously loves both stores dearly, at least compared to the rest of the country. In particular, Walmart generally has a much greater share of the market in Texas cities than elsewhere, claiming most of the market in Dallas-Fort Worth, and taking the second-biggest market shares in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin (H-E-B claimed first place in the latter three cities, while Kroger sneakily grabbed the second biggest market share in DFW). Three of Walmart’s top ten market shares are in Texas cities, and statewide, Walmart rakes in between $20 million and $25 million in grocery sales in Texas. H-E-B, meanwhile, takes in about $21.5 billion.
The Victoria County Sheriff has decided that mug shots will no longer be released to the public, and, according to the Victoria Advocate, the new policy was suspiciously enacted after the newspaper requested the jail pic of a former business big-wig. According to the Advocate, Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor says the new policy is meant to protect the county from litigation, in case they release the mug shot of someone who is later found innocent and that person turns around and sues them for privacy violations. But, as the Advocate notes, law enforcement agencies never lose those rare cases. The move came almost immediately after the Advocate asked the county for the mug shot of Stephen Thames, a former CEO of a county hospital who was arrested in June and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. After dragging its feet for four days past the state’s ten-day open records request response deadline, the sheriff’s office finally released the mug shot to the Advocate. Since then, they have refused to release mug shots, instead seeking (and receiving) exemptions from the attorney general’s office that allows them to use discretion when releasing mug shots. According to the sheriff’s new policy, they’ll only release mug shots if a person is convicted or placed on deferred adjudication. So much for transparency.
Gold Medalists Mugged
Current University of Texas student-athlete Jack Conger and San Antonio native Jimmy Feigen (also a former Longhorn), both members of the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team, have really experienced the highs and lows of the 2016 Olympics in Rio so far. Conger helped the 4X200 meter freestyle relay team take first place, while Feigen will also be returning to Texas with a gleaming gold medal for his role in team U.S.A.’s 4X100 freestyle relay win. After the medal-winning week, however, Conger and Feigen were among four swimmers who were robbed at gunpoint on Saturday night, according to NBC News. U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte told NBC that a group of men pretending to be police officers pulled over the taxi the swimmers were riding in, pulled guns on the swimmers and took their wallets. Luckily no one was injured, and it doesn’t seem like they were carrying their gold medals on them at the time.
WHAT WE’RE READING
The state says you’re allowed to look at aerial oil spill photos now El Paso Times
A McClennan County assistant district attorney goes from prosecuting DWIs to facing a DWI charge Waco Tribune
A portrait of a San Antonio man’s struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease San Antonio Express-News
Two gymnasts tried the “vault of death” just so they’d have a chance at beating Simone Biles (they still lost) Washington Post
The LA Times’s take on the battle in Texas to keep guns off government property Los Angeles Times