The State of Texas: April 2, 2014
Quiz of the Day
Based on both today and yesterday’s catch, it would appear that it is the season of quizzes (high schoolers know what’s up). Master of the slideshow, the Houston Chronicle, has thirty-two sample questions from the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam. After giving it a try, you may want to opt yourself out of testing. Tweet your results to @TexasMonthly. No Cheating!
Shots fired! Or, er, footballs thrown! On his go-to social media platform, Instagram, Johnny Manziel posted a picture of UT coach Charlie Strong making Mr. and Mrs. Drake Football’s special hand-gesture. The caption read: “Sorry Charlie…you’re not a part of the regime #SawEmOff.” A bit needless, it seems. Or perhaps Manziel is laying the groundwork for copyright:
Texas By The Numbers
School Record — Number of students now enrolled in Texas public schools: five million. Increase between 2000 and 2010 in Texas: 21.6 percent. Increase nationwide over the same period: 4.8 percent. Percentage of disadvantaged students during the 2012-2013 year: 60.3 percent. That figure during the 2002-2003 year: 51.8 percent.
Prison Uprising — “Texas will not comply with parts of a federal law designed to eliminate prison rape, Gov. Rick Perry said in a letter to the U.S. Attorney General, calling the rules too costly and an infringement on state rights,” writes the the Austin American-Statesman. Some of Perry’s objections to the new rules, passed federally by George W. Bush, have a whiff of baloney (hollering “state’s rights” when it comes to ending the treatment of seventeen-year-olds as adults). Other arguments, however, are more reasonable. For one, a required audit of the prisons, jails, and lockups would be impossible to get done by the deadline, says Perry, because “there are only about 100 certified auditors nationwide [and in] Texas alone, there are nearly 300 facilities.” Perry also objects to the “portion of the law that bars cross-gender searches and seeing inmates without clothing, saying that because 40 percent of prison guards in male units are women and complying with the law may mean the loss of job and promotion opportunities.” As the piece notes, however, “Texas’ state prisons will comply with most of the rules” and many of the issues could be resolved by hiring more “staff,” says one union official. So if you’re looking for a job …
Extended Line Up — Twenty additional assault charges have been added to the list of crimes the SXSW road killer is accused of committing, according to the AP. Four have died after the driver plowed through the festival crowd. The new charges appear to stem from reports that the driver actually accelerated while mowing down the innocent. “Each new charge,” according to the report, “is punishable by 99 years in prison,” which pretty much ensures that the young man will, at the very least, spend the rest of his life behind bars. “The case will likely be presented by mid-June or else Owens will become eligible to be released from Travis County Jail under his own recognizance,” according to the Statesman.
Goin’ Radioactive — Soon, that soft glow in the distance won’t be the sun setting majestically over far West Texas. It’ll be the iridescent glean of radioactive waste canisters. Well, one can imagine. “In a matter of days, a West Texas radioactive waste site is expected to start receiving up to 420 truckloads of radioactive junk — some dating back to the 1940s — from the federal government’s nuclear weapons program,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The hand-off from New Mexico (they never bring us anything good), comes after a wasteland in the Land of Enchantment, “the country’s only permanent disposal site for low-level radioactive materials,” had a minor problem. Namely, that an “above-ground release exposed 17 workers to radiation.” The thin lining of radioactive silver isotopes is that the waste will be dumped on a private collection site already accustomed to holding radioactive waste from Texas and Vermont. Also, “the waste will be stored safely — and temporarily.”
To The Grave — Texas is insistent that dead men tell no tales, especially the executed ones. Nearly a week after a judge ruled that the state must tell a death row inmate exactly who his executioner is, Texas is fighting to keep its death-drug supplier secret. “[I]n a brief filed Tuesday with the state attorney general’s office, Patricia Fleming, an assistant general counsel for the Texas prison system, argued that a supplier in another state received a specific threat of physical violence,” according to the Dallas Morning News. That concern is pretty rich coming from a state that, according to a great Slate j’accuse!, is totes fine with not only requiring incredibly detailed information about abortion providers, but making that information relatively easy to access.