The State of Texas: May 16, 2014
Today In History
Back in the days of protest, 1968, 400 students walked out of Edgewood High School in San Antonio because the majority Hispanic school was wildly underfunded and that the school finance system was unconstitutional. The proceeding class action lawsuit resulted in the landmark Rodríguez v. San Antonio ISD Supreme Court decision that, among other things, said that education is not a fundamental right.
Closing In — It’s been a rough year for UT regent Wallace Hall. On Monday a House panel declared that there was enough evidence to move forward with impeachment proceedings, and now the walls seem to be closing in even more as the chairman of Hall’s own board publicly called his resignation on Thursday. This time, it wasn’t for any so-called violations, but a rather matter-of-fact reason that is hard to ignore. “During an open meeting of the board Thursday, Paul Foster said that Hall has created controversies that have distracted the board from its obligations,” according to the Texas Tribune. Foster also addressed Hall directly, saying a resignation “would be the most beneficial action you can take at this time.” Hall didn’t reply to Foster’s comments, and actually he “raised the issue of reopening an investigation of UT-Austin’s law school foundation.” The board rejected the idea, probably figuring it’s got plenty of investigations on its plate for now.
Price Of Freedom — The Dallas ISD is learning that it’s not easy to go at it alone. Proponents of the hotly debated home-rule want the initiative on the November ballot (they just got about 48,000 petition signatures), but in order to do that they have to complete a Herculean task, namely, getting a bureaucracy to work rather fast. “The deadline to get on the November ballot is Aug. 18, according to Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole. To make the Aug. 18 deadline, the DISD board would have to appoint the commission, the commission would have to hold public meetings to draft a charter and the education commissioner would have to review the charter — all in about three months,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Oh, and like a kid moving out of the house, it’s also going to be rather expensive. The school itself has to pay the election costs, which are now estimated to be about $595,400.
Our Solar ‘Flare’ — Texas might be one step closer to becoming another California. A San Francisco company just signed on to ” build Texas’ largest single solar facility … a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas,” according to the Texas Tribune. How awesome is the farm, expected to be ready in 2016, going to be? As the story notes, “Texas, with its long-stretching boundaries and intense solar radiation, leads the nation by far in solar energy potential.” The key word there is “potential.” Yesterday, the National Journal also published a piece on Texas solar energy, but instead floats across the subject like a dark cloud, asking “Why Is Texas Terrible at Producing Solar Power?” “In short, because a confluence of policy choices and economic forces have stunted the state’s solar growth … [and] the hyper-partisanship of the nation’s energy debate.” And despite the new 150-megawatt facility that’s going to be powering Austin, not even solar advocates see much of a silver lining. Very few of them “see hope that the state landscape will change anytime soon.”
31 Jump Street — It’s another one of those Texas stories that makes the national news, if only because it’s a little bizarre. “A 31-year-old [Longview] woman was arrested Sunday after she allegedly pretended to be a 15-year-old high school student under the alias ‘Charity Stevens,'” reports KLTV. The story’s kind of wild, including the fact that the woman had been enrolled and going to class since October 2013. Except for her declaring to be an orphan who had been home schooled, few details are known. So questions like “how did officials not automatically suspect something was amiss?” and “why the heck would anyone want to relive their high school days” remain unanswered.