The State of Texas: Oct. 15, 2013
Oddly, a collection of Texans fans wearing bags over their heads looks less weird after a minute or two.
Photos of the Day
The Miss Texas Pole Star Competition happened over the weekend. Done right—as demonstrated by these competitors—it’s both impressive and beautiful. So leave both your leering and politics at the door. (Could be NSFW, depending on your job.)
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures — Nothing like $2 billion dollars to bring people together. The Texas Tribune has an interesting story about the strange waterbed fellows now pooling resources, thanks to the proposed constitutional change that would open the floodgates for state spending on water projects. “The priorities [of Hays Constitutional Republicans and environmental group Save Our Springs] may be different — one is fighting for smaller government, more local control of big decisions and less spending, while the other is focused on water conservation, the environment and long-term water resources — but both believe that the measure is more about making money on big water projects than about preserving water for Texans.” And in what appears to be a growing civil war in Water World, an odd alliance has also developed among proponents of the proposition. “Environmental advocates like the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy have joined prominent Republican politicians like Gov. Rick Perry and state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, in urging voters to approve the measure in November.” Either way, voters can expect a deluge of campaigning as it becomes increasing difficult to keep one’s head above the argumentative waters.
Teachers Lose Extra Credit — Merit pay for teachers was sent to detention at the beginning of the school year due, in part, to the state’s rotting funding apple. After money for the program—originally celebrated by Governor Perry—dried up like Texas land, “the Legislature passed a measure this year to virtually kill it. The remaining funding, down to $24 million from a high of $392 million in the 2010-11 state budget, will be shifted,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “The experiment was short-lived. And it will never be known whether the concept might have eventually showed results.” The program’s grade was still definitely pending. While studies found that schools giving pay and bonuses based on students’ standardized test scores experienced less turnover and that students of such merit-based programs had higher test scores, debate continues as to whether the testing is even good for kids. Regardless, better teacher pay should be a priority since “44 percent are moonlighting at second jobs this school year to make ends meet, slightly more than in 2010.” Perhaps then, there’d be fewer educators leaving the profession for another one entirely. One like …
Playboy Teacher Fired (Probably) — The details haven’t been completely exposed yet, but it looks like Dallas ISD Spanish teacher Cristy Deweese has been fired after it was revealed last week that the 21-year-old posed for Playboy three years ago. Since no one involved with the situation—Deweese or the school district—is commenting directly, news agencies have been forced get off on heavy suggestion and sneak Tweets. Writing on both Facebook and her Twitter feed, Deweese insinuated that she’d been let go, and “I miss the kids, so I’m sad about that, but otherwise I’m doing fine.” Then there was the text(?!) she sent to someone at Inside Edition that read “They fired me!” Should you wish to keep staring, the Dallas Observer has a nice little post ratcheting up all the evidence of termination. While a few students and parents have expressed support of a teacher who was by all account good at her job—and yeah, sure, boys will be boys regardless of the situation—the consensus is that it’s not unreasonable to require teachers to have a little tact. Those with less stodgy morals about an educator embodying significant and public displays of behavior wildly inappropriate for a tween classroom can support Deweese at her very alluring Facebook page.
Jokes On You — In announcing his intent to run for Ag Commish, it looks as if the always-witty Kinky Friedman is requiring his opponent to punch up the campaign language. Republican candidate and the straight man in this election comedy, Eric Opiela, has responded to Friedman’s announcement with florid prose. “We need an agriculture commissioner who will focus on jobs, not jokes; drought, not drama, and water lines, not punchlines,” said Opiela, according to the Gilmer Mirror. “The issues facing Texas farmers and ranchers — and the millions of Texans who depend on them — are serious, and the commitment of our next commissioner must be too.” The serious Opiela, with his seriously fun wordplay, might want to watch his language since “rancher” doesn’t have the same ring to it as the description of his primary opponent, J. Allen Carnes, who is a “third-generation vegetable farmer.” It all sounds like a set up to a good chuckle.
Good Tips Texas — San Antonio Express-News staff writer, Sarah Tressler, has an informative—if slightly odd—piece titled “10 Jail Survival Tips.” Just as everyone should go to jail at least once in his or her life, everyone should know some basic realities about the time spent there. In that regard, some of Tressler’s tips are pretty reasonable: make sure you know the number of a landline, “mind your own business,” and “be patient.” What’s odd about the piece—in addition to it being presented in slideshow format—is the fact, which she admits is difficult, that many of the tips are contingent on one planning for a trip to the jail, just as one might plan a hiking trip in the woods. The tips that Tressler forgot to mention, include: establish dominance by find the biggest alpha male and take him out first thing; and tell officials you have life-threatening seizures, diabetes, panic attacks and a host of comminicable diseases. Or, yeah, say nothing, and call your lawyer first.
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