10 Crazy Things in Texas's Proposed New Social Studies Textbooks

Categories: Education


UPDATE September 16, 2014: Crazy things in textbooks aren't just limited to the field of social studies. A new report found some pretty crazy things on the subject of climate change as well.

It seems the Texas education system is still nursing a hangover from the State Board of Education's raucous culture-warrior party days. Hell, it's possible they're still drunk. A while back in 2009 members of the SBOE tried to cut the actual science from the state's science standards (namely, Darwinian evolution, go figure.) Then they came back ready to swing for the fences, passing social studies curriculum standards that even a conservative think-tank called a "politicized distortion of history" driven by the evangelical Christian-right agenda."

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Former Jefferson Elementary Teacher Fights Back, Sues Investigators for $1 Million-Plus

Categories: Education

Elsa Rodriguez, who was among several teachers accused this year by Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier and his administration of manipulating test scores when the 2013 statewide tests were administered to Jefferson Elementary school students that April, has decided to fight back with a civil lawsuit calling for more than $1 million in damages.

According to attorney Larry Watts, who filed the case in state district court, there could have been no way that Rodriguez was involved in anything about the STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) math and reading tests given at Jefferson on April 23 because she suffered such extensive injuries in a Sunday, April 7 car wreck -- a subdural brain hemorrhage, brain injury, concussion, cervical radiculitis and memory loss -- that she was out of work for months.

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Rice University Ranks 19 on US News' "Best Colleges of 2015" List

Categories: Education

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Rice University remains the best college in Texas according to US News & World Report's 2015 rankings. But it's hanging on to the top 20 by the skin of its teeth.

Rice fell from 18 last year to 19 this year. It's unclear who or what knocked the university down a peg from that slightly more secure position - that's not so easy to tell from the US News rankings. They claim to have a lengthy algorithm that takes into account a laundry list of variables including graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, endowment and the recommendation of high school guidance counselors. Maybe the folks at Princeton could figure it out - they placed first yet again.

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HISD Officers Pin Student to the Ground Because She Was on Her Cell Phone

A brief cell phone video of Houston school district cops pinning down a screaming high school student caught fire on social media Wednesday.

Students and parents alike have taken to Twitter and Facebook, airing concerns of overhanded policing in schools. The eight-second video, reportedly taken at Sam Houston High School Tuesday, shows a student lying on a hallway floor, pinned down by officers at her head and feet. The video shows one officer reaching for something from his belt shortly before cutting out - it's unclear what the officer was grabbing.

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Renu Khator: Media "Misled" on UH Housing Plan

Categories: Education

Senator Whitmire was totally not LOLing.
Toward the end of a thorough ass-chewing via text with Senator John Whitmire over a student housing proposal, UH President Renu Khator did what public officials who screw up have done from time immemorial: she blamed the messenger.

You see, according to Khator's text, the media "misled" people by reporting that the proposal was "a done deal." Maybe the media can be forgiven for interpreting the words "UH Freshmen Will Be Required to Live on Campus Beginning Fall 2015" on an August 15 press release as somehow suggesting that UH freshmen will be required to live on campus beginning in the fall of 2015. We'd link to that press release, but it's no longer on UH's site.

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Accused Atherton Elementary Teachers Want an Apology From Grier; TEA Reviews HISD's Investigation

Categories: Education

One teacher has been back at her job since March. Another is ready to settle with Houston ISD for a year's salary and her promise that she will never apply to work for HISD again, according to her attorney Larry Watts.

But the third and fourth teachers originally accused of helping students cheat on tests at Atherton Elementary are more concerned about their good names than money, according to Watts, who, borrowing a line from The Merchant of Venice ("Who steals my purse steals trash ... but he that filches from me my good name ... makes me poor indeed"), vowed Tuesday to continue battling on their behalf and to wrest an apology from HISD Superintendent Terry Grier.

"We want [Grier] to tell the state that we didn't do anything; that your evidence is not good," Wattts said.

"Sherri Jackson has returned to Atherton, Veronica Davis is settling and Reuel Sosa and Jennifer Sterling are fighting it," Watts said. "They don't want money. All it would take is for Grier to admit he was wrong. There was no evidence."

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University of Houston Nixes Mandatory Campus Housing Plan From Agenda UPDATED

Categories: Education

We actually lived in a Wal-Mart our freshman year.
Updated at the end of this post are some more comments from Sen. Whitmire.

University of Houston officials have suspended their plan requiring freshmen to live on campus after some blowback from Texas Senator John Whitmire.

University officials pulled the proposal from a Board of Regents meeting agenda this week after Whitmire voiced his concern Monday to UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator, the Chron reports.

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Katy ISD Superintendent Calls Anti-Stadium Signs "Bullying at Its Worst"

Categories: Education

Courtesy Michael Franks
School bond elections don't exactly see the type of white-knuckle politics currently plaguing Gov. Rick Perry (you can read about that here, in case you missed it). Still, things got pretty tense before the Katy ISD Board of Trustees' unanimous vote Monday night to put a $748 million bond package on November's ballot.

No matter how you look at it, Keith Carmichael accepted a pretty tough gig when he agreed to chair the district's bond committee, which worked for months to craft the multi-million dollar package the Katy ISD board approved last night. The district says it's fast outgrowing its current facilities, particularly in light the 3,000 additional students expected to join the district each year.

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College Station Named Sixth Most Affordable College Town in America

Categories: Education

aggies oct 2.jpg
Cheap and awesome.
Fortunes sure have a way of changing. Just a few years ago, Texas A&M had a brutally awful football team in the Big 12 with their rivals, University of Texas, a team that was competing for titles seemingly every year. The Aggies were constantly playing second fiddle to their Austin adversaries. Then, things changed. A&M got Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Manziel. They made a move to the SEC where, despite the belief they would struggle, they flourished. Now, UT is mired in mediocrity, their beloved coach Mack Brown forced to retire and even the university president is being sent packing.

Well, here's one more thing to heap on the pile. College Station was just named the sixth most affordable college town in America by SimpleDollar.com. Take that T-Sips!

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UT President Bill Powers Won't Resign Until June 2015, But His Departure Will Probably Suck

Categories: Education

Getty Images
Bill Powers's resignation will be effective June 2, 2014

UT Austin's beloved president submitted his resignation for June 2015 last Wednesday
afternoon, after being presented with an ultimatum to resign or be fired by the university's chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa.

As the university's Burnt Orange Nation reports:

The [Board of Regents] has been on a crusade to oust Powers for almost three years. It's leader is Rick Perry-appointee Wallace Hall, whose efforts to pin Powers down in an admission scandal have resulted in potential illegal activity and are grounds for impeachment.

Perry has publicly praised Hall for his valiant efforts in 'uncovering the truth.'

If there is evidence that Powers was involved in a scandal, it still hasn't been leaked to the media. Admissions director Kedra Ishop stepped down at the end of June, just days before the investigation was launched, to accept a position at Michigan -- which she described as a promotion.

This "admissions scandal" consists of allegations against Powers for supposedly admitting under-qualified students into the school because of their political connections according to Breitbart, who originally broke the story.

But more important than these politics, surely, is the effect Powers's resignation will have on the people the university is meant to serve -- namely, its students.

Hair Balls interviewed Houston-area Longhorns to get their input, and there seems to be a consensus among them: Powers is clearly an asset to the university, and students love him.

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