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The Brief: March 11, 2010

A song for the State Board of Education: We've only just begun...

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THE BIG CONVERSATION

A song for the State Board of Education: We've only just begun...

The SBOE began its full board meeting yesterday, and while there were some minor skirmishes, the big fights will likely come today. The board is in the midst of determining the social studies curriculum. Once in place, those guidelines will remain in place for a decade.

It’s not much of a surprise, then, that everyone seems to be interested. The Statesman's Kate Alexander reports that "[p]rior to Wednesday, the board had received some 14,000 e-mails about the standards and had heard 17 hours of public testimony."

Since members were criticized during the last board meeting for ending testimony without hearing from a group of veterans, this time the board spent much of yesterday hearing testimony. Everyone from students to lawmakers came to give their two-cents. State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, wanted to ensure that the board wasn’t being pressured to move away from social conservatism while Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, came representing the Mexican-American caucus and sought to ensure that the board consider the growing Hispanic population in its decisions. Scores of others came representing different types of interests.

With testimony over, the board began to consider World History, leading to two memorable amendments. The Tribune’s Brian Thevenot reports:

… [C]onservative member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, sought to inject modern free-market dogma into medieval Europe. Then, in turn, liberal member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, sought to inject tales of Texas Rangers hanging Mexicans — along with other examples of “American terrorism” — into a section on Middle Eastern wars and terrorism.

The board is set to give preliminary approval to the standards this week and final approval in May. Today they are set to discuss U.S. History — traditionally the flashpoint for the “culture wars.” Should be fun to watch.

CULLED

• There they go again. The U.S. Senate passed a bill yesterday that, among other things, allowed Texas to keep deducting its state sales tax on income tax returns, reports the Fort Worth Star Telegram. While the bill has obvious benefits to the state, both senators voted against it out of fiscal concerns. Sen. John Cornyn said he would support the provision "as long as it is paid for."

• Earth shattering news: The minor earthquakes that shook North Texas were likely caused by "a wastewater disposal process" performed after retrieving natural gas. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, they began seven weeks after the wastewater disposal well began operating and once the well stopped, the quakes stopped. A study by the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University reported the findings.

• Convicted murderer Joshua Maxwell is scheduled to be executed in Huntsville today. The AP writes he had no appeals pending and no requests for clemency. Maxwell, along with Tessie McFarland, went on a deadly road trip in 2000, killing several people in several states including an off-duty sergeant with the Bexar County Sheriff's Department. Maxwell will be the fourth prisoner executed this year.

MUST READ

Juárez officer slain; mayor gets threat: '2 weeks left to live'El Paso Times

House bans misleading census mailings Associated Press

An election when candidates' ethnicity became a liabilityFort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas Democratic governor hopeful White duels with Houston critic over bondsThe Dallas Morning News

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