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The Brief: April 29, 2010

Lawmakers fought the latest battle in the State Board of Education wars at a Capitol hearing yesterday.

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Lawmakers fought the latest battle in the State Board of Education wars at a Capitol hearing yesterday.

Next month, the SBOE will take a final vote on the controversial social studies standards it has adopted, and at yesterday’s proceedings, legislators denounced the revisions and urged the postponement of their final approval.

Teachers, academics and advocacy groups spoke out at the daylong hearing sponsored by the Legislative Black Caucus and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, where witnesses pointed out the omission of Barack Obama’s name in a section about the first black president.

Members of the caucuses said they would ask for a delay in the approval process, saying they wanted to look into whether the board worked in conjunction with teachers and the public, as mandated by statute, in adopting their almost 300 amendments.

"Clearly, the whitewashing of the civil rights movement and advancement of Latinos, African-Americans and women has made the Texas State Board of Education the laughingstock of the nation," said state Rep. Norma Chávez, D-El Paso. The Liberty Institute’s Jonathan Saenz called the hearing a “one-side hearing ... with cherry-picked members of left-wing advocacy groups and academia.”

Today, the Legislature will take up another education-related topic: an interim meeting of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee will consider the effect of school disciplinary laws on the juvenile justice system, particularly “zero-tolerance” legislation that mandates punishments without regard to circumstance.


· Because of less-than-spirited participation in the U.S. Census, Texas is close to losing out on congressional seats. The state was expected to gain four U.S. House seats when they are redistributed next year, but based on current participation rates, is now on track for only three. Check out The Texas Tribune’s county-by-county participation map to see how your county fares.

· It keeps getting worse. A third leak has sprung in an undersea oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, where an oil spill is threatening the Louisiana coastline. Yesterday, the Coast Guard set fire to portions of the slick in the hopes of limiting the amount that reaches environmentally sensitive areas. British Petroleum COO Doug Suttles says the leak may not have increased the flow greatly but that “there is no way to put a meter on this flow rate.”

· On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld criminal charges against John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, meaning the case against them — and former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R- Sugar Land — related to their work for DeLay’s political action committee will proceed at the trial court level. In 2005, the Travis County district attorney charged Coryandro, Ellis and DeLay with money laundering for allegedly funneling $190,000 through the Republican National Committee back to the Sugar Land Republican’s state PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority.

"I do know about you Texans. I know enough about you that when I got here, it was all Democrats." — Vice President Joe Biden, blaming the country’s fiscal problems on George W. Bush in a talk to Texas Democrats at a Washington fundraising reception.


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