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The Brief: May 21, 2010

The SBOE's last day, Dallas could turn all "wet," El Paso ranked one of the safest cities in the U.S. and the truth behind the BP oil spill.

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The Texas State Board of Education, following a marathon of ideological wrangling earlier this week, is expected to call a final vote on its controversial social studies textbook curriculum today. The move could finally refocus the nation’s attention on 49 other states it might want to collectively mock, scorn or ridicule, giving Texas a break after months of having its dirty laundry aired over national, and sometimes international, airwaves.

It might also save board members from themselves. As the Tribune’s Brian Thevenot reports today, the board trudged through more than 12 hours of infighting Thursday, with some of the SBOE’s Democratic minority losing precious patience as the clock inched closer to midnight.

According to Thevenot’s take:

“They had been nitpicking the state’s history standards and each other since 9 a.m. that morning, and some Democrats in the bunch — losing all the votes, as usual — were wearing a little thin. ‘I want to know when you’re going to let me go to sleep,’ said member Lawrence Allen, D-Fresno, to chairwoman Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, at one point. Then someone mentioned adjournment, and the board’s conservative majority shot that down, too.”

Included in the nit-picking were issues that included inserting President Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, into text when the curriculum mentioned the country’s first minority president, and prominent inclusion of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address.

The SBOE reconvenes at 9 a.m. today and could mark what some hope, and what others fear, is the final day of debate over the material that will influence Texas’ public-school students for years to come.


  • Despite the fear raised over what some call a porous border where cartel-violence barely passes through a sieve and lands in Texas, the City of El Paso — yes, the same West Texas metropolis that neighbors the most violent city in North America, Ciudad Juarez — is the second-safest city in the country. That’s according to an El Paso Times report that cites recent data from CQ Press. According to the article: “Violent crime in El Paso — which was ranked the No. 3 safest large city last year — has remained steady even as a drug war has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Juárez since it began in January 2008.”
  • If you live in North Dallas and are tired of being forced to drive into the City of Addison to buy a six-pack, or even a tall boy for that matter, then pay attention. Progress Dallas, a group vying to eliminate the City of Dallas’ mapping of “dry” and “wet” areas, announced Thursday it collected more than 217,000 petition signatures to place the issue before voters next election. The Dallas Morning News reports that the group hopes voters, once they realize the potential tax-revenue gains the change could bring to the city, will change the “outdated” laws.
  • BP’s latest effort to capture the thousands of barrels of oil that have been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico daily since last month has proved somewhat successful. The measure has also revealed that the company – and the government – downplayed the initial estimates of just how much crude was leaking from a busted line a mile beneath the surface. A report in the Houston Chronicle states that BP estimates approximately 5,000 barrels are being captured daily. That also equals the total amount the company said was leaking but video shows that despite the progress, oil is still “billowing into the water almost a mile below the surface of the Gulf.”


Cisneros left out of history booksHouston Chronicle

Calderón urges U.S. to ban assault riflesSan Antonio Express-News

Fort Hancock baseball team success replaces drug violence worriesEl Paso Times

The Parent TrapTexas Observer

A step to artificial life: Manmade DNA powers cellThe Associated Press

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