TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Feb. 28, 2011

Ramshaw and Stiles on the tepid growth of Big D during the last decade, Hamilton talks immigration with state Rep. Leo Berman, M. Smith on Texas education's Race to the Top efforts and more: The best of our best content from Feb. 28 to March 4, 2011.

Big D may need a new nickname. Despite a surging state population, the city of Dallas grew by a paltry 1 percent in the last decade — a rate lower than any of the 20 largest cities in Texas.

In 2009, state Rep. Leo Berman's bills — like the ones restricting illegal immigrants to certain geographical regions and denying them access to higher education — failed to gain traction. But with a Republican supermajority now in control, this could very well be the session of Leo.

The Obama administration’s education budget includes $900 million for the Race to the Top program. And this time around, there’s a twist: Individual districts — as opposed to states — can apply for the funds.

Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, took a brief time-out during his visit to Austin to talk about trade with Mexico, public perception of the Obama administration, Dallas politics and his own political future.

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Facing an unprecedented budget shortfall, some state lawmakers are questioning whether public schools spend too much on administration — specifically, on pay for superintendents. Use this table to sort those records by salary, district enrollment and pay per student, and see how each superintendent ranks.

Texas lawmakers and citizens are out to protect their interests this session, especially as the Legislature deals with a massive budget shortfall. In the process, it appears they're ratcheting up their rhetoric. Do their fighting words represent politics as usual or a serious lapse in civil discourse? 

It sounds simple: Who owns the groundwater in Texas? But this issue, like others in the hot-button area of aquifer planning, is embroiled in an ongoing policy battle.

You don't need a new map to find the political trouble spots in Texas — and by trouble, we mean officeholders who are vulnerable in the redistricting process. 

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