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The Brief: April 9, 2014

The Greg Abbott campaign wants to make clear it is not calling for testing of 4-year-olds.

Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott speaks to media about his education proposals at IDEA Carver Academy in San Antonio, Texas on April 2nd, 2014

The Big Conversation

The Greg Abbott campaign wants to make clear it is not calling for testing of 4-year-olds. “Suggestions to the contrary are absurd,” said Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch, as reported by the Texas Tribune's Morgan Smith and Alexa Ura. They noted the issue was raised after the GOP gubernatorial candidate's education policy proposals to improve pre-K instruction released about a week ago included calls for "assessments at the beginning and end of the year."

It was enough for Abbott's Democratic rivals to make the claim that Abbott wanted to introduced high-stakes accountability testing to the pre-K set. On Monday, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte said, "I don’t know why on earth we would want to start over-testing 3- and 4-year-olds.”

Hirsch told the Tribune the assessments mentioned in the plan were "for informational purposes only" and that Abbott "would discourage the use of standardized testing for pre-K students." The kerfuffle serves to highlight how much public opinion has swung away from the use of standardized testing in the state. The push to scale back the state's testing regimen was at the heart of reform efforts last session, and Smith and Ura noted that a push to advocate accountability testing for pre-K students "would probably be an unpopular move."

The Day Ahead

•    The second day of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library is highlighted by an address from former President Bill Clinton. Other panel discussions will feature first-person recollections of the civil rights struggle from high-profile participants and a look at the relationship between MLK and LBJ. We will livestream Clinton's address beginning at 6 p.m.

Today in the Trib

Property Tax Lending Industry Under Review Again: "Facing an interim charge to review a bill regulating property tax loans in Texas, lawmakers are taking a closer look at the controversial industry."

Analysis: Filibuster Remains Calling Card for Davis: "Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, is trying to broaden her appeal beyond the filibuster that made her famous. But in her latest fundraising mailer to supporters, that June night is front and center."

Volunteers Play Pivotal Role in Galveston Bay Cleanup Efforts: "Volunteers complained they were turned away from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup in 2010. Four years later, after another spill in Galveston Bay last month, volunteers have been helping officials determine where to send cleanup crews."

Activists Call for Mexican-American Studies Class: "Ahead of State Board of Education meetings this week, activist groups rallied in support of adding Mexican American Studies as an official Texas high school elective. But at least one board member suggested the likelihood is slim."


Immigration reform a focus on first day of Civil Rights Summit, Austin American-Statesman

Carter: prejudice allows goals of Civil Rights Act to go unrealized, Houston Chronicle

UT regent's attorney assails draft report on client's alleged misdeeds, Houston Chronicle

State agency pushes takeover of Beaumont district, The Associated Press

Karl Rove to Jeb Bush: Don’t pull a Rick Perry, Politico

Haley Barbour: Jeb Bush stance like Reagan’s, Politico

Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"I mean, that statement he made about illegal immigrants being an act of love is kind of bizarre. I grant him the complete sincerity and honesty of his view, he’s always had that kind of approach. But that’s leading with your chin."

— Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer, who was one of many conservatives put off by Jeb Bush's comments on Sunday about immigration designed to challenge the GOP orthodoxy on the issue

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    Slate's Live Political Gabfest in Austin at Scholz Garten, 4/23

•    A Panel Discussion on Keeping the Lights on in Texas at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, 4/29

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dan Branch, Candidate for Attorney General at the Austin Club, 5/8

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 5/29

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Health care Politics Greg Abbott Rick Perry Wendy Davis