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The Brief: Jan. 30, 2015

In a week where the news was driven to a large degree by rallies on the Capitol grounds — from open carry activists to anti-Muslim protesters — it's perhaps fitting that the week closes with another one.

A look at the Texas Capitol before the inaugural festivities begin.

The Big Conversation

In a week where the news was driven to a large degree by rallies on the Capitol grounds — from open carry activists to anti-Muslim protesters — it's perhaps fitting that the week closes with another one. This time, it's school choice activists who will be marching on the Capitol in what's being touted as the largest-ever school choice rally in Texas.

Drawing attention ahead of the event, writes the Tribune's Morgan Smith, is the expected attendance of significant numbers of children.

Many of the rally's attendees will be young students — attending as part of their school day. 

Four schools in the Austin area will be sending their students to the rally, said Dioceses of Austin spokesman Christian Gonzalez, adding that he expected at least one school from each of the state’s 14 dioceses to participate. 

...

Parents at the Cathedral School of Saint Mary in downtown Austin received notice earlier this week that students in fifth through eighth grade would be going to the event, said Patrick Sutton, whose has two children there.

Sutton said when he learned more about the event, he was “pretty perplexed and upset” that students would take part in it as a school activity because of its political overtones.

When he asked for clarification from school administration, Sutton said he was told his fifth-grade student could stay behind while the rest of the class attended.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will speak at 10:30 a.m. at the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Austin.

•    U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is the keynote speaker at the Dallas County GOP Reagan Day celebration on Friday evening.

Trib Must-Reads

State of Mind: Investing in Early Education, by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn

Friday Night Football Returns to Water Politics, by Neena Satija

Senator Donna Campbell Wants to Ban Foreign Control of Alamo, by Eva Hershaw

Drought Summit Offers Help to Organic Farmers, by Eva Hershaw

Rand Paul Taps Texas GOP Chairman as Adviser, by Jim Malewitz

State Will Close Three More Charter Schools, by Ryan McCrimmon

McRaven Letter Takes Aim at Campus Carry, by Reeve Hamilton

TxDOT: Toll Billing Problems Being Addressed, by Aman Batheja

Study Touts Community Programs for Juvenile Offenders, by Ryan McCrimmon

Public Integrity Unit Will Not Prosecute AG Paxton, by Edgar Walters

Rep to Staff: Ask Muslim Visitors to Pledge Allegiance, by Reeve Hamilton and Alexa Ura

Abbott: Replace Tech Incentive Fund With Higher Ed Fund, by Edgar Walters

Perry All but Confirms Run for President on Fox News, by Alana Rocha

Elsewhere

Rick Perry lands speaking-circuit gig, San Antonio Express-News

Dan Patrick staffers meet with open carry activists, San Antonio Express-News

Imam’s rodeo prayer turns into Facebook dust-up, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

$20 billion in cuts speak to state of oil firm finances, Houston Chronicle

Central Texas teachers often struggle becoming certified, KXAN-TV

Former EPISD administrator sentenced to five years supervised probation for role in cheating scandal, El Paso Times

GOP Money Race: 32 Neighborhoods to Watch, Wall Street Journal

University of Texas Endowment Tops $25 Billion, Passing Yale, Bloomberg

Quote to Note

“It’s easy to sit in a movie and watch Selma, The Butler or The Help and lament ‘how could people be so blind and mean.’ It's a lot harder to do life and practice Selma with people of different colors and religions and acknowledge your own bigotry.”

— Bob Roberts, senior pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, confronting some Christians' intolerance of Muslims

Today in TribTalk

Obama's college plan may be Texas' least bad option, by A. Mechele Dickerson

News From Home

As our reporters follow bills on key social issues during the 84th legislative session, they'll keep you updated on gay rights legislation. Stay caught up during the session with our 84th Lege page.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Adm. William McRaven, UT System Chancellor on Feb. 5 at The Austin Club

•    Houston & the Legislature: Previewing the 84th Session on Feb. 12 at the Wortham Center in Houston

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro on Feb. 19 at The Austin Club

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

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