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The Brief: Oct. 6, 2015

A new controversy has flared over a state-approved social studies textbook, this time spurred by a parent angered by the text's description of the Atlantic slave trade as something that "brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States."

State Board of Education members work their way through proposed revisions to social studies textbooks at a meeting with publishers in Austin on Monday, October 20, 2014.

The Big Conversation

A new controversy has flared over a state-approved social studies textbook, this time spurred by a parent angered by the text's description of the Atlantic slave trade as something that "brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States."

As the Tribune's Kiah Collier writes, a video made by the parent that has been posted to Facebook has garnered more than 1.7 million views. And it has caused the textbook publisher to promise changes.

McGraw-Hill posted a statement on Facebook that reads in part, "our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.

"We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.”

Collier goes on to note that this text was approved by the State Board of Education, "along with a slew of other materials, last fall after a months-long review process in which academics and others detailed what they perceived as crucial flaws — or omissions — in the texts, including inaccurate descriptions of world religions and out-of-date racial terminology."

Trib Must Reads

Texas Cases Factor in New Supreme Court Term, by Jordan Rudner – The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session, and the upcoming term will feature at least two cases from Texas — if not more. The justices will look at voting rights, UT-Austin admissions and — maybe — the state's new abortion restrictions.  

Lawmakers Jump into Tussle Over God's Trust, by Johnathan Silver – A furor involving a small-town Texas police department and national secular organization has reached the state attorney general's office, and may well wind up in court after that. At issue: does slapping "In God We Trust" stickers on police patrol cars violate the U.S. constitution?  

Analysis: Names Might Change, but Not Party Labels, by Ross Ramsey – By the numbers, there are some federal and state legislative districts in Texas that can be considered competitive in November general elections. There just aren't many of them.

Paxton Asks Supreme Court to Reject Abortion Case, by Alexa Ura – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a request from a coalition of abortion providers to take up their legal challenge to the state’s strict abortion restrictions. 

In Final BP Deal, Texas to Get $800 Million for Gulf, by Jim Malewitz – Texas and four other Gulf Coast states have reached a final settlement with BP stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the U.S. Department of Justice and states announced Monday. The Texas share totals more than $800 million in money and restoration projects.  

Dewhurst to Pay Debts to Consultants, by Jay Root – Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he is finally paying off the nearly $1 million in debts owed to campaign consultants and vendors since his lopsided loss to Ted Cruz in the 2012 U.S. Senate race.  

Report: Abortion Restrictions Led to Longer Wait Times, by Alexa Ura – Wait times to get an abortion in Texas have grown in some metropolitan areas, a trend that could be felt statewide if the Supreme Court allows the strictest provision of the state’s 2013 abortion law to take effect.     

The Day Ahead

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will moderate a discussion on the future of criminal justice in Texas with state Reps. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and James White, R-Woodville, as well as Derek Cohen of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Douglas Smith of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. The event starts at noon at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. Can't make it? Watch the livestream on the Tribune's website.


As Texas abortion clinics close, second-term abortions will spikeSlate

Ebola nurse Nina Pham’s lawsuit against Texas Health Resources will continue, The Dallas Morning News

Texas set to buy 3 buildings near Alamo amid revamp project, The Associated Press

Little middle ground emerges at UT’s second forum on campus carryAustin American-Statesman

US, states announce settlement with BP over gulf oil spill, The Associated Press

Pardons board vote clears way for Houston killer's execution, Houston Chronicle

Ethics commission boosts disclosure requirements for 'dark money' groupsSan Antonio Express-News

Texas abortion law doesn’t burden women, Paxton tells courtAustin American-Statesman

Lawmakers ask AG Ken Paxton: Can Texas police departments display ‘In God We Trust’ on patrol cars?, The Dallas Morning News

Border Patrol parent agency issues custody standards, The Associated Press

Dallas County may drop idea of “living wage” for janitors, other contract workers, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people including jihadists that are coming here to murder innocent Americans.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on the Obama Administration’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. 

Today in TribTalk

A Derailment Ahead for Freight Service?, by Peter LeCody – Much of what we take for granted in our daily lives is shipped by freight rail. And those same railcars could be sitting idle by Jan. 1 if Congress keeps playing a waiting game.

Seeing Red in the Texas Senate, by Mark Jones – Take a look at the voting records of the nine freshmen Texas state senators this year, and you'll see that seven were significantly more conservative than their predecessors.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin

•    A Conversation with Political Commentator Paul Begala on Oct. 15 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Trivia Night on Oct. 18 in Austin

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

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