Falling Behind is a 10-part series on the flip side of state leaders’ aggressive pursuit of the "Texas Miracle.” You can also read our related Hurting For Work series here, or subscribe to our water and education newsletters here.
The Dallas-Fort Worth region boasts a growing economy larger than that of many countries — but it also sports some of the worst air quality in the nation. Scientists fear the politics of economic growth is preventing improvements.
The Houston Ship Channel has grown in recent years and is now one of the world's most important transportation waterways. But some scientists argue the bustling channel could be vulnerable to what they say are the effects of climate change.
As state water planners prepare to spend $2 billion in public funds to address Texas’ water needs in the coming decades, scientists say that state leaders' skepticism on climate change will only impair such planning. The scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources.
Texas-based climate scientists — some of the world's most renowned — say that Texas could be a global leader in protecting against climate change. But if state agencies continue to fail to take climate change into account when planning for the state’s future, the scientists argue, Texans will suffer a direct impact.
Stacked up against other states, Texas public schools could win the best-bang-for-your-buck competition. The state spends less than most others, and its students perform better than many. But the commitment to fiscal restraint has come with its own burdens for the teachers responsible for educating the state’s future workforce.
For years,Texas policymakers have pushed for increasingly advanced science and math course requirements, along with standardized test-driven accountability, to improve academic performance at public schools. And over the last decade, students have made steady progress on a number of academic measures. But that improvement has begun to stall.
The population of Texas could nearly double by 2050, prompting some to worry that not enough is being done to avoid a future traffic nightmare and the drag on the economy that could come with it. Transportation officials say the state is billions of dollars short of what it needs to maintain traffic at current levels.
As the state's 15-year higher education plan comes to an end, some objectives in key areas — including college enrollment among certain ethnic groups and degrees awarded in math and science — are unlikely to be met. The state's plan has been credited with preventing a discouraging tide from getting worse in higher education.
Dow Chemical's struggles to secure enough water supplies for its growing operations in Texas have sparked concerns about whether the state's diminishing natural resources can accommodate its exploding population and economy. Critics, including Dow, say Texas is falling behind in planning properly for its water future.
In Texas and across the country, the birth rate among teenagers has declined significantly. But Texas has not fared as well as other states. The Lone Star State has the nation's fifth-highest birth rate among teenagers, and the highest rate of repeat teen births.