Tag Archives: Texas

Monday Morning Read: TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that it’s not whether you stumble that matters but whether you get up and keep going as it brings you this week’s roundup.

As the Fifth Circuit gets set to hear arguments over Texas’ ban on same sex marriage, Off the Kuff reminds us that public opinion is much more favorable towards same sex marriage in Texas now.

Libby Shaw writing for Daily Kos and Texas Kaos believes that although we lost this election, big time, giving up is not an option. We Lost the Election but We Are Not Giving Up.

The first beatings in the Republican takeover in Harris County were administered at their election night watch party, as the media that dared to speak during a prayer experienced first-hand the love of Christ and his believers. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wonders if assaulting a reporter on camera, physically or verbally, is really what Jesus would do.

Despite the ugly results from last Tuesday, CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme refuses to be discouraged. We learn from our mistakes. PS: The Valley went for Davis.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Less than 30% of eligible voters turned out to vote in the 2014 mid-terms in Texas. Needless to say, 2014 Turnout Was Horrible.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Hair Balls informs us that the Fifth Circuit wasn’t always a judicial wingnut backwater.

John Wright updates us on Connie Wilson’s efforts to get a drivers license that properly uses her wife’s surname.

The Lunch Tray divines what the elections mean for school food.

Nonsequiteuse has a message for those who would dump on Battleground Texas.

Texas Vox says that just because air is better doesn’t mean it’s good.

and then, there’s always my post:

Dos Centavos also points out that in Texas, Latinos just didn’t vote.

Mike Collier for Texas Comptroller: Vote for the CPA

Mike Collier is running for Texas Comptroller–the State of Texas’ bean counter. You know when candidates say they are “uniquely” qualified for a position? Well, Mike’s a CPA. While he’ll have a great staff to back him up in Austin, we can be secure in the knowledge that when he is providing financial projections, talking about budgets and other financial stuff, he’ll actually know what he’s talking about. Check out his ad–one of my favorites of the season:

Greg Abbott Loses Again, School Finance System Unconstitutional

After continually under-funding public education, and then cutting $5 billion from K-12 in 2011, the Republican-led Texas Government was sued by a lot of school districts. Today, the Republicans were handed a huge loss by a district judge in Austin. The judge ruled that the way the state of Texas finances education is unconstitutional. The Republicans will likely appeal, since they support cutting K-12 funding.

Specifically, as reported by the Trib:

In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional not only because of inadequate funding and flaws in the way it distributes money to districts, but also because it imposes a de facto state property tax. Certain to be appealed by the state, the lawsuit that arose after lawmakers cut roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011 will now continue to the Texas Supreme Court.

Judge Dietz went on to explain the best reasons to support public education.

“We realize that others provided for us when we were children. We realize that children are without means to secure their education. Just as others provided for us when we were in school, now is the time when we provide for others,” he said, going on to describe the societal benefits of a well-educated population: lower crime rates, fewer people who need public assistance and a greater state income.”

The education commissioner Michael Williams, a Republican, spoke against the ruling, stating that judges shouldn’t be deciding school finance. Well, judges wouldn’t be needed if Republicans weren’t hell-bent on violating a child’s right to an education as specified in the Texas Constitution by cutting funding. So, whether it is Rick Perry appointees or other right-wing elected Republicans mouthing off against the ruling, the bottom line is that they voted to cut public education funding and have been starving K-12 (and higher education for that matter) for decades.

After Dan Patrick, a Houston state senator who is running for Lt. Governor, tried to cover up his vote against restoring some of the K-12 funding in the last legislative session by saying he chaired the committee that voted to restore the funding, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte called Patrick out in a “hypocrisy alert.”

In 2013, Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said, “Patrick was directly responsible for these same education programs not being funded…Such revisionism cannot go unchallenged.” [Texas Tribune, 06/21/13]

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, released the following statement:

“I echo Senator Williams’ sentiments. Dan Patrick was directly responsible for these education cuts, and his revisionism will not go unchallenged. Dan Patrick has shown time and time again that he does not value our neighborhood schools — he showed that when he voted twice against Texas students.

“It is time to accept responsibility and lead. We do not need another court to tell us how to do our jobs. Texans expect a quality education for their children — no excuses, no delays. It is time to put Texas first. As Lieutenant Governor, I will do exactly that.”

And there’s no doubt in my mind that Leticia Van de Putte will take the lead to protect public education and make it a top priority of the Texas legislature.

Elections matter, just like our public schools matter. If you don’t want public schools closing, or if you don’t want your kid in an overcrowded classroom, then you better make it your business to be registered to vote and show up on November 4.

Other Reaction:

Wendy Davis, Democrat for Governor:  “Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D) El Paso:  Our state has not lived up to its constitutional obligation to offer equitable and adequate educational opportunities to all Texans. Today’s court ruling is yet another opportunity to do better, especially with the 84thLegislature right around the corner. The state’s attorneys should end their battle against the Texas constitution — and our students, parents, and teachers — and allow us to move forward on a legislative solution to this issue, which is of such vital importance for the future of Texas.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D) Houston:  “Today is a victory for the school children of Texas. Judge Dietz simply confirmed what we’ve all known for years; that the state refuses time and time again to do what’s right for our children and the future of our state.”

“Today’s ruling reaffirms that Republican leadership has created an unconstitutional system which values some children more than others, yet short-changes them all.”

 

Van de Putte Releases PreK-12 Plan

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, candidate for Texas Lt. Governor, released her PK-12 plan in San Antonio today.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will:

  • Restore a strong start towards student success.
  • Maximize quality learning by reducing class sizes in Pre-K classrooms.
  • Invest in our students potential.
  • End the over-reliance on and punitive nature of standardized testing in Texas.
  • Expand student access to broadband and ensure quality blended learning.

Pretty standard stuff; however, these are issues long-ignored by the Republicans and Van de Putte’s opponent, Dan Patrick, is more interested in de-funding public schools.

What I found exciting about the plan was a commitment to increasing preparedness. As it stands, 1/3 of university students are enrolled in remedial courses and 1/2 of community college students are enrolled in remedial courses.

That said, I’m looking forward to Van de Putte’s higher education policy that hopefully addresses curtailing tuition increases by investing more in our colleges and universities, and college issues, such as state financial aid, college retention and graduation, intrusive college advising, etc. At least those are the kind of things in which this blogger is interested.

FIEL Collecting Clothing for Refugee Children

Local immigrant rights organization, FIEL, posted on Facebook that they were collecting clothing and other supplies for the unaccompanied minors who are currently being housed across the state. They posted as follows:

In an effort to help out the humanitarian crisis along the border FIEL Houston will begin collecting supplies for the unaccompanied minors: We need the following items:
1. Gently worn (clean) children clothing
2. Childrens undergarments in new packages (ages 2 -17)
3. Toothbrushes
4. Toothpaste
5. Deodorants
6. Body Soap
7. Shampoo
8. Socks
9 Children Shoes
10. Backpacks and or large plastic bags to make welcome packages.

More info to come as the need arises.

We will also be needing volunteers soon to help put welcome packages together. But we will let you all know of specific opportunities for that.

All donations may be dropped off at FIEL HQ at 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 for more info please call (713)364-3435

PLEASE SHARE

En un esfuerzo para ayudar con la crisis humanitaria en la frontera, FIEL Houston empezara a recolectar articulos para los inmigrantes niños sin acompañamiento. Necesitamos los siguientes articulos:
1. Ropa para niñ@s en buens condiciones y limpia
2. Ropa interior para niños/as en paquetes nuevos (edades 2 a 17)
3. Cepillos de dientes
4. Pasta de dientes
5. Desodorantes
6. Jabon de Cuerpo
7. Shampoo
8. Calcetines
9. Zapatos para niños/as
10. Mochilas y/ o bolsas de plastico grandes para hacer paquetes de bienvenida.

Tendremos mas informacion conforme se nos presente.

Tambien estaremos necesitando voluntarios pronto para armas los paquetes de bienvenida. Les dejaremos saber de oportunidades especificas para eso.

Todas las donaciones pueden ser traidas a la oficinas de FIEL localizada en el 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 para mas informes por favor llamen al (713)364-3435

Update on Refugee Situation and Opportunities

LUPE, the Rio Grande Valley group who called for a Facebook bomb of Wendy Davis’ FB page, has pulled its call after a letter from Davis to President Barack Obama was released.

In the letter was a call by Davis for the Obama administration to provide more attorneys guardian ad litem to ensure fair legal representation of the refugee children while they go through the process.

“First, by [the administration] providing a sufficient number of immigration judges and attorneys guardian ad litem for unaccompanied minor children immediately. This will assure a sufficient number of judges and ad litems so that adults and children processed by the border patrol will receive an immediate and fair hearing on their immigration requests and, where appropriate, be repatriated to their native country.”

This is different than the letter she sent to Rick Perry, which called on him to ask Obama for more immigration judges to expedite proceedings, but not ad litems. According to LUPE, they believe legal representation will at least provide the children a fighting chance to win their asylum/refugee cases, rather than get swept up by a punitive mass deportation program. This seems to have been enough for LUPE to end its Facebook bomb request. Other activists are still on a holding pattern as to what is next. My opinion is that this is a long process in a challenging system in which there are few winners, and is clogged by delays that even doubling the amount of immigration judges will not relieve. Immediate needs must be addressed.

Davis also explains her request to Rick Perry to call a state of emergency and special session to discuss the humanitarian needs  of refugees provided by local first-responders and charities. Perry has already stated that allocating the money without a session to law enforcement is enough, which means he has no desire to respond to humanitarian needs of the refugees.

Finally, Davis calls on the Obama administration to reimburse state and local governments for all expenses incurred during this crisis. We all know this is easier requested than actually obtained, considering the Republicans Congress would rather lay blame on policies such as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, than actually attempt to come up with and pay for a sensible solution that doesn’t require armed militias and border walls.

That said, this is an ongoing crisis that requires immediate assistance for relief of overcrowded facilities, health risks within these facilities, and developing alternatives to detention that will lessen the burden and cost of warehousing these refugees. Long-term solutions, though, will continue to be a challenge as long as President Obama and Congress continue their political games on immigration reform and deportations that do little to include challenges such as refugee crises. Considering we have known of these refugees since at least 2006, it can be said that ignoring the problem began with George W. Bush in office, if one wants to go on playing games.

In the political sense, Wendy Davis has an opportunity to go above the current conversation and help craft a strong Texas-Latin America policy campaign plank that could serve as a model for the nation that concentrates on improving conditions on both sides of the border–economically and socially–given our economic power and diversity as a state, without the need for punitive, enforcement-only notions. Obviously, the alternative in Abbott-Patrick is not only bad, but a threat to the future of Texas and relations with Latin America.

As has been stated previously, State Senator Wendy Davis has been a defender of the Texas DREAM Act, which allows for in-state tuition for children of immigrants who have been in the state for a certain amount of time. Signed into law by Rick Perry, this can hardly be blamed on President Obama. Davis has also supported a call for comprehensive immigration reform. Abbott-Patrick are obviously more interested in blame games and right-wing rhetoric. Refugee situations, though, have hardly ever been addressed by state governments.

Texas is in need of cooler heads that don’t cause panic; while panic is all the Republicans are interested in causing. Obviously, the refugee/asylum system is not part of a governor’s job description, but our state elected officials must be proactive in addressing these situations toward a positive end for all involved, rather than play politics. That’s the bigger challenge, and if we follow the words of Bishop Doyle, we should come out just fine.

History instead will note how Texas took care of the children that came to her. History may yet tell a tale about how we were made stronger by facing our crisis courageously instead of casting blame for political gain. History may tell how innovative Texans resolved to ensure the health and safety of all those who sought her aid while increasing the economic success of their society. It is my hope that history will tell future generations about how this generation remembered the Texas motto of friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic Leaders React to Debate, Patrick

State Senator Sylvia R. Garcia (Houston):  “We have not learned the lessons from the mistakes of Arizona. State government needs to get out of the immigration business. Senator Leticia Van de Putte knows that immigration reform is critical and that it takes more than rhetoric to lead. She knows where we’ve been and she knows where we’re going. She has the strength and foresight to bring Texas into the future.”

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (SA):  “Dan Patrick and the Texas GOP ought to work with and for the Latino community, instead they have been placing targets on their backs. They should know better. Dan Patrick is the embodiment of the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant Republican Party platform. He’s anti-Dream Act, anti-early childhood education, anti-immigration reform, and anti-voting rights. Dan Patrick is reason why Republican Latino outreach is a joke.

I know where my community stands, I know who they stand with: it’s with Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (El Paso):  “Tonight, the people of El Paso experienced the real Dan Patrick. One who refers to our border regions as war zones and who does not recognize the rich culture between the United States and Mexico. We need leaders who understand how important family values and unity are to the Latino community. We need a strong female leader, and that leader is Leticia Van de Putte.”

State Rep. Armando Martinez (RGV):  “We need a Lt. Governor who fights for all Texans, not one who insults our region to score political points. Politicians like Dan Patrick continue to exploit border communities for political gain. His divisive language – the fact that he compares my home region as a war zone being invaded – shows just how out-of-touch he is with our community. This is why we need leaders like Leticia Van de Putte. Leaders who will fight for the future of our children no matter what background they come from.”

State Rep. Celia Israel (Austin): “Families in Central Texas and the Latino community understand education is the key to a better future.  I received that message loud and clear in my recent election as I talked directly to voters.  It seems Dan Patrick has yet to understand what voters are most concerned with.  Dan Patrick and his allies can’t have it both ways. He can’t try to court us while attempting to lessen educational opportunities for our kids.. His harsh rhetoric will not be forgotten by the voters this November when we elect Leticia Van de Putte as our next Lt. Governor.”

Leticia Van de Putte Campaign Statement:  “Tonight Dan Patrick repeatedly spoke of his vision of Texas in which there is only “one seat left” and of a Texas that no longer has a can-do spirit. Our state deserves a leader who will learn from the mistakes of Pete Wilson and Jan Brewer and fight for more seats and more opportunity for every hardworking Texan. That leader is Senator Leticia Van de Putte. That is why Republicans and business leaders across Texas are standing with Senator Van de Putte.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chairman:  “Mayor Castro did an excellent job tonight, valiantly representing our democratic values.  Dan Patrick showed us once again that Republicans do not represent mainstream Texans. Patrick does not understand that border communities in Texas are an important piece of the vibrant Texas economy. Texas needs a leader who understands business and what makes our state so exceptional, someone who understands the international relationships and rich, uniquely Texan culture pivotal to a prosperous future. Texas needs Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.”

Texas Gets a Hire in DNCs Voter Expansion Project

Recently, you may have heard of a video VP Joe Biden made to bolster voting rights in America. In fact, it is part of a push by the Democratic National Committee to expand voting in America, ensuring voting rights for all Americans. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz announced four new hires in Ohio and Texas–two states in which voter protection has become a priority.

“With our state party partners, we have a national infrastructure and team of experts that no other organization can bring to bear,” she said in a statement.  “Voting laws are rapidly changing, and our Voter Expansion Project will make sure that Democrats – and all voters – across the country are able to exercise their right to vote and make their voices heard.”

In Texas, it was announced today that the project’s state director will be Sondra Haltom whose work protecting the rights of voters during a stint at the Texas Democratic Party is widely known.

A native Houstonian, Haltom has 15 years of experience working on election issues like ballot access, voter suppression prevention, redistricting and more. In December 2012, she founded Empower The Vote Texas (ETVT), a non-profit organization dedicated to voting rights and election reform issues. ETVT tracked election legislation proposed in both the Texas Legislature and U.S. Congress, monitored litigation on voting rights, served as a resource on Texas election law, and educated Texans about the voting process.

“Protecting and expanding the right to vote has long been a struggle in Texas but the challenges have been magnified in recent years,” said Haltom. “In order to fight back against the barriers being erected to voter participation, it is vital that this work happen year-round. That’s why I am so excited to be a part of the DNC’s effort to ensure that all eligible Texans are able to fully participate in their democracy.”

Prior to starting ETVT, Haltom served for seven years as the Political Director for the Texas Democratic Party where she built and lead the TDP’s Voter Protection Program and their efforts to fight illegal redistricting maps, voter suppression efforts and voter ID legislation. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University.

Here’s more from President Bill Clinton on the project.

Hi- and Low-Lites from the SBOE Hearing

No doubt, there was some great testimony by supporters of Mexican American Studies, including DC-friend, Tony “Librotraficante” Diaz and Recognized author Dagoberto Gilb. Of course, Mexican American Studies was promoted and defended effectively, and it was made known that this would basically be a state-sanctioned elective whose curriculum would be developed and approved by the State and offered to the entire state. It’s a pretty simple proposal.

According to Juan Tejeda, faculty advisor at the Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, stated that 40 individuals testified in favor of the proposal, and only one testified against it.

The AP released this report.

The discussions also likely will preview some of the coming clashes over the content of new social studies textbooks the board is set to approve for use in classrooms across Texas this fall. In 2010, then Democratic board member Mary Helen Berlanga even stormed out of a meeting on social studies curriculum after failing in her efforts to include more lessons on Hispanic leaders, declaring: “We can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

The best question asked of the SBOE:

Still, that did beg for some questions that didn’t make much sense, but do speak to any future clashes over what is taught in the course.

As Diaz noted, the course would have to be approved first before any discussion of what is included could be had.

Obviously, Mercer was attempting to make things political in nature, rather than educational. But I agree with Diaz that if he wants to be a part of the discussion, what better way to get involved than by voting yes.

As far as Cruz’s inclusion, it could be said that maybe 65% of Mexican American voters chose the Anglo Democrat over Cruz and that Cruz constantly votes against Mexican American interests (health care, jobs, education/college aid). At least that’s what I’d contribute. That’s if Mercer really wants to get political. Otherwise, let’s make it about educating kids and move forward.

There was another question about whether indigenous Guatemalans were similar to indigenous Mexicans from SBOE member Hardy, whom I called out yesterday for basically saying Mexican American Studies came from Mexico. At least that’s what I think I heard. But that one would just be too easy to ridicule, considering she’s been a social studies teacher.

One thing is for sure. The naysayers effectively prove through their ignorance that Mexican American Studies is needed.

 

Note to SBOE Member: You Sound Ignorant

So, there is an article in the Chron (behind paywall) about the upcoming vote on Mexican American Studies at the Texas State Board of Education. It’s no secret that, although there is one Republican who supports the measure, the entire opposition is made up of Republicans. I’m hoping a few more can be convinced to support the measure, but these folks seem to be against it.

Some, like the head of the board, attempt to explain it away.

“I think it is up to the local school districts whether or not to offer a Mexican-American studies course,” board chairman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands

Some attempt to play “divide and conquer”:

“I’m Irish,” says board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont. “So I’d like to propose an amendment to create an Irish-American Studies class.”

Then, others are downright ignorant and just plain racist, if that was her intent. I hope it wasn’t.

“We’re citizens of the United States, not citizens of Mexico.” Patricia Hardy R-Weatherford.

Let me explain to Ms. Hardy:  Mexican Americans ARE Americans!!! The social, political, and cultural history of Mexican Americans and their impact on Texas is often left out of textbooks and the classrooms for various reason. What kind of an ignorant comment is that?

And to David Bradley:  Really? Well, If there is a group of activists knocking on your door with a viable and sincere request for Irish American Studies, let them in. Otherwise, your little game is a tad immature.

And Ms. Cargill and the rest:  What are you afraid of?

I’ll let my friend, HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche explain it:

“We want to have a culturally and historically relevant high school course that aligns to the TEKS,” she says, referring to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, curriculum standards that the state creates for various classes. “We want the course to be well developed and well defined. If we don’t develop the TEKS, it can get lost in the shuffle.”

Some say we are wasting our breath because the Republicans are hell-bent on being anti-Latino, no matter what the issue may be. That may be so. But if they think that voting down the measure will end the conversation, they are wrong.

It is much simpler to vote to support Mexican American Studies and move forward. Moving backwards certainly shouldn’t be an option. It wasn’t an option for Texas’ heroes that are in our textbooks, and moving backwards was not an option for Mexican Americans who fought to move forward despite the opposition and the odds.