Red received this in his inbox today from University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves:
I’m writing today with great news. The UT System Board of Regents — under the leadership of Chairman Kevin Eltife — has voted unanimously to establish a $160 million endowment to expand financial aid for middle- and low-income UT Austin students beginning next year.
Starting in fall semester 2020, in-state undergraduate students with need from families that earn up to $65,000 a year will receive financial assistance to completely cover their UT tuition as part of our Texas Advance Commitment. And students with financial need from families with incomes of up to $125,000 will also receive some amount of assured financial aid.
Half of the families in Texas earned less than $60,000 in 2017. So, today’s expansion of the Texas Advance Commitment program means that beginning in 2020, we will be able to cover the tuition for eligible undergraduate students from families earning at or slightly above the median household income level.
This action by the Board of Regents is an investment in the future of our students. It is also one of the largest commitments ever made to improving college affordability among the nation’s leading public research universities. I thank the Board of Regents for their decision today. And I am especially grateful to Chairman Eltife for prioritizing Texas students.
This is an important day for The University of Texas at Austin. You should be proud. I couldn’t be prouder.
Red is proud. This is a big deal for many Texas families. When Red and friends went to state schools in Texas (way back in the day) it was for all practical purposes free. If you couldn’t scrape up the $250 or so per semester to pay for your tuition and fees, you weren’t really trying very hard. Usually, the books cost more – but you could buy used and trade them back in at the end of the semester. We were the lucky ones. Thanks to previous Poor Idiot Governors (Rick Perry Red is calling you out) – tuition increases at state schools have strained budgets for many Texas families. And the fact is – the UT System has had the money to do this for many years. It was way overdue. Nonetheless, better late than never.
El Paso attorney Steve Fischer is arguing for a break from the Lone Star State. Fischer thinks that El Paso gets no respect and that it would be better off seceding and hooking up with the Land of Enchantment (aka New Mexico). El Paso is separated from the rest of Texas by a time zone and a lot of empty space and most Texans have never been there unless they were passing through on the way to California. And as Fischer points out, there has never been a state-wide official elected from the capable ranks of El Pasoans. Fischer also complains (rightfully) that El Paso is the step-child when it comes to higher education with only one 4 year university (UTEP) that has never been pushed for Tier One status and never asked to play ball with the other Texas schools. El Paso is also the largest city in the country without a law school (views could differ on the benefits there – but who knew?).
The rest of the state doesn’t seem to understand us. Maybe it’s time to break up. Texas Republicans should be happy to get rid of El Paso because we are an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Democrats may prefer to keep us, but what did they do for us when they were in power?
Our marriage to Texas has gotten old. New Mexico is younger and more attractive. We would not be ignored, especially because we would be their largest city. Grant us a divorce and we won’t even request the back support. If there are any El Pasoans who think we need a wall to protect us, take ‘em. You can have custody and everyone will be better off.
From the Annals of Civil Disobedience – In 1968, 400 high school students from Edgewood HS in San Antonio walked out of class and marched to the Edgewood ISD administration office. The EISD was overwhelmingly Hispanic with 90% of students of Mexican heritage. The students were complaining about inadequate supplies and unqualified teachers.
The walk-out resulted in further action. In July, Demetrio Rodríguez and seven other Edgewood parents filed suit on behalf of Texas schoolchildren who were poor or resided in school districts with low property-tax bases. The problem resulted from the numerous school districts in Texas. Bexar County incorporates all or part of 19 different school districts – many of which were set up to segregate students of different races. EISD had one of the highest tax rates in the county but raised only $37 per pupil, while Alamo Heights, Bexar County’s wealthiest district, raised $413 per student. Because of the vastly different appraised value of the property in the districts, the tax rate per $100 property value needed to equalize education funding was only $0.68 for Alamo Heights but a punishing $5.76 for Edgewood.
Thus, began the decades long fight over school funding in Texas. The Rodriguez case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court which ultimately ruled against Rodríguez, holding that Texas’ school financing did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and punted the issue back to Texas. The Court also held that the state would not be required to subsidize poorer school districts. But this was not the end as most observers know and the fight over school funding continues.
Sen. Ted Cruz (TP – Texas) has put out a pathetic attempt of parody song attempting to smear his opponent Beto O’Rourke with the following line:
“Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.”
Of course, Rafael Edward Cruz felt no such similar need to fit in. He just used Ted because he was a big fan of Ted Kennedy. Red has to admit that Lyin’ Rafael has a ring to it. What it does show is that Lyin’ Ted learned from the beating he took at the hands of Trump. Go after your opponent no matter what your personal circumstance might happen to be. Trump was the consummate liar and crooked businessman – so he reversed that by calling his opponents liars and crooks. Lyin’ Ted has a name that would not fit in well with his conservative base – so attack your opponent for using a nickname that was given to him and that he has carried since birth it would seem. The only problem for Lyin’ Ted is that such a strategy may work for a once-in-a-lifetime political anomaly like Trump – it probably doesn’t work if you are already an unlikable, stick-up-your-ass narcissist like Lyin’ Ted.
From the Annals of Segregation – In 1946, Heman Sweatt met with University of Texas President Theophilus S. Painter and other university officials to present a formal request for admission to the UT School of Law. Sweatt was accompanied by representatives of the NAACP. Sweatt had already agreed to sue UT if he was denied admission and present a test case for the integration of higher education in Texas. UT denied him admission. Painter informed him that although his credentials were adequate enough he could not allow him to enter UT. As one court put it, “he possessed every essential qualification for admission, except that of race, upon which ground alone his application was denied.” The Texas Attorney General Grover Sellers backed up Painter’s decision. Sweatt filed suit against Painter on May 16, 1946. The trial court found that under the “separate but equal” doctrine, Texas had to build an equal law school within a six month time frame. After six months had passed the judge threw out the case because Texas A&M had planned a resolution to provide a legal education for blacks. Sweatt, with the backing of the NAACP, appealed. The case finally reached the United States Supreme Court in June of 1950. The Supreme Court held that black students were not offered an equal quality law education in the state of Texas, and as a result UT would have to admit qualified black applicants. On September 19, 1950, Sweatt registered for classes at the UT School of Law. However, as a result of the tremendous amount of stress and emotional trauma from the long drawn out court cases Sweatt’s mental and physical health had taken a turn for the worse. He later withdrew from the school.
From the Annals of Higher Education – In 1925, University Junior College (now San Antonio College) opened in San Antonio with an enrollment of 200 students. SAC is the oldest public junior college in Texas still in operation. The first classes met in the Main High School building. The school was initially under the administration of the University of Texas, but the state attorney general ruled in December 1925 that operation of a junior college by the University of Texas violated the state constitution. The college was renamed San Antonio Junior College and control was given over to the San Antonio board of education for the second year of operation. The school was given its current name in 1948, and relocated to a thirty-seven-acre campus on San Pedro Avenue in the Tobin Hill district. SAC is now operated by the Alamo Community College District. The college has an average semester enrollment of 22,028 credit students and an average annual enrollment of 16,000 other-than-credit students. San Antonio College is the largest single-campus community college in Texas.
Image of the Gnome Ranger – official mascot of SAC.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (TP) really, really wanted a vote on one of his pet projects – school vouchers. After getting the increasingly right-wing Texas senate to pass a bill that would create education savings accounts allowing parents to remove children from public schools and send them to private alternatives, and provide tax breaks for businesses offering donations to help pay for private schooling. The measure went down in flames in the Texas House – about the last bastion of occasional sanity in GOP-dominated Texas politics. The House voted 103-44 to reject Patrick’s plan. Democrats and rural Republicans torpedoed any chance of passage. Republicans wonder how they sell a bill that would reduce public school funding to parents who actually like public schools and have a harder time selling Patrick’s patchwork plan to rural voters where the public schools are the only option.
The Houston Chronicle ranks Texas colleges and universities on a liberal/conservative scale. Not surprisingly, Texas A&M is ranked as the most conservative institution in the state. On the liberal side, most Aggies would have chosen UT-Austin (or TU as the disrespectful Aggies would have it). Wrong! UT-Austin ranks as the 7th most liberal school in the Red state. St. Edwards University in Austin is the most liberal college in Texas.
From the Annals of Higher Education – In 1867, Jessie Andrews was born in Washington, Mississippi. Andrews moved to Texas with her family in 1874 and her mother Margaret Miller Andrews operated a boarding house near the State Capitol. Andrews graduated from Austin High. After graduation, Andrews took the entrance exam for the University of Texas and became the first woman admitted in 1883. She majored in German and received her B.Litt. degree in 1886. She taught for a year at Mrs. Hood’s Seminary for Young Ladies and then joined the faculty at UT teaching German and French. She thus became the first female graduate and first female teacher at UT. During the First World War she became disillusioned with Germany and quit her faculty position to operate a store with her sister. Jessie Andrews Dorm at UT is named in her honor.
Photo from the Center for American History at UT-Austin.
From the Annals of School Financing – In 1920, voters ratified the Better Schools Amendment to the Constitution of 1876. The amendment removed limits on school district tax rates and was intended to ease the state’s share of school financing. Supporters of the Amendment also hoped it would increase equality in school conditions by enabling each district to improve its facilities. The impact of the amendment was erratic. By 1923, there was a 51 percent increase in overall local taxes for school districts support for public schools. Yet, many school districts refused to increase tax rates and continued to rely on the state as their primary source of financing. The problems caused by the Amendment persist today as the reliance on local property taxes for the majority of public school financing has created great inequity between rich and poor school districts leading the Legislature to enact the very controversial Robin Hood school financing plan.