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.
On to the bathrooms!
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.
From the Annals of Higher Learning – In 1876, Gov. Richard Coke dedicated the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas now known as Texas A&M University. It was the state’s first public college. TAMU’s origins trace back to the Morrill Act of 1862. This act provided for donation of public land to the states for the purpose of funding higher education whose “leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanic arts.” In November 1866, Texas agreed to create a college under the terms of the Morrill Act. Actual formation did not occur until the establishment of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas by the Texas state legislature on April 17, 1871. A commission created to locate the institution accepted the offer of 2,416 acres of land from the citizens of Brazos County in 1871. Admission was limited to white males who, as required by the Morrill Act, were required to participate in military training.
The Texas Tribune details the Hobson’s Choice facing voters residing within the Houston Independent School. Under the “Robin Hood” plan HISD is due to send $165 million to poorer school districts subject to voter approval. The voters can turn down the plan, but then the district faces the prospect of having some of its most expensive real estate figuratively moved to another close-by poorer district. That is, if the voters say ‘no’ to the incredibly poorly worded proposition on the November ballot, then the state can take some expensive real property off of the HISD rolls and instead assign it to another district to boost its property tax base. Locals bigwigs are lining up behind the “no” vote in the hopes that the Legislature will blink when faced with the proposition of telling the largest school district in the state that it is stripping away some $18 billion of its tax base. And the kicker is, the obligation to pay the $165 million is still there – only to be paid by the smaller number of taxpayers. Red envisions James Dean speeding towards the cliff and this time his sleeve gets caught in the door handle.