The Texas Senate on Wednesday released a proposed map of new voting districts for the 31-member chamber, prompting complaints from some Democrats that the new districts would be unfair to them.
The Legislature draws new maps every 10 years after the release of updated census information. The procedure typically becomes a partisan fight and a personal battle between incumbent lawmakers trying to hold onto their districts and avoid getting forced into voting areas dominated by the rival party. Republicans hold a 19-12 majority in the Senate.
Texas newspapers today were discussing the legacy of Dr. Michael D. McKinney, the Texas A&M University chancellor who announced his resignation yesterday. McKinney made the announcement a day after A&M’s Faculty Senate and Executive Committee of the Distinguished Professors unanimously approved resolutions criticizing what they called “inappropriate and damaging political intervention in university affairs,” the Austin American Statesman reported. He will leave his post in July. Read more…
“Are we about funding the education of children or funding the education system,” Bennett often said.
To that end, perhaps the most incredible of the reforms was the establishment of the broadest school voucher program in the country. Within the next few years, the vast majority of Indiana students will be able to go to the school of their choice and the state-allotted funding will follow them. Among other reforms includes increasing the number of charter schools, creating a performance pay system for teachers and restricting collective bargaining to pay and benefits. Read more…
By Mary Tuma
A potential lawsuit against the University of Texas System by ousted special adviser Rick O’Donnell is tying up the release of public records from the UT System. According to correspondence from UT System attorney Zeena Angadicheril to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, O’Donnell may be considering filing suit against the system for defamation, interference with contractual relationships and/or violation of privacy rights.
Citing attorney-client privilege and other sections of the law, UT is seeking an opinion from the AG, about withholding some information regarding the creation of and appointment of members to the UT regents’ “Task Force on Excellence and Productivity.” The Texas Independent has submitted a public information request for emails about the creation of the task force, including correspondence among task force members, UT regents and O’Donnell. (UT has agreed to release 60 pages of documents on the subject.)
In a letter addressed to the AG Tuesday regarding the Texas Independent’s public information request, Angadicheril argues certain communication between O’Donnell and other parties should be protected from disclosure as, “litigation involving the governmental body is pending or reasonably anticipated.” Read more…
By Mike Ward
That plan is reminiscent of one proposed in 2003 for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to represent areas stretching as far south as McAllen. That district was later changed as part of a larger tweaking of districts ordered by the courts.
Two Texas university presidents are among the nation’s top paid public college execs, according to this item in the Chron. But neither University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa or UT President William Powers Jr. can top the salary of fellow UT “educator” Mack Brown.
The annual Chronicle of Higher Education survey of university salaries reports that Cigarroa made $750,000 in academic year 2009-2010, while Powers was paid $746,738. They came in a distant second and third to the president of Ohio State University, who made $1.3 million.
With perks such as deferred compensation, Cigarroa’s total pay was $813,892.
But Brown last year made an estimated $5.1 million. So esteemed is the head football coach that dialing up the Longhorns Web site includes his name in the URL. As long as they have their priorities straight over at UT.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation, the conservative think tank that has been behind much of the recent higher education controversies in the state, has begun airing commercials for the first time this month.
“It is imperative that we tell the real story of the state budget battle — and encourage our leaders to pass a conservative budget that protects Texas’ vibrant economy,” the group said in a news release.
SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING
Monday, April 11, 2011
Capitol Extension, Room E1.012
Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule 11.10 and 11.18, a public hearing of
the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Funding was held on Monday, April 11, 2011, in
the Capitol Extension, Room E1.012, at Austin, Texas. Read more…
That’s the idea behind a $2 million project being unveiled Wednesday in the lunchroom of a San Antonio elementary school, where high-tech cameras installed in the cafeteria will begin photographing what foods children pile onto their trays — and later capture what they don’t finish eating.
Digital imaging analysis of the snapshots will then calculate how many calories each student scarfed down. Local health officials said the program, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in a U.S. school, and will be so precise that the technology can identify a half-eaten pear left on a lunch tray. Read more…
Senate Bill 5, authored by Judith Zaffirini (D) has poison pills buried within, designed to decrease transparency and accountability in higher education spending. The stated purpose of the bill is to control education costs. Read more…
By PAUL J. WEBER
Texas A&M University System Chancellor Mike McKinney announced his resignation Tuesday, stepping down after five years of steering the 120,000-student system through record expansion, controversy and an escalating debate over the future of higher education in Texas.
McKinney wrote in a memo to system staff that he would step down July 1. A one-time chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, McKinney did not elaborate on the reasons for retiring, beyond saying the time had come for him to step aside.
“I am proud of our collective accomplishments, and I am most proud that we now ‘act like a system,’” McKinney said.
No replacement was immediately named. Richard Box, chairman of the TAMU System board of regents, said in a statement that the process to find a successor would begin soon.
Under McKinney, enrollment at Texas A&M campuses increased by nearly 17,000 students, and the system spent nearly $1.5 billion in new construction. Two new campuses were opened in Killeen and San Antonio, and record enrollment was seen at the nine other campuses, including the flagship in College Station. Read more…