Rhonda Fanning

Producer, The Texas Standard

Rhonda  joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Momentum Instruction

From Texas Standard:

In Texas education, there always plenty of fodder still out there to spark outrage. Take a proposed social studies textbook titled “Mexican-American Heritage”submitted to the Texas Education Agency as required for review before appearing on bookshelves in the classroom.

Tony Diaz, an activist based in Houston and host of Nuestra Palabra on KPFT, says this book is the opposite of what activists and scholars, who have campaigned for more visibility of Latino stories in history, wanted to include in the Texas curriculum – in part because of its racist undertones.


Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

One phrase often heard this year: There's never been a political year like 2016. But that’s not exactly true.

Pexels (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

This week, Texas lawmakers in both the Senate and House vowed to end the abuse of emergency leave for state workers.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

On April 17, around 7:50 in the early evening, an explosion at the Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Company rocked the small town of West, Texas. That was three years ago.

Fifteen people died, including 12 volunteers fighting the fire at the plant. More than 160 people were injured. The blast was so severe it caused a small earthquake – the concussion waves were visible to the naked eye. A nearby middle school, nursing home and apartment complex were demolished. Neighborhood homes were destroyed.

It seemed possible that the fires could have been started by a short circuit somewhere – the facility was old – or that a golf cart with dodgy electrics might have been the spark that set off the blaze. But state and federal officials say the explosion at West was the outcome of a criminal act.


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

There’s yet another battle for transgender civil rights in the U.S. – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling for the resignation of the new superintendent of Fort Worth schools, Kent Paredes Scribner. Scribner recently issued new guidelines asking that students have access to restrooms consistent with "the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.”

Patrick released a statement saying Scribner has lost his focus and his ability to lead Fort Worth ISD through placing his personal political agenda before the needs of the district's students.


ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Although the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it has 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. That's not counting things like county lockups and city jails.

Federal prisons are overcrowded and in Texas, nearly 19,000 people are incarcerated in federal prisons alone. According to a report in USA Today the job of overseeing the prisoners is falling to nurses with little or no experience in security.


Don Davis/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Less time separates us from Tyrannosaurus rex than separated them from the Stegosaurus. That something that might be hard to wrap your head around, but the age of the dinosaurs was a longer period that we humans often imagine.

Courtesy Ann: The Ann Richards Play (Photo by Ave Bonar)

From Texas Standard:

A divorced woman who was a recovering alcoholic – a Democrat, no less – who did more than just get elected governor of Texas, she captured the American imagination. As Ann Richards was fond of saying about herself: "I walked through fire and the fire lost."

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's recent visit to Mississippi has him bucking big criticism.

Miller went to compete for prize money – netting over $800 in winnings for calf-roping – and paid for the whole thing using a combination of state and campaign funds.

Banspy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Some of America’s biggest school districts in New York City, Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Houston are hiring more security officers and police than counselors. In Houston, for example, there is only one counselor for every 1,175 students.

Policy and research editor Matt Barnum, from a nonpartisan news website focusing on education issues called The 74,  looked at the data.


Rod Aydelotte/WacoTrib

From Texas Standard:

Last May, nine people were killed, 20 injured and 177 people were arrested in a biker shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. One hundred fifty people were indicted with a $1 million bail set for each of them. As we approach one year later, not a single person has seen trial. In fact, there hasn't been a single trial date set, either.

Aaron Jacobs/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Remember the Alamo? How could we forget. Remember Denton? That's a different sort of battle.

Vincent Brassinne/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Americans awoke to the news of a terrorist attack Tuesday morning. At least 34 people are dead and more than 150 wounded after two attacks on transportation facilities in Belgium’s capital city. Brussels is in lockdown.

Two explosions hit Brussels' international Zaventem airport, and a third bomb was diffused. One suicide bomb hit the Maalbeek metro station. Both are transportation hubs that serve the European Union’s international core. On social media, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.


Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard: 

The state broke a record for ballots cast in last week's primary. But Texas still fared poorly among other the 12 states that have held primaries, coming in second to only Louisiana in the country's lowest voter turnout so far. Our weak showing was primarily because Democrats didn't really go to the polls – just 7.2 percent of registered Democrats voted. Places like El Paso – a Democratic stronghold – had a remarkably low turnout.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Donald Trump won five counties in Texas on Super Tuesday. Four of those were situated along the border: Hudspeth, Terrell, Zapata, and Webb Counties. That might seem odd given the candidate's stance on immigration and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Then there's Laredo mayor Pete Saenz who said he wouldn't rule out voting for Trump.

Day Donaldson/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has long fought extradition to face drug charges in the U.S. but that’s changed.

Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Cold War animosity has thawed between the United States and Cuba, and President Barack Obama has planned a March 21 trip to the Havana to further positive ties between the two countries.

Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

This morning the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the second and final felony charge of abuse of power against former Gov. Rick Perry.

Flickr/Christiaan Triebert (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Syrian Civil War has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced millions of people from their homes. It has bred controversies in countries where the war’s refugees are asking to be let in, a ripple effect that's been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

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