Texas Standard

In the 21st century, what happens in Texas drives the American narrative.  Texas Standard is setting a new bar for broadcast news coverage, offering up-to-the-moment coverage of politics, lifestyle and culture, the environment, technology and innovation, and business and the economy – from a Texas perspective – and uncovering stories as they happen and spotting the trends that will shape tomorrow’s headlines. Hosted by award-winning journalist David Brown, Texas Standard features interviews with researchers, innovators, business leaders, political thinkers and experts – across Texas and around the globe – that reflect a diversity of opinions. A one-hour daily news magazine, Texas Standard is produced in the state capital in collaboration with KUT Austin, KERA North Texas, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio San Antonio, as well as news organizations across Texas, Mexico and the United States. Visit TexasStandard.org to read our newest stories and hear our latest show.   

Weather Puts 'American Sniper' Trial on Ice

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Flickr (Public Domain)

From Texas StandardData from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas-Mexico border has hit levels not seen since the 2014 border surge. There were more than 7,100 such cases in the Rio Grande sector last month alone.

Summer is the time we usually see spikes in illegal border crossings, so what does this mean for the coming season?


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.


klndonnelly/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Amid reports that Kenneth Starr, Baylor University's high-profile president, was fired this morning over a scandal related to the university's response to sexual assault allegations against football players, university officials said they expect to announce the results of an internal inquiry by June 3. They declined to directly address Starr's future.


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From Texas Standard:

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

Beth Cortez-Neavel/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, most low-income, black and Hispanic people were segregated to the east side of what is now IH-35 in Austin. Now, the same people who’ve lived in the area for decades are being pushed out. Old houses are torn down to make way for new ones and property taxes are rising rapidly.


Are Cops in Schools Creating a 'Climate of Fear?'

May 18, 2016
Flickr/Jan Paul Yap (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard: A viral video was making the rounds, showing a 12-year-old girl body slammed by a police officer in a San Antonio school. That officer has since been fired, but the incident raised concerns about 

From Texas Standard:

Friday morning the Obama administration issued a directive – what some on the right see as a decree – telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. If schools refuse to allow this, they could be in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

The notice comes in the middle of a heated national debate over bathroom laws in public spaces, but it has no official force of law behind it. It amounts to what the New York Times calls an “implicit threat.”

Attached to the letter that went out to schools across the U.S., was a 25-page booklet of what are called emerging practices, or tips on how to comply.


Flickr/Charles Wagner (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's here: A long-awaited decision from the Texas Supreme Court on how schools are funded. The plaintiffs are two-thirds of the state's school districts, charter schools and even business interests, all claiming that the Texas way of financing education is so inefficient as to be unconstitutional.

Now the state's highest court has handed down its opinion.

Kate McGee, education reporter for KUT in Austin, says the court ruled the state's school finance system isn't unconstitutional. The court's opinions – three concurring opinions with no dissents – say the system "satisfies minimal requirements," reversing a lower court's decision that the state's school finance is so bad as to be illegal.


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.


Don't Get Soaked by Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

May 11, 2016
Jocelyn Augustino/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

You may have noticed we've had a damp past few months. Of the many images from the recent downpours across Texas, few of those images communicate the depth of it all better than photos of capsized cars, up to their windshields in floodwaters. Even more dramatic is if your own vehicle has been flooded. Recently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it's stepping in to help compensate many of those who have lost their cars due to water damage.

Flickr/eulothg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

You can't talk Texas oil without talking about the competition. In that regard, the eyes of Texas are upon Saudi Arabia right now. Over the weekend the Saudis ended the 20-year tenure of oil minister Ali al-Naimi. Al-Naimi is credited as a pillar in the development of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. Now, energy investors and analysts alike are waiting to see how this change could affect an already tumultuous oil economy.

Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, says that timing is the most surprising aspect of al-Naimi's replacement.


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.


Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Walk onto any historically Black college or university campus across Texas and you’re likely to hear calls from a Greek organization like Kappa Alpha Psi. That's one of the many Greek organizations established by African-Americans. Greek life is often strong at HBCUs and so is the emphasis on black identity, empowerment and leadership.

Three Secrets of Life From My 101-Year-Old Mother

May 5, 2016
Courtesy W.F. Strong

My mom lived to be 101 and five months. She said once you reached 99, you started counting your age like a newborn – in months: 99 and six months, 99 and nine months. She used to advise that if you wanted to live to be a hundred, you should live to be 99 and then be very, very careful.

Mary B. Strong, whose name doubled as her motto, was a tough, no-nonsense woman. A Daughter of the American Revolution, survivor of the Great Depression; an honest as the day is long woman of the Texas soil. She had what John Wayne called True Grit.

I think anyone who lives so long, one in about 40,000, must have True Grit. So what was the secret to her longevity?


Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

These days clean water from the tap is often a privilege that is taken for granted. We're accustomed to running to the sink whenever we're thirsty. But as the brown tap water in Flint and Crystal City show, we cannot always trust that clean water will be available.

But water contamination isn't always something that is easy to sniff out because of its color or smell. For some, especially those living in rural agricultural areas, water may have substances that put pregnant women in danger without their knowledge.


WOCinTech Chat/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas led the country in exonerations last year, with 54 statewide. in the state. New York placed a distant second with only 17, according to the National Registry of Exonerations’ latest report.

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.


Photo via Flickr/carlos-pacheco (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Cowboys, longhorns, barbecue – all part of the state's identity. But before barbecue became part of the legend, there was the original. But where was the original, exactly?

Where there’s smoke there’s Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. His research revealed what could conceivably be the first barbecue joint in Texas was born not too far from Lockhart, the town largely considered to be a barbecue mecca in the state.


Mark Goebel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In recent weeks there have been reports of the crumbling infrastructure of the state’s Child Protective Services – an agency responsible for the well-being of 12,000 of the most neglected and abused kids in Texas.

Hady Mawajdeh/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Former news anchor for the CBS Evening News and journalism great Dan Rather stepped into the Texas Standard studio this week, along with his grandson Martin Rather, to announce the inaugural winner of the Rather Prize. We asked them about the prize and spoke to Dan Rather about the future of journalism, presidential campaigns and more.

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