Texas PTA
Texas PTA Education News of the Week
 July 29, 2011
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Below are some general items of interest pertaining to the latest political developments and important events:

Texas Sales Tax-Free Weekend Set For August 19-21

"The annual Texas sales tax holiday will be Aug. 19-21. State Comptroller Susan Combs on Thursday announced the annual tax-free weekend, as shoppers get a break from sales tax on certain items costing less than $100. Combs says shoppers will pay no state or local sales tax on many school supplies and most clothing. The list of exceptions includes certain leather goods, handbags, jewelry and helmets......"


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In This Issue
Sales Tax-Free Weekend
School Accountability
Discipline Study
CCCT Editorial
SBOE Gets Science Right
Air Rule
Debt Ceiling
Default Fears
Loser Pays
Rural Health Care
EPA Issues
Payday Lender Laws

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School Accountability Ratings Don't Really Mean A Great Deal

"State accountability ratings, compiled by the Texas Education Agency, will be released on Friday. Federal accountability ratings, compiled according to provisions of "No Child Left Behind" and the U.S. Department of Education, will be released on Aug. 4. But will those ratings really tell us anything about how well - or how poorly - San Angelo schools actually performed in 2010-2011? No, I don't think they do. Accountability ratings were created by the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress, ostensibly to provide parents and taxpayers with a fair, easy-to-understand measurement of how schools were performing.

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Discipline Study A Real Eye Opener   

"The startling findings in Breaking Schools' Rules: A statewide study of how school discipline relates to students' success and juvenile justice involvement, conducted by the Council of State Governments Justice Centers in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, should be cause for concern for all parents. The findings are almost incredible. One of the reasons is that most of the statistics available prior to this tracked students only for an individual school year. The study tracked all seventh graders enrolled in Texas public schools in 2000, 2001 and 2002, 928,940 pupils, for at least six years....."


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CCCT Editorial: New Age Of Reason On Education

"Let Texans remember Friday, July 22, Year of our Lord 2011, as the day the State Board of Education decided not to impede the teaching of a theory that predates the Civil War. Thus, on that day, science education leapt forward and a slight but tectonic shift in the board may have occurred. We're talking, of course, about evolution and the endless attempts by its religiously motivated disbelievers to monkey with it. Funny how those who espouse family values the loudest are the quickest to disavow our kinship to our cousin the chimpanzee. (And, no, we don't speak just for the Editorial Board.)

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This Time, SBOE Gets Science Right

"Two years ago, the Texas State Board of Education brought shame on the state by rejecting the recommendations of scientific and educational experts in the adoption of standards for the science curriculum. Those standards - which will remain on the books for a decade - ensure that students in Texas public schools will receive an inferior science education. "The final vote was a triumph of ideology and politics over science," said Dr. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, in a public statement. "The board majority chose to satisfy creationist constituents and ignore the expertise of highly qualified Texas scientists and scientists across the country."...."


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Texas Needs Time To Meet Air Rule

"One issue in the news lately has to do with the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to ensure we have healthy air to breathe. The EPA's final Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which was released in early July, is designed to reduce the effects of emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants on downwind states. Implementing it will help our nation enjoy cleaner air and have a healthier population. That's a goal we should all support. Because Texas is such a large producer of energy, however, it may be difficult for our generators to make such significant changes in the six months the EPA has given Texas to get in compliance......"


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For Texas House Frosh, The First Time Was No Charm

"Maybe it's because he was a mayor, a position with some executive authority and a low need for rhetorical flame throwing. But Lanham Lyne, a freshman member of the Texas House, is seriously reconsidering his decision to work in the Capitol....."

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Texas In Wait-And-See Mode On Debt Ceiling

"Texas is proceeding with business as usual at least for now as the federal government fast approaches a collision with the national debt limit next week. The U.S. Treasury will have no authority to borrow unless an agreement on raising the debt ceiling is reached between the Obama administration and Congress by Aug. 2. That would force the administration to choose which bills to pay. States might be left waiting for their checks if the federal government's creditors are paid first to avoid default....."

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Perry Says Default Fears Are Overblown

"Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he isn't worried that a failure to increase the nation's debt ceiling would trigger an economic catastrophe. He also says that it should be up to the states to decide whether abortion is illegal - or legal....."

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Perry Signs 'Loser-Pays' Tort Reform Bill Into Law

"Gov. Rick Perry touted the economic benefits of continued lawsuit restrictions as he ceremonially signed a new "loser-pays" tort reform law. Perry, joined by the legislative sponsors of the measure, signed the bill Wednesday in Houston. The new law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, will levy fees on unsuccessful plaintiffs and allowing meritless suits to be dismissed early in the process. Perry made the plan a top priority for the Legislature, targeting junk lawsuits....."

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Rural Health Care At Risk In Texas, Study Says

"According to a new study, already strained health care providers in rural regions will suffer without technological improvements. Bill Zeeble of KERA reports on the growing problem that could affect up to two million Texans....."


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EPA Issues New Standards For Hydraulic Fracturing

"The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued new regulatory standards for oil and gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing......"


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Texas Legislature Enacts New Payday Lender Laws

"While all eyes were on the budget this Legislative session, Texas passed two bills that I think will help protect consumers from scams involving payday and car title loans - short-term loans provided for a small fee. House Bill 2592 requires lenders to provide certain disclosures to customers, such as fees and interest rates. Some of these fees can add up to an annual interest rate of more than 300 percent! I have heard from people who have found themselves owing much more than the initial cost of the loan. House Bill 2594 creates a licensing requirement for car and payday loan providers. The new requirement will allow you to check a lender out with the state before doing business. Both bills will be effective Jan. 1, 2012......"


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