Five stories that have North Texas talking: Melanie Salazar, 18, and her grandfather are both students at Palo Alto College this semester; a Texas representative wants to ditch STAAR altogether; how to save big at the State Fair; and more.
Melanie Salazar, 18, began her higher education journey at Palo Alto College last week. On the flip side, her 82-year-old grandpa, Rene Neira, is finishing up his last semester at the same San Antonio school. He hopes to finally earn his associate's degree in economics — something that he put on hold decades ago to have a family, Salazar told Buzzfeed News.
Salazar and Neira aren't just family — they’re classmates. Salazar and her grandpa walk around campus and grab lunch together. “It’s been pretty awesome,” she told Buzzfeed. “I know it’s only going to be for one semester, but I’m going to cherish that while I can.”
— Palo Alto College (@PACPR) August 29, 2016
@melaniesalazara Going back to college at 30 doesn't seem like a crazy idea anymore! Thanks Melanie and Grandpa!
— Christine Kelly (@CTineKells) August 28, 2016
His return to college after 60 years (He attended Saint Mary’s University briefly in the 1950s.) not only has inspired his granddaughter but also has melted the hearts of many of those who have read their story. Spoken like a true grandpa, Neira told Buzzfeed: “I’m not trying to inspire Melanie, or anybody,” he said. “I’m glad that’s what it’s doing, but I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Neira plans to keep going beyond graduation in December to earn his bachelor’s in economics from the University of Texas at San Antonio. [Buzzfeed News]
- A state representative has called for the suspension of STAAR exams. Just a week ago, the Texas Education Agency announced it was penalizing the New Jersey-based company that develops and administers the test more than $20 million over technical problems that arose during the spring. State Rep. Jason Isaac suggested schools should have freedom to choose from among the variety of “nationally normed standardized tests.” Isaac told The Texas Tribune “he will file related legislation next year that would allow school districts to use something like the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.” The legislative session begins in January. [The Texas Tribune]
- Researchers found that the mortality rate among pregnant women in Texas has doubled. But they aren’t sure why. According to a study published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the maternal mortality rate in Texas doubled within a two-year period after 2010 — levels unseen in other U.S. states. KUT reported: “In 2011, the state Legislature cut Texas’ family planning and women’s health program, which provide care and routine screenings for low-income women. Lawmakers slashed its budget by two-thirds—and kicked out women’s health providers that also provide abortions.” But other studies suggest those measures can’t be the definitive cause. Read more. [KUT]
- Dallas streetcar that extends from downtown to Bishop Arts rolled out Monday. A year and a half ago, the line from Union Station stretched to Methodist Hospital at Colorado and Beckley. With the latest $23 million extension now complete, the line rolls another three quarters of mile into the heart of Oak Cliff. KERA reported: “There are plans to extend the streetcar to the Kay Bailey Hutchison convention center downtown and also connect it to the McKinney Trolley line uptown. The city will need federal funding first to make that a reality.” Note: Better take advantage the rail sooner than later because it might not always be a free ride. [KERA News]
- There are so many ways to save at the State Fair of Texas this fall. CultureMap scrounged the internet for deals you may have not known existed. Like, if you bring an empty 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottle on any Thursday in October, you can get in the fair for $6 instead of $18 (general admission). And, if you bring at least four cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank on Wednesdays in October, you get in for just $4. There are several similar deals happening on different days of the week during the the fair (Sept. 30-Oct. 23). See CultureMap’s list for more practical ways to save, too. [Dallas CultureMap]