Five stories that have North Texas talking: academic experts won’t vet Texas textbooks; Joe Biden loves the proposed Texas bullet train; the future of Fair Park; and more.
Texas has rejected allowing university experts to fact-check its public-school textbooks in the wake of a 9th grade world geography book mistakenly calling African slaves "workers." The Republican-controlled Board of Education approves textbooks for statewide use. It defeated 8-7 on Wednesday a proposal that would have included scrutiny from academic experts as part of its vetting process. Supporters said the change would have helped avoid future mistakes. The "workers" phrasing caused a recent stir after a Houston-area mother complained. But opponents said errors happen whenever humans are involved. They also defended the current system built on volunteer citizen review panels. The board's textbook process has for years sparked ideological battles over subjects such as climate change and evolution. Supporters of the failed proposal said those are now likely to continue. [Associated Press]
- Vice President Joe Biden visited Dallas Wednesday to promote infrastructure – and the proposed Dallas-to-Houston bullet train. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports: “‘Projects like this one is a no-brainer,’ Biden said. ‘They make sense from every single perspective you look at. Look at China, look at Japan, look at Europe.’ Biden said there’s no reason the United States can’t have what they have – modern, high-speed rail, and for some of the fastest growing U.S. cities here in Texas.”
- On Wednesday, Dallas City Council members discussed the future of Fair Park – specifically a proposal to have a nonprofit group manage the park. The city would still own Fair Park – the nonprofit group would manage the park and help with fundraising. Supporters of the plan say the city of Dallas needs to back off from running Fair Park. Some say Dallas City Hall is just too big, too complicated and too bureaucratic to make any significant changes at Fair Park. The city would have to fork over money – up to $35 million each year as part of a so-called management fee, as well as $175 million from bond packages -- and some City Council members said they’re concerned about how the city would find that additional money in a city budget where funds are already spread thin.
- Some Texas Congress members say the U.S. should stop all refugee resettlement. The Texas Tribune reports: “As Republicans push to temporarily freeze the admission of Syrian refugees into the U.S., two Texas congressman say they want to suspend funding for all refugee resettlement efforts. U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Brian Babin, R-Woodville, on Wednesday asked House leadership for a ‘temporary suspension’ of funding for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to prevent any new refugee admissions. The congressmen, joined by two of their colleagues in the House, want funding to be halted in an end-of year spending bill.”
- Blue Bell is being made in its hometown once again. The Houston Chronicle reports: Blue Bell Creameries restarted its largest plant, in Brenham, on Wednesday, company officials said. With the launch, Blue Bell has crossed a major milestone in its recovery from a listeria outbreak that put it on the brink of financial ruin. The reopening also is a boost for Brenham, where 70 furloughed employees are returning to work. No laid off employees have been called back. … The Brenham plant was perhaps most problematic for the company, as it was the largest and oldest of three major production facilities, with one ice cream novelty machine so troublesome it had to be scrapped. Brenham was the last plant to come back online. Ice cream now being produced there will be closely monitored and tested, with no firm date for when it will be distributed for sale, the company said.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.