Five stories that have North Texas talking: there’s a big fight over Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket; Greg Abbott meets the press; the U.S. Border Patrol is looking for a few good female agents; and more.
A fight has been brewing over Lee Harvey Oswald’s original casket. A North Texas judge will decide who should have the first casket that Oswald was buried in after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. WFAA-TV reports testimony in the case continues Tuesday in Fort Worth. Oswald's brother filed a lawsuit against Baumgardner Funeral Home, which tried to sell the coffin at auction for $87,000 in 2010. Robert Edward Lee Oswald says he thought the damaged pine box had been destroyed after his brother's body was exhumed from a Fort Worth cemetery in 1981 amid conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's death. Another coffin was used for the reburial. Oswald's attorney argued Monday that his client bought the casket. The funeral home's attorney says the casket was a gift to Oswald's dead brother and that Oswald doesn't have a legal claim to it. [Associated Press]
- Greg Abbott, the governor-elect, met the press Monday in Austin. He said education will be his top policy priority. The Texas Tribune reports: “Abbott said he wants to improve the educational foundation that students receive in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. ‘I want to ensure that all children finish the third grade reading and doing math at or above grade level,’ he said. He also said he wants to ensure that students are graduating from high school "and moving on to the next phase of their lives" — whether that is college or a career. For those seeking higher education, he said his administration intends to work toward making that goal more affordable. They also hope to elevate the status of the state's public universities.” Abbott said he’s disturbed that five of the top 10 public universities are in California, and none in Texas.
- North Texas schools have transformed the way they teach English – by teaching Spanish, too. Dual language programs are the focus of the latest installment in a KERA American Graduate series called Generation One. At Bowie Elementary in Grand Prairie, Spanish-speaking kids are learning both languages as early as pre-kindergarten. KERA’s Stella M. Chavez visited Bowie to learn how dual language programs work. Explore the interactive series here.
- By 2017, there will be another college option in Fort Worth. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao reports: “Get ready for more purple and white in Fort Worth. Tarleton State University announced on Monday that it received an 80-acre gift from the Walton Group to build a new campus next to the Chisholm Trail Parkway southwest of downtown. … Mayor Betsy Price says Fort Worth is growing with another four-year campus, which is part of the Texas A&M University System. ‘By adding Tarleton’s new campus, we will increase the diversity of options for our citizens,’ Price said.”
- The U.S. Border Patrol is on a hiring spree for a very specific type of agent: a female one. Only 5 percent of its approximately 21,000 agents around the country are women, and the agency has long called this a problem. It is especially troublesome in Texas and the Southwest, where nearly 120,000 women were caught crossing the border illegally in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 31. That's a significant increase from fiscal year 2011, when about 43,000 women were apprehended. But while the number of women who cross the border has grown, the number of female border agents has remained low. The Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas has seen the largest number of migrants come through. Almost 49 percent of migrants who are caught crossing in Rio Grande Valley are women. [Associated Press]