The High Five
11:49 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Want To Vote In The Nov. 6 Election? Better Register By Tomorrow.

Updated: Texas considers virtual schools,  the weather mystifies; Barneys NorthPark will close.

The book of lists claps shut tomorrow at your county’s registrar. You can still make it, unless you’re presumed dead. Here’s how:

1. Find out for sure. Moves and muddled instruction have sent people to the polls thinking they’re straight, only to find out they aren’t in the system -- or the right county. So double-check.

2. Get to your county’s registrar and be ready to stand in line.

Phew. Now all you’ve got to do is listen and vote.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

Brrrr! Almost Record-Breaking Cold

The North Texas temperature charts were nearly broken this morning. It was really close:  This morning's official cold temperature  tied with a chilly 39-degree record  set back in the '20s.

From the Dallas Morning News:

The temperature at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport dipped to 39  degrees this morning which ties the record for coldest Oct. 8, set in 1921.

The Star-Telegram notes the Texas cold snap arrived earlier than normal this year, and that other unofficial areas were actually colder this morning:

At Alliance Airport in far north Fort Worth, it dropped to 32 degrees Monday morning. Bridgeport, Graham and Bowie also hit the freezing mark while Denton just missed it at 33 degrees.

Meteorologists are predicting the cold spell should break by tomorrow and that normal temps should return by the weekend.

This is fickle Texas weather we're talking about.  So, take the above predictions with a grain of salt. Or perhaps, the whole shaker.

Oh, and Accuweather.com released their 2012-2013 winter forecast last week.

-- Justin Martin

Can We Have Class Outside Today? Virtual Learning Goes To Austin

Texas senators are exploring options afforded by virtual schools at a hearing today. Some have criticized the lack of regulations and accountability for the online alternative; Eric Nicholson of Unfair Park reports on a less-than-glowing report Progress Texas released before summer’s onset.

But there is a growing demand for online classes and a hope of education leaders that the state can find a medium between freedom and standards.

Last year, our own Shelley Kofler visited a school in Hunt County that subscribed to Texas Virtual School Network, which allowed students to take French instead of Spanish (and presumably, to sit outside and laptop on days like this one.)

And there’s the way virtual learning helps dropouts catch up: Spring ISD took advantage of this via the Online Learning for Dropout Recovery Grant.

We’ll have more on the hearing later today.

Updated, 4:29 p.m.: Plano Senator Florence Shapiro says lawmakers have for decades talked about equity among Texas public schools: financial and academic.  She says the solution to one of those problems can be found online.

“I happen to believe that online learning now brings us academic equity,”  Shapiro told Texas Education Association representatives. “And have we ever gone to the Teacher of the Year in biology in Brownsville and asked he or she to go online?  Because now, you’re equalizing access to the best teacher in the state for any student that wants to take that biology class.”

Dallas State Senator Royce West cautioned lawmakers not to promise something that cannot be accessed by all students, regardless of income.

Texas has three full-time virtual schools; and, for the first time this year, online classes for grades 3-12.  But, officials say two-thirds of Texas school districts are not participating in the state’s Virtual Schools Network, and its available courses.    

-- Lyndsay Knecht, BJ Austin

‘Think’: Veletta Forsythe Lill On A Completed Arts District

Last Tuesday, area thinkers and leaders assessed two key Dallas neighborhoods in panel discussions just across the street from one another:  a Dallas Architecture Forum panel entitled “The Elephant in South Dallas’ Living Room: What Do We Do With Fair Park?” and a State of the Arts discussion at the Dallas Museum of Art about what’s next for the Arts District.

Encouraging testament to momentum in Dallas, right? Sure, but the talks overlapped, and even with such great proximity, it was impossible to attend both and maintain lecture etiquette. (Believe us, we tried.)

If you went to the DAF event and missed our Veletta Forsythe Lill, outgoing executive director of the Dallas Arts District, tell our own Jeff Whittington how she sees the Arts District sort of like a newly 21-year-old city sector who needs alcohol, food and coffee to really get going, fret not: you can hear her assessment of the neighborhood on ‘Think’ today before she steps down on November 1.

And a bonus even for those who did attend the DMA panel: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Ann Margolin, Council Member for District 13 and Chair of the City’s Arts, Culture and Libraries Committee, will also join the discussion with host Krys Boyd. 

Listen live at noon.

-- Lyndsay Knecht

What, Dallas? Shoplifting? No Way. Look At The Numbers!

Dallas Police Chief David Brown updates the City Council on the latest crime stats this morning.
The presentation will show a 40 percent drop in shoplifting cases. But, the big dip may be due in part to a policy change, The Dallas Morning News reports in an investigation.

In January, police stopped counting shoplifting cases of $50 or less. Stores may submit reports by mail, and those reportedly are counted.

The Dallas Morning News reports there were about 10 shoplifting cases below $50 per day before the new policy. Afterwards, there were about three reported on average.

Coincidentally: In recent days, we heard about a $1400 stealing spree at Victoria’s Secret in NorthPark Center. Hard to keep that on the hush.

-- BJ Austin

Barney’s New York At North Park Center To Close. Guess We'll Finally Go

It was slipping somewhere in the cracks between Nordstrom and Neiman’s, and now it’s gone. The Dallas Business Journal reports Barneys New York at NorthPark Center is closing. The two-story anchor was the last exclusive retail space inhabited by the company in Texas; there’s one other Barneys co-op store in Austin at the Domain, but that’s it.

The news comes just in time for overachievers to Christmas shop: watch out for a closing sale announcement.

-- Lyndsay Knecht