Columns

Thu
16
Aug

Why vote? Social Security, that’s why

By Rob Schneider

The next Congress may determine the long-term fate of Social Security. Social Security is a compact between generations that has worked remarkably well for 83 years. Current workers contribute payroll taxes into the system, and retirees, who paid in throughout their working lives, collect benefits.

Unfortunately, today too many younger workers believe that Social Security won’t be there for them. Why do they think that? Because when some members of Congress talk about the budget deficit, they talk about Social Security even though Social Security has never contributed one cent to the federal deficit. Social Security pays for itself, and it has enough money to pay full benefits until 2034. After that, with no changes, Social Security will pay 77 percent of benefits.

 

Thu
16
Aug

TEA releases preliminary financial accountability ratings

By ED STERLING

Some 80 percent of public school districts and charters earned the highest-possible preliminary financial accountability rating, according to figures released by the Texas Education Agency on August 8.

The “superior” ratings were calculated using 15 financial indicators, such as administrative cost expenditures, the accuracy of a district or charter’s financial information submitted to TEA and any financial vulnerabilities or material weaknesses in internal controls, as determined by an external auditor.

 

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Thu
09
Aug

Hurricane Harvey-affected campuses receive special evaluations

By ED STERLING

 

Some 109 independent school districts and charters directly affected by Hurricane Harvey are eligible for special evaluation in this year’s state accountability system, the Texas Education Agency announced Aug. 1. Based on data reported to the agency during the past school year, the affected districts and charters encompass some 1,188 eligible campuses. Among the submitted data are the numbers of displaced students and teachers and the impact on local school facilities and instructional time.

Thu
02
Aug

Tips to keep your home stable in dry weather

According to the US Drought Monitor, over 75 percent of Texas is experiencing a drought.

The state of Texas has been under these conditions for the past three years, according to a State Impact report.

When soil becomes too dry, foundations can expand and then shrink, leaving cracks in the soil.

The Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers looking for foundation repair services to take the time to find a professional to avoid a major shift in their finances.

According to the Foundation Repair Network, July, August and September mark the periods when cracks in the soil often appear.

 

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Thu
02
Aug

Select panel considers approaches to mass shooting prevention

By  ED STERLING

A special interim committee of state lawmakers met July 24 at the Texas Capitol to further explore what can be done to prevent mass shootings like the one that resulted in 10 deaths and 10 injuries in May at Santa Fe High School.

Testimony before a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security centered on “red flag” laws, in which a law enforcement entity or family member could petition a judge who may then order that a potentially dangerous person temporarily be prohibited from purchasing or otherwise acquiring or possessing a firearm.

 

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Thu
26
Jul

Keeping homes cool through the summer heat

By WILL HURD 

Here in South and West Texas, we are no strangers to the summer heat. Unfortunately, as we all know, with rising temperatures comes rising costs of energy bills each month. And in this blazing heat, the air conditioning certainly is a needed ally to survive the summer.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, is critical in providing support for our families from San Antonio to El Paso. LIHEAP keeps Americans safe and healthy by helping seniors and low-income households with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter months and hot summer months. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), nearly 90 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child, elderly or disabled.

 

Thu
26
Jul

Mental health experts inform school violence and security panel

By ED STERLING 

Psychological prevention and treatment for students is the best way to head off school violence, mental health professionals told a panel of state lawmakers on July 18.

This was the third in a series of interim hearings for the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools & School Security, a panel named by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in response to the shooting at Santa Fe High School in May.

Dr. Andy Keller, president of the Meadows Foundation in Dallas, told panel members:

 

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Thu
19
Jul

Meeting constituents and leaders

By HENRY CUELLAR

This month in Washington, D.C. I met with a variety of individuals and organizations including Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Ryan Canfield, President and Chairman of Kansas City Southern Railroad Pat Ottensmeyer, and representatives from the Department of Transportation.

I also addressed issues pertaining to migrant family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border in the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations full committee markup.

 

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Thu
19
Jul

Governor welcomes establishment of Futures Command in Austin

By ED STERLING

The U.S. Army on July 12 announced its new Futures Command would be headquartered in Austin “to better partner with academia, industry and innovators in the private sector, while providing a good and affordable quality of life for Futures Command personnel.”

After the announcement, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state of Texas “is proud to partner with the U.S. Army in establishing the Futures Command to harness the cutting-edge technologies needed to build an innovative, research-based foundation for our national defense.”

 

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Thu
12
Jul

Preventing the summer slide

By WILL HURD

When I was in grade school, at least one teacher always had a sign in the classroom that said “reading is fundamental.” This is as true now as it was then. Learning how to read is a fundamental skill that can determine the course of one’s life. But you don’t have to take my word for it – the statistics speak for themselves.

According to the Children’s Literacy Foundation, students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school. As you might imagine, those at the lowest literacy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and earn lower wages than average. In addition, a staggering 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Beyond the obvious social devastation, low literacy costs the U.S. at least $225 billion every single year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

 

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