The Brief: A New Controversy Flares Over Social Studies Text
Oct 06, 2015 | 2 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Brief: A New Controversy Flares Over Social Studies Text

The Big Conversation

A new controversy has flared over a state-approved social studies textbook, this time spurred by a parent angered by the text's description of the Atlantic slave trade as something that "brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States."

As the Tribune's Kiah Collier writes, a video made by the parent that has been posted to Facebook has garnered more than 1.7 million views. And it has caused the textbook publisher to promise changes.

McGraw-Hill posted a statement on Facebook that reads in part, "our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.

"We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.”

Collier goes on to note that this text was approved by the State Board of Education, "along with a slew of other materials, last fall after a months-long review process in which academics and others detailed what they perceived as crucial flaws — or omissions — in the texts, including inaccurate descriptions of world religions and out-of-date racial terminology."

Trib Must Reads

Texas Cases Factor in New Supreme Court Term, by Jordan Rudner – The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session, and the upcoming term will feature at least two cases from Texas — if not more. The justices will look at voting rights, UT-Austin admissions and — maybe — the state's new abortion restrictions.  

Lawmakers Jump into Tussle Over God's Trust, by Johnathan Silver – A furor involving a small-town Texas police department and national secular organization has reached the state attorney general's office, and may well wind up in court after that. At issue: does slapping "In God We Trust" stickers on police patrol cars violate the U.S. constitution?  

Analysis: Names Might Change, but Not Party Labels, by Ross Ramsey – By the numbers, there are some federal and state legislative districts in Texas that can be considered competitive in November general elections. There just aren't many of them.

Paxton Asks Supreme Court to Reject Abortion Case, by Alexa Ura – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a request from a coalition of abortion providers to take up their legal challenge to the state’s strict abortion restrictions. 

In Final BP Deal, Texas to Get $800 Million for Gulf, by Jim Malewitz – Texas and four other Gulf Coast states have reached a final settlement with BP stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the U.S. Department of Justice and states announced Monday. The Texas share totals more than $800 million in money and restoration projects.  

Dewhurst to Pay Debts to Consultants, by Jay Root – Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he is finally paying off the nearly $1 million in debts owed to campaign consultants and vendors since his lopsided loss to Ted Cruz in the 2012 U.S. Senate race.  

Report: Abortion Restrictions Led to Longer Wait Times, by Alexa Ura – Wait times to get an abortion in Texas have grown in some metropolitan areas, a trend that could be felt statewide if the Supreme Court allows the strictest provision of the state’s 2013 abortion law to take effect.     

The Day Ahead

•    Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will moderate a discussion on the future of criminal justice in Texas with state Reps. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and James White, R-Woodville, as well as Derek Cohen of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Douglas Smith of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. The event starts at noon at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. Can't make it? Watch the livestream on the Tribune's website.


As Texas abortion clinics close, second-term abortions will spikeSlate

Ebola nurse Nina Pham’s lawsuit against Texas Health Resources will continue, The Dallas Morning News

Texas set to buy 3 buildings near Alamo amid revamp project, The Associated Press

Little middle ground emerges at UT’s second forum on campus carryAustin American-Statesman

US, states announce settlement with BP over gulf oil spill, The Associated Press

Pardons board vote clears way for Houston killer's execution, Houston Chronicle

Ethics commission boosts disclosure requirements for 'dark money' groupsSan Antonio Express-News

Texas abortion law doesn’t burden women, Paxton tells courtAustin American-Statesman

Lawmakers ask AG Ken Paxton: Can Texas police departments display ‘In God We Trust’ on patrol cars?, The Dallas Morning News

Border Patrol parent agency issues custody standards, The Associated Press

Dallas County may drop idea of “living wage” for janitors, other contract workers, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people including jihadists that are coming here to murder innocent Americans.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on the Obama Administration’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. 

Today in TribTalk

A Derailment Ahead for Freight Service?, by Peter LeCody – Much of what we take for granted in our daily lives is shipped by freight rail. And those same railcars could be sitting idle by Jan. 1 if Congress keeps playing a waiting game.

Seeing Red in the Texas Senate, by Mark Jones – Take a look at the voting records of the nine freshmen Texas state senators this year, and you'll see that seven were significantly more conservative than their predecessors.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin

•    A Conversation with Political Commentator Paul Begala on Oct. 15 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Trivia Night on Oct. 18 in Austin

•    A Conversation with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on Oct. 29 in Austin

•    A daylong higher education symposium on Nov. 16 at Baylor University in Waco

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

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ALEXA URA, The Texas Tribune



Paxton Asks Supreme Court to Reject Abortion Case
by ALEXA URA, The Texas Tribune
Oct 06, 2015 | 24 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Paxton Asks Supreme Court to Reject Abortion Case

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to turn away a legal challenge to the state's abortion restrictions filed by a coalition of abortion providers.

The abortion providers appealed to the high court almost a month ago, and justices have not yet decided whether to hear the case. In Monday's filing, the state's attorneys argued that a lower court was right in rejecting the challenge to abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013, known as House Bill 2. They also said that the abortion providers’ request was too broad and cited a lack of evidence proving the restrictions unconstitutional.

The HB 2 rules will require some abortion facilities to retrofit their clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, from minimum room sizes to pipelines for anesthesia and other modifications. A separate provision, which has already gone into effect, requires doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.

Originally, the abortion providers challenged the ambulatory surgical center provision and asked for exemptions from the admitting privileges requirement for two clinics: Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso. But the providers are now asking the Supreme Court to permanently block enforcement of both provisions.

In the AG’s brief filed with the high court, state attorneys argued that the abortion providers could not challenge the admitting privileges requirement beyond the exemptions for the two clinics on the border, because that provision of HB 2 has already been upheld by the courts in a separate lawsuit.

“[The abortion providers] wish to proceed as if their first lawsuit against HB 2 never happened,” the state attorneys wrote. “But they litigated that case to a final judgment, and arguments and evidence they chose not to present there are barred.”

Attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit, have argued that the abortion restrictions in HB 2 are unconstitutional, creating an undue burden for Texas women who would have to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion facility. The handful of abortion facilities in Texas that currently meet the hospital-like standards are in major cities.

The abortion providers’ attorneys also argued that the HB 2 restrictions do not advance the state's interest in promoting health.

In its brief, Paxton's office argued that the abortion providers have been unable to prove that HB 2 would impose an undue burden for the majority of women seeking the procedure — an argument the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals echoed in its June ruling.

The state attorneys contend the Legislature passed the restrictions to increase the safety of abortions and ensure that women receive “the highest standard of health care.” They added that the high court was not required to “judge for itself the medical effectiveness” of the restrictions and balance that again the “burdens purportedly caused by HB 2.”

“In short, petitioners would have this Court serve as 'the country’s ex officio medical board with powers to approve or disapprove medical and operative practices and standards throughout the United States’ — a role this Court has specifically declined to assume,” the state’s brief reads.

The abortion providers asked the high court to take up their case in September after losing at the appellate level. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit in June upheld most of the state's abortion law,

The appellate court carved out an exception from most of the hospital-like standards for the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen and granted one of the McAllen clinic’s doctors relief from the admitting privileges requirement. But it denied a request from abortion providers to delay the ruling’s implementation while the providers appealed to the high court.

That’s when the Supreme Court intervened in the case, voting 5-4 to put the 5th Circuit’s ruling on hold.

Paxton’s filing comes on the first day of the court’s new term. The justices must still decide whether to take up the case. If the court rejects the case, the 5th Circuit’s ruling would stand.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

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JENNIFER EMILY, Dallas Morning News