Texas Public Schools

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

April is National Autism Awareness Month and state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, has announced plans for a bill in 2015 that allows special needs children to attend classes in a school district without living in that district.

New statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control show that 1 in 68 U.S. children have some form of autism; Simmons, who has a 29-year-old son with a form of autism, said that means 6,000 children annually in Texas will be affected.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

Mexican-American studies courses were pushed to the back of the line; sometimes having no curriculum, as here in Texas, or being outright banned in states like Arizona.

Many academics and activists have argued for years that we aren't educating students about their independent cultures and are instead focusing on a predominant culture that focuses on the accomplishments of white Americans. But the changing demographics of Texas raised the issue to a fever pitch last week at the State Board of Education (SBOE).

Last Thursday, April 10, the Texas State Board of Education approved the creation of a new state elective course, which includes a class in Mexican-American studies. The board is now calling on book publishers to submit new textbooks for these courses.

School districts already had permission to create these special interest courses, but many districts wanted to give these courses some teeth.

Marisa Perez, an SBOE member from San Antonio, said that started with the creation of course standards.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

Texas Matters: In the last legislative session Gov. Perry threatened to and then vetoed the budget of the state's public integrity unit, a state agency that scrutinizes governmental affairs, when the Travis County district attorney, who oversees the unit, did not step down from her post. A special prosecutor is now looking into the case. Also on this show: The governor's race and pre-K, new addition to Texas public school curriculum, cleanup of oil spill on Texas coast, and endangered species vs. oil prospecting.

President George W. Bush closed the Civil Rights Summit in Austin by focusing on how education and access to higher education can be the great equalizer for many people. Bush said he feared the soft bigotry of low expectations is returning

Bush detailed efforts by President Lyndon Baines Johnson that led to the signing of the Elementary and Second Education Act, which focused new funding on the lowest funding school district and creation of Head Start. Bush said despite those efforts, education in America is still not effectively equal.

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