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Politics and Governance

Three Reasons Why a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment Is Conceptually Flawed

With every economic slowdown in recent history, calls for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution reach a fever pitch. Many times, this sort of “common-sense” governance is presented with hokey populist rhetoric equating the budget of an average American family with that of our federal government. This can—at least to a naïve observer—be […]

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Education Policy

Public Schools Have a Revenue Problem, Not a Spending Problem

With school districts across Texas rallying against drastic budget cuts, many elected officials and critics of public schools have tried to cast educators as being responsible for the situation they’re currently facing. These critics charge that schools need to learn to be more efficient with the resources they have and that more competition and accountability […]

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Health & Social Policy

Homophobia Still Alive and Well in Texas Politics

This has been a landmark year in gay rights.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, New York became the seventh state or territory to legalize gay marriage and key public figures like Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama threw their weight behind the It Gets Better campaign.  Although these are significant strides toward […]

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Education Policy

The “Other” Tragedy in Public School Funding

  We’re all aware of the beating public education took this past legislative session. A total of $5.3 billion was cut, representing the first time Texas deliberately underfunded its schools. As a result, thousands of teachers lost their jobs and hundreds of innovative programs were ended. However, a less familiar, but equally unfortunate reality of […]

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Education Policy

Texas’ Charter School Movement Shows Growing Pains

  Charter schools are quickly becoming an important piece of both national and state-level education reform efforts. They’ve been praised in movies like “Waiting For Superman” as one of the few hopes for improving inner-city education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made boosting charter school enrollment on criteria for the Race to the Top grant […]

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Education Policy

To Truly Fix U.S. Education, Start Outside the Classroom

  Frustrated by rising costs and stagnant achievement levels on standardized tests, American politicians and media-savvy education reformers have over the past several years pushed for a complete overhaul of this country’s public school system. The ways their frustration has been vented – from demonizing teacher unions to implementing punitive policies that look to evaluate […]

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Misc

Student documentary filmmakers at LBJ focus on issues facing immigrant, Muslim community in Texas

  Graduate students at the LBJ school shot and edited their own mini-documentaries as part of class led by Dr. Paul Stekler, a UT professor and award-winning filmmaker. These 10-minute films focused on a variety of issues including American assumptions about Muslim women; the Dream Act and the individuals it would affect; and how one […]

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Education Policy

Keeping Schools Out of the OR

  As Texas legislators and education officials are scrambling to find ways to reduce school spending, a few of the politically savvy ones are spinning the budget crisis as a means to “reinvent public education in Texas.” However, the cost-saving measures they are proposing are simply more strongly-worded versions of the same complaints we’ve heard […]

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Education Policy

Is This New Wave of Educational Philanthropy Really Helping Anything?

For as long as there has been a public education system, there have been wealthy families that have ignored it, opting instead for expensive private schools. But lately, wealthy Americans have stopped turning their noses up at public education and are doing something that is pretty remarkable: They’re investing in it. Microsoft founder Bill Gates […]