A history of the Texas textbook wars, and questions of whether those seeking to influence changes to textbooks can hold onto their power:
But highly placed stakeholders — ranging from those in publishing to sitting board members — believe the culture warriors are losing the ability to run roughshod over state education. After years of alienating the Legislature, the state board has seen its influence weakened. A changing textbook marketplace has eroded Texas’ clout, and technology is sweeping into the classroom, bringing with it the next generation of learning materials. The statewide reach of the culture warriors is ending.
The biggest test will take place when the state board considers a new high-school biology text next week. Another will follow in the ensuing months, as it takes up a new social studies text. How the state board and publishers respond to Bohlin’s critiques, to his evolutionary “gaps,” will determine whether the innuendo of God lingers in classroom discussions about evolution. It will determine whether the political ideology of an elected board shapes, by omission and addition, the history of America Texas students will learn for years hence.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5072 words)
Two years before the president's assassination, Dallas Morning News publisher Ted Dealey initiated a public showdown with Kennedy during what was supposed to be a friendly luncheon with Texas newspaper publishers. The story is documented in the new book Dallas 1963
"Dealey can't stand it. Leaning forward, half out of his seat, he suddenly interrupts Kennedy and speaks forcefully across the elegant dining table:
"'Isn't one of the purposes of this meeting to get an expression of grassroots thinking in Texas?'
"Kennedy smiles, perhaps unsure where things are headed, and slowly nods in agreement.
"Dealey abruptly growls: 'Well ... That being the case, I will present the grassroots thinking in Texas as they have been presented to me and as I understand them.'
"The clinking and scraping of silverware against the china comes to a halt. The room is silent, except for the sound of Texas publishers shifting uneasily in their seats."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3424 words)
Storm chaser Tim Samaras catapulted to fame for his scientific research studying tornadoes. The story of Samaras, his storm crew, and the tornado he couldn't outrun:
"Samaras had an uncanny ability for finding twisters and for escaping them with his life. But the monster hiding in the rain that day was something he had never encountered before. What neither Robinson nor Samaras could have known was that in seconds it had grown from a mile to 2.6 miles wide, making it the largest tornado ever documented. And it was tearing toward them across the wide-open wheat fields at highway speed. The difference between escape and incomprehensible violence was measured in hundreds of yards on Reuter Road. And while Robinson never looked back, his rear-facing dash camera did, capturing the last living images of a legend."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 29, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5657 words)
After her soldier-husband commits suicide, a woman finds a way to move on and help other people who have gone through similar experiences:
"The Unfortunate Friends: That's what they call themselves. Suzanne Baty is in her 50s, with the enviable skin and perfectly placed highlights of a Mary Kay saleswoman, which she happens to be. Bethany Peterson is a couple years older than Becca, with long blonde hair, a stylish denim dress and an identical sadness in her eyes.
"They're here tonight, gathered around a plate of goat cheese tots at Tillman's Roadhouse in Oak Cliff, because six months or so after their loved ones died they joined a support group for people whose spouses have killed themselves. Bonded by their shared experiences and strong Christian faith, they kept meeting after the formal sessions stopped."
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5691 words)
This week's picks include Fortune Magazine, the Dallas Observer, Priceonomics, Project Wordsworth, the Toronto Sun, fiction from The New Yorker and a guest pick by Emily Schultz.
A boy with kidney disease finds a way to thrive in high school thanks to a robot:
"'His personality helps out a lot,' says Kent Deville, Lyndon's chemistry teacher. 'A shier kid would have problems.' Lyndon isn't afraid to call out when he needs help, and he uses the bot's tricks to his advantage. He can zoom in, take photos of the whiteboard and homework corrections and refer back to everything later. 'It's like H.G. Wells,' Mr. Deville says. Kelsey Vasquez, a classmate, says Lyndon is actually more outgoing as the robot. 'He's shier in person,' she says, at least until he's had time to relax. 'I don't think I could be as happy as he is.'"
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4326 words)
A Dallas murder suspect is also a paranoid schizophrenic, and his changing mental state raises questions about whether he can stand trial:
"With medication he becomes someone else entirely, capable even of calm rationality. He would have to be induced into a state of synthetic sanity before he could stand trial for a crime that he allegedly committed while unmedicated.
"For now, though, he was just another uncooperative suspect.
"'We need your help. Are you going to help us?' Thompson's index finger jackhammered the photo. 'Look at him!'
"With his slight build and his short, blond hair, Winder looked hunted, like a boy among men. He looked up at the detectives and murmured, 'I don't remember.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5202 words)
"Dock," she said. "You're supposed to pitch today." Ellis focused his mind. No. Friday. He wasn't pitching until Friday. He was sure. "Baby," she replied. "It is Friday. You slept through Thursday." Ellis remained calm. The game would start late. Ample time for the acid to wear off. Then it struck him: doubleheader. The Pirates had a doubleheader. And he was pitching the first game. He had four hours to get to San Diego, warm up and pitch.
PUBLISHED: June 8, 2011
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4254 words)
PUBLISHED: Jan. 29, 2010
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5865 words)