STAAR scores show continued struggles
Texas public student scores in standardized testing continue to improve since the pandemic, but more than half of those taking the test still struggle with math and just under half read below grade-level, the Texas Tribune reported.
Students in grades three through eight took the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests in math and reading last spring. The results were released last week by the Texas Education Agency.
Math scores have improved since the pandemic low of just 35% meeting grade level or above in math in 2021, up to 43% in the latest STAAR scores. The percentage of students reading at grade level or above was essentially flat at 52%, but still above pre-pandemic levels, which were 47% in 2019.
Teachers across Texas continue to work with passion and skill to help students learn,” said Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner. “This year’s results show the efforts of our educators continue to deliver improved results for students.”
Lawyers: Paxton used burner phones, fake Uber account
A series of documents filed by House impeachment managers claim suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gave indicted real estate developer Nate Paul “unfettered access” to the AG’s office in order to “harass his enemies,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
Paxton used burner phones, a secret personal email account and a fake Uber account in order to visit a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, the documents indicate.
“Uber records reflect drivers picked up Paxton under the alias of ‘Dave P’ a block from his home and ferried him to his lover’s or Paul’s properties more than a dozen times from August 6, 2020, until October 2, 2020,” the House managers wrote.
Paul allegedly bribed Paxton by paying for a house remodeling and giving Paxton’s lover a job, the documents indicate.
Paul was indicted in June for federal financial crimes. A federal grand jury is reportedly looking into Paxton’s connection with Paul. Paxton was impeached by the Texas House in late May and faces trial in the Senate on Sept. 5. He was immediately suspended without pay upon being impeached.
Paxton also faces a criminal trial next year on a 2015 indictment for securities fraud.
New strain of COVID-19 being monitored
The World Health Organization is monitoring a new strain of COVID-19 it says is accounting for a growing share of cases in several countries, including the United States, according to the Texas Standard. EG.5, or “Eris,” is being monitored to see how it might mutate.
Dr. Catherine Trosi, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, said it’s hard to know the exact cause of the recent uptick in COVID cases.
“When the public health emergency ended, a lot of tracking went away,” she told the Texas Standard. “The latest data shows 17% of cases are due to this variant. But we’re not tracking cases really well because people have stopped testing. Even if you test positive, it doesn’t get reported to health departments. So really the markers we have are hospitalizations, which we have seen go up quite significantly – although it’s important to remember we are still at historic lows in terms of hospitalizations due to COVID.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported a rolling seven-day average of 929 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, up 132 from the previous week, with 21 fatalities.
Employment records set in the state
Texas has more jobs and more people employed than ever before, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The state has recorded 29 consecutive months of growth and again leads the nation in the number of jobs added over the past year — 441,700 new positions since July 2022.
“Texas leads the nation in sustainable job growth with more than 2.7 million positions added in the past decade,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “The Texas economy remains strong, and TWC will continue to provide support through tools and resources for job seekers and employers alike.”
The leisure and hospitality sector led job growth with 9,800 jobs, while manufacturing added 6,600 positions, closely followed by private education and health service with 6,400 jobs. Of the 26,300 new jobs added in July, all but 400 were in the private sector.
Survey: 80% of anti-migrant buoys are in Mexico
A survey by the binational agency in charge of the Rio Grande indicates nearly all of the anti-migrant buoys Texas has installed in the river are on the Mexican side of the river, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The survey by the International Boundary and Water Commission found that of the 995-foot string of buoys installed near Eagle Pass last month, 787 feet — nearly 80% — are on the Mexican side.
The U.S. Justice Department has sued the state in attempt to force it to remove the barrier. In court, the state has insisted the barrier is on the U.S. side of the river. Mexico contends the barriers violate both federal law and an international treaty between it and the United States.
Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: email@example.com.