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Posts published in “Day: October 30, 2001

Time has come again to study way we pay for our schools

Public education in Texas has been shaped by reform since birth. In fact, one of the cata1ysts that fueled the Texas Revolution was the charge that Mexico hadn’t done enough to provide Texans with public schools.

Today, we have grown from a young nation with 30,000 Texans into the second largest state with nearly 21 million people. Our population soared 23 percent in the last ten years alone, spurring demographers to point out that 3.9 million new Texans counted in the last census rival the 1990 populations of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio combined.

Growth amid changing dynamics mean the time has come again to look for new ways to pay for public education. Since many newcomers may not know what state leaders have gone through to find an equitable way to finance our schools, it is vitally important for everyone to understand the difficult job it has been.

The Texas Constitution, adopted in 1876, established public schools in state law and requires the Legislature to provide for “an efficient system of public education.” It is the word “efficient” that raised the issue of equity in school finance that lawmakers still struggle with today.

The first major overhaul of our school system came with the Gilmer-Aikin Act – passed in 1949 after a heated debate. The new law created a foundation program to help equalize state aid. Opponents called the proposals “communist” or “fascist,” and the House Education Committee held the first all-night committee hearing in state history to take public testimony. But perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Gilmer-Aikin Act are two concepts that remain at the core of equalization today – equity for students and equity for taxpayers.

School finance changed little until a federal district court declared the system unconstitutional in a 1971 landmark decision in Rodriguez v. San Antonio. Plaintiffs argued that children who lived in communities with low property wealth were treated unfairly because the highest tax rates couldn’t begin to approach the funding the wealthiest communities could raise with much lower tax rates.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision in 1973, ruling school finance was a state issue and not a federal matter. But the stage was set. The struggle for equity would continue for the next generation.

The mid-1980s, brought sweeping reform of the Texas public school system and the momentum for equity increased when a group of poor districts filed a lawsuit in state court – Edgewood v. Kirby. Plaintiffs cited discrimination and charged it violated the constitutional requirement for an “efficient and free public school system.”

In 1987, the court agreed and ordered the Legislature to create a more equitable funding mechanism. The case reached the Texas Supreme Court on appeal in 1989. It ruled with the plaintiffs and ordered a new plan for the next school year.
Four consecutive and contentious special sessions followed before lawmakers finally approved a bill that would increase school funding more than $500 million. But the plaintiffs weren’t satisfied. Three months later, the district court agreed and ordered another plan within the year.

Once again, the Texas Supreme Court heard the case on appeal. And once again, found the system unconstitutional. It gave the Legislature a little more than two months to come up with another idea. Under a tight deadline and serious threats to cut off state finances, lawmakers created County Education Districts to consolidate funding.

Within the year, the high court found that unconstitutional too, labeled the new districts unlawful taxing units, and demanded another plan. In short order, the Legislature hammered together a new multi-option school finance plan just three days shy of the court-ordered deadline that set a top tax rate and required high-wealth districts to share with low-wealth schools. A number of poor school districts appealed that plan too, But this time, the Texas Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

Recently, a number of wealthy districts filed a new suit in state court arguing the current system is a state property tax and violates the law. The court disagreed – noting a majority of school districts would have to reach the top tax rate to support that argument. The court also said as long as districts were giving optional homestead exemptions and spending funds on activities other than academics, they were voluntarily taxing at the top rate – and not due to any state requirement.

Nonetheless, the challenge was clear. It is time once again to thoroughly reexamine the way Texas pays for public education and look at alternatives that will meet constitutional muster.

Speaker Pete Lancy and I have appointed a Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance for that very purpose. A skilled group of legislators and seasoned public members led by Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo and Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson have been asked to consider all of the equity issues that govern school finance and revenue resources that fund it, including the property tax system. Public hearings will be held throughout the state and I hope all Texans will seriously consider taking part in the latest debate.

History has shown that just being dissatisfied with the way we find our schools isn’t going to change it. We must all work together now to make sure all children are getting the opportunities they need and deserve with a school funding system that is not only constitutional, but fair.


Bertha Nell Morris
left us November 2, 2000

We watched you suffer, we saw you fade away, although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay. It broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone. A part of us went with you, the day God called you home.

Your precious heart stopped beating, your spirit now at rest. God wrapped his arms around you and whispered come with me. With tearful eyes and broken hearts we knew God only takes the best. Sunshine fades, shadows fall, but sweet remembrance outlasts all. You are always in my heart dear sister.

Paula Butler

HCCS-NE celebrates Hispanic Heritage month

Raquel Rodriquez looks on as four-year-old daughter Ailyn enjoys an educational game of Mexican Bingo during the recent Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at Houston Community College System-Northeast. Participants in the festivities, held at the college’s Northeast Campus, were treated to cultural highlights of Columbia, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico as described by students, faculty and local citizens from those countries; bingo games where items were called out in Spanish and then English; the singing of “American the Beautiful” by English-as-a-second-language students led by instructor Yen Nguyen; and a reception featuring culinary delights from the various Hispanic countries.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated at HCCS every year from September 15 to October 15.

Stephens PTO and students help community

Stephens Elementary PTO is again sponsoring its annual holiday food drive to assist area families in need. Students will be collecting food items from November 1 – 18. Collection boxes will be placed in the front hallway at the school to receive donated items. Items such as canned fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, cereal – any non-perishable food items —may be donated. PTO president Jenny Rex stated, “Stephens has always been active in helping the community. This is one way that some extra help can be given. Last year we were able to assist ten families by giving them a food basket.”

Stephens PTO recently provided the moonwalk for the area “Make a Difference Day” activities. Students made a difference for Pilgrim Place, a neighborhood retirement/nursing home, by collecting donations to help provide extra items needed for Pilgrim Place residents. They also made a difference for the Red Cross with a grand total in donations of $3,710.46. “I am so proud of our school. Todd Davis, our principal, really supports the efforts of the PTO and students when we want to do a community project. We appreciate that so much,” Rex said.

Anyone interested in making a contribution for the holiday food drive may drop the items off at Stephens Elementary, 2402 Aldine Mail Route during regular school hours.

Dance Association offers scholarships

Dance Association of Houston (DAH) is offering scholarships to Children ages 3 to 16 who have had no previous formal dance instruction. DAN teaches Jazz, ballet, lyrical a pom in addition to many other programs.

Dance Association of Houston, (DAH) is offering sponsorship up to $1000 for students that want to try out for their high school drill teams but have little or no previous dance experience.
Dance Association of Houston (DAH) is now offering free classes for special needs children ages 6 to 16 years old. For information or eligibility guidelines please call 281-537-5455.

HPD holds Grandparents Luncheon

Houston Police Cheif C.O. Bradford recently hosted hundreds of our city’s grandparents at the HPD’s 10th Annual Grandparents Luncheon. Among those recognized was Clara Kizzee (seated) of Northeast Houston. Here, Clara and her daughter Jackie Doaks visit with Chief Bradford at the luncheon. HPD recognizes grandparents for the important roles they play in our society including the responsibility for some of raising their grandchildren due to family circumstances.

Owls hope to fly high at Fresno State

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a college football team in Houston that’s worth watching.
It’s the Rice Owls, who have quietly put together a 6-1 season (as of Oct. 26) and are in line to land their first bowl bid in 40-plus years.

This Saturday, the Owls travel to Fresno, CA to take on the previously undefeated Fresno State Bulldogs, who were upset two weeks ago, 35-30, by Boise State (a team Rice crushed earlier this season). A win in the land of raisins would basically hand the WAC championship to Ken Hatfield’s team, so this is a huge weekend for the Owls and their faithful.

Before we take a look at that game and a number of others, let’s review last week’s results. A 9-3 week brought the season mark to 52-20 (72%).
Now let’s look at this week’s game, starting with the high school schedule.

Aldine vs. MacArthur: Two long-time rivals face off in a game that is key to Aldine’s playoff hopes. The Mustangs got a huge win over Memorial two weeks ago on a late field goal. That win should go a long way towards securing another trip to the post season for Bill Smith’s team. MacArthur saw its playoff hopes dashed by Nimitz two weeks ago, but expect a spirited effort from Teny Forga’s team in this one. The Generals could make their season by upsetting Aldine, and you can be sure Smith and his charges are well aware of that fact. My pick, Aldine 27, MacArthur 23

Eisenhower vs. Stratford: Richard Carson’s Eagles are running on all cylinders. The offense is putting up impressive numbers, while the defense is being its usually stingy and hard-hitting self. With one game remaining in the regular season, the Eagles want to go into the playoff on a roll, which is not good news for Stratford. Look for another dominating performance this weekend by the Eagles. My pick, Eisenhower 38, Stratford 6

Nimitz vs. Spring Woods: Speaking of dominating performances, the Cougars put on such a display two weeks ago when they put 57 points on the board against MacArthur. Nimitz is playing as well as any team in the area and with a key season-ending encounter with Aldine on tap in Week 10, the Cougars and head coach Randy Rowe know they cannot afford a let down against Spring Woods this week. Look for another strong rushing effort from the Cougars, who have a stable of quality backs to whom to turn. My pick, Nimitz 42, Spring Woods 10

Now let’s take a look at the college scene, where a number of interesting games dot the schedule this week.

Texas A&M at Texas Tech: The Aggies have proven they can win on the road this year and that’s important because Lubbock is not one of their favorite places to visit. A&M’s 31-24 win at Kansas State two weeks ago was a big one for R.C. Slocum and his team, but this one might be a tougher road test as they take on a Tech team that played hard in its 41-31 loss at Nebraska two weeks ago. Quarterback Cliff Kingsbury threw the ball all over the field and expect more of the same this week against an A&M defense that has returned to its Wrecking Crew fame. If the Red Raiders can score early on the Aggies, it could turn into a long day for the bunch from College Station. This might be the week Tech proves to the rest of the Big 12 it’s on its way to becoming one of the upper echelon teams in the league. My pick, Texas Tech 27, A&M 18

Rice at Fresno State: This game pits one of the country’s best running games against one of the country’s best passing games, so something has to give. The key to a Rice win will be how well it’s running game controls the clock to keep FSU’s David Carr off the field. Boise State proved Fresno State’s defense can be scored upon and the Owls can put up points with the best of them. Over the years, the Owls have stumbled in big road games, but something tells me this is a different Rice team. My pick, Rice 37, Fresno State 35

Florida State at Clemson: This could be the year when the son defeats the father as Tommy Bowden goes up against his papa, Bobby Bowden in a key ACC contest. Clemson stumbled two weeks ago to a surging North Carolina team, the same NC team that trounced FSU earlier this season, so father and son do have a loss to North Carolina in common. Clemson will rely on super quarterback Woody Danzler to pull off the upset this Saturday. Danzler can beat teams with his feet and arm, so expect the Seminoles to see plenty of him this week. This is somewhat of a down year for the Seminoles, but don’t expect them to go quietly. This could be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. My pick, Clemson 31, Florida State 30

Tennessee at Notre Dame: It’s amazing what a few wins in a row will do for a team. The Irish have ripped off three straight wins (as of Oct. 26) against teams they should beat, but this Saturday, they host one of the country’s best teams in Tennessee so we’ll see just how much ND has improved. The Volunteers are a balanced team, which could present problems for the Notre Dame defense, but the Irish offense has come alive under sophomore quarterback Carlyle Holiday, who has been a nice addition to the team. Tennessee is very much alive in the BCS hunt and a win on the road against an improved Notre Dame team could enhance their standing in the BCS. My pick, Tennessee 26, Notre Dame 21

UCLA at Washington State: At the start of the season, nobody expected this game to be THE game of the year in the Pac 10, but it is. The much-improved Cougars have been one of the biggest surprises in the country, while the Bruins have steadily gotten better each week. Both teams have big-play offenses, so the key will be which team plays better defense in this one. The nod there goes to UCLA, which has stifled opponents all season on that side of the ball. My pick, UCLA 33, Washington State 20

Now let’s take a look at what the NFL h as to offer this weekend.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Don’t look now, but the defending Super Bowl champions are on the ropes, and the Steelers look like the Super Bowl Steelers of old. If you are a fan of hard-hitting, defensive football, then this game should be right up your alley. The Steelers defense has outplayed Baltimore’s vaunted stop troops this year and they’d like nothing more than to hang another loss on the Ravens, who have owned them over the last few years. The Steelers are no fluke. They have the league’s best running game and one of the top defenses, while the Ravens have struggled on offense and their defense has shown a few cracks this year. Expect the Steeler faithful to be charged up for this one, which should give the Steelers a huge boost. My pick, Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 13

Dallas at NY Giants: The Giants may have a great defense, but their offense is pathetic. Head coach Jim Fassell can’t decide on which running back to play, the burly Ron Dayne or the flashy Tiki Barber. That has caused problems with the passing game, but Giant fans shouldn’t fret because they basically have a bye this week against an undermanned Dallas team. The Cowboys have played hard this year, but their offense has yet to get untracked and it certainly won’t this week against the sack-happy Giants. My pick, NY Giants 21, Dallas 10

Tampa Bay at Green Bay: What’s wrong with the Buccaneers? A lot. For a team that was supposed to waltz to the Super Bowl they sure have done a lot of stumbling and bumbling around this year. The offense fools no one and teams are finding ways to attack a defense that at one time was considered the best in the game. Not any more. Things won’t get any easier this week when they travel to Green Bay, a place that has not been kind to the Bucs over the years. With an extra week to prepare and get over their 35-13 loss to Minnesota, expect the Packers and quarterback Brett Favre to come out breathing fire as they get back in the hunt for the NFC Central title. My pick, Green Bay 24, Tampa Bay 14

Denver at Oakland: Let’s hope this one on Monday night turns out better than the last few duds we’ve had to suffer through. Both teams do have offenses that can put up a lot of points, so this should be an entertaining game to watch. Add to the fact that this is one of the fiercest rivalries in the league and you have the chance for another classic between these two AFC rivals. The Raiders will look to exploit a weak Denver secondary, so look for plenty of passes to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, while the Broncos will mix things up and try to get the running game back on track. Terrell Davis’ expected return could do a lot to ignite the Broncos, but in the end, the Raiders defense will have the final say in this one. My pick, Oakland 31, Denver 27

5th annual Clear Lake/Galveston Bob Marley Festival coming November 10-11

The 11th Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour travels to approximately twenty cities each year spreading Bob Marley’s message of peace, unity and “one love.” The Clear Lake Festival, originally held in Galveston has been part of this Tour for the last 4 years. Over the last 10 years, the Tour has visited 45 cities in the United States and abroad making it the longest annually touring festival in the world.
The Tour will visit Clear Lake for the 5th Annual Bob Marley Festival on Sat. & Sun., Nov 10-11, 2001. The Festival will be held at the Clear Lake City Park Pavilion, 5001 Nasa Rd 1 (From Houston, take the Gulf Freeway (I-45) South towards Galveston, exit Nasa Rd. 1 turn left (East). Travel approximately 5 miles, you will pass the Hilton Hotel and at the next light and turn left into the Park). Music plays from Noon until 10:00 PM Saturday, and Noon until 9:00 PM Sunday.

Tickets for the Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour are available at all Ticketmaster Outlets and online at Ticket prices are $5 presale, plus service charge and $7 Day of Show. In the spirit of Bob Marley, fans can get into the Festival from Noon to 3:00 PM each day by donating $5 in cash or $8 in nonperishable food.

In 1991, the Festival began its tradition of asking the public for donations of food for nonprofit organizations. Over the last 10 years, this tradition has generated over $225,000 in cash and over 1,000,000 pounds of food, school supplies and books for nonprofit organizations throughout the US. Donations of cash and food at this Festival will benefit nonprofit 501©(3) organizations including the Endangered Species Media Project and the University of Houston-Clear Lake Dolphin Research Team.

The Endangered Species Media Project promotes understanding of how the quality of human life can be enhanced by the preservation of our wilderness and wildlife. The University of Houston-Clear Lake Dolphin Research Team conducts research on the dolphins in Galveston Bay.

The Tour’s performers include reggae bands, dance troupes, jugglers, and poets. Children will enjoy our Playscape Village hosted by Blowup Inflatables For Kids, featuring games, rides and Native American storytellers. As in previous years, the Tour will feature Caribbean, African, and Third World arts and crafts along with some of the best foods from these regions. Many of these vendors travel from city to city with the Tour.

The Tour features performances by the next generation of reggae and world beat music superstars. A core group of 25 acts perform in each Festival. In addition, local bands are recruited to perform in each city on the Tour. In addition, a tribute to Osibisa will be performed by Dr. King Cobra. Groups slated to perform include: Rudy Vasquez (Dallas; Tribute to Bob Marley); TexAfrican (Houston; Roots Reggae); Shark Attack (Clear Lake; Reggae); Soul Stingers (Austin; Jamaican Do Wop, Rock N Soul); D.R.U.M. (Houston; Worldbeat); Higher Heights (New Orleans, Canada; Roots Reggae); Sambaxe (Brazil; Mexico; Austin, Drum & Dance Group); Project 1 (Trinidad; Roots, Fusion, Hip-Hop, Soca Reggae); Cosmic Force (Houston; Roots Reggae); Ghandaia (Brazil; Mexico; Caribbean Spanish Fusion Reggae); Trevor Flowers & Irie I’s (Belize; Houston Roots Pop Reggae); Dr. King Cobra (W. Africa Nigeria; Tribute to Osibisa); Bigga Boss (Toronto, Canada; Houston; Dance Hall Reggae); DJRJ (Austin; DJ Mix Master); SunVamp (Clear Lake; Fusion Worldbeat Rock); Rajamani & Ensemble (India; Indian Gypsy Folk Worldbeat); Ayemaya (Chile, Mexico; Fairy Fire Dancers); Felix-The Catman (Granada, DJ Mix Master Roots Dancehall Plus); Tour Master of Ceremonies: LJ Blasé (New Orleans).
Please remember, no food, beverages, glass containers or pets will be allowed into the Festival. For more information, or to inquire about participation in the festival as a volunteer, vendor or performer, please call the Hotline at 713-688-3773. The Festival can also be reached by email at: and on the Internet at:

The 2001 Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour is not associated with any other event. The Festival is produced nationwide by SV Kyles & Associates in conjunction with EarthWorks Productions. Sponsors include: XM Radio, “Beyond AM, Beyond FM,” Texas Music Magazine, Miller Beer and KKRW 93.7 “The Arrow.”


Festival Theme: Natural Mystic

Bob Marley expressed his thoughts on the Natural Mystic and its relationship to race relations and positive thinking in the following quote. “That’s right we need. It’s what your mouth say, keeps you alive. It’ s what your mouth say kills you. And the greatest thing is life. So that is the thing where JAH (GOD) puts you through now. Weed out the devils, overcome the devils with the natural mystic of a thing call love.”


In 1970, around the time Bob Marley was discovered, a new style of music known as Afro-Rock burst into international prominence. Starting in London, a group of roots minded musicians, Osibisa, became the original superstars of African music. Their breath taking concerts combined with the sheer virtuosity of their music propelled them onto major concert stages all over the world. Their fusion of African music and rock was felt throughout a generation of African musicians, particularly those who were teenagers during the time of the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and James Brown. Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, Cat Stevens, War and many other stars of that era heralded them as superstars. Osibisa means, “criss-cross rhythms exploding with happiness” in the Ghanaian language.

Heritage Society to host mixer

Mix and mingle with fellow Houstonians interested in the preservation of our city at a mixer previewing The Heritage Society’s new exhibit which features one of the largest antique toy collections in the nation.

The event, sponsored by Southwest Bank of Texas, will be held on Wednesday, November 14th from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the museum gallery and on the patio.

Relish this breathtaking setting of historic Houston nestled beneath Houston’s dynamic modern downtown skyline.

Tour one of the historic house museums, view the exhibit Lions and Tigers and Bears: Animal Playthings from the Toy Collection, and enjoy a cash bar and appetizers generously donated by Liberty Noodle.

The Heritage Society is located downtown in Sam Houston Park at 1100 Bagby between Lamar and Dallas. The parking lot is located eastbound on Allen Parkway just after 145 on the right or at the stoplight at Clay and Bagby.

For more information on parking and the event visit or call 713-655-1912.

Houston Hospice offers free seminars

Houston Hospice is presenting, “An Empty Place at the Table”, a workshop to assist people who are facing the holidays after the death of a loved one.
Workshops will be held at three locations: John Wesley United Methodist Church; 5830 Bermuda Dunes on Saturday November 10; Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital, 920 Frostwood on Monday November 12; and Wellness Center, 7731 Southwest Freeway on Wednesday, November 14.

To register call Kay Bergen or Kay French at 713-468-2441. The sessions are free.