Most Schools Are Open, But Harvey Will Impact Education In Texas For Years To Come

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelOctober 13, 2017 2:12 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Texas lawmakers got an update Thursday on how Hurricane Harvey has impacted the state’s schools.

First to testify was Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. He told the House Public Education Committee that almost all of the school districts affected by the historic storm have reopened.

“Districts are – all but two – are back up and running but that doesn’t mean all the schools themselves are back up and running, and there’s a lot of students displaced within districts and across district boundaries regardless of the status of the district being open or not open,” Morath said.

The two districts that are still closed are Port Aransas and Aransas Pass ISDs.

In total, Morath said 1.9 million students attend school in the 60 counties that fall under Gov. Greg Abbott’s state disaster declaration for Harvey.

It became clear during the hearing that Harvey’s destruction might be felt throughout the state’s entire education system, because Texas relies on tax receipts from property-rich school districts to help pay for poorer ones – a system known as recapture. That leaves the state vulnerable when areas like Houston experience widespread property damage.

“So we could see a real drop in recapture for the next ten years,” said State Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston, Texas warning that it could take years for property values to bounce back in Harvey-affected areas.

An Iowa trucking company found itself under intense scrutiny after a horrific human smuggling incident this past July in Texas.

“A desperate plea for water overnight reveals a horrifying scene in Southwest San Antonio. A parked 18-wheeler packed with dozens of immigrants – some of whom died in the stifling trailer now several local and state agencies are trying to piece to together this tragic story of human trafficking.” That’s how a television news report described the incident.

A total of ten immigrants died. They had been packed into a semitrailer owned by the company, Pyle Transportation. This week federal regulars shut them down after a review of the company found that heir safety rating was so bad that they couldn’t stay in business.

Even though Pyle Transportation has not been directly implicated in the San Antonio human smuggling case, regulators continued to find safety violations over the last few months. That included drivers working more than their allowed hours, overweight truck loads and even trucks with tires and brakes that weren’t maintained.

Many of the largest universities in Texas saw an increase in reports of rape in 2016 compared to the year before.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas A&M University saw the largest increase in reported on-campus rapes. Thirty were reported in 2016. 13 rapes were reported in 2015.

A&M’s Title IX coordinator told the Chronicle the increase in reporting is due in part to more awareness about university resources to investigate assault.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of reported sexual assaults has increased every year from 2008 to 2015 on Texas University campuses.