With rapidly shifting state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing fallout from the winter storm and more, it’s been a busy week in Texas politics.
Texas Tribune education reporter Kate McGee joined Texas Standard for our weekly recap, sharing the latest developments on the state’s COVID-19 response and her own work delving into UT Austin’s “Eyes of Texas” controversy. Here are the highlights:
Student athlete protest against “Eyes of Texas” draws donor backlash
“Since last summer a bunch of students athletes at UT had called on the school to get rid of ‘The Eyes of Texas.’ … There’s a history that some students point to with ‘The Eyes of Texas,’ that it was premiered at a campus minstrel show, which is point that a lot of students make that it’s a song that makes them really uncomfortable.
We put a Freedom of Information Act request (to UT) in to get emails … The emails showed that there was overwhelming support for the song from alumni and donors who were not only asking and pleading for the school to keep the song – but saying if you don’t were walking away, and were taking our money with us.”
Gov. Greg Abbott ends Texas’ statewide mask mandate
“There was a lot of concern from teacher groups as to how this would play out in schools, and whether students would have to continue wearing masks in the classroom. The Texas Education Agency eventually said yes – masks will still be required in Texas public schools, unless a local school board says no, they’re optional.”
Texas teachers are now eligible for COVID vaccination
“On Wednesday, some more good news for teachers: they became a priority for the vaccine. K-12 schoolteachers, early childhood program employees, child care providers can now start to sign up for the vaccine.”