Texas Education Agency Claims It Never Set a Cap on Special Education

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelNovember 3, 2016 11:31 am

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

The Texas Education Agency told the U.S. Department of Education in a letter that it never made school districts put limits on special education services. TEA Spokesperson Lauren Callahan says it was for clarification: 

“A reminder to them that we never set a cap on the number of students, percentage of students that can or should be serving in special education,” Callahan says. 

The federal government asked the TEA to weigh in after the Houston Chronicle reported that it imposed an 8.5 percent enrollment benchmark in 2004. The state agency did say it will stop using that enrollment benchmark in its special education monitoring system.

A quick public service announcement for procrastinators out there – tomorrow is the last day of early voting in Texas.

Of course, you can still cast your ballot on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8.

Tonight, Phil Danaher could reach a major milestone – he could become the winningest football coach in Texas High School history. Jeff Beckham, a writer for Texas Monthly, will be there too – hopefully – see it happen. He says the wins the Corpus Christi Calallen coach has racked up can’t just be attributed to his 40-year career.

“But he’s also been super successful during that time,” Beckham says. “His teams have won 10 games in a season which is a pretty big accomplishment for high school, many times, and so this win will be number 427 for him.”

That is if the team beats Flower Bluff High School in the district championship. In the lead-up to tonight’s game, Beckham learned what makes Phil tick – and how he ended up coaching football for decades. The number one reason: he loves his job. 

“The people I talked to, his coaches, his family, it’s the first thing they say – he loves what he does,” Beckham says. “He says he sees it as a calling. He actually grew up in South Texas, in Harlingen, and coaches were really like surrogate fathers for him. He lost his dad when he was just 2 years old. His mom raised four boys on her on, so growing up he looked to coaches as father figures, so it’s really not that surprising that he turned into a coach himself.” 

It also might not surprise you that another key to Phil’s long and successful career is being a competitive person.

“Anything he does he wants to win and he wants to win really badly – so much so that it’s really hard for him to wind down after games,” he says. “When everyone else has gone to bed he’s up til 2:00, 3:00 in the morning on his iPad playing Yahtzee and dice and card games against people all over the world, because that competitive juices for him have always been there, and he’s 67 years old and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all.”

Only two football coaches have more than 400 career wins in the state: Phil, of course, and a man by the name of G.A. Moore. Still, there’s one achievement that has alluded Phil – he’s never won a state championship. 

Beckham says state championship win would be a great cap to Phil’s career, but it’s not what keeps him going.