Texas Standard For April 7, 2021

The standardized STAAR test is set to go fully online soon, statewide. But a glitch in testing this week has many wondering, are we ready, or not? We’ll look at details. Other stories we’re tracking: the growing controversy over so-called vaccine passports quickly becoming a new culture war flashpoint. Are mandated certifications of vaccinations ethical? A closer look at some of the underlying considerations. And: Home prices skyrocketing in Texas cities, but if you’re thinking you can escape this trend by moving to rural Texas…think again. Also: The best chess team in the world? Look no further than the Rio Grande Valley. All of those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardApril 7, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

STAAR Glitches and Testing Concerns 

Online glitches yesterday forced Texas public schools to suspend the first day of state-required STAAR testing of students. Despite the pandemic, Texas students were required to take the STAAR in person. The widespread technical fail comes as the state tries to move the test entirely online for the 2022-2023 school year. Yolanda Rodriguez, the interim chief academic officer for the Houston Independent School District talks to the Standard about the setbacks.

Vaccine Passport Certification Policy and Ethical Considerations

Institutions and government entities that receive Texas tax dollars are now barred from forcing anyone here to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Gov. Greg Abbott issued his ban Tuesday, officially stepping into the national debate over so-called vaccine passports. Mark Hall is a professor at Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine Division of Public Health Sciences and has written about this debate from a public health perspective for the New England Journal of Medicine and talks to the Standard.

Texas Rent Relief Program

In mid-February, Texas launched a $1 billion program to help people who had fallen behind on rent because of the pandemic. A scathing new report from the state’s House Committee on Urban Affairs found very few people have actually been helped. KERA’s Christopher Connelly has more.

Texas Rural Real Estate Trends

It’s no secret that pandemic real estate prices are skyrocketing in Texas. But it’s not just properties in cities and suburbs that are red hot. Rural real estate in Texas has also taken off, particularly smaller properties of about 10 acres or less. Charles Gilliland, research economist with the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University, talks to the Standard.

UTRGV Chess Champions

The “final four” is a phrase most often associated with college basketball but it also applies to another collegiate sport: chess. On Sunday, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley took home the President’s Cup Chess Championship. It’s the third consecutive time the Vaqueros have claimed the national title. Bartek Macieja, a chess Grandmaster and UTRGV’s chess coach since 2012, talks to the Standard.

Voice Affirmation

For transgender people, dressing in a way that represents their gender is important. And sounding right is important, too. That’s where voice affirmation therapy can help. And it’s growing in Texas. KERA North Texas contributor Caroline Love reports.

Larry McMurtry and the Lonesome Dove Quadrilogy

Of the thousands of mourners who posted their goodbyes and their gratitudes to Texas writer Larry McMurtry last month, there was one stand-out theme. It was to thank McMurtry for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Lonesome Dove.” But as commentator W.F. Strong points out, the story of protagonists Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, doesn’t end with that one volume.

PolitiFact: Unaccompanied Minors in Custody 

Recently, Abbott tweeted that there are twice as many unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody today under President Biden, than the highest number recorded under President Trump in 2019. But is that true? Brandon Mulder is with PolitiFact Texas based at the Austin American-Statesman and vets the claim.


All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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