Texas Standard For August 23, 2021

As more Texas students return to school, more are finding confusion and chaos over mask orders. So where do we stand? We’ll have more on the confusion. And: The start of an in-depth look at some of the new laws set to take effect in Texas next month; today, a look at restrictions aimed at curbing the teaching of critical race theory. Also: The return of a quorum in the Texas House: with the stalemate broken in the second special session, what comes next? Plus: A new program at Texas A&M to encourage farming sustainability, with the help of bugs.  Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardAugust 23, 2021 9:12 am

Here’s what’s on Texas Standard for Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Ongoing Legal Battles Over Masks

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases has made for a chaotic return to school for Texas students and parents. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order stating no school or local government could require masks. But then school districts and colleges began challenging the governor’s order both in and out of court. Here to talk about what is going on across the state is Texas Tribune reporter Joshua Fechter.

New Texas Laws Part 1: Critical Race Theory

Next month, more than 650 new Texas laws take effect. Leading up to Sept. 1, reporters from across the state are explaining some of the most high profile and consequential new laws. Today, we’re tackling House Bill 3979, which targets teaching critical race theory (CRT) in schools – even though CRT is not mentioned by name in the text. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports.

Texas Dems Return Ahead Of Upcoming Redistricting Session

The Texas House regained a quorum last week after enough Democrats returned to the Texas Capitol. That means the second special session will resume, but there’s another huge job ahead for lawmakers – drawing new political districts in a state that has grown more than any other over the past decade. KUT’s Ashley Lopez reports.

Dip In Gas Prices

The weather’s burning hot but one thing cooled off a bit last week: oil prices. You may have noticed it in the form of a slight dip in gas prices over the past several days. Here to explain why and what the state’s energy outlook is going forward is Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Insect Farming Sustainability Project

Climate change is forcing us to rethink pretty much everything, including what we eat. In order to meet the food demands of population growth, we’re going to have to get creative. A new program at Texas A&M will explore one avenue that could accomplish this: insect farming. Joining us now to tell us more is Jeffrey Tomberlin, professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, and one of the co-leaders of the project.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre

As the pandemic continues, KERA and The Dallas Morning News are collaborating to document how North Texas’ arts and culture scene is working to adapt. KERA’s Jerome Weeks traveled to Massachusetts where Dallas Black Dance Theatre was opening its new season.

Vietnam Veterans And Withdrawal From Afghanistan

The images of chaos in Afghanistan have resonated with veterans from another long war: Vietnam. That conflict was far more deadly than the one in Afghanistan, but both ended with an enemy takeover of the capital city and a desperate American-led evacuation. Some Vietnam veterans say the Afghanistan withdrawal has triggered symptoms of post-traumatic stress, while others are voicing frustration and powerlessness. Texas Public Radio’s Carson Frame reports for the American Homefront Project.

Gerrymandering And Prisons

Each decade, new electoral districts are drawn across the country to accommodate for population changes. In theory, redistricting is about an even distribution of power and resources. In reality, redistricting is more about power than anything else. And a group called the Prison Policy Initiative argues Census power and influence can be exponentially higher for communities with large prison populations. To talk more about this, we’re joined by Aleks Kajstura, legal director for the Prison Policy Initiative.

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

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.