Uplift Education Sat on Teacher-Rape Allegations for More Than a Year, Family Claims

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Donald Carter Jr.
A Dallas family says Uplift Education kept a known sexual predator on staff as a teacher for more than a year after learning he raped their teenage daughter.

The rape, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the parents and alleged victim (all identified by pseudonyms), happened on the night of Uplift Hampton Prep's homecoming game in November 2011.

Carter, who is currently charged with sexual assault, had been involved in "other deviant and felonious sexual relationships with other students at Hampton Prep" when he set his sights on the girl. He began a "careful and methodical process of grooming," giving her an inordinate amount of attention in school and calling her and texting her frequently, often after hours, putting increasing pressure on her to have sex.

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Texas Now Just Fifth to Last In Per-Student Education Spending

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Elgin County Archives
Once upon a time, when public schools could afford art.
The Texas legislature's decision to cut $5.4 billion from the public education budget three years ago had some rather predictable consequences: fewer teachers, larger class sizes and a sizable drop in the telling funding-per-pupil metric. Texas promptly dropped to 49th on the latter metric among states and Washington, D.C.

This past legislative session restored some $3.4 billion to public schools, which lawyers for the state touted as proof that Texas' school finance system is not in fact broken and shouldn't be interfered with by the courts.

Whether Austin District Judge William Dietz buys that argument will become clear in May, when he's expected to rule in an enormous school-finance lawsuit. For now, we can only marvel at the gains the legislature's partial funding restoration has brought about.

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The Texas Education Agency Is Preparing to Close an Azle Charter School for Foster Kids

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The way that Azleway Charter School Superintendent Steve Lenz describes it, his students wouldn't last long at a regular old public school.

Even the ones that aren't hospitalized or in special ed are often several grades behind where they should be. They also tend to move a lot. "Some of our students might come to us for three months, some might come for nine months, some might stay for two or three years," Lenz says.

Worse, they're often mistrustful of adults, and might do something violent to show it, like throw a desk at a teacher.

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Are Mike Morath and Dallas ISD's Home-Rule Backers Overstating How Terrible the Schools Are?

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Dallas ISD Trustee Mike Morath, who came forward yesterday to explain his role as the watchmaker who set into motion Support Our Public Schools, is Rain Man-like in his ability to spout off statistics. He -- and Mayor Mike Rawlings and the others behind the home-rule push -- have been dropping a lot of numbers recently, giving the general impression that DISD is an abject and irredeemable failure.

But Morath et al might be overstating things just a bit. DISD isn't Highland Park, but is it really as awful as they say?

The short answer is no. The Dallas Morning News' Matthew Haag does a solid job of picking apart one of SOPS' claims, that "Only 7% of DISD seniors graduate high school prepared to go to college." (In his weekend Q&A with the DMN, Morath puts the figure at 8.1 percent).

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Tarrant County College's White Student Union Debuts on National Hate-Group List

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Richard Railey
Just so there's no confusion, the White Student Union of Tarrant County College never had any official connection to Tarrant County College. The group was founded a little more than a year ago by Richard Railey, a 56-year-old white supremacist who happened taking classes there. There was nothing for the school to do but ask Railey to include a disclaimer "Not an officially chartered or school sanctioned club") and tweak the name to avoid confusion. (it's now simply the White Student Union of Tarrant County).

The Tarrant County GOP also made clear it wanted nothing to do with the organization (in the past it has counted Railey as a precinct chair). Ronald Reagan, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, all of whom Railey claims as ideological allies, would no doubt have the same reaction.

Nor, it seems, did Railey's fellow students thrill to his message, which had a little to do with a specific program aimed at boosting academic achievement among minority students and very much to do with white people being awesome. The registration table he set up on campus last spring apparently garnered little interest.

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The Arguments Against Dallas ISD's Home-Rule Charter Push Are All Pretty Terrible

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Dallas ISD trustee Carla Ranger, one of the main opponents of the new home-rule charter push.
The folks behind Support Our Schools, the group pushing to free Dallas ISD from many state regulations by turning it into a home-rule district, have finally gotten around to explaining themselves.

Their stated goals: to combat voter apathy, extend the school year and school day, woo back the middle class, make it easier to fire bad teachers and provide more local control over funding and curriculum.

In response, trustee Carla Ranger took to her blog -- again -- to decry the effort as a cynical power grab by the city's business elite:

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Dallas ISD Trustees Are Skeptical of Shadowy Home-Rule District Push

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Trustee Mike Morath is involved in the push to turn DISD into a home-rule district. Somehow.
There are plenty of very good reasons to blow up Dallas ISD's board of trustees.
Its meetings are long, petty and often unproductive. In a district that's more than two-thirds Hispanic, just one of its nine members is the same. Choosing trustees by geographic district discourages district-wide thinking and encourages patronage. Plus, maybe democracy just isn't the best way to run a large urban school district.
Bernadette Nutall wondered what the goal behind the push is.

Whether it's wise to actually light the fuse depends entirely on what will replace it. So far the backers of the new push to turn Dallas ISD into a so-called "home-rule district," which would abolish the current board, aren't saying what they have in mind.

The Dallas Morning News had the scoop over the weekend. A new group called Support Our Public Schools, funded by Houston billionaire (and HIllcrest High alum) John Arnold and a half dozen or so other, secret donors, wants to free DISD from a good chunk of the state laws governing school districts utilizing a never-used 1995 provision allowing home-rule districts, which, much like cities, operate under a charter granted by the state. Trustee Mike Morath is also involved, though he's not saying how deeply.

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Trustee Eric Cowan Demands Dallas ISD Do More to Stop Middle School Suicide

Last night, Spence Middle School hosted a parent meeting to talk suicide. If you don't already know why, read Matthew Haag's article in The Dallas Morning News over the weekend: one student dead, three others who tried to take their own lives.

A few blocks away, Board President Eric Cowan pressed pause on Dallas ISD trustees' regular meeting to make an impassioned plea for expanded mental health services at middle schools, citing his own struggles with an unspecified "mental health disorder."

Cowan's speech, which Haag posted to YouTube, is worth your time.

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Allen's Brand-New $60 Million High School Football Stadium Has Some Worrisome Cracks

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Aerial Photography, Inc.
Football is very important to the city of Allen. It's a place where youth football coaches recruit 12-year-old players with Gatorade and Now and Laters, where anything less than a state championship is a disappointment.

This passion is most fully expressed in Eagle Stadium, the state-of-the-art, $60 million football field where Allen High School plays its home games. When it opened in 2012, Allen ISD wasn't shy about showing it off to the media who arrived to gawk.

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Civil Rights Groups Are Calling on Governor Perry to End the Use of Tasers and Pepper Spray in Schools

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Last year, the Texas Legislature passed on the chance to ban cops and security guards from using Tasers and pepper spray on students in public school. With the state's largest police group, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, lobbying against it (the bill "prohibits school district peace officers from using non-lethal or compliance weapons," CLEAT lamented), state Senator Royce West's proposal died in committee.

The legislative failure has hardly daunted the measure's two main outside backers, the ACLU of Texas and Texas Appleseed, which have embarked on a new strategy: a letter-writing campaign.

The first letter went to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in December and urged the agency to write the Taser-and-pepper-spray ban into its official rules. When TCOLE claimed it didn't have the authority, the groups sent a missive to the Texas Education Agency.

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