Dispatches from Dallas, March 31 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

This week in Dallas news: Carroll ISD (Southlake) bails out of TASB in a new phase in the reactionary war on Texas public schools; more on TFG and the symbolism of his Waco visit; Dallas-area cops should not be left alone with computers; get ready for a Taylor Swift exhibit; the menu at Globe Life Field for the upcoming baseball season; and a baby giraffe at the Dallas Zoo.

The big news this week is that Carroll ISD (Southlake) has voted to end its membership in the Texas Association of School Boards. The news video accompanying this article is worth the two minutes of your time; it makes clear what’s going on. State Representative Brian Harrison, R-Midlothian, sent out letters to 1000 school districts to start an exodus from TASB. Similarly, and perhaps surprisingly, the local Fox outlet has a good story on the decision to withdraw (4 minute video). The Fox coverage also talks about the general state of Carroll ISD, one of the first districts targeted by reactionaries for bringing in DEI policies, “CRT”, and other “woke” policies. DEI initiative started after a 2018 incident in which students were caught in video using the N word; in 2021 and 2022 reactionaries captured the board, and the rejection of TASB is one outcome.

You may recall that TASB is also related to the case of Marvin Lowe, the Frisco ISD trustee. He was accused of harassing a trans student at a TASB conference in San Antonio last October. It won’t surprise me if Frisco decides to follow Carroll’s example in the near future.

As noted by Charles here, the The Book-Loving Texan’s Guide to the May 2023 School Board Elections is a resource for finding out about the candidates your local school board election. The document is mostly focused on north Texas districts (Frisco is on the list and Richardson, which is the district my home is zoned into, is in progress), but Houston area districts like Katy and Humble are also included. And they’re also working on central Texas districts like Dripping Springs. While this resource is focused on book banning, that’s a good proxy for anti-DEI, anti-“CRT”, and anti-“woke” sentiment in general.

If this topic interests you, I strongly recommend Clarity & Anger, the substack of Frank Strong, an Austin teacher who put together the Book-Loving Texan’s Guide. His newsletter will keep you up to date on what the bibliophobes and “woke”-haters are up to, and there’s a free tier. I found him on Mastodon, which is where I hang out now that Twitter is toxic. While I can’t say I exactly enjoy reading about haters, I do feel better informed.

In other news:

  • A few notes about TFG’s Waco speech.
    • First, in corrections, I initially read that TFG was speaking on the anniversary of the end of the siege; instead he spoke last weekend at the anniversary of the beginning.
    • These two articles that quote Senator Cornyn’s reaction may interest you: GOP Senators Break With Trump Over ‘Offensive’ Jan. 6 Tribute At Texas Rally and Top Republicans balk at Trump highlighting Jan. 6 rioters, calling it politically unwise. Obviously it’s a long time until Cornyn faces the GOP primary field again, but I’m putting a pin in it for 2026.
    • Talking Points Memo again points to the choice of Waco as a venue and the commemoration of the Branch Davidian standoff in this post. There are a couple of follow-up reader notes on the same topic that are also worthwhile. Those of us who are old enough to remember Waco as it happened recall how awful it was, not least because it embodied the fever dream of angry white men holding out against federal force. We have too many angry people with guns in Texas to encourage fighting the federal government in 2023.
  • Department of “Dallas cops can’t use computers”, part one for this week: What’s known about the 21 cases reviewed for missing, deleted Dallas police evidence [Archive link] and Is missing Dallas police evidence impacting murder cases? Defense lawyers want answers [Archive link]. The city of Dallas is going to be sorting this out for a long time; the screwups involve both current cases and cases already decided. It’s also going to cost the city and the court system to retry cases and to compensate any defendants who receive a not guilty verdict in retrials. It implicates the credibility of the police and their evidence in future cases. All of this is bad for the judicial system, which has plenty of problems without the police losing or destroying evidence, but DPD brought these further problems on themselves by sloppy evidence handling.
  • Department of “Dallas cops can’t use computers”, part two for this week: Dallas County says sold computers may have contained the public’s personal info. [Archive link]. Short version: the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department failed to properly wipe computers that were taken out of service and sold at auction, so they may still contain confidential information from the county’s internal court databases. Oops.
  • Shared Air DFW is a visualization resource for air pollution in the Metroplex. It takes data from air quality monitors (currently 100 are being distributed throughout the region) to show real-time air quality online. It’s good that we can now see this information but the information is depressing. It’s a UT Dallas project, so thanks to UT Dallas and the funders. Related, from the Texas Tribune: The EPA wants to limit how much soot you breathe. Here’s what it means for Texas and one of its historic Black towns. Joppa, the freedman’s town in question, is less than 10 miles from downtown Dallas. The Shared Air project is concentrating early efforts there precisely because their air quality is so poor.
  • On a sad note for me personally, my advisor at Rice passed away earlier this month. Dr. Katherine Fischer Drew was a fantastic teacher, historian, and leader in her discipline, as you can see in her obituary at the Houston Chronicle. She touched a lot of lives, including mine, and I’m grateful for the advice I got from her and the lessons I learned in and out of her classes.
  • Carnivorous Plant Gallery Known as the Texas Triffid Ranch Is Closed for Good. I’m also sad about this; I have friends who had visited the ranch and I’d seen some of the plants at events at the Perot (Dallas’ science museum) before the pandemic. I never managed to get out to the ranch myself, unfortunately. I wish Mr. Riddell the best in his future endeavors and hope to see the plants he sent to the Arboretum this spring.
  • A 24-Inch Burger is Among Six New Food Items for the 2023 Season at Globe Life Field. Posting this in the hopes it will lure Charles up here this summer for a game and to try the food. I personally am going to have some of the Hurtado barbecue the next time we go with a baseball-oriented friend.
  • From my inbox: Taylor Swift isn’t just coming to Arlington to perform. She’s also the subject of the Arlington Museum’s summer exhibit: Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Collection will be here from June through September for all your Swift needs. Tickets go on sale April 13 for members, and April 17 for the rest of us.
  • Hipster ’80s-style roller skating rink to wheel into Dallas Design District. I’m already asking around for my friends to join me when this opens for both events: the visit to the roller rink and the visit to the ER that will inevitably follow when I break something falling on my butt.
  • Last but not least, in baby animal news: It’s a girl: Dallas Zoo welcomes 131-pound giraffe calf [Archive link.] No name yet for the baby girl. I’m really excited about this one; giraffes are my favorite animal.

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