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Election Day, School Funding, and Evolution of a Criminal: Houston Matters for Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014

It’s Election Day! Polls are now open across Greater Houston, as voters cast ballots for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and a number of other statewide offices, as well as for District Attorney in Harris County. There are also ballot initiatives, including Proposition 1, calling for money from the state’s rainy day fund to be diverted to […]

It’s Election Day! Polls are now open across Greater Houston, as voters cast ballots for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and a number of other statewide offices, as well as for District Attorney in Harris County. There are also ballot initiatives, including Proposition 1, calling for money from the state’s rainy day fund to be diverted to pay for some road repairs. In Tomball, voters are deciding whether to overturn a 70-year-old prohibition law, which applies to businesses in a few blocks of Old Town Tomball that cannot sell certain types of alcohol.

And in Katy, voters will cast their ballots on a nearly $750 million bond. The funds would go to six new schools, and campus renovations, as well as a new football stadium. It’s the largest debt request to appear on any Texas ballot this fall.

On this edition of Houston Matters, Maggie Martin will walk us through the major items on the ballot, remind you about the new Voter ID requirements, and then – with the Katy bond in mind, we turn our attention to school funding, and whether Texas communities are more or less likely to fund projects that primarily support academic programs…or athletic ones.

First, we learn about Premont ISD, near Corpus Christi, a district that was about to be shut down by the TEA, but made a drastic move in 2012 in an attempt to change its fate: Premont ISD ceased all sports. Some were eventually reinstated, but not high school football. We talk with Ernest Singleton, Premont ISD’s former superintendent, about the decision, the reaction, and the impact on the district.

Then, we talk with Marguerite Roza, the author of Educational Economics,  a book exploring where school funds actually go, and Daniel Bowen, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at Rice University, and lead author of a study entitled, “Does Athletic Success Come at the Expense of Academic Success?

Also this hour: A conversation with Peter Turchi, author of A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic. Turchi is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

And: Darius Monroe was an honor student who at 16, robbed a bank. Years later, he returned home to Houston to learn how his actions affected family, friends, and victims of the robbery. He’s made a film about it, called Evolution of A Criminal. It’s now showing at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on Vintage Park. Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty talks with Monroe about the film and his journey.

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