A history of the Texas textbook wars, and questions of whether those seeking to influence changes to textbooks can hold onto their power:
But highly placed stakeholders — ranging from those in publishing to sitting board members — believe the culture warriors are losing the ability to run roughshod over state education. After years of alienating the Legislature, the state board has seen its influence weakened. A changing textbook marketplace has eroded Texas’ clout, and technology is sweeping into the classroom, bringing with it the next generation of learning materials. The statewide reach of the culture warriors is ending.
The biggest test will take place when the state board considers a new high-school biology text next week. Another will follow in the ensuing months, as it takes up a new social studies text. How the state board and publishers respond to Bohlin’s critiques, to his evolutionary “gaps,” will determine whether the innuendo of God lingers in classroom discussions about evolution. It will determine whether the political ideology of an elected board shapes, by omission and addition, the history of America Texas students will learn for years hence.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5072 words)
Storm chaser Tim Samaras catapulted to fame for his scientific research studying tornadoes. The story of Samaras, his storm crew, and the tornado he couldn't outrun:
"Samaras had an uncanny ability for finding twisters and for escaping them with his life. But the monster hiding in the rain that day was something he had never encountered before. What neither Robinson nor Samaras could have known was that in seconds it had grown from a mile to 2.6 miles wide, making it the largest tornado ever documented. And it was tearing toward them across the wide-open wheat fields at highway speed. The difference between escape and incomprehensible violence was measured in hundreds of yards on Reuter Road. And while Robinson never looked back, his rear-facing dash camera did, capturing the last living images of a legend."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 29, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5657 words)
A Dallas murder suspect is also a paranoid schizophrenic, and his changing mental state raises questions about whether he can stand trial:
"With medication he becomes someone else entirely, capable even of calm rationality. He would have to be induced into a state of synthetic sanity before he could stand trial for a crime that he allegedly committed while unmedicated.
"For now, though, he was just another uncooperative suspect.
"'We need your help. Are you going to help us?' Thompson's index finger jackhammered the photo. 'Look at him!'
"With his slight build and his short, blond hair, Winder looked hunted, like a boy among men. He looked up at the detectives and murmured, 'I don't remember.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5202 words)