University president sets campus carry policies
AUSTIN — University of Texas at Austin President Gregory L. Fenves has adopted policies to implement Senate Bill 11, the campus handgun carry law that goes into effect on Aug. 1.
Fenves adopted 25 policy recommendations developed by the 19-member Campus Carry Working Group that he appointed in 2015. Under the policies, certain laboratories, areas where pre-K-12 programs are held, and, with some exceptions, university residences will be considered gun-exclusion zones and employees with private offices will be able to prohibit handguns inside them. However, classrooms will not be included in gun-exclusion zones.
“Under the law, I cannot adopt a policy that has the general effect of excluding licensed concealed handguns from campus. I agree with the working group that a classroom exclusion would have this effect,” Fenves wrote.
But, Fenves also wrote, “I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date. I empathize with the many faculty, staff, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
The University of Texas System Board of Regents may amend the campus carry rules with a two-thirds vote within 90 days of adoption.
Texas Gateway is launched
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has announced the launch of the Texas Gateway (www.texasgateway.org), a free online resource library for educators and parents provided by the Texas Education Agency.
Morath said on Feb. 17 that Texas Gateway “not only builds upon the success of TEA’s online learning community Project Share but also expands access to resources — such as videos, interactives, formative assessments, professional development courses, and other classroom support materials — designed to strengthen classroom instruction to help every student succeed.”
And, Morath added, “while teachers will no doubt find the resources on this site to be valuable tools, items found on the Texas Gateway are also available to parents, students, and all Texans at no cost.”
This portal to instructional resources aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state standards that describe what students should know and should be able to accomplish at each grade level. Each resource in Texas Gateway contains a lesson or series of lessons that introduce a new idea or skill and then gives the learner opportunities to practice and apply what he or she has learned, according to the TEA.
Officials express condolences
After the Feb. 13 death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was made public, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton released statements. Here are excerpts:
Abbott remembered Scalia as “a man of God, a patriot and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law.”
Paxton said Scalia was “a powerful voice for liberty and a passionate defender of the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. His passing is a deep loss for our nation.”
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch resort in Presidio County when he died. His body was found in his room at the resort. No autopsy was performed and the death was ruled as resulting from natural causes.
Texans feel Pope’s visit
Pope Francis celebrated mass in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Feb. 17, and the visit was felt by people across the border in El Paso and far beyond. According to a story by The Associated Press, Pope Francis “also offered a silent prayer for the thousands of immigrants who have died while trying to reach the U.S.” The State of Texas’ case against the Obama administration over the president’s executive order protecting the majority of undocumented people living in Texas and elsewhere across the country is on the current docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.
March 1 primary nears
Feb. 26 is the last day for early voting in the March 1 primary elections. The primaries will determine which candidates appear on the ballot as the nominees from the Republican and Democrat parties in the November general election. Voters will need to bring one of the accepted forms of photo identification if they cast a ballot in person.