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8.5% is the arbitrary benchmark rate set by the Texas Education Agency for the number of Special Education Students in a school district that may receive Special Education.  Even children with severe disabilities, including deafness and blindness, can't always get special education. 

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Texans Together and Apartments Are Communities Launches Linda Vista Resource Center

Launch Party Flyer (click to enlarge)

Texans Together / Apartments Are Communities launches Linda Vista resource center on April 13th, 2013 at the Linda Vista Apartment complex located at 5500 De Soto Street. Texans Together/Apartments Are Communities partnering with BNC Real Estate will be hosting a launch party to inaugurate the new resource center.

There will be food, fun and prizes. Best of all it’s FREE! We will have games, concessions, music, giveaways, and moonwalks. And you're invited! All residents of the complex and other community members are welcome.

Experts say Healthcare Reform Needed


Experts say healthcare reform needed

Many of the state’s elected officials – including Gov. Rick Perry and a number of state legislators – refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite Texas having the largest proportion of uninsured citizens in the nation.

According to experts who spoke during a New America Media-sponsored ethnic media roundtable discussion in Houston, fully implementing the ACA is the right thing to do.“Expanding Medicaid will save lives,” said Charhonda Cox, executive director for Texans Together. “Everybody pays less when more people have insurance. Costs go down and quality of care goes up.”

EHL Spotlights Hip Hop Artist TK Koontz

TK Koontz is a hip-hop artist who connected with Texans Together via the Hip Hop the Vote campaign last fall. He met Saeed Rose (a Texans Together organizer and trainer) through a mutual friend, and ended up performing at Hip Hop the Vote. Saeed also talked to TK about Texans Together’s Empower Houston Leaders program. Intrigued, TK attended a meeting.

TK said the community forums hosted by EHL encourage everyone attending to air their opinions regarding issues that affect the community. All ideas are welcome and the group gets energized as they discuss community needs and possible actions to meet those needs. The EHL leaders gradually help the group narrow their focus to issues that can be addressed in the EHL framework. Before you know it, newly-minted volunteer community leaders are out on the streets, stopping their friends and neighbors to talk about subjects that impact their lives.

Testing the Waters

The View From The Cheap Seats

EPA Samples Well Water at the Bonta Ranch

It was a cold, overcast day when the EPA arrived with an entire alphabet soup of agencies to test the well water on Pamela Bonta’s ranch.In addition to her well, the EPA tested 5 others in the area north of Highland proper. This February 20th visit by the EPA was prompted by a number of factors. Pamela and her family have tested positive for heavy metal poisoning from hair, nail and urine samples.  In addition to common metals like lead they also tested positive for 18 other heavy metals including rare earths like caladium, iridium and uranium.

The family has suffered from poor to serious health issues; bone loss, seizures, weakness, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, joint pain and cancer. One of the factors that prompted this testing was the number of cases of a relatively rare form of cancer: multiple myeloma.  

Guest blog from Jackie De Hon, Ph.D.

Today’s post is by Dr. Jackie De Hon, a retired college instructor and federal program administrator. She advocates for true democracy, which she defines as public officials carrying out the wishes of the people and working for equality for all.

Why not fund ALL Public Schools fairly?            

I believe we must demand that the Legislature fund all public schools fairly. 

We have plenty of money to restore the massive $5.3 billion Governor Perry and the Legislature cut from public school funds last time around. We can even restore the $3 billion they cut four years ago—$8.3 billion cut in four years!  It was always there in the “rainy day fund” that Governor Perry appears to treat as a fund that exists as a discretionary fund. This year we can pay part of our school funding needs from current taxes and part from the rainy day fund. Yet the governor wants to return sales tax money to the people. 

Why don’t public officials want to establish fair funding and create quality public education for all of our children?  Good question.

Make That Eight

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has become the 8th Republican governor to accept the federal government's Mediciad expansion plan.

An article in today's New York Times quoted Governor Christie as saying, "“Let me be clear: I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act....I fought against it and believe, in the long run, it will not achieve what it promises. However, it is now the law of the land. I will make all my judgments as governor based on what is best for New Jerseyans.”

Practical Republican Governors Who are Giving the ACA a Try

Among political leaders the Affordable Care Act is a controversial topic, with opinions sounding pretty extreme most of the time. Slowly, however, some Republican governors are drifting to the middle, putting aside their personal preferences and party rhetoric in favor of extending health care coverage to the uninsured in their states.

Rick Perry is standing firm. So far.

Seven Republican governors, including Texas Governor Rick Perry’s friend, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, have accepted that Medicaid expansion in their states is too good a deal to pass up. After all, the feds will foot the vast majority of the expense, and the citizens who are most at risk for health care will be covered at last.

Moving Forward at the Mint

Mint Apartment Resident Coordinators and a cadre of about 30 volunteers are keeping things moving at the Mint Apartments in Alief, the first site of the Apartments Are Communities project.

Over a period of three years, Mint residents gradually took over more and more of the responsibility of identifying projects of importance to the apartment community and working together to get results. They did such a super job that last fall Texans Together pulled back into an advisory role, and turned its attention to the next Apartments Are Community project at the Linda Vista Apartments.

Frank Garcia, AAC coordinator and organizer, reports that residents at the Mint didn’t miss a beat as they stepped forward to keep things humming on their own.

Here’s what’s happening:

We'd like to share an inspiring story reposted from LatinaLista about young people changing their world

Guatemala youth learn to take control of their environmental future and change the course of their country


By Anna-Claire Bevan

GUATEMALA — In the small pueblo of Chimaltenango, just 45 minutes outside of Guatemala City, a group of young people from across Guatemala and neighbouring El Salvador gather for a 4-day youth leadership congress, organised by the Guatemalan NGO Seres.

Young girl learns the importance of planting trees for the future of Guatemala. (Photo: Anna-Claire Bevan)


In a scene that could be mistaken for an acrobatics class, they discuss how in teams of six they can hold a group pose with only eight hands and three feet touching the ground. There is laughter and high spirits as one by one each human pyramid comes crashing down. But, despite the jovial atmosphere, there is a reason why these young people are here today: each one of them is concerned about environmental issues that are devastating their communities and they want to help put a stop to them.


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Texans Together Education Fund

P.O. Box 1296
Houston, Texas 77251-1296



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by Dr. Radut