Texas Tribune: New Statewide Bid to End Texting Behind the Wheel

Our Saturday story during PBS NewsHour comes from our partners at The Texas Tribune. It discusses whether this will finally be the year when a ban on texting while driving becomes law statewide. You can watch it in the video above.

Jennifer Smith lost her mother in a 2008 car crash in Oklahoma when a distracted driver using his cell phone T-boned her vehicle. Smith advocates for stopdistractions.org, a grassroots organization that raises awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

“And from that moment on – a phone call, a text message, nothing is worth a life,” Smith said.

This will be the fifth legislative session when Texas lawmakers will propose a bill for a statewide ban on texting while driving. A 2011 bill by Republican state representative Tom Craddick passed in favor of a ban but was vetoed by governor Rick Perry who said the law would “micromanage the behavior of adults.”

So far, 44 states have a ban regarding texting while driving and many local communities in Texas have bans in place. Austin’s new distracted driving law went into effect January 1, 2015.

Alva Ferdinand, a public health researcher at Texas A&M University completed a study on such laws. Her findings prove that these laws are “having an impact on roadway fatalities.”

“Not only will this initiative saves lives, it will save the state medical expenses as well as loss of time and work wages,” Smith said.

Smith will be among the 25 families at the state capitol on Feb. 3 to discuss the bill. You can find an extended version of this story here.

Our Sunday story is from KLRU’s Arts in Context Shorts series. It is about Roots & Rhythms, an after-school drumming program. You can watch that story here.

Science Night Feb. 4

February’s first Science Night tells the story of the majestic Lipizzaner stallions and explores the wildlife of the planet’s plains.

Nature Legendary White Stallions at 7 p.m.

This story of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions focuses on the bond that develops between the horses and their caregivers, beginning at the moment of their birth and culminating in the perfect harmony between horse and rider demonstrated at the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. Their carefully choreographed movements were originally developed for the training of war horses; only the strongest and most athletic horses qualified. The Lipizzaner stallion is bred for its courage, strength and character, but the horse is also gentle, sensitive, and exceptionally responsive to praise.

 

Earth A New Wild Home / Plains at 8 p.m.

Home – Travel deep into the wild to take a fresh look at humankind’s relationship to the big animals that live alongside us. From cuddling baby pandas to avoiding man-eating tigers, Dr. M. Sanjayan investigates our changing relationships with the wilderness. The severe peril of extraordinary animals and their habitats is ever-present, but Sanjayan focuses on the powerful stories that prove animals and humans can thrive side by side. It’s a new kind of wild, but one on which we all depend. Plains – Explore the giant herds that roam the wild grasslands of the plains. Home to the greatest gathering of animal life on the planet, they are also increasingly our bread basket – and among the most endangered places on Earth. Dr. Sanjayan follows a unique elephant conservation project in South Africa and tracks the prairies to see how Americans are saving their most-endangered mammal. His journey uncovers a vital new understanding about how both humans and predators can help the animals found on the plains.

Highlights Feb. 1-7

KLRU Highlights

The remaining bakers now face three European cakes on Great British Baking Show at 7 pm Sunday.

Rosamund is suspicious, Edith is desperate, and Branson is pressured to choose his allegiances on part 5 of Downton Abbey season 5 on Masterpiece Theater at 8 pm Sunday.

An old woman tells Sidney that someone wants her dead on Masterpiece Theater Granchester part 3 Sunday at 9 pm.

Hour two of Antiques Roadshow in Austin Monday at 7 pm travels to the Texas State Library and Archives to learn about fraudulent and authentic Texas Declaration of Independence documents.

A Path Appears part two at 9 pm Monday joins New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and Alfre Woodard as they meet activists fighting for women’s rights in West Virginia, Colombia and Haiti.

A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the New Orleans Board of Trade on Genealogy Roadshow at 7 pm Tuesday.

In the Summer of 1910, the largest fire in American history had profound consequences. Learn how this event changed the shape of America on Big Burn: American Experience at 8 pm Tuesday.

Nature at 7 pm Wednesday tells the story of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions and focuses on the bond that develops between the horses and their caregivers.

Earth A New Wild at 8 pm Wednesday is a new series, hosted by Dr. M. Sanjayan, that combines spectacular natural history images with compelling human stories.

The best contemporary rock hits the Austin City Limits at 10 pm Wednesday and 10 pm Friday with the Black Keys and J. Roddy Walston & The Business.

Katha Pollitt, award-winning author and columnist for The Nation, talks politics on Overheard with Evan Smith at 7 pm Thursday.

Arts In Context In Face at 7:30 pm Thursday follows the complex lives of three performance artists to get an inside look at the lives of Drag Queens.

The Daytripper at 8 pm Thursday travels to Abilene and Athens.

Morgan Freeman sets out to understand how and why The Taming of the Shrew, one of the Bard’s first works, was written on Shakespeare Uncovered at 8 pm Friday. At 9 pm, David Harewood unravels the complex issues of prejudice and jealousy that are threaded throughout Othello.

Let’s grow some grapes for munching or signature homemade wine on Central Texas Gardener at noon Saturday. On tour, a Hill Country gardener captivates viewpoints from every angle where artwork frames food for family and wildlife.

Superstar rockers Foo Fighters return to Austin City Limits at 7pm Saturday. The band, with special guests, features songs from the best-selling Sonic Highways.

 

 

Q Night at the Movies 1/31

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Q Night at the Movies for Jan. 31st features documentaries on Charlton Heston and Harry Dean Stanton.

Charlton Heston: A Man For All Seasons at 6:10 p.m.
He has played king and slave, hero and villain, and is renowned throughout the movie-going world for the heroic figures he played during his early years in Hollywood: Moses, Ben-Hur, El Cid and Michaelangelo. In a wide range of roles, from classical to futuristic, he has shown himself a consummate actor. But Charlton Heston has always been more than a star. Although he is a private man, he has often appeared to be a very public one, willing to speak up on issues he believes in–however controversial they may be. Here, in his own words, is Heston’s life as well as highlights of a career that resulted in more than 60 motion pictures. This episode includes scenes from The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ten Commandments, The Big Country, Ben-Hur, Will Penny, Soylent Green, and Planet of the Apes.

Harry Dean Stanton – Crossing Mulholland at 7:05 p.m.
A favorite of directors, critics, colleagues, and audiences, actor Harry Dean Stanton has carved his name into the cultural consciousness of cinematic arts with dozens of roles in films ranging from Cool Hand Luke and Alien to Paris, Texas and The Green Mile. The new documentary “Harry Dean Stanton: Crossing Mulholland” offers an insightful look at this versatile and talented actor through film clips and interviews with such Hollywood figures as actors Billy Bob Thornton and Richard Dreyfuss; musicians Kris Kristofferson and Michelle Phillips; critic Leonard Maltin; and directors John Carpenter and Wim Wenders. The documentary traces Stanton’s story from his birth in a small Kentucky town to his rise as a noted character actor. The program also takes time to look at Stanton’s other passion – music-and features intimate, living room jam sessions with friends Michelle Phillips and Jamie James.

Sandra Carswell, Librarian in Copperas Cove ISD, local winner in the PBS LearningMedia Get Your Tech On Sweepstakes!

Ms. Carswell, Librarian at S.C. Lee Junior High School in Copperas Cove, is the second local winner of a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a one-year subscription to the Premium level of PBS LearningMedia. A 25-year veteran educator, Ms. Carswell started her career with an abiding love of reading, which she found morphing into an interest in technology and its potential for young learners.

Copperas Cove ISD has a “bring your own device” policy for its students. With that in mind, Ms. Carswell looks forward to furthering her proficiency on her Galaxy Tablet as she helps students find and use quality digital resources – like PBS LearningMedia.

Carswell with student

A Path Appears screening 2/19

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Path Appears: Screening & Panel DiscussionEarly Childhood Intervention & Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Thursday, February 19,
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, Studio 6A
Light refreshments will be served

RSVP NOW This event is free but requires an RSVP

From the team that brought you the groundbreaking Half the SkyA Path Appears uncovers the adversities faced every day by millions of women and girls, while also presenting glimmers of hope and change. Click here to watch a preview.

The screening will highlight stories of women breaking the poverty cycle through education and opportunity for their young children. After a short segment from the film, a panel of local early childhood experts will discuss issues from the documentary as well as challenges and solutions here in Austin. Panelists include Cathy Doggett, Ed.M., Nurse Family Partnership Team Lead, Texas Home Visiting Program; Mary Dunlap, Mental Health & Disabilities Coordinator, Child Inc.; and Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood Education, AISD.

Can’t attend the screening? Join us for a live chat and special online screening of “A Path Appears – Episode 3: Violence and Solutions.” Hear stories, chat with experts from the film, and learn how you can make a difference.
Tuesday, February 10, at 1 pm
Online at https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/eryhu

Watch A Path Appears on KLRU

See the full three-part documentary series on PBS Independent Lens, airing Monday nights on KLRU. Join Nicholas Kristoff, Malin Ackerman, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Garner, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Eva Longoria and Alfre Woodard to uncover gender oppression and human rights violations in the U.S. and around the world.

EPISODE ONE: Sex Trafficking in the USA | Monday, January 26 at 9 pm
EPISODE TWO: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty | Monday, February 2 at 9 pm
EPISODE THREE: Violence & Solutions | Monday, February 9 at 9 pm

Following State of the Union, the Price of Higher Ed in Austin

During the State of the Union Tuesday evening, President Obama focused part of his address on the price of higher education. This weekend during PBS NewsHour, we take a closer look at his proposals.

“By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future,” President Obama said.

In our Saturday story, we speak with Dr. David Laude, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment and Graduation Management at the University of Texas. Dr. Laude is tasked with increasing UT’s 4 year graduation rate to 70%. To reach that goal, the school is focusing on low-income students.

“There was an article that had a pretty blunt headline that said ‘rich kids graduate, poor kids often do not.’ If you take a look at whether or not a student’s going to graduate, the most important indicator if they will struggle is if they come from an under-resourced background,” Laude said. “They don’t really have the money to be able to hang in there and to graduate in 5 years or 6 years. Yes, it’s possible, some of them will do it, but every time they do it they’re taking out more loans. Every time they’re doing it, they’re running up more debt.”

We also spoke to Jeff Webster, Assistant VP for Research and Analytical Services at TG. TG is a nonprofit corporation which “offers resources to help students and families plan and prepare for college, learn the basics of money management, and repay their federal student loans.”

You can see our Saturday story in the video above.

On Sunday, our story looks at President Obama’s other higher education proposal: free community college. Webster told us about a TG study that found graduates with a four-year degree, if they started at a community college, “tend to have no less debt than someone who started at a four year school, and sometimes they have even more debt.”

We spoke with Neil Vickers, Austin Community College’s VP of Finance & Budget, about that survey and about President Obama’s proposal.

“We’re very interested in affordability for our students. It’s actually in our mission, to provide affordable higher education,” Vickers said. “When you just focus on tuition, to what extent does that really get to the root of the problem? I think part of the conversation is that a community college student can take out a similar sized loan as though they were at the university. I think there needs to be other discussions about loan programs and maybe this will serve as a good catalyst for those.”

The Texas Association of Community Colleges released this statement in response to President Obama’s plan for free community college:

“TACC has not yet voted to take a position, but, as a whole, the community college presidents in Texas appreciate that President Obama has recognized the importance of community colleges and the importance he has put on providing students with pathways to the workforce and to continue their education.”

You can see that story in the video below.

KLRU News Briefs air locally during PBS NewsHour weekend, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 6:30. Both of these stories are part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative, which is aimed at increasing awareness around the dropout crisis in Central Texas. Do you have an American Graduate story idea? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at CivicSummit@klru.org, post a comment, or tweet at us using #amgradtx. 

Odd Squad Saves the World

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The Boys & Girls Club at HACA’s Flores Education & Training Center enjoyed an afternoon watching the ODD SQUAD “Saves The World” premier before its national debut on Monday, January 19th.

Clifford the Big Red Dog stopped by to kick off a fun math puzzle activity before the special. Kids were hard at work trying to be the first to figure out the puzzle before the premiere.  Seventy Kindergartners through 5th graders enjoyed the event and left with a bookmark and a fun pocket-sized math riddle handout.

Highlights Jan. 25-31

KLRU Highlights

Almost half-way through the baking competition, the remaining bakers face pies and tarts on Great British Baking Show at 7 pm Sunday.

As Edith’s access to Marigold slips away, news about Gregson arrives on Downton Abbey season 5 episode 4 on Masterpiece Theater at 8 pm Sunday.

Sidney’s former flame throws an engagement party that leads to murder on part 2 of Grantchester on Masterpiece Mystery! at 9 pm Sunday.

Find out what the appraisers found when they visited Austin last summer. Antiques Roadshow Austin hour one airs Monday at 7 pm and Tuesday at 10 pm.

Join New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff, Ashley Judd, Blake Lively and Malin Ackerman as they meet activists fighting sex trafficking in the U.S. on part one of A Path Appears at 9 pm Monday.

At Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories on Genealogy Roadshow at 7 pm Tuesday.

Edison: American Experience at 8 pm Tuesday profiles the holder of 1,093 patents whose name was nearly synonymous with invention.

Nature at 7 pm Wednesday takes viewers to the Antarctic Peninsula where there’s a post office surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery and 3,000 gentoo penguins.

Nova at 8 pm Wednesday investigates the cause of giant sinkholes with compelling eyewitness video of collapsing sinkholes.

Secrets of the Dead Ben Franklin’s Bones at 9 pm Wednesday looks at the founding father’s illegal anatomy school that helped shaped modern medicine.

Great American singer/songwriters Ryan Adams and Jenny Lewis return to the Austin City Limits at 10 pm Wednesday and 10 pm Friday.

William Gibson, acclaimed science fiction novelist, essayist, and screenwriter, talks about his writing career on Overheard with Evan Smith at 7 pm Thursday.

Arts In Context at 7:30 pm Thursday profiles the Rude Mechs, a group that creates original productions that represent a genre-defying cocktail of big ideas, cheap laughs, and dizzying spectacle.

Chet goes to Orange and Port Lavaca on back-to-back episodes of The Daytripper at 8 pm Thursday.

Hugh Bonneville looks into the story behind A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Shakespeare Uncovered at 8 pm Friday. Christopher Plummer explores how King Lear might have been staged during Shakespeare’s time at 9 pm Friday.

Fend off disaster with Trisha Shirey’s top tips from her book, Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southwest on Central Texas Gardener at noon Saturday. On tour, Farmshare Austin accelerates its organic mission through on-site training for aspiring young farmers.

The best contemporary rock hits with the Black Keys and J. Roddy Walston & The Business on Austin City Limits at 7 pm Saturday.