2016 Texas Tribune Festival

The Texas Tribune Festival, returns on Sept. 23-25! Students and educators will get the chance to engage with some of the biggest names and brains in politics and public policy at the University of Texas at Austin campus.

The registration desk for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival is now open and are proud to announce the first 100+ confirmed speakers, with many more to come as we lead up to the Fest! Students and educators have a chance to register for the festival for $50.

Speakers at the 2016 Festival will include historian and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Texas Sen. Wendy Davis, along with more from around the state and across the nation. Join more than 150 exciting speakers at compelling panels, as discussions take on issues near and dear to Texas and the U.S. Check out the full list of speakers here.

And don’t miss out on the special Thursday night feast at Franklin Barbecue, featuring a conversation with Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post and one of the subjects of Spotlight, the 2016 Oscar winner for Best Picture. An extra $250 ticket is required for the event, which includes all-you-can-eat barbecue and beer.

After the festival, stick around for Texas Tribune’s first-ever TribFeast, an evening gala following the Texas Tribune Festival’s full day of panels and programming on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who will talk about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the state of the 2016 election in conversation with Tribune Co-Founder and CEO Evan Smith will also be in attendance. Taking place at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the evening will also include remarks by Larry R. Faulkner, former president of The University of Texas at Austin and Houston Endowment.

Ideas and Politics Exchanged at Texas Tribune Festival

The fifth annual Texas Tribune Festival took place on the University of Texas campus last weekend, bringing with it hundreds of lawmakers, policy experts, and civically-minded Texans for in-depth conversations and panels about issues facing our state. KLRU’s Public Affairs team attended the Fest, and while we wish we could have cloned ourselves and seen even more, there are a few panels we keep thinking about almost a week later.

How to Turn a School Around

After spending January-August reporting on Eastside Memorial High School’s struggles to make state accountability, we knew we couldn’t miss this panel. Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz spoke, along with Donna Bahorich, Chairwoman of the SBOE, David Anthony of Raise Your Hand Texas, Superintendent Juan Cabrera of El Paso ISD, and Steven Tallant of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

When asked how AISD turned Eastside around after more than a decade of failing scores, Dr. Cruz explained the process was complex because of the low-income community the school serves.

“It was a very methodical process,” Dr. Cruz said, explaining that TEA gave Eastside and AISD more time than usual in the reconstitution plan. Cruz stressed the importance of understanding the home lives of at-risk students, and the need for a “community schools approach.”

An audience member who serves on a school board in another Texas district asked Dr. Cruz if AISD would be releasing a white paper about the methods used at Eastside. Dr. Cruz said yes, a report will be compiled so other districts can see what worked.

One-on-One with Nancy Pelosi

Another high point for us during the Texas Tribune Festival was the National Keynote with U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi sat down with Tribune Washington Bureau Chief Abby Livingston in front of a packed audience in Hogg Memorial Auditorium.

Seemingly no topic was off limits – Pelosi discussed the House Speaker race, Hillary Clinton’s run for office, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran nuclear deal, immigration reform, gun control, and even Ann Richards.

Pelosi said she is confident Democrats will regain control of the U.S. House by 2018, though she was noncommittal when asked if she would hold the Speaker’s gavel again. “I think the Democrats can have the gavel in 18 months,” she said.

When asked how to ensure more women run for office and are elected, Pelosi blamed campaign finance. Repeatedly during her keynote conversation she stressed the need to limit the amount of money that can be contributed to campaigns and Super PACs. She said if the money could be reigned in, more women and more minorities would run for office and be successful getting elected.

You can see video from Leader Pelosi’s conversation in the video below, courtesy of The Texas Tribune. All of the keynote events were recorded and can be seen here.