HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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Xcel Energy crews from West Texas have been hard at work in Puerto Rico, helping to restore power to devastated hurricane victims there, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves says some crews will be returning this weekend, at which point another energy crew will head out for a three-week deployment.

From Texas Standard.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so we put together a story for you about hearts – not candy hearts or even those filled with chocolate, but human hearts. These days, we know quite a bit about them. It’s been 50 years since the first successful transplant. But, in a way, hearts are also still full of mystery – and I’m not trying to get romantic on you. A doctor in Dallas is trying to solve those mysteries of the heart by studying the organs that no one wants anymore.

High Plains Morning thanks our esteemed guests on Tuesday, who stopped by the studio to announce the $91,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse Challenge to further nonprofit work for domestic violence survivors in the Texas Panhandle.

We welcomed KathyTortoreo, Director of Crisis Services at Family Support Services and Connie Garcia, Executive Director at Martha’s Home. Both of these women dedicate their time to combat the impact of domestic violence and homelessness on women in their local communities.  FSS and Martha's Home are one of thousands of organizations this year to receive Allstate’s support, which supports the organizations’ missions to empower women and children to create a violence-free world. ***(Our honorary guest was Rex Young, 20-year Allstate Agent in Amarillo, Borger & Pampa, who was not present due to illness. FEEL BETTER, REX!)

Jeffrey Beall

Colorado’s four-year colleges are feeling the sting of the low-cost tuition and unique course offerings of the state’s community colleges.

As The Denver Post reports, the state’s 39 rural colleges are branching out, offering courses in everything from gun-smithing to wind energy and nursing they are delivering those courses at much lower tuition rates.

From Texas Standard.

The first state-licensed cannabis dispensary for patients with intractable epilepsy is now open in Manchaca, and, so far, 18 neurologist doctors are on the Compassionate Registry – including Dr. Gina Jetter, a member of Northeast Texas Neurologists Association in Tyler.

Kansas could struggle to stop college students from taking their money to other Midwestern states if it continues to charge higher tuition.

The Texas Tribune

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, due to a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements. 

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Using a District of Innovation plan, districts can create a comprehensive educational program and identify provisions under Texas law that would inhibit their goals.

Kansas schools that want to offer gun training in the earliest grades would be required to use a program designed by the National Rifle Association, under a bill lawmakers studied on Tuesday.


Wayland Baptist University officials announced this week that the university has received an anonymous gift of $8 million, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The money came from one of the college’s alumni, and it’s the largest single cash donation the institution has ever received.

University President Bobby Hall praised the donation, saying, “Words cannot express how grateful we are for the generosity of this gift.”

Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

The State of Texas may soon close some of its state-run juvenile prisons, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The juvenile prisons have been the focus of controversy in recent months, and the newly installed executive director of the beleaguered Texas Juvenile Justice Department hopes to change that image.

Intropin / Wikimedia Commons

A private organization announced this week that it is supplying every sheriff’s department in Oklahoma with a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses.

A proposed telemedicine bill has Kansas medical providers pushing for a new chance to make their services eligible for reimbursement.

Under the House bill, introduced last month, licensed mental health care professionals and physicians can tend to faraway patients over phone or video calls. Insurers would have to cover their services as if they had seen patients in person.

Groups representing chiropractors, occupational therapists, nurses and other health professionals made their case for inclusion before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

Wikimedia Commons

An influential Texas conservative group mailed letters to school district employees across the state last week, asking for them to report teachers who they believe are trying to accomplish liberal political objectives in Texas classrooms.

As reported in The Dallas Morning News, the letter from Empower Texans asked educators to report “suspicious activities” among their fellow teachers.

Wikimedia Commons

A controversial new bill in Oklahoma would allow the state to chemically castrate sex offenders, reports TIME magazine.

The proposed law is being sponsored by Rep. Rick West, a Republican from the small southeastern Oklahoma town of Heavener. If the bill passes, sex offenders who are released back into society would be required to take drugs that lower testosterone and decrease sexual libido.

reservoirhill / Wikimedia Commons

News of Oklahoma’s struggling public education system has now reached London, where the legendary news magazine The Economist published an analysis this week of the state’s pervasive and seemingly insurmountable school funding issues.

TexasExplorer98 / Flickr Creative Commons

On a recent report card comparing rural health care among states, Texas received a grade of D-.

The report card, published last month by researchers at Texas Tech University, compared several key metrics including mortality, quality of life and access to care.

From Texas Standard.

Since October 2017, over 2300 Texans have died from the flu. Of those death, over half have been among the elderly. Called the worst flu season in over a decade, it has sparked many conversations about how we can better protect ourselves and our loved-ones from the annual virus. Part of that protection, and part of limiting risk exposure, comes from how we talk about the flu.

Texas’ second attempt to require health providers to bury or cremate fetal remains has been temporarily thwarted by a federal judge.

In his Monday afternoon ruling, U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra said the Texas Department of State Health Services’ arguments “lack merit.”

The chief school finance official in Kansas — under fire from top Republican lawmakers, backed by scores of people in state education circles — on Friday avoided a suspension.

Dale Dennis, the state’s deputy education commissioner and a walking encyclopedia of Kansas school finance policy, came under attack over an audit that showed some school districts had long been getting money for buses beyond what lawmakers authorized.

CC0 Creative Commons

The flu is taking a heavy toll on the state of Oklahoma this season. According to KFOR, 74 people have died from the outbreak since Sept. 1. Meanwhile, the state has seen over 2,000 hospitalizations resulting from the viral infection, which has been wreaking havoc across the U.S.

Oklahoma pharmacist Dani Lynch said medicine is becoming harder to find in the Sooner State.


The personal finance website Wallethub has released a list of the best and worst states for driving, and High Plains Public Radio states took the top three spots on the list.

To come up with their list, Wallethub compared states according to 23 key metrics, including average gas prices, share of rush-hour traffic congestion, and road quality.

Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans.

A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system.

CC0 Creative Commons

Oklahoma has had the largest increase in foster homes in the nation over the past five years, according to a new study.

As KFOR reports, the study—the first of its kind—was initiated to investigate the increasing number of foster kids in America each year and the concurrent decrease in foster homes.

Céréales Killer / Wikimedia Commons

The Amarillo Independent School District has voted to shorten the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The school will now be known simply as Lee Elementary School. The school’s name had been a touch point in the community, where many parents felt that the school being named after a Confederate General would ostracize students of color.


The national Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, will live to see another day, meaning 800 pregnant women and over 75,000 kids in Colorado will keep health coverage.

As The Denver Post reports, CHIP, or as it’s referred to in Colorado, Child Health Plan Plus, provides health coverage to kids and pregnant women from families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to reasonably afford private coverage.

The U.S. Department of Education has thrown its weight behind a Kansas school plan that aims for much higher rates of math and reading proficiency by 2030.


Initial feedback from the federal agency on Kansas’ 90-page blueprint for closing achievement gaps had been lackluster, forcing the state to revise it.

Eddie Seal / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education, addressing federal concerns about the state's failure to serve students with disabilities.

From The Texas Tribune:

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education Thursday.

A pay gap that left Kansas professors trailing their peers for more than a decade grew wider last year.

A new report from the Kansas Board of Regents confirmed that the state pays its academics less than the public colleges and universities they compete against.

timlewisnm / CC0 Creative Commons

The number of adults taking and passing the GED exam in Texas has plummeted recently, reports the Jacksonville Progress. The General Education Development test serves as a stand-in for a high-school diploma, for students who dropped out or failed to graduate.

J. Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Amarillo College President Russell Lowery-Hart participated in a Senate panel discussion on student financial aid this week in the nation’s capital, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Lowery-Hart sat on a panel with other education policymakers, who took questions from Senators on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The committee hopes to find solutions regarding the nation’s financial-aid woes.