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Texas News
Alice D. Contreras Elementary School named after trailblazer of bilingual education
Founded in 2000, Alice D. Contreras Elementary School at 4100 Lubbock Ave. is named after a groundbreaking educator and pioneer of the bilingual education program in the Fort Worth ISD, according to current principal Amelia CortesRangel.

Contreras was a student, teacher and administrator in the school district and is a member of the Fort Worth ISD Wall of Fame.

The campus is Blue Zones Certified and offers dual language programming in pre-K through fifth grade. It’s a Title 1 campus. 

Houston school districts use thousands in cash incentives to attract bilingual teachers
School districts around the Houston area are looking to attract more bilingual teachers, with some districts offering up to $8,000 in incentives for new hires. 

Bilingual teachers, along with special education teachers, have been considered “hard-to-fill” positions for many years, said Karen Dooley, assistant director of human resources for the Texas Association of School Boards.

These teaching positions have become even tougher to fill since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force.

‘We Are in a Crisis’: Texas Public Schools on the Edge
Vouchers and property tax cuts strike at a public school system already hemorrhaging hard-working employees.

In early March, the old sewage pipes of a Houston public middle school broke. By noon, there were only two bathroom stalls for 1,200 students. At 2 p.m., sewage water started leaking out into the hallways. Teacher Traci Laston tried to push ahead instructing her class, but the students couldn’t focus. 

“This is happening all over Texas in schools with old infrastructure. There’s just no extra funds for building repairs, for anything,” Laston said. “The politicians are worried about what content is being taught or not being taught … versus truly fixing the problems in schools.”

Midland ISD picks new leader for Midland Alternative Program
The Midland ISD board approved the hiring of Benjamin Villarreal as the principal of Midland Alternative Program.

Midland ISD Superintendent Stephanie Howard promoted Villarreal, who currently serves as assistant principal.

“He has a decade of administrative experience,” MISD reported. “His ability to build relationships with students and staff, create strong processes and procedures, and maintain order and safety make him a great fit for MAP.”

TASB Legislative Report – April 20, 2023
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) on Thursday appointed the conferees who will negotiate on the state budget bill, HB 1 (Bonnen). 

The Senate version appropriates $142.1 billion in general revenue, while the House version appropriates $137 billion. Both versions have about $5 billion in additional funding for public schools. The Senate version includes funding for educational programs and teacher pay raises, including $3.7 billion afor cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers, $650 million for measures to help schools improve security, and more than $500 million for education savings accounts. The House version includes $3.5 billion for a cost-of-living adjustment and 13th check for retired teachers and $1.6 billion for school safety. The House has allocated $17 billion for property tax relief and the Senate has set tagged $16.5 billion for property tax relief. 

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National News
Book bans for 2022-23 outpacing previous school year
Book bans continue to proliferate during the 2022-23 school year, according to a report released Thursday by PEN America, which tracks the issue. There have been 1,477 instances of individual books banned during the first half of this school year, up from 1,149 book bans recorded in spring 2022. 

While bans during the 2021-22 school year were driven by parent-led groups, this year’s bans also reflect school districts’ responses to state legislation. States where book bans are most prevalent — as a result of both state and local forces — include Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah and South Carolina.

Why Being Bilingual Can Open Doors for Children With Developmental Disabilities
Studies consistently demonstrate exposure to an additional language, including a minority language, does not impact language outcomes negatively

When parents learn their child has a developmental disability, they often have questions about what their child may or may not be able to do.

Children with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, often have challenges and delays in language development. And for some families, one of these questions may be: “Will speaking two languages be detrimental to their development?”

COLUMN: How student school board members are driving climate action
‘The difference is, you have a vote’

Idaho really is the state where we can solve climate change,” Shiva Rajbhandari tells me over bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters Cafe in New York City. “It’s got sun and it’s got wind and these beautiful natural spaces. And it’s a very resilient ecosystem.”

Rajbhandari, who beat an incumbent to win a seat on Boise’s school board last year, sounds like any other boosterish local elected official — except he’s an 18-year-old high school senior in the same district he governs. And he’s part of a growing number of student school board members across the country, many of whom are putting climate action at the top of their agendas.

Diversity in medicine can save lives. Here’s why there aren’t more doctors of color
Sabina Spigner says she’s always known she wanted to be a doctor. But, as a premed student at the University of Pennsylvania, she found herself struggling to balance a heavy class load while also working as many as 20 hours a week.

“I was always working, because I didn’t have money and I was a work-study student,” says Spigner.

Her grades suffered as a result. In her junior year, she turned to her pre-med adviser for help. “She was like, well, you know, you’re just not going to get into med school with that GPA, so I think you should consider something else. And she didn’t really present me with many resources or options other than just giving up,” Spigner says.

Reflective writing can engage students across subject areas
Writing exercises such as memoir-style essays or letters to their future selves can help students make connections to their feelings, allowing them to reflect on their emotional states while strengthening both their writing and social-emotional skills.

Literacy experts suggest reading and writing prompts can serve as mirrors or windows, helping writers including students better understand themselves and others, said Heather Schwartz, practice specialist for the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. And these assignments can be used in any subject and across grade levels.

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