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Texas News
Somerset ISD’s skill at educating students during pandemic draws national attention
Somerset Independent School District is drawing national attention for closing the learning gap that so many students have suffered through during the past couple of years.

It’s one of only three school districts recognized for its performance by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. That’s just a few months after Somerset was cited for being among fewer than 10 districts in Texas that increased student achievement during Covid.

Teacher of the Year Finalist Spotlight: Wildrem Andrade Matamoros, Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary
Dallas ISD celebrates teaching excellence by recognizing outstanding educators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day. Meet 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year finalist Wildrem Andrade Matamoros.

Born in Honduras, Wildrem Andrade Matamoros moved to Dallas at the age of nine and was enrolled at Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary in Dallas ISD. Eleven years later, she would return to that same school, this time as a first-year bilingual teacher. 

Grant helps spread forgotten history of racial violence against Mexican Americans
Many people haven’t had access to the history of a decade of state-sanctioned killings, including lynchings, of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Texas, a scholar says.

An exhibit documenting violence against and killings of Mexican Americans and Mexicans has won a national grant that will be used to spread knowledge about an overlooked part of American history.

The bilingual exhibit, titled “Life and Death on the Border, 1910-20,” by the Refusing to Forget project, recounts a decade of state-sanctioned racial violence and terrorism that occurred largely on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1900s.

Houston Is Hailed as a National Success for Fighting Homelessness. But the Reality Isn’t Quite as Rosy.
Simple overall stats don’t show the truth of the housing crisis.

Before the sun was up one misty morning in mid-January, Joshlyn Caldwell, age 51, roused the five unhoused people she let sleep in her north Houston apartment—a man, a woman, and a young family of three. The men helped Joshlyn, who has been disabled since a 2010 car accident, limp down the stairs from the second story, and everyone piled into her dark gray SUV, arriving a little before 9 a.m. at the Beacon, a nonprofit downtown that connects people to homeless service providers across the city. The line in the courtyard outside the housing office was around nine people long, with one person receiving service inside. This made Joshlyn nervous. Next to the office door, a sign stated the housing department sees the first 20 to 30 people for assessment, depending on the number of available assessors each day. But sometimes it’s less, she told me. “It depends on how they feel.”

Yes, There’s a Selena Quintanilla College Course You Can Take Online
The University of Texas at San Antonio is opening its virtual classroom to anyone interested in auditing a class on late Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla.

Returning for a second semester, “Selena: A Mexican American Identity & Experience” will begin on May 31, 2022, and end on July 5, 2022. Classes are held Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. CT.

According to the university, the class will “examine how the life and career of Selena Quintanilla embodies the historical trajectory of the Mexican American identity and experience in Texas.” The class coincides with Selena’s 51st birthday and the 25th anniversary of the beloved biopic Selena, which was recently rereleased at movie theaters.

Save the Date!
Save the date for the TALAS Summer Conference 2022:

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Kalahari Resort
Round Rock, TX

Stay tuned for continued updates on this exciting event.
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National & International News
Hire now, fire later. Schools flush with cash face a funding cliff in 2 years
School hiring and wage hikes could spark cuts when federal funds expire.

States are awash in money — and facing pressure from the Biden administration and teachers unions to spend it on schools. But here’s the catch: lofty education promises made today may be seeding layoffs tomorrow.

Governors and superintendents are pushing to hire new teachers, raise salaries and pay bonuses to educators worn down by two years of the pandemic. And those workers are fighting for more pay, too. The Sacramento Teachers Union won salary bumps after an eight-day strike that ended this month. A three-week strike in Minneapolis got teachers and classroom assistants thousands of dollars in bonuses and wage increases.

Analysis: New parental activism shifting ed landscape
Parental involvement in schools is shifting rapidly from traditional parent-teacher organizations and associations that focus on community-involvement to a new landscape of parental involvement and activism, according to an analysis released by FutureEd, a nonpartisan think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. 

The new parent organizations have “taken a much more aggressive stance toward their work than local PTAs typically did,” the authors said, like rallying, drafting legislative language, and lobbying elected officials. The internet, social media, video conferencing, activist foundations backed by donors — among other things — have facilitated this shift, the report suggests. 

Online Tutoring Can Be Effective, Research Shows
School districts across the country are turning hopeful eyes to tutoring programs as a way to help children recover academically from the COVID pandemic. Research shows that well-designed face-to-face tutoring can be a powerful ally. But there was little evidence that it could be done effectively online.

That’s starting to change. Two new studies from Spain and Italy offer encouraging signs that tutoring online can work to help children complete unfinished learning.

‘Without Papers, Without Fear’: Meet the NM Activist Dedicated to Lifting Up Undocumented Young People — Just Like Him
When Eduardo Esquivel was a student at the University of New Mexico, he was invited to go camping in Chama, at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains. An avid hiker, Esquivel had never been to the state’s famously beautiful northern border, so he packed a bedroll and joined a group of strangers for the trip. 

Esquivel didn’t know it, but the outing was a wellness retreat for undocumented immigrant youth put together by a group called New Mexico Dream Team. Brought to the United States from Mexico as a small child, Esquivel had been hiding his legal status for years. Up in the mountains, though, his new companions talked openly about being undocumented — and celebrated their roots. 

4 principals to watch: Making strides in outreach, teacher leadership and climate
Principals have been at the forefront of rallying students, staff members and their wider school communities throughout the upheavals of the COVID pandemic.

Over the last two turbulent and uncertain years, they’ve found new ways to engage parents in education, turn around underperforming schools, engage students in conversation about bias and racism, and maintain contact with their communities during the most difficult phases of the pandemic.

Las Tienditas
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