TALAS E-newsletter – August 27

Posted on August 27th, 2020
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Texas News
10 Harris County Superintendents Sign Letter Opposing School Opening Benchmarks
Ten public school district superintendents in Harris County this week sent a letter to health department director Dr. Umair Shah objecting to the county’s stringent benchmarks for school openings.

The August 17 letter notes that benchmarks announced by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Dr. Shah last week would “essentially require indefinite closure of schools to in-person instruction” while the community waits for a cure or vaccine or for implementation of county-level contact tracing.

The superintendents’ letter includes a statement from the American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) arguing that keeping children in social isolation not only inhibits learning, but could also prevent intervention in cases of physical or sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

Survey shows majority of Fabens ISD parents want to continue online learning
Educators in the Fabens Independent School District are teaching from their classrooms.

Dr. Veronica Vijil Fabens ISD superintendent spoke about the preparations they took to launch virtual learning.

She reassures that the classrooms are ready for students when they return.

In a survey asking parents to select to enroll their child in either virtual or traditional school, the majority answered they wanted to continue learning from home.

Ysleta ISD to give free desks to district students on Friday

In an effort to help its families create an ideal learning space at home for their children during Online Learning, the Ysleta Independent School District is providing parents with one desk, free of charge, for each currently enrolled YISD student.
The one-day special giveaway is set for Friday, August 28, at the site of the former South Loop Elementary School at at 7 a.m.

“As a responsible fiscal steward entrusted with taxpayer monies, Ysleta ISD made the decision to offer the student desks at no cost to its families because they were originally purchased with taxpayer money,” YISD officials shared via a news release.

Thousands of Texas teachers set to receive pay increase, TEA says

More than 3,600 Texas teachers are getting a boost in pay for the next five years.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced Tuesday its inaugural Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) list, which was made possible with the passage of House Bill 3 in 2019.

Teachers can make up to $32,000 more annually under new state program

Grace Wu, director of strategic compensation for the TEA, said the goal is to keep good teachers in the classroom.

“We see a lot of teachers stepping out of the classroom in order to make more money by pursuing administration jobs,” she said.

As enrollment, state funding decline, Corpus Christi ISD approves 2020-21 budget

The Corpus Christi ISD board of trustees adopted a 2020-21 budget with a deficit of $1 million on Monday.

The general fund budget is about $323.5 million. Total revenues equal $423 million for the general, food service, debt service and special revenue funds. Total expenditures are projected at $424 million.

CCISD logo 2019
The budget will be supported by a tax rate of $1.2564 per $100 property valuation, including $0.28 for interest and sinking debt service and $0.9764 for maintenance and operations. The tax rate is about 2 cents lower than the 2019-20 rate.

Here’s how Dallas-Fort Worth area districts are handling substitute teachers during the pandemic

This fall will be unlike any previous semester for traditional teachers, and for substitute teachers filling in as well.

Districts in North Texas are searching for additional substitute teachers for this school year. Some are adding some extra encouragement to receive more applicants, such as incentivizing college students to apply or increasing sub pay.

Monty Exter, senior lobbyist at the Association of Texas Professional Educators, says that it’s a good move for districts to train substitutes early, especially with additional protocols to know compared to a regular school year.

“It’s really wise for districts after they identify those subs to have some professional development on getting them up to speed on virtual learning platforms so they can more seamlessly step in and take over a class for a period of time,” Exter said.

Advance your career today
Career Advice
If you wear these colors on your video interview, it could cost you the job
The world is just one big video meeting now and we are its players (or however that quote goes.)

Now that your colleagues and boss are only seeing the upper half of your body, does it really matter what you wear? YES! Yes it absolutely does.

Allison Bornstein, a stylist for Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle who works with celebrities including Katie Holmes just launched FaceTime consultations to help people select the perfect outfit for interviews and beyond from the safety of their own closets, told Ladders News, “I think it is important to have something super clean and simple on top— you don’t want to feel uncomfortable or distracted by what you are wearing. I think a simple blouse or button up would be great.”

National News
New Data Reveals COVID-19’s Harsh Toll on Latino Community, 50% of Latino Parents Say They May Not Send Their Children Back to School
School leaders and doctors met Wednesday to unpack newly released data reflecting the disproportionate destruction COVID-19 continues to wreak upon the Latino community — and to address the implications those numbers hold for New York City’s contentious school reopening plan.

“Latinos have been hospitalized four times as much as people who are white,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who participated in the event hosted by SOMOS, a New York-based nonprofit network of health care providers. “What we’re seeing, in terms of the start of school, is the kind of neglect from the top down that is unconscionable: the lack of resources to schools to reopen them safely. All of this could have been solved. This kind of work should have started in April.”

As part of the virtual press conference, co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions Matt Barreto presented his group’s new data, which was collected between Aug. 7 and Aug. 15 and surveyed 1,842 respondents, 838 of whom have children ages 17 or younger. Most were from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and the New York/New Jersey area.

No school for many students in remote areas of Guerrero
More than 2,000 indigenous Nahua children from some 18 primary schools in the municipalities of Atlixtac and Chilapa de Álvarez, Guerrero, were unable to start classes with the rest of the country on Monday because they lack internet and televisions. 

It’s a common refrain as unequal access to technology accentuated by poverty brings out the flaws in distance education. Those who are disadvantaged may not receive an education until the coronavirus pandemic subsides. 

On Monday morning Antonio Aranda Pinzón, principal of the Adolfo López Mateos bilingual primary school in the town of Mexcaltepec, one of the few towns in the Montaña Alta that sometimes has television reception, called an assembly.

The U.S. Needs More Spanish-Speaking Doctors
MARIANA BLINKED AT ME, her messy braids coming undone on the crinkly hospital pillow. She was just waking up from having spent a month with a tube in her throat in the intensive care unit due to COVID-19. Mariana wasn’t just dazed from the medically induced coma: She didn’t understand English, and the doctor didn’t speak Spanish. Without a face-to-face interpreter, Mariana had no idea where she was or why she was there, nor could her care team tailor her treatment appropriately.

It should go without saying that one needs to be able to communicate with their doctors to get good health care. In 2016, the Affordable Care Act mandated that hospitals must use qualified interpreters. They are essential, but without enough N-95 masks for protection from COVID-19, many interpreters have been made virtual during the pandemic.

Research: Students Need to Spend More Time Writing

Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be graded on “mechanics and conventions” (25 percent) compared to 18 percent of White students.
A new research brief has suggested just a quarter of students in middle school and high school write for at least 30 minutes a day, a minimum standard set by learning experts for the development of writing skills. According to the Learning Agency Lab, a nonprofit that works to improve the effectiveness of K-12 education, persuasive writing, specifically, is being neglected “to an alarming degree.” Only 15 percent of eighth-graders and 13 percent of twelfth-graders said they do argumentative writing every week, even though this is a skill that educators have found critical for success in college and career.

The study used survey data collected from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP) writing assessment, the first large-scale computer writing assessment done by NAEP and the most recent one available. In that assessment, students in grades 8 and 12 were assigned two writing tasks, done in a word processing program. Afterwards, they and their teachers took surveys to provide context about the instructional experience.

Grant Opportunity

The Blended Learning Grant Program (BLGP) is a four-year process to design, launch, refine, and scale a high- quality blended learning program. Beginning with a planning year in year 0, districts will grow their blended learning model from a pilot program to a sustainable feeder pattern implementation by year four. Math Innovation Zones (MIZ) uses this approach with a focus on K-8 math blended learning implementation while TEA will also award grants for non-math blended learning pilots.

This is a great opportunity for districts that are innovators – those with the commitment and capacity to transform their instructional models to meet the needs of all students, all of the time.

  • Applications are due by midnight on September 18 (self-funded option available with a later due date – October 15)
  • An informational program webinar is available here.
  • Full program information can be found in the overview document available at this link
  • The official grant application is live on the TEA Grant Opportunities page

Any questions can be directed to miz@tea.texas.gov
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