TALAS E-newsletter – August 6

Posted on August 6th, 2020
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Texas News
TALAS represented in Education Stakeholder Task Force
Late last week, TALAS President Rick Lopez and Executive Director Stan Paz were asked to join an education stakeholder task force for the Senate Democratic Caucus which included educators, school board members, parents, child care providers, as well as representatives from statewide organizations. The goal is to apprise the Senators of the main issues and potential solutions surrounding schools reopening according to Sushma Smith, Chief of Staff & Legislative Affairs, from Senator Jose Rodriguez SD 29. Recommendations were drafted with input from the stakeholders to be finalized in the next several days. Dr. Lopez looks forward to sharing the results of the Task Force in an upcoming newsletter.
El Paso ISD announces new principal assignments for 2020-21 school year
Officials with El Paso ISD announced the appointment of new principals for several campuses in preparation for the 2020-2021 academic year that begins on August 17.

“Principals play a key role in the success of every school, and we know we have selected outstanding educators to lead these campuses,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera.

“I am confident that their experience and commitment will help our students and teachers reach unprecedented goals, even as the pandemic alters the way we provide services to our community.”

GPISD announces raises for all teachers and staff due to pandemic

The Gregory-Portland ISD Board of Trustees has announced pay raises for all teachers and staff due to the working conditions during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s no secret that teachers and staff in our schools work hard every school year, but this year they are really going above and beyond for families,” said Superintendent Dr. Michelle Cavazos. “They’ve done a marvelous job completely re-envisioning how learning can be achieved in a safe manner, and shown their resolve to adapt to constantly changing guidelines and requirements as they are received from the state.”

Austin ISD labor union makes list of reopening demands, asks AISD for school to start in September

Education Austin, the labor union for Austin Independent School District employees, made a list of school reopening demands for district leaders as school is scheduled to begin virtually on Aug. 18. 

“Nervous as hell is how we’re feeling. We’re hearing from teachers and school employees every single day and it’s unvarnished. This is not about talking to your boss. This is about talking to your union that you can be completely honest with. People are scared,” said Education Austin’s President Ken Zarifis. 

The labor union is asking for AISD to reschedule the school year to Sept. 8 and asking for online learning to be offered for nine weeks or more after the Sept. 8 start date. 

Garland ISD makes back-to-school plans for students with special needs
The first four weeks for all students at Garland Independent School District will be virtual, but parents are facing the decision of continuing online or face-to-face learning after.

For many families with special needs students, it’s a difficult choice to make.

“We can get much more accomplished face-to-face, and my child needs that interaction,” said Jeanie Marten. She’s the mother of Sean Marten, an incoming freshman at Sachse High School. Sean has autism. The best option for her child is to have in-person learning.

But for Shannon Thompson, her family is choosing to continue virtual learning. “At that time, our [Dallas County COVID-19] numbers were so high, I felt like I had to choose online just to protect her,” said Thompson. Her daughter, Madison Thompson, is a junior at Rowlett High School with Down syndrome. 

United ISD trustees vote to extend potential return-to-school date to October
During a UISD Special Call meeting on Tuesday, the district’s board of trustees voted to extend past the first four weeks of online instruction and add an additional four to the start of the school year. The start of the optional on-campus transition will now be set to Oct. 19.

According to Gloria Rendon, UISD’s Deputy Superintendent of Administration and Operations, the school year will start with on-campus instruction for students unable to connect to the internet or who will not have a device at the start.

To try to accommodate as many students as possible, the district has rolled out a plan to try and provide devices and connectivity to different areas of their population. A total of 36 campuses have been wired to provide internet connectivity to the surrounding areas, allowing students and parents to park and receive a wifi connection.

San Marcos CISD Superintendent Cardona addresses State of the City
During his address, Cardona highlighted the district’s new career-ready, college-ready and military-ready facility which has been completed, the district’s growing dual-language program, the district’s AVID, and Gear Up Programs.

“We were just notified by the state of Texas that our high school is considered an early college high school,” Cardona said. 

According to Cardona, San Marcos CISD will see 100 students amongst the incoming freshman entering the early-college program; last year, the district had 48 enrolled in the program with approximately 42 making it through.

“Are we where we want to me? No, our goal was to be an A rated district,” Cardona said. “And at some point we will get to be that A rated district.”

South Texas Students Push for Change on Racial Issues
Alamo Heights is not known for hosting protests, especially Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

However, a leaked video of Alamo Heights students sparked a protest in the mostly white, affluent neighborhood.

“There was three girls, two were cheerleaders, who were yelling and screaming the n-word,” recent graduate Mckenzie Hervey said. “But I’m guessing it was supposed to be a private video but it leaked out.”

Alamo Heights High School’s student body is 54 percent white, 40 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Black. Current students, including 16-year-old Sky Ervin, shared their experiences with protesters.

New Opportunities
  • Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations
  • Executive Director of Special Education
  • Executive Director of Literacy, K-12
  • Executive Director of Math & Science, K-12
Career Advice
11 Pieces of Career Advice You Wish Your Younger Self Knew
Hindsight is 20/20. As a Career Advisor, I have the opportunity to talk to college students and help them avoid the mistakes my colleagues and I made in our careers. Don’t misunderstand me, we love what we do, but because of what we know we all would have done one or two things differently and we all would love to share these insights with our younger selves. Here are 10 Pieces of Career Advice You Wish Your Younger Self Knew:

1. Do NOT follow your passion
I know, I know, this is exactly the opposite of what everyone tells themselves, their friends, their children, and if you have any regret about your career you blame the fact that you didn’t follow your passion. My advice, follow what you are good at, even if it is not something you are passionate about. Employers pay people who do their jobs well, so well in fact that they begin to create better ways to do their job which is called innovation.

Cal Newport, an Assistant Profession of Computer Science at Georgetown University, wrote a book called So Good They Can’t Ignore You. The premise of the book is to NOT follow your passion, you can follow your interests he says and they may lead to passion, but true passion grows out of being really really good at something. Don’t believe me? Check out number 8 in the link below and read about Steve Jobs in Newport’s book.

National News
Groundbreaking Research Reveals Black And Latinx Girls Are Left Out Of Leadership Pipeline From The Start Due To Systemic Racial Bias In Schools
GIRLS LEADERSHIP, a national, educational nonprofit started in 2009, announces new findings from READY TO LEAD, a groundbreaking research study that will monumentally impact the way that girls, especially Black and Latinx girls, are supported and taught to become skilled and ambitious leaders. These findings, released in partnership with lead sponsor Morgan Stanley, will inform new curriculum and pathways for leadership development for the diverse needs of 25 million girls across the U.S., initiating necessary changes within educational institutions to address systemic gender and racial injustices.

“We understand from the research findings that there is often a dangerous disconnect between the experiences and perspectives of our country’s teaching force—about 80% of whom are White women—and the girls—over 50% of whom are girls of color,” says Simone Marean, CEO and Cofounder of GIRLS LEADERSHIP. “This begged us to ask the question: What happens when Black and Latinx students, who know their power and already identify as leaders, speak up in a classroom? These findings forced us to think differently about how to properly support and train teachers to see the value—rather than the threat—of these strong voices. It also taught us that much more research is needed to understand this bias at the beginning, in elementary school.”

Immigrant Educators Helping Immigrant Students Through Coronavirus: Maria Rocha, One of 2,000 Texas Teachers Covered by DACA, Is Turning Her Anxiety Into Advocacy
an Antonio second-grade teacher Maria Rocha knows the uncertainty facing many immigrant students. As a Dreamer who grew up in the Texas Hill Country, she lived it.

She still lives it, really, she said. Even with this summer’s DACA decision from the Supreme Court, life as an undocumented immigrant in the United States is never a sure thing.

Last month the Trump administration announced it would not allow newly eligible Dreamers to enroll in the program, and would reduce the renewal cycle from two years to one. For as long as the administration makes immigration central to Trump’s re-election campaign, Rocha knows that undocumented Americans and their families are in for a roller coaster.

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Anytime, Anywhere Learning
Today’s education environment demands that schools are prepared for quick shifts between remote, in-person, and blended learning. This can be challenging, but schools don’t have to face this daunting task alone. ClassLink was built for this.

Students need easy access to online resources. Teachers and administrators need actionable analytics. ClassLink makes the switch to remote learning less complicated by creating consistency in how students and staff engage with digital learning tools. Both teachers and administrators also have the ability to track engagement with resources.

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