TALAS E-newsletter – December 10

Posted on December 10th, 2020
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Texas News
Judge halts Carroll ISD’s diversity plan after opponents win temporary restraining order
The interim superintendent of the Southlake district says the move aims to ‘derail this important work’

A plan to make the Southlake Carroll school district more inclusive to students of color is tied up in a contentious legal battle after a Tarrant County judge granted a restraining order to stop leaders from moving forward.

Interim Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said in a statement that the district will comply with the court order, though the school district’s attorneys are working to overturn it. A hearing is scheduled later this month to determine whether the administration can continue its work with the District Diversity Council.

Ysleta ISD teacher wins 2021 NEA Foundation excellence award
Michelle Sandoval Villegas, a Parkland Pre-Engineering Middle School math teacher and 2020 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year, has been named a winner of the prestigious 2021 National Education Association (NEA) Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence.

Villegas, a 13-year teaching veteran at the Ysleta Independent School District, was honored during a virtual awards ceremony Friday with her school colleagues and principal, as well as representatives from Ysleta ISD, the Ysleta Teachers Association, the Texas State Teachers Association, and others.

Canutillo ISD names 2018 grad to fill vacant school board seat
The Canutillo Independent School District’s Board of Trustees has a new member.

Tristan Hernandez was named to the board during a special meeting on Tuesday.

He will fill the unexpired term of Mary Yglesias, who resigned last month. Hernandez will be officially sworn in before the next regular board meeting on Dec. 15.

Hernandez is a native of Canutillo and a 2018 graduate of Canutillo High School.

Education Austin launches pilot program to create campus-based collaborations for COVID-19 concerns
Education Austin has launched a new pilot program aimed at bridging the gap between Austin Independent School District employees and district leaders in regards to COVID-19-related issues.

“We are very excited about this. For so long it’s felt like we were not listened to,” said sixth grade Burnet Middle teacher David DeLeon.

DeLeon says he feels like his voice is finally being heard. This comes days after he found out his request to work from home was denied.

UT professor suing school over alleged retaliation for reporting race-related pay disparities
A UT history professor says he was retaliated against by a supervisor after distributing a report that showed disparities of pay and promotions among racial groups.

A professor with the University of Texas at Austin‘s Department of History is suing the school because he said he was retaliated against by a supervisor.

He said it happened after he distributed a report pointing out race-related pay and promotion disparities in the history department.

According to the lawsuit, in the spring of 2018, plaintiff Alberto Martinez notified his supervisor and coworkers that there was “discrimination” and “marginalization” of Hispanic employees in the Department of History. Consequently, the lawsuit stated that Martinez was appointed the chair of a new “Committee on Equity,” which was tasked to review governance, salaries and promotions in the department.

Report: Texas Schools Still Forcibly Restrain Students Too Often
The advocacy group Disability Rights Texas examined statewide data and found that students with disabilities and Black students are physically restrained by educators at disproportionately high rates.

In Texas, when a student is deemed a threat to themselves or others at school, a teacher or staff member has to intervene and forcibly restrain them — physical restraints that are only supposed to be used in an emergency, according to federal guidelines, and by staff members who’ve been trained.

But some Texas schools are still forcibly restraining students at high rates, according to a new report from Disability Rights Texas.

At least three Texas Board of Education members test positive for the coronavirus after in-person meeting
One of the board members said the state needs to be more cautious about getting back to normal — especially with a new legislative session set to begin next month.

At least three members of the State Board of Education tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting in person for four days in November, according to multiple board members.

Georgina Pérez, an El Paso Democrat, said she tested positive. Two other board members also tested positive, board chair Keven Ellis told The Texas Tribune. All three tests came within two weeks of Nov. 20, the last day of the board meeting, according to Ellis and Pérez.

Texas Medical Association urging schools to test students for COVID-19
The Texas Medical Association is asking schools to use rapid antigen testing for students to help prevent outbreaks in schools.

Medical doctors from across Texas are recommending that schools test students and staff for COVID-19.

The Texas Education Agency has partnered with other state agencies to provide school districts with free rapid COVID-19 tests.  

“The idea is if you are able to detect early the amount of people that are infected, you can stop the infection, decrease the amount of admission and have a much better prognosis,” said Dr. Gilbert Dr. Gilbert Handal, an El Paso pediatrician and member of the TMA COVID-19 School Reopening Group.

STAAR testing underway despite COVID-19 pandemic
From Dec. 8 through Dec. 18, the December 2020 STAAR EOC assessments are taking place in school districts across Texas.

Despite the challenges that students have faced amid the coronavirus pandemic, STAAR testing is underway in Texas and the Austin area.

In June, KVUE’s media partners at the Austin American-Statesman reported that Texas would continue to require students to take the state-mandated, standardized exam, but with some changes. 

Among the reported changes to the STAAR test would be including an expanded testing window and making adjustments to the way the State’s accountability system works “given we lost last year’s data and it’s going to be harder to calculate growth,” according to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.  

Art Gallery: 40 Emerging, Texas-based Artists to Know
Despite a lineage of Tejanos’ fruitful contributions to art history and a new wave of exciting talent, Texas artists don’t get much limelight in the national art world. But this critique of exclusion is not new.

“If Americana was ‘sensed’ through blue eyes, now ‘Brown Vision’ is demanding equal views—polychrome instead of monochrome,” Tejano artist Mel Casas wrote in a 1971 manifesto. And, though generations of Tejano artists have organized tirelessly for recognition within the American canon, the challenge to attain visibility continues for a new crop of Texan artists with experimental approaches.

GALA – Leaders Unidos
Thu. Dec. 10, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Online via Zoom
Join GALA as we embark on a new journey designed to reach out to our students, aspiring administrators, and our community through our three pillars: Leadership, Education, and Advocacy.
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Supporting Your Career
Your lockdown resume needs more numbers
As the national lockdown continues, your resume needs more numbers.

While numbers have always been important on your resume, our new Zoom economy favors numbers-driven resumes even more.

Here’s why.

Results are more important than facetime

Your boss can’t check on your attendance, whether you’re at your desk, or the time you left for home, anymore. All of these were bad management practices before the pandemic, but today, they’re simply not possible.

National & International News
DACA ruling a victory for DREAMers, but U.S. needs more than piecemeal immigration policies | Editorial
A federal judge’s latest affirmation that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — DACA — should be reinstated is great news for the young people called DREAMers, who for the past four years have been tiptoeing around the possibility of being deported.

The judge’s ruling also affirmed the ongoing absurdity of U.S. immigration policies that for years have lacked the coherence of comprehensive reform.

Friday, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, ordered the Trump administration to restore DACA, created by President Obama’s executive order in 2012. It prevents the deportation of young, undocumented immigrants, whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were children. The ruling says the administration must again accept applications for DACA renewal as well as from those who are newly eligible.

Biden vows to reopen most of the nation’s schools, distribute at least 100 million vaccines in 1st 100 days as president
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called for urgent action on the coronavirus pandemic as he introduced a health care team that will be tested at every turn while striving to restore the nation to normalcy.

Biden laid out three COVID-19 priorities for his first 100 days in office: a call for all Americans to voluntarily mask up during those 100 days, a commitment to administer 100 million vaccines and a pledge to try to reopen a majority of the nation’s schools.

“I know that out of our collective pain, we will find our collective purpose: to control the pandemic, to save lives, and to heal as a nation,” Biden said.

Analysis: From School Cafeteria ‘Salad Girl’ to U.S. Secretary of Education? The Rise of Former NEA President Lily Eskelsen García
There is no official word, but the signs are pointing to Lily Eskelsen García, former president of the National Education Association, as a strong contender as President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for U.S. secretary of education.

“The former president of the nation’s largest teachers union is working to lock up support from Republican senators and Hispanic leaders in her bid to be picked as education secretary, according to officials familiar with the talks,” reported Politico on Dec. 4.

Putting a longtime teachers union officer in the secretary’s chair would be certain to meet with resistance from Senate Republicans, but Biden’s choice needs to swing no more than two GOP votes to be confirmed. This explains why Eskelsen García has reached out to Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, a former education secretary himself and the recipient of NEA’s Friend of Education award in 2016.

Santiago Potes Is 1st Latino DACA Recipient To Be Awarded Rhodes Scholarship
Santiago Potes is one of the hundreds of thousands of DACA-recipients currently living in the U.S. His parents fled Colombia when he was four years old, traveling with Potes to Miami.

Now, Potes, 23, is a graduate of Columbia University and also the first Latino DACA recipient to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he tells NPR’s Morning Edition. “I just thought that they were going to call me, and say ‘Oh, we made a mistake. Sorry about that, we actually didn’t choose you.'”

Santiago says his love for learning really took off when he was selected for Marina Esteva’s gifted classroom at Sweetwater Elementary when he was in the second grade.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions Need $1 Billion More in Federal Funding
Latinx college enrollment is surging, but the colleges that serve large numbers of this population don’t have the resources to support these students properly. In fact, while Latinx students are entering college at rates that outpace their growth in the general population—and the enrollment rates of any other racial group—only roughly a quarter of those who start college earn a bachelor’s degree. To improve racial equity and give a rising generation the opportunity to succeed in college and the economy, Congress should invest a total of $1 billion in Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), which collectively enroll 2.5 million Latinx students.

Congress has funded a grant program for HSIs—among other minority-serving institutions (MSIs)—for nearly 30 years to help colleges build their institutional capacity to better serve Latinx students. This is important because many Latinx students are low income, work while in school to fulfill financial obligations, and are the first in their families to go to college. Moreover, they tend to enroll at underfunded public colleges; and lower funding directly translates to worse outcomes.

Analysis: What COVID-Era Learning Looks Like in 144 Innovative Schools Around the Country
Across the country, COVID-19 has made redefining the status quo an imperative for K-12 schools. But with little to no state and federal guidance about high-quality options for learning during a pandemic, school leaders urgently need ways to learn from the struggles and triumphs of their peers. As a result, it’s critical to lift the hood on how some schools are innovating in a way that’s distinctly student-centered.

The Canopy project, a collaborative initiative led by the Christensen Institute and the education nonprofit Transcend, is taking up that challenge by making available new data from 144 schools in 41 states that are prioritizing student-centered learning. After being nominated for their exceptionally innovative strategies by education organizations around the country, each school’s leader used an online survey to share the practices that are being implemented at the school this fall.

Across U.S., schools’ worst budget fears have been avoided. No one’s celebrating yet.
In three decades of working on school district finances, Judith Marte has never had a more challenging year.

“This has been by far the most difficult year to plan because of the level of unpredictability,” said Marte, the chief financial officer for Broward County schools in Florida.

But she got a welcome bit of news this week: the state of Florida will largely spare school districts from funding cuts this year, despite enrollment declines and a state budget shortfall. Broward, the country’s sixth-largest district, has also benefited from over $40 million from the federal CARES Act. The federal money has covered the cost of masks, additional cleaning services, and technology made necessary by the pandemic so far.

Remembering Luis Zapata, Mexico’s Gay Literature Trailblazer
Mexico’s literary circles and LGBTQ+ community are mourning the passing of the 20th century’s most prominent gay, Mexican author. In November, author Luis Zapata passed away at age 69 due to complications related to a previous cardiac episode.

News of his departure was broken by Mexico’s Secretariat of Culture Alejandra Frausto via Twitter. “With pain and affection, we say goodbye to Luis Zapata, pioneer of LGBT+ literature in Mexico. A creator of experimental and emotive novels,” her post read in part.

Zapata was born in Chilpancingo, Guerrero in 1951. From a young age, he was drawn to the arts, most notably film and literature. As he described in his autobiography, he spent much of his time “watching a lot of cinema, reading a lot, and observing life through introjection.” Despite his talents and accolades as a writer and scholar, he always saw himself as a cinephile above all.

How the creator of ‘Selena: The Series’ shaped a room of Latinx creatives to tell the Tex Mex icon’s story
When the moment came to adapt Selena Quintanilla’s family story to a TV show, Moisés Zamora knew this was a big opportunity, not just for him, but for Latinx creatives at large.

As creator, executive producer and co-showrunner for Selena: The Series, Zamora saw one way forward: To lead with a team of Latinx writers fit to bring the Tejano singer’s narrative to life.

“It was important for me to have a Latinx room and a lot of Mexican American representation in that room because even within the Latinx group, there’s a lot of cultures and unique perspectives,” he told The Mujerista.

With his help and that of the team, a group of 14 creatives, many of them Texans, Mexican Americans and women, wrote the Quintanillas’ story.

Las Tienditas
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