TALAS E-newsletter – February 1

Posted on February 1st, 2021
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Texas News
Adoption Of Three School Year Calendars Means Dallas ISD Can Invest Up To $100 Million To Support Students Who Need The Most Help
Schools that get buy-in from families, teachers and campus staff now have the option to rethink the school year.

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees Thursday night adopted three calendars for the next two school years, with the majority of schools set to have a traditional calendar. The calendars represent a bold investment, of up to $100 million, to support the Dallas ISD students who need it the most.

Schools that get buy-in from families, teachers and campus staff now have the option to rethink the school year. Research shows the pandemic could seriously impact students academically, and an extended school year calendar helps make sure students get the extra support needed to stay on a path to success. Meanwhile, teachers and campus staff who work at a school with an extended year can make a considerably higher annual salary that counts toward retirement.

Here’s why Corpus Christi ISD needs more bilingual teachers
Corpus Christi ISD is facing a shortage of bilingual teachers at a time when many students need them most.

Maria Alvarado has been teaching English Learning students for roughly 10 years. She currently teaches fourth grade students at Zavala Elementary and said it’s difficult to teach EL students because some come to her school almost directly from their native countries.

“When my students come in, their native language is Spanish,” Alvarado said. “To be able to juggle the instruction in English and Spanish, you want them to understand academically what they need to know, but you have to do it in their language because then they won’t understand.

Immunize El Paso will partner with SISD to offer a drive-thru vaccination site
Immunize El Paso announced Friday that it will partner with the Socorro Independent School District to expand Covid-19 vaccine efforts. The local nonprofit has also petitioned the state of Texas to become a ‘Hub Provider’ of vaccinations.

Immunize El Paso currently has three permanent locations capable of offering Covid-19 vaccines to up to 500 El Pasoans a day, and a new drive-thru location the group plans to open in February would increase their capability to up to 1,000 a day.

Texas will require students to take the STAAR test in person
School districts can set up sites outside of their schools, including performing arts centers, hotels and recreation centers where they can “ensure equitable access and maintain test security.”

Texas public school students must show up in person to take the STAAR test this spring, and districts can apply for waivers to socially distance test takers, according to recent guidance released by the Texas Education Agency.

The state is moving forward with the state standardized tests, taken in grades three through 12, this spring and summer during the pandemic and requiring students to take them at a “monitored” testing site. School districts can set up sites outside of their schools, including performing arts centers, hotels and recreation centers where they can “ensure equitable access and maintain test security.”

Republican Texas lawmakers reviving push to end in-state tuition for undocumented college students
Activists worry that if the bill becomes law, many undocumented students will lose opportunities to further their education. They also say it could hurt the state’s economy.

Two freshman Republican state representatives want to stop undocumented immigrants from being able to pay in-state tuition at Texas’ public universities, they announced Friday. Immigrant advocacy groups immediately criticized the plan as insensitive and dehumanizing.

State Reps. Jeff Cason of Bedford and Bryan Slaton of Royse City said the bill they are co-authoring will allow colleges to determine a student’s residency status and decide if they then qualify for in-state tuition.

State Demographer: Census undercount likely in South Texas
Texas State Demographer Lloyd B. Potter says he expects there to be a census undercount in South Texas.

Speaking at a virtual Senate redistricting committee hearing on Tuesday, Potter said he has concerns about how accurate the count was during Census 2020.

“Historically there has been an undercount in places in South Texas. In the 2010 census that was an area that certainly had indications of an undercount. There were some contested count resolutions, concerns, there, and in other parts of the state as well,” Potter said, “but, yes, the lower Rio Grande Valley and Laredo, there were some pretty strong indications there was an undercount in those areas.”

Bryan ISD teacher goes viral on TikTok after sharing teaching videos
Fannin Elementary teacher Valeria Ruiz started out teaching her Pre-K students virtually this school year.

“I was definitely nervous, Pre-K is a lot of socialization and I was like, how can I help them socialize online, through a screen?” said Ruiz.

Despite the new challenge, Ruiz says it was one of her students who made her realize she was doing something right.

“Miguel was always the first one to log on and he used to always say ‘Hello, did you miss me?’ every single day and that was so great it would just get me so excited to begin class,” said Ruiz.

One day Ruiz captured Miguel’s voice on camera excited for the day.

How Manny Guerra Shaped the Tejano Music Scene
The San Antonio producer created a style that would endure for decades—and he helped Selena get her start.

From the crib in his childhood home, a newborn Manny Guerra listened as music poured into the room from the radio that sat on the windowsill of his family’s tamale company next door. 

Long before he could string together a sentence or take his first steps, the top hits of the forties filled his ears and flowed through his mind. “Even before I was conscious, music was just instilled in me,” he says.

Looking for a new opportunity?
Supporting Your Career
3 Tips On How To Gain Momentum In A February Job Search
With a little planning and effort, you can make significant progress in your job search this month, attracting new opportunities and converting promising leads. But to be successful in these endeavors, you need to know what to expect so that you can get ready to adjust to the current and often-turbulent job market trends.

If you are launching or continuing a job search in February, here’s how you can focus your efforts to continue to make traction and achieve your goal of getting a new job in 2021.

National News
For the Second Time In Less Than Two Years, Miguel Cardona is Set to Prove Himself on a Much Larger Stage. Is He Ready for the ‘Political Headwinds’ He’d Face as U.S. Education Secretary?
When Miguel Cardona began eyeing the Connecticut school commissioner’s job in 2019, Robert Villanova admits he was a “little bit skeptical.”

At the time, Cardona — now in line to be President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of education — had been assistant chief in the small city of Meriden for four years. Villanova, director of the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education and Cardona’s mentor, thought he might not want to leapfrog over being superintendent.

Cardona made the jump anyway. But it wasn’t without complications. The governor’s first choice for the job had been an experienced Black superintendent. Once appointed, Cardona had “a lot of heavy lifting to do to build up his credibility” in a state where he was a relative unknown, Villanova said.

Biden Signs Executive Order to Boost Food Benefits for Children Missing School Meals
An executive order signed by President Joe Biden is intended to address food insecurity caused by the pandemic by extending a benefit to a federal nutrition program and focusing resources on children who have missed meals due to closed schools over the last several months.

The executive order, signed by Biden on Friday, directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider issuing new guidance to allow states to increase emergency benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly called SNAP) that Congress has approved but have not been made available to those in need due to the pandemic.

‘Ready to take power’: Progressives mobilized Latino voters in Georgia, and here are the lessons.
“I hope this election served to convince people that if you invest in our community, we will turn out,” said Mayra Macias, executive director of the progressive group Latino Victory.

Days before the Senate runoffs in Georgia this month, a canvasser with the Latino progressive political group Mijente knocked on the door of an 80-year-old man who didn’t know there was an election or who was running.

The man asked the canvasser to talk to him about who was best for the community, and that’s who would get his vote, said Tania Unzueta Carrasco, political director for Mijente, who related the story told to her by a canvasser.

With DeVos Out, Movement for Private School Choice Shifts to State Legislatures
After her Jan. 7 resignation, former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos left office with little to show for her signature push to fund private school scholarships through federal tax credits.

But on the heels of Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, a Supreme Court ruling from June 2020 in which a 5-4 conservative majority ruled that states could not constitutionally exclude religious institutions from participating in programs that subsidize private school tuition, and in the throes of a deadly pandemic that has led many families to seek new education opportunities, a number of state governments are now expanding programs that provide publicly funded scholarships for private schools.

College Board’s own research at odds with its decision to axe the essay portion of the SAT
2019 study found that essay was useful for students of color and for those whose primary language isn’t English

The College Board’s decision on Jan. 19, 2021 to eliminate the essay portion of the SAT may have delighted millions of current and future high school students but its discontinuation could also be a loss for students of color and those whose primary language isn’t English.

“The essay may actually have been particularly helpful for predicting the college success of disadvantaged students,” said Jack Buckley, a former head of research at the College Board, via email. “Ironic that, at a time when standardized testing is under immense pressure not only due to the pandemic but also from the anti-racist movement, CB [College Board] would discontinue a feature of their flagship college entrance examination that their own research argues helped level the playing field.” 

Longtime LGBTQ activist Carmen Vazquez dies at 72
The Puerto Rican social justice pioneer died from complications due to Covid-19, the National LGBTQ Task Force announced.

Carmen Vázquez, a longtime LGBTQ and social justice activist, died Wednesday due to Covid-19-related complications, according to the National LGBTQ Task Force.

She was 72.

“The loss of Carmen tears open a hole in the heart of the LGBTQ+, social justice, immigration, reproductive justice, and sexual freedom movements,” Rea Carey, the task force’s executive director, said in a statement. “I’m deeply sad that one of our movement’s most brilliant activists is no longer with us. Rest in power, Carmen. We will continue your work for liberation.”

Cheech Marin’s Chicano Art Museum Opening This Fall
Actor, comedian and art collector Cheech Marin’s long-awaited Chicano Art Museum is finally coming to fruition.

Last week, the Riverside City Council voted to renovate a library to house the new art museum and give Marin’s art collection a permanent home. The city council approved $1 million in annual funding to cover operating costs for at least the first 25 years. “The Cheech,” which is the nickname of the museum, will open this fall.

The Cheech will be managed by the Riverside Art Museum, which is providing $13 million ($9.7 million of that from a state grant) for the renovations of the library. According to ArtNet.com, Marin has donated 11 artworks to the museum and will donate 500 more once storage facilities for the work have been built.

In New Documentary, Rita Moreno Talks the Racism, Sexism, and Discrimination She Faced in Her 70-Year Career
The new documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival on Friday. As you can probably guess, the film focuses on the indomitable EGOT-winning icon Boricua.

According to the film’s director, fellow Boricua Mariem Pérez Riera, the movie is supposed to offer a stripped-down and intimate portrait of the real Rita Moreno.

“We always knew that we wanted this documentary to not be just a showreel of her career and how great she is,” Pérez Riera told NBC News.

“When I make or watch a documentary, I want to be able to know that person more than just what I already know, so it was very important for me to go deeper and to understand her as a human being.”

This Comic Book Follows Immigration Story of Mother & Son Separated at Border
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be blasted with gamma rays or get bitten by a radioactive spider to become a superhero. In the upcoming comic book Home from Image Comics, creators Julio Anta and Anna Wieszczyk want readers to know that anyone can become a hero and that origin stories don’t have to only take place in an underground laboratory.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Home is a five-part comic series about a young Guatemalan boy who is separated from his mother at the U.S. / Mexico border. The trauma he faces when he loses his mother is what becomes the catalyst for him to discover that he possesses superhero abilities.

Las Tienditas
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