TALAS E-newsletter – February 18

Posted on February 18th, 2021
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Texas News
How to help and get help in Texas as the winter storm causes power outages
Local organizations are providing warming shelters and resources, while nonprofits are asking for donations and volunteers.

Millions of Texans are without power, heat and essential services during a winter storm that has led to freezing temperatures and hazardous road conditions throughout the state.

City officials, local outreach teams and other organizations are providing warming shelters and support for people seeking help. Many nonprofit organizations are also asking for donations so they can help people experiencing homelessness or those who are in need of support. Here’s a list of the resources being offered in cities across the state.

TEA approves schools to apply for waivers to cancel classes in coming days due to weather
Due to the ongoing weather crisis throughout Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is allowing school districts to submit waivers to cancel classes in the next few days.

According to TEA, school districts can submit “missed school day waiver” requests to the TEA if their area is experiencing widespread power outages.

An advisory sent to school districts across Texas states that districts will have to submit the waiver following the weather event’s passing.

HISD students embrace Black History projects
A school with a majority Hispanic student body is embracing Black History Month.

“One thing I love about my students is they are open and wanting to learn about the Black culture and the Black community, and Black history,” said teacher Shyra Moody.

Moody and several students spoke with KHOU about what they’ve been doing for Black History Month.

“And they, you know, are very open to expressing what they’ve learned and talked about what they’ve learned and how it affects them today,” said Moody.

Are snow days a thing of the past?
On Sunday, kids in the Borderland woke up to a winter wonderland when a winter storm dropped inches of snow in the area. Inches!

By Monday morning, that snow was still on the ground. But instead of kids building snowmen, having snowball fights or simply staying bundled up in bed, most were sitting in front of their computers or tablets, learning virtually.

As much of the world has evolved with technology – save for a Zoom filter here or there – through virtual learning and online meetings, are snow days a thing of the past? The short answer is yes.

“I can even think back to when I was a kid and, ‘oh yay, no school, we get to go out and play in the snow,’ and certainly it’s fun for children – we don’t see that very frequently in this town,” said Fabens Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Veronica Vijil.

El Paso school boards set for May 1 election, YISD incumbents see no challengers
The stage is set for local school board races and many are lining up to represent the interests of their communities and ensure a better future for younger generations.

Elections for school board will be held on May 1. Area school districts closed their filing periods for candidates last Friday.

The Ysleta Independent School District will stick with its current leadership in four positions. No challengers have signed up to compete against incumbents Shane Haggerty, Cruz A. Ochoa Jr., Carlos Bustillos and Kathryn Lucero, according to the YISD website.

El Paso Independent School District board trustees Bob Geske and Chuck Taylor do not appear to be running for reelection, according to the district’s website. Trustees Josh Acevedo and Diane M. Dye will be competing to keep their seats on the school board.

Texas to get $5.5 billion more in federal funding for schools but won’t say how it will be spent
School districts say they need flexibility to address learning loss caused by the pandemic.

Texas students need additional resources to overcome academic setbacks brought on by the pandemic, but school leaders aren’t so sure they’ll have the flexibility to spend new federal dollars to help them.

The federal government gave Texas two big education stimulus packages — totaling around $6.8 billion — to help students recover from the pandemic.

But as the first package of $1.3 billion flowed to districts, local school administrators saw aid cut elsewhere. It was hard to keep up with the new needs driven by the pandemic— such as physical improvements to campuses so students can learn safely in person and expanded online infrastructure for those in remote classes — as Texas used federal dollars to replace state funding.

What Went Wrong With Texas’s Main Electric Grid and Could It Have Been Prevented?
An energy expert explains why some four million Texans suffered a barrage of winter storms without heat in their homes.

After winter storms continued to barrage the state Tuesday night, officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the body overseeing the grid that serves 90 percent of the state’s homes, couldn’t offer a timeline for when power for every Texan would be restored. Over the long weekend, the council had advised local utilities to shed energy use with rolling outages in order to maintain the reliability of the electric system after a surge in demand, or otherwise risk uncontrolled blackouts that will take longer to reverse. Some four million homes in the state had been left in the lurch without energy in the bitter cold—many for over fifty hours—and as of Wednesday morning, 2.7 million homes still lacked power.

Civil Rights Activist Sylvia Mendez to be Special Guest at ALAS Linking Latina Leaders Event Feb. 19
Free Virtual event for ALAS members and their guests will focus on “Breaking Barriers to have an Inclusive Equitable Education”

Civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez will join the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) for their February networking event, Linking Latina Leaders [L3]. The free event to ALAS L3 members and their guests, takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 19, 2021 and addresses the theme: “Breaking Barriers to have an Inclusive Equitable Education.” To register, visit this link.

The event is facilitated by ALAS L3 members Patricia Trejo, Dr. Patricia Ordoìnez-Feliciano.

“Our Linking Latina Leaders events focus on our female members and leadership development – to connect, and for those who may be interested in joining ALAS to network with members nationwide and gain a better understanding of the ALAS vision, mission and goals in leading our most marginalized and students of color ,” said Dr. Maria Armstrong, executive director of ALAS. “We are incredibly excited and looking forward to hearing from Sylvia Mendez, an inspiring leader and trailblazer in education, at our February event.”

Looking for a new opportunity?
Supporting Your Career
The Future Of Work Will Demand These 8 New Skills
The future of work is upon us and while we’ve been entrenched at home, the world has changed significantly. Getting back to work won’t be getting back at all, it will be a new game. And success in the future will require new skills—some of which may come as a surprise.

A study by Monster found 82% of companies are planning to hire in the new year. This is good news for your career and the opportunities you’ll be able to pursue. But you’ll also need different skills and as the saying goes, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”

National News
U.S. Department of Education issues practical strategies alongside new CDC reopening guidance
  • Schools offering in-person instruction should prioritize the universal and correct use of mask wearing, as well as physical distancing that includes 6 feet between people, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in new, comprehensive reopening guidance released Friday.

  • To complement the CDC guidance, the U.S. Department of Education also issued practical strategies for the safe reopening of schools, including establishing protocols for how and when masks should be removed during lunchtime, creating seating charts and staggering bell schedules.

  • Although vaccinations for teachers should be prioritized and are one of the layers of mitigation schools use to protect their communities, schools can reopen safely prior to all teachers being vaccinated if masking and distancing measures are followed, said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky during a virtual media briefing.

Protesters Urged Defunding the Police. Schools in Big Cities Are Doing It.
Los Angeles will eliminate a third of its school police officers, joining cities like Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis that took action after Black Lives Matter protests.

After a months-long push by students in the nation’s second-largest public school system, leaders in Los Angeles approved a plan on Tuesday to cut the district’s security force by a third, joining a growing number of cities that have reduced the presence of police officers in school hallways.

Calls to downsize or significantly alter police forces surged during nationwide protests across the country last summer after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But those efforts have faced roadblocks in the months since, making schools one of the few places where major changes have been enacted.

Call to Delay In-Person English Learner Tests
To protect students who are learning English from being forced into schools for the sole purpose of testing, and to enable parents to withdraw them from testing if they do not feel safe sending their children to school, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), TESOL, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and several other organizations sent a letter to then-president-elect Joe Biden’s education transition team before his inauguration. The letter asks for the prioritizing of issuing guidance for state and local education agencies to make sure all students can maintain their health and well-being.

Race on Campus: Why More Latino Students Are Deciding Against College
Welcome to Race on Campus. This week, Katie Mangan talked to an expert about one of the most troubling flips in the college-enrollment scene: the decline in Latino/a students, a population many see as key to higher education’s future.

Covid-19 reversed an enrollment trend.

For years, Latina/o students have been the fastest-growing segment of undergraduates, and in the fall of 2019, they were the only demographic to chalk up enrollment gains. But by the fall of 2020, their families disproportionately devastated by Covid-19-related sickness and job losses, the number of Latino first-time freshmen tumbled by 20 percent, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Black, Hispanic students less likely to receive special-education services than comparable white students
Racial gaps especially pronounced in more segregated schools

In predominately minority schools, when surrounded by other non-white students, Black and Hispanic students are less likely to receive the specialized education services they need, Todd Elder and Scott Imberman of Michigan State University, and David Figlio and Claudia Persico of Northwestern University report in a new article for Education Next.

CARES Act Funding Isn’t Equitable For Schools. Let’s Fix That Next Time
When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was first passed in March 2020, it included nearly $31 billion in funds to quickly stabilize public schools—both district and charter—that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, nearly a year later, it’s clear that some schools have benefited more than others. Public schools in similar neighborhoods, just blocks away from each other, are receiving wildly disparate amounts of money, shortchanging many of the students and families who need this support the most. 

Johnny Pacheco, an idol in the world of salsa music, dies at age 85
He was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer of music stars such as Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz.

Salsa idol Johnny Pacheco, who was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer of music stars such as Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz, died Monday. He was 85.

He had been hospitalized in New York a few days earlier for pneumonia, his wife, Maria Elena “Cuqui” Pacheco, said on the artist’s Facebook account.

Fania Records tweeted that the musician was “the man most responsible for the genre of salsa music. He was a visionary and his music will live on eternally.”

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