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Texas News
United ISD named H-E-B ‘Excellence in Education Award’ finalist
United ISD was recently named as a finalist for the 2022 H-E-B Excellence in Education School District award.

United ISD is one of five finalists selected in the Large District division for Texas, and the only finalist from Webb County.

The district is being honored for its innovative programs, parent and community involvement, and professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. This is the second time that United ISD has been nominated for the award.

Spring ISD to launch revamped English language program for bilingual students
In the upcoming school year, bilingual pre-K students at Spring ISD will be learning English under a new program that trustees approved at their Feb. 8 board meeting.

In an unanimous vote, trustees adopted the new “One-Way Dual Language Bilingual” program, replacing the district’s old model. The program aims to help emergent bilingual—or EB—students, who are native-Spanish speakers, to more effectively learn English. 

Two YISD educators nominated for “LifeChanger” award
Ysleta ISD teachers Alejandro De La Pena and Sarah Perez have been nominated for the 2021- 2022 National LifeChanger of the Year award, which recognizes and rewards the best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students.

De La Pena, a special education teacher at Parkland Pre-Engineering Middle School, was nominated for helping the school raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money in recent years.

Texas now requires new charter schools to ensure they won’t teach critical race theory
The new requirement applies to charter schools set to open in August. The agency did not elaborate why this one law needed a separate assurance.

The Texas Education Agency confirmed this week it now requires new charter schools to submit a “statement of assurance” that the school will follow so-called “critical race theory” laws before opening its doors to the public.

Politicians May Be Politicking, But Texas Teens Say Book Bans Are Pointless at Best — Though a Little Guidance Might Be Nice
In the ongoing power struggle between conservative politicians, local school boards, teachers, and parents, library books have become, as the kids would say, iconic — and nowhere is the fight bigger than in Texas. 

For politicians like Fort Worth Republican Rep. Matt Krause — who demanded school districts audit their bookshelves for more than 850 titles related to sex and race — books are the encroachment of liberal values into classrooms. 

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National News
‘We Have First-Graders Who Can’t Sing the Alphabet Song’: Pandemic Continues to Push Young Readers Off Track, New Data Shows
Young children learning to read — especially Black and Hispanic students — are in need of significant support nearly two years after the pandemic disrupted their transition into school, according to new assessment results.

Mid-year data from Amplify, a curriculum and assessment provider, shows that while the so-called “COVID cohort” of students in kindergarten, first and second grade are making progress, they haven’t caught up to where students in those grade levels were performing before schools shut down in March 2020. 

Students are suspended less when their teacher has the same race or ethnicity
Black, Latino and Asian American students are less likely to be suspended from school when they have more teachers who share their racial or ethnic background. This is the central finding of a research study that two colleagues – Travis J. Bristol and Tolani Britton – and I released in October 2021 through the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

To figure out if a teacher’s race or ethnicity affected suspensions, we analyzed 10 years of data – from 2007 through 2016 – on suspensions for every student in fourth through eighth grades in New York City public schools. We followed individual students over time. We examined whether the proportion of teachers of the same race or ethnicity these students were assigned in a given year affected how likely they were to be suspended.

New study finds all states lacking mental health support at schools
The “report card” found that many states made strides this year in providing students with mental health support but that more work needs to be done. 

All 50 states could be doing more to help schools better address mental health concerns among students, a new report found.  

Adolescents and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues as they grapple with all the complexities of becoming a fully fledged adult, and data shows that an increasing number of young people are struggling with feelings of sadness or hopelessness.  

How to create positive reading experiences for students of color
Students of color want a challenge when it comes to literacy and should not be automatically remediated, said Kimberly Parker, an educator and literacy consultant and the director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, during a Thursday webinar held by ASCD. 

Parker suggested teachers explore different types of literature and writing that go beyond a five-paragraph essay to help students of color end this school year with positive literacy experiences.

Jargon may have turned parents against social and emotional learning
Whatever you do, experts say, ‘Do not call it social and emotional learning’

Educators often have a tendency to use confusing terminology when speaking about their field. But jargon may now be playing a role in the politicization of social and emotional learning — often referred to as SEL.

Social and emotional learning isn’t a new concept. According to the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for the United States (SEL4US), it’s a practice that helps kids and adults learn and apply the skills necessary to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy, establish strong relationship skills, and make responsible decisions.

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