TALAS E-newsletter – February 25

Posted on February 25th, 2021
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Texas News
Texas Won’t Require School Districts To Make Up Days Missed During Power Blackouts
Texas public schools will not be required to make up the days they missed during last week’s energy blackouts.

School districts and charter networks can apply for waivers with the Texas Education Agency so the missed days don’t count against them.

TEA is also allowing districts to stay closed or go 100% remote this week as needed to complete repairs.

Winter weather damage may keep some North Texas schools closed indefinitely
Dallas ISD suffered a total 131 broken pipes at 113 different campuses, district officials said.

Damage to North Texas schools was so widespread during last week’s record-shattering winter weather that multiple schools may not be able to reopen until sometime next week.

Districts from Dallas to Arlington to Fort Worth have reported that some campuses will not be able to open on Wednesday.

Dallas ISD announced Tuesday afternoon that due to ongoing repairs, students at J.P. Starks, Lang MS, Bryan Adams HS and Lincoln HS will be virtual for the rest of this week.

Edinburg CISD Board approves Dr. Mario Salinas as Superintendent
The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved Dr. Mario Salinas as the Superintendent of Schools during a Special Called Board Meeting on Feb. 16.

Dr. Salinas became the 20th superintendent for Edinburg CISD and was selected nearly 102 years since the first superintendent was named in 1919.

“I am excited to get going and take this District to another level of quality,” said ECISD Superintendent Dr. Mario Salinas. “As a former high school principal, I am different from the 19 other superintendents that I followed. Most of those had the elementary experience. I am coming in here as a superintendent with a high school principalship experience, which is the same job, but a different perspective.”

Fabens ISD Board President passes away
Fabens Independent School District School Board President Rey Sepulveda passed away on Monday due to non-COVID-related health issues, according to FISD officials.

“Mr. Sepulveda was a champion for Fabens ISD,” said FISD Superintendent Dr. Veronica Vijil. “We can honor his memory by continuing to advocate for the children who he held so dearly in his heart.”

He is survived by his wife, Linda.

‘High expectations’: Tomball ISD earns top regional ranking
It wasn’t COVID-19 that worried Bruno Reis most when he moved from Miami to Creekside Forest Elementary in Tomball ISD at the end of fourth grade.

In his old school, he said, kids would misbehave and distract entire classes. Teachers would be totally lax, authoritarian or, in the case of his Spanish teacher, would pass out worksheets but do little else.

“The teacher would always give us work but never really teach us anything,” Bruno said. “But then I came here, and then all the teachers connected with us.”

Texas schools made huge progress in closing digital divide. Will it last?
Shortly after the beginning of the second semester in January, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath declared that the state had “basically completely closed” gaps in student access to take-home computers, largely thanks to massive state and local purchases amid the pandemic.

“It’s pretty remarkable when we’ve talked about the digital divide for the better part of 20 years in the country, and we will have effectively bridged it with computing devices at the scale of Texas,” Morath said.

That success, however, could prove short-lived without more investment in the coming years.

Federal judge indefinitely blocks enforcement of Biden administration’s 100-day deportation freeze
Texas sued to block the ban on Biden’s third day in office. Federal Judge Drew Tipton had already temporarily paused it twice before Tuesday night’s order.

A federal judge in Texas put an indefinite halt to President Joe Biden’s 100-day ban on deportations late Tuesday.

The ruling by Judge Drew Tipton comes after he had already temporarily paused the moratorium twice. The ban is nationwide and is in place as the case continues to play out in courts.

The ruling is a victory for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued to block Biden’s order three days into the Biden administration. Paxton’s office argued the state would face financial harm if undocumented immigrants were released into the state because of costs associated with health care and education, and he said the moratorium would also lure others to Texas.

The Winter Storm Set Texas Far Back in COVID-19 Vaccinations
Infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez describes last week’s statewide disaster as a harmful delay “in the face of an advancing enemy.”

Last week, Texans had to endure two crises at once: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impact of a severe winter storm that paralyzed the state’s power grid. Indoor social visits may have been inadvisable for the past year, but taking in friends, family, and neighbors who lost power and heat amid subfreezing temperatures became necessary. At the same time, the challenge of distributing vaccines in hopes of at last bringing the pandemic under control was greatly disrupted.

Looking for a new opportunity?
Supporting Your Career
How To Ensure Your CV Reaches The Hiring Manager
When you apply for a job, your aim is to impress the hiring manager and make them desperate to invite you in for an interview. Provided you have the skills and experience they are looking for, this seems relatively straight forward.

But the harsh reality is that you don’t get a response from most applications and your CV will not usually reach the hiring manager.

So, why are your applications being cut short, and how can you improve the chances of your CV reaching the decision makers?

National & International News
Dr. Gladys Cruz to lead national program for aspiring Latino and Latina superintendents
Questar III BOCES Superintendent Dr. Gladys Cruz has joined with her colleague Dr. Lupita Hightower, who leads Arizona’s Tolleson Elementary School District, to launch a groundbreaking new program for leaders who have been long underrepresented in public schools. Despite being 2,500 miles apart, Cruz and Hightower are leading The Aspiring Superintendents Academy for Latino and Latina Leaders, a project of AASA, the School Superintendents Association. AASA is a professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world.

AASA selected Cruz and Hightower to help design the academy and serve as its lead teachers, due to their recognition as leaders in the education community.

The new Biden-backed immigration bill, explained
Democrats are pushing a comprehensive approach to immigration reform — for now.

Democrats in Congress introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill on Thursday crafted around the priorities President Joe Biden articulated on his first day in office, including a path to citizenship for the estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.

If passed, the long-anticipated bill, known as the US Citizenship Act of 2021, would mark the most sweeping reform of the US immigration system since 1986 — and would be a rebuke of former President Donald Trump’s nativist agenda.

School Testing Can Be Delayed but Not Canceled, Feds Say
The Education Department says it will not allow states to forgo federally required standardized testing in schools this year, but it will let states delay the tests or hold them online to provide flexibility during the pandemic.

The Education Department said Monday that it will not allow states to forgo federally required standardized testing in schools this year but will give them flexibility to delay testing or hold it online during the pandemic.

Aiming for a middle ground in a polarized debate, the Biden administration said states must continue with annual testing but can apply to be exempted from certain accountability measures tied to the results.

This Week’s ESSA News: Texas Schools Turn to Career and Technical Education as Tool For Equity, Indiana Considers Rebooting State Accountability System, a Push to Preserve Special Ed During the Pandemic & More
Though all students have lost ground due to school closures amid the pandemic, Dallas Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova says “there are bright spots illuminating a path to success for our high school students: giving them a genuine purpose for learning in high-quality career-technical education (CTE) programs.”

Cordova, citing experience rolling out innovative CTE initiatives in Colorado and Texas, says learning can carry new purpose and relevance when students are actively engaged in the “reasons for learning” and have accessible opportunities to carry what they learn into a trade, certification, or post-high school opportunity. This opportunity to rethink school programs that engage, motivate, and lead students to success, Cordova says, could serve as a means to increase racial equity at a time when Black and Latino students are widely experiencing the harshest of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures.

Why are Latinos so overrepresented in the state child welfare system?
Poverty, bias, language all cited as factors 

Last month, workers from the state Department of Children and Families knocked on the door of Raquel, an El Salvadoran immigrant living in Worcester. DCF had gotten an anonymous call about a fight between her husband and her teenage son.   

Since then, Raquel, speaking Spanish through an interpreter, said she has struggled to communicate with DCF workers, often because of the language barrier. DCF sometimes has an interpreter available, but not always. She had to pull her 17-year-old son out of his remote class to translate one meeting.  

America Ferrera will direct Netflix’s ‘I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’
Ferrera said about the Young Adult book by Erika L. Sánchez that the movie is based on, “her young Latina heroine, struck me to my core and left me wanting so much more.”

America Ferrera is making her feature film directorial debut with “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.” The film, adapted from Erika L. Sánchez’s novel, will debut on Netflix.

The YA story is about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. It follows Julia Reyes, a strong-willed teenager to first-generation Mexican immigrants. She often argues with her parents, who wish Julia were more like her sister Olga. However, when Olga unexpectedly dies in an accident, Julia tries to hold her family together.

This Children’s Book Features 11 Latinas Who Changed the World
What do Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Cuban singer Celia Cruz and Mexican mountain climber Viridiana Alvarez have in common? They’re three of the 11 Latinas featured in the new children’s book Courageous History Makers: 11 Women from Latin America who Changed the World.

Written by Naibe Reynoso, Emmy-award winning Mexican American journalist and founder of Latina-owned publishing house Con Todo Press, the new book will be released on March 8, International Women’s Day. The book highlights the incredible lives and careers of Latinas like Khalo, Cruz, Alvarez through rhyming verses.

Las Tienditas
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