TALAS E-newsletter – February 8

Posted on February 8th, 2021
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Texas News
Portland Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and Austin Independent School District join Urban School Food Alliance
The Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Dallas, is pleased to announce that it will expand its membership to 15 districts with the addition of Portland Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and Austin Independent School District. These new members expand USFA’s collective student reach to more than 3.8 million children nationwide and the group’s total annual purchasing power to more than $825 million in food and food supplies.

Despite dwindling attendance and enrollment, Hutto ISD makes extra effort to find missing students
chool districts across Central Texas are having trouble retaining students.

Since the pandemic began, public school districts have lost families who have chosen private tutoring or charter schools instead of the virtual learning they offer.

It’s a problem widespread in Texas. Here in our area, Austin ISD, Pflugerville ISD and Hays CISD, to name just a few, have all lost students. Austin ISD alone lost 5,545 students between February 2020 and February 2021.

17 Ysleta ISD schools named to Texas Honor Roll
Seventeen campuses in the Ysleta Independent School District have been named to the 2019–2020 Texas Honor Roll for their high levels of student achievement, academic progress over time, college readiness, or reductions in achievement gaps among student populations.

YISD had the most campuses of any school district in the El Paso region named to the honor roll.

“We are incredibly proud of all 17 of our Texas Honor Roll campuses for consistently demonstrating innovative instruction and leadership, which are critical factors in moving the academic needle for our students,” said Ysleta ISD Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre.

4 Socorro ISD middle schools earn Texas Schools to Watch national distinction
Four middle schools in the Socorro Independent School District have been re-designated as Texas Schools to Watch as part of a national recognition program conducted by The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

Spec. Rafael Hernando III, Col. John O. Ensor, Socorro Middle and William D. Slider middle schools were four of 50 schools in Texas to earn the distinction based on criteria such as academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure and processes.

Once considered a priority, most Texas teachers likely won’t get a vaccine until summer
Lt. Gov Dan Patrick is asking that eligible teachers in the current Phase 1B be placed in a subgroup and fast-tracked for vaccination.

Slowly and erratically, coronavirus vaccines are making their way to people across the country, but most Texas educators won’t be receiving them anytime soon.

While nearly half of U.S. states have prioritized educators as part of their vaccine rollout, Texas did not, even though state leaders suggested that teachers be in the current wave of immunizations.

Texas’ new African-American class expands after a summer of Black Lives Matters demonstrations
The course, modeled after a Dallas ISD class, aims to connect history to current events.

High school teachers like Tracy Smith are navigating difficult conversations with students about race relations, police brutality and government policy as Texas is in its first year of offering an African American studies course statewide.

After a summer of Black Lives Matter protests, many school districts are developing the course even further to address today’s current events through the curriculum.

How the Pandemic Is Affecting the First Weeks of the Texas Lege Session
State lawmakers grapple with how to make this year productive, as they lose cherished time forming relationships on the floor.

In prior Texas legislative sessions, state representative Jim Murphy relied heavily on his flash cards—each naming a legislator, detailing who they were, and including a photo—to form relationships with other lawmakers. But on January 12, the first day of the 2021 session, the Republican from Houston realized the tool would not be as valuable this year. On the floor, he couldn’t, for the life of him, put a name to the familiar legislator with striking brown eyes who had just said hello from behind her face mask—which he didn’t dare ask her to take off. As she kept speaking to him, Murphy slowly realized she was fourth-term Democrat Ina Minjarez from San Antonio, with a new, shorter hairstyle. “It’s very embarrassing because you are absolutely focusing on knowing who the members are,” Murphy told me later. “If you’ve already been used to someone because of their square jaw and their happy smile, that’s all gone.”

Join the Texas Tribune for an interview with Mike Morath, Texas education commissioner
February 11, 2021 • 12 pm CST
Morath, who has been the state’s education commissioner since 2016, will discuss the state of public education in Texas.

Join the Texas Tribune at noon Central time Feb. 11 for a live interview with Texas education commissioner Mike Morath, moderated by Tribune CEO Evan Smith.

They’ll discuss the state of public education in Texas, including the STAAR test, funding last session’s school finance bill, learning loss, broadband access and more.
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Supporting Your Career
Body Language Tips To Help You Ace The Job Interview
According to anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell, who pioneered the original study of nonverbal communication called “kinesics,” face-to-face conversation is less than 35% verbal. In comparison, more than 65% of communication occurs nonverbally. From your facial expressions to your movements, the things that you don’t say can often convey more than the spoken word. And that is never truer than during a job interview. Whether in person or over video, body language can make or break your chances of landing that coveted position. By implementing these body language techniques, you’ll be able to project confidence during your next interview and land your dream job.

National & International News
Biden’s Immigration Plan Would Be a Boon For Undocumented Kids. But the Proposal Faces A Steep, Uphill Battle
With a proposed pathway to citizenship for America’s estimated 11 million undocumented residents, President Joe Biden’s immigration reform push could be lifechanging for millions of K-12 students — most of whom are themselves U.S. citizens.

But many aren’t holding their breath.

With a rash of executive orders on the first day of his presidency, Biden gave immigrant-rights groups reason to be hopeful, especially after former President Donald Trump made anti-immigrant policies the cornerstone of his administration. But they aren’t lost on the reality that comprehensive reforms must defy years of political gridlock in Washington — and that former President Barack Obama’s immigration record was, at best, mixed. In fact, an inauguration-day executive order halting most deportations for 100 days has already been put on hold by a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas.

How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long
Black history month is the time of year that we shine a spotlight on the rich and unique history of people of African descent in the United States–a past that has consistently been downplayed, ignored, and in some cases, erased from our history books.

At this point, it’s evident that the Black experience is not a monolith–there is no “one way” to be Black. And yet, many people still struggle to comprehend the fact that Afro-Latinos exist.

When you hear the term Afro-Latino, you might immediately think of a few Caribbean Spanish-speaking nations with explicit ties to the African diaspora–Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, for example.

‘Embrace your Latinoness’: US education secretary nominee speaks to conference of local Latino educators
In a brief address to a gathering of regional Latino educators hosted by the Davis School District, education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona counseled attendees to “embrace your Latinoness.”

Cardona’s message was brief, as the Connecticut education commissioner is in the midst of the confirmation process to head the U.S. Department of Education.

“I told my staff … there’s one engagement I’m not going to cancel on — it’s this one,” he said to viewers over Zoom.

What lessons does special education hold for personalized learning?
Personalized learning’s goal of creating a unique plan for each child has long existed within special education. And it’s very difficult to do well

On a shelf in her Chicago classroom, third grader Arianna has a thick binder that details her achievements, strengths and goals as a student, along with some revealing information about her personality. It describes her love of guitar and singing and notes that she wants to advance to a higher level in reading and grasp math concepts more quickly. Her sister, Alanni, an eighth grader, has a binder too. It discusses her grades and standardized test scores, as well as her academic goals: to speak up more frequently in math class and read texts more closely.

A law cleared the way for a national Latino museum. What happens now?
The “real work” begins in 2021, say the museum’s proponents, in a process that will entail years of fundraising, finding a site and then building.

The push for a national Latino museum was decades in the making, but a recent law making it a reality just jumpstarted what will be a lengthy — and costly — process.

The next steps for building a Latino museum as part of the Smithsonian Institution are being taken in the midst of a pandemic, which could affect spending as well as planning that largely has to be done virtually.

“We have gotten to the first plateau of a mountain. We’ve taken the first steps in this movement, but the real work begins now in 2021,” said businessman and activist Henry Muñoz, who has been a leader in bringing about the museum through the Friends of the Museum of the American Latino.

Biden’s latest immigration executive orders leave some pleas unmet
Amid a flurry of executive orders, immigration rights advocates are left without “sweeping” reform.

Biden has proceeded with what has now become his daily barrage of executive orders serving to reverse Trump era policy. This time, focused on immigration.

On Feb. 3, he created a task force that reunites migrant children separated from their families — which the government has lost — rebuilding a working asylum system, and restoring opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the states.

Over the campaign trail, Biden promised to welcome immigrants and to treat them with “respect,” and so far he’s been delivering on his many vows slowly by continuously rolling back hundreds of Trump’s immigration actions.

A Black principal’s case against educator neutrality
Teaching in, and leading, schools that serve Black and Brown students is inherently political

A perilous political moment is over, but white supremacy remains. Over the past four years of former President Donald Trump’s administration, resistance took on urgent, even life-or-death, importance.

We lived through an attempted coup incited at the highest level of government. An unabashed homegrown bigotry took over the national stage. Our kids witnessed the full weight of state violence from their homes, while attending our schools virtually.

First Official Frida Kahlo Series Set to Start Production this Year with Latinx Team at the Helm
The first ever official Frida Kahlo television series is in the works and production may start as soon as later this year with a Latinx team working on the project, Deadline reported. The TV series which is being developed by the Frida Kahlo Corporation and CIC Media will be a drama following the famous Mexican artist’s life, giving more context to not just her art, but also her heritage and the time period she lived through. While this may be the first official series about her life, the series My Friend Frida imagines what Frida would be like in this day and age. It’s clear Frida, who died in 1954, remains an influential artist but also an intriguing figure whose life continues to fascinate audiences. The involvement of the Frida Kahlo Corp. is what will make the series about the revolutionary painter “official” as opposed to other shows like Tres Fridas or My Friend Frida.

The team helming the project is Venezuelan composer and singer Carlos Baute, Venezuelan writer and director Joel Novoa and Marilu Godinez. “The idea is to talk about what the books don’t,” Novoa and Godinez said in a joint statement, according to Deadline. “The subtext behind each painting, the richness of Mexico’s 20th century and the revolution. Themes that are incredibly relevant at this unprecedented time.”

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