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Texas News
Trustees name Lupita Hinojosa as lone finalist for Spring ISD superintendent
The Spring ISD board of trustees named Lupita Hinojosa as the lone finalist for the district’s vacant superintendent position in a unanimous vote on Jan. 6. 

Hinojosa, who currently serves as SISD’s chief of innovation and equity, will replace former Superintendent Rodney Watson—who resigned effective Jan. 1—as superintendent beginning Feb. 1. Hinojosa has served as a public education leader for about 30 years, according to a Jan. 6 SISD news release.

Calallen superintendent retires after 26 years of dedicated service
Nueces County Commissioners took time during Wednesday’s court meeting to honor the educator for all he’s done for students.

Wednesday was a bitter sweet day for Calallen ISD Superintendent Dr. Arturo Almendarez. 

Almendarez is retiring after 26 years of service. Nueces County Commissioners took time during Wednesday’s court meeting to honor the educator for all he’s done for students. Almendarez shared these words in that meeting about the future of the district.

Austin ISD ‘optimistic’ after Texas appeals court allows Harris County mask mandate
AISD said the ruling provides further legal support for the district’s own mask mandate, which is still in effect.

Austin ISD said it is “optimistic” about its own mask mandate lawsuit as the Third Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled in favor of local authorities upholding mask requirements in Harris County. 

AISD said the ruling provides further legal support for the district’s own mask mandate, which is still in effect against Gov. Abbott’s executive order prohibiting such mandates. 

How much has omicron increased COVID-19 cases in Texas schools? It’s too soon to tell.
Halfway into this school year, districts have reported more than 282,000 cases among students and staff. But state data does not yet show cases reported in 2022.

Students in Texas public schools are experiencing another year upturned by COVID-19 as the delta and omicron variants spread.

The EPA Placed a Texas Superfund Site on its National Priorities List in 2018. Why Is the Health Threat Still Unknown?
Predominantly Latino residents in Grand Prairie, west of Dallas, say they’ve been told little or nothing about air, soil and groundwater poisoned by TCE, a known human carcinogen.

The Beltrán family always stocks two to three cases of bottled water in the cluttered garage of their home in Grand Prairie, Texas. They’ve used it to drink and cook for 15 years. And they trek to the nearest Walmart to stay fully stocked. 

“We got here and the water was salty, super salty,” Santa Barbara Beltrán, 72, said in Spanish. “We buy jugs of water for cooking.”

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National News
Governors demand schools stay open but districts may lack enough teachers
For now, political leaders across the ideological spectrum are pressuring schools to keep their doors open.

President Joe Biden’s plea to keep schools open in the face of the fast-spreading Omicron variant is confronting major challenges this week as staff shortages, illnesses and labor unrest grip some of the nation’s biggest school systems just as students are supposed to return from winter break.

Racial segregation remains a stubborn fact of life for many K-12 students
More research shows that embedding racial equity into wellness initiatives improves the well-being of students and staff of color.

White students are especially likely to go to a school where most of their classmates share their racial or ethnic background, a new analysis has found.

The same is true for students of all backgrounds but the rate remains highest among white children, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

Why School Counselors of Color Matter More Than Ever
Alma Lopez, a counselor at Livingston Middle School in Livingston, Calif., went to college almost by chance.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants growing up in a predominately white, rural neighborhood, Lopez, was never called in to meet with her high school counselor, who was white. One day she asked a fellow student about a California State University, Fresno sweatshirt he was wearing at the time. The conversation led her to apply and later attend the school.

She had no knowledge of financial aid she could apply for, no insight into what the college experience as a first-generation student would entail, and no clue how much her family would initially struggle emotionally with the move.

Decade of data highlights SEL best practices from 20 districts
Collaborating Districts Initiative participants found ways to expand and sustain SEL amid leadership and budget changes — and improve student outcomes.

In 2011, eight large school districts formed a network to figure out how to implement research on effective social and emotional learning programming into real-life, districtwide practices.

To the surprise of several participants, not only did those districts discover it was possible to expand their SEL practices, they’ve also sustained high-quality programming despite changes in local leadership and budgets. The districts also saw positive student outcomes as a result of their collaborations and independent efforts.

The Classroom as a Radical Space: Teacher, Author and Fierce Intellectual, bell hooks Transformed Education, Especially for Women of Color
From reimagining the classroom to tearing down imposter syndrome, author, critic and fierce public intellectual bell hooks inspired women of color across generations to create a world in which all are free to reach their potential.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in rural, segregated Kentucky, hooks graduated from Stanford University in 1974 with a degree in English literature. Throughout the course of her career, she wrote dozens of books under the name she adopted to honor her maternal great-grandmother. Each one helped cement her reputation as a great thinker, a woman whose observations about education, race and love would earn iconic status among the many students she taught through the years and the hordes of other college and graduate students assigned her work.

Las Tienditas
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