TALAS E-newsletter – January 21

Posted on January 21st, 2021
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Texas News
Midland ISD board name lone finalist for superintendent position
The school board has been searching for a new superintendent since terminating Orlando Riddick’s contract early at the beginning of the school year.

The Midland ISD Board of Trustees has named Dr. Angelica Ramsey as their lone finalist to be the district’s next superintendent. 

The announcement came Thursday after the board completed its second round of interviews and voted unanimously to name Ramsey. 

“We are very excited by what Dr. Ramsey can bring to our district, and we look forward to her joining in our mission to ensure all students are prepared and ready for college or career,” said Rick Davis, Board President.

Roma high school Mariachi band performs as part of Biden’s inauguration events
Roma Independent School District’s Mariachi program announced Monday that the students of Roma High School’s Mariachi Nuevo Santander would be part of the official line up of inauguration events this week in honor of President elect Joe Biden.

The students did their debut through a virtual recording of “This Land Is Your Land” during the Latino Inaugural 2021 on Tuesday night.

“Please tune in as these amazing students represent Roma, Starr County, and the entire Rio Grande Valley with pride showcasing the very best of mariachi music for the United States and the entire world!” said the district via Facebook.

Georgetown ISD to finalize land purchase for future education center
Following a feasibility study, Georgetown ISD is prepared to finalize its purchase of a 35-acre tract of land for a future career and technical education facility.

During a Jan. 19 board meeting, the board authorized GISD Superintendent Fred Brent to close on the land purchase. GISD Executive Director of Construction & Development David Biesheuvel said the district will not formally close on the land purchase until June, but due to feasibility time requirements, the board’s approval was needed before Jan. 25.

The new CTE Center will also house an Early Learning Center as well as other district functions and will be located in the northwest quadrant of the district, Biesheuvel said.

UTSA and Alamo Colleges partner with SAISD for new construction science program
UTSA, SAISD, and Alamo Colleges District have joined forces to help further grow the education pipeline in the City of San Antonio.

Together the institutions have launched the new Construction Sciences Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) program, which will be housed at Sidney Lanier High School, located in San Antonio’s West Side community. The program will allow more students from across the community to experience UTSA firsthand and learn about its innovative fields of study.

“As an urban serving university, UTSA seeks to deepen relations within the City of San Antonio and strengthen its portfolio of instructional programs, leading to increases in college completion,” said Abel Gonzales, director for Instructional Outreach Program in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

North East ISD librarian creates social-emotional learning section to help students amid pandemic
Different resources available for students and teachers amid the pandemic

As students continue to adjust amid the pandemic, a North East ISD librarian says social and emotional learning is still essential for students.

Katina Wright, a librarian at James Madison High School, created a space in the library filled with not just books, but unique ways to help kids deal with the social and emotional challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to do whatever we can and whatever’s in our power to make sure that we’re trying to meet the social and emotional needs of our learners, as well as the academic needs,” Wright said.

Texas ‘relatively close’ to ready for moving STAAR all online in 2022-23, study finds
Texas school districts are “relatively close” to having the tools they need to start giving state standardized tests online to nearly all students by 2022-23, according to a study published by the Texas Education Agency.

The analysis, conducted by TEA and Texas A&M University officials, found recent technological developments — including the purchase of 2.5 million computer devices amid the COVID-19 pandemic — have better positioned Texas to join the 70 percent of states that already administer their standardized tests virtually. Under a law passed in 2019 by state legislators, TEA officials must create plans for moving their exams online by 2022-23.

Why Texas schools didn’t see a big funding boost from the federal CARES Act
School district leaders, facing rising bills for coronavirus-related expenses — everything from technology upgrades for virtual learning to protective equipment and cleaning supplies to keep campuses safe — had hoped to cover those additional costs with federal coronavirus relief money distributed to the Texas Education Agency.

But that didn’t quite happen.

Instead, state education officials used theCARES Act money to supplant funding that districts already expected to receive from the state. That left district officials scrambling to apply for reimbursement for coronavirus-related expenses through other programs.

Opinion: Mexican American and African American studies should count towards graduation in Texas
I am blessed to know my history.

My grandfather attended a segregated school. My grandmother remembers a park in San Antonio with a sign that read “no dogs or Mexicans allowed.” We have come a long way since then, but there is still so much work to be done. Knowledge of my heritage helped me become a leader and play a role in making Texas a better place.

That is why I am introducing a bill in the Texas Legislature to award full credit to high school students for ethnic studies courses and count them towards their graduation requirements. Texas youth deserve to know their history.

Texas Democrats fight to make this year’s Confederate Heroes Day the last
On Monday, the country celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. — an icon of the civil rights movement and a champion for racial equality.

On Tuesday, Texans observed Confederate Heroes Day, a state holiday remembering Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders who fought in the Civil War to preserve slavery in the South.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers is working to make this year’s Confederate Heroes Day the last.

“There is no reason to celebrate the Confederacy at all,” said state Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston, at a Tuesday press conference condemning the holiday. “As the (Confederate) vice president proudly proclaimed, one of the cornerstones of the Confederacy was the enslavement of Black Americans. Its culture was rooted in white supremacy and runs rampant even today.”

The Texas Alliance of Black School Educators:
Texas Educational Policy Institute (TEPI) Event
January 23rd, 2021
9 am–3 pm | Virtual Session
Event Description: It is the vision of the Institute that each successful TEPI Fellow asserts themselves as education policy assets, data, and research resources to elected officials and policymakers in the state of Texas, as they actively pursue the goal of holding elected or appointed education offices, at the local, state, and national levels.

Sponsored by Curriculum Associates.
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Supporting Your Career
6 Things You Need To Update On Your Resume
When you’re job searching, a resume serves as the first impression you make on a company. Your resume needs to highlight your skills and talents and also showcase how you’re different from other candidates. Ensure it does all of that by following these six tips.

Update your job information and descriptions

If it’s been a while since you last updated your resume, make sure that any changes to your job responsibilities and achievements are reflected. Pay attention to anywhere you have written things in terms of length of time. As the calendar changes from 2019 to 2020, your two years of experience become three, so make sure to update those figures accordingly.

National News
Biden Expected to Make Narrowing Digital Divide an ‘Early, Urgent Priority’ to Help Students during Pandemic
With millions of students still lacking reliable internet to complete their assignments and interact with teachers, the incoming Biden administration is expected to take multiple steps to address the digital divide, according to sources who have participated in conversations with the transition team.

Bart Epstein, CEO of the nonprofit EdTech Evidence Exchange, said he understands naming a new director for the Office of Educational Technology to be “an early, urgent priority” for the administration.

Biden will also name an acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees an internet discount program for schools. Many education advocates hope the future commission leader will favor a stronger federal role in ensuring that students have reliable at-home broadband service.

The College Board Is Eliminating The SAT Essay And Subject Tests And Reviving Plans To Offer The SAT Online
The College Board announced today that it is getting rid of the optional SAT essay and subject tests and working on plans to offer a digital version of the main SAT. In a press release, the New York City-based nonprofit that owns the tests describes the changes as an effort to “reduce demands on students.” It says the pandemic has “accelerated a process already underway” to make changes.

But as Forbes reported in September, the College Board and its lone rival, Iowa City-based ACT, have taken a beating since schools went online in March. Numerous test centers have canceled exams, sometimes at the last minute, angering students and families. Colleges have responded by adopting test-optional admissions policies. According to FairTest, a nonprofit watchdog organization, more than 1,600 schools are not requiring fall 2021 applicants to submit scores.

COLUMN: Rewrite the history textbooks, or the white supremacist violence will continue
Authors of history textbooks writing about the failed insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021 must not ignore the event’s white supremacist underpinnings. The influence of white supremacy on American history has largely been disregarded by past and present writers, especially in accounts of the Civil War. Too many of these books still waffle about the reasons Confederates sought sedition, suggesting that “economic reasons” or “states’ rights” were an important part of the equation — not acknowledging that the driving force of the Confederate rebellion was to preserve slavery and the undemocratic system of white supremacy that defined the South.

The absence of rigorous teaching about white supremacy helped facilitate its proliferation today. If we truly want to move on, let history books show clearly — as clearly as the high definition footage of the Jan. 6 attack showed Confederate flags in the Capitol — that bigoted Trump supporters would rather live under white supremacist than in a democracy.

Pandemic Notebook: For Students from Low-Income, Immigrant Families, Getting into College Can Feel like Winning the Golden Ticket. The Pandemic Has Only Raised the Stakes
Iwas sitting in my room when admissions decisions for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship finally arrived. My high school’s college counselor texted me midway through AP English Lit on Zoom. “I’m ready whenever you are,” she wrote. “No pressure.”

For the previous half hour, I had been thoroughly entertained as my class acted out scenes from “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The comedic attempts at Southern accents provided a welcome break from the day’s nervous anticipation.

But not even a good story lessened the anxiety of high-stakes college admissions.

5 ed tech trends to watch in 2021
The shifts of the past year are shaping new developments in online learning, classroom tech training, cybersecurity concerns and more.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March, Joliet Public Schools in Illinois went into what Director of Technology and Information Services John Armstrong calls “emergency learning.”

It consisted of “choice boards, paper packets — things that could be done either online or not online,” he said.

That’s since changed. Armstrong said before March, only students in two grade levels had full 1:1 access, meaning each of the students had a device. Now, all of the district’s 10,337 students need to have devices to attend school remotely.

Fear Of Deportation Is Keeping Undocumented Immigrants From Seeking Vaccination
Nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands of them work in essential services.

Undocumented U.S. residents are among those hardest hit by COVID-19, and experts and activists are increasingly concerned that vaccines won’t reach their communities.

Many experts warn of a public health disaster, citing lack of accessibility, fear of deportation and general wariness, unless a strategy is put in place to communicate with hard-to-reach communities and allow them the opportunity to get vaccinated without risks to them or their families.

“The undocumented community has really been disproportionately affected by everything that’s happening with the pandemic,” said Adonia Simpson, director of the Family Defense Program at the Miami-based immigrant-rights group Americans for Immigrant Justice.  

At 78 Years Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book
It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers she was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

Get a Glimpse of Pixar’s New ‘Coco’-Inspired Short Film ‘A Day in the Life of the Dead’
A collection of short, animated films from Pixar are making their debut on Disney+ this week, including one that features characters from the 2017 Oscar-winning animated film Coco.

The nine shorts, collectively titled Pixar Popcorn, feature brand new stories starring characters like Ducky and Bunny from Toy Story 4, Baby Jack-Jack and Dash from The Incredibles 2 and Héctor and Mamá Imelda from Coco.

The Coco short is called A Day in the Life of the Dead. Although the plot has not been revealed, a title like A Day in the Life of the Dead gives the impression that audiences will be spending most of the film in the Land of the Dead and not with Miguel and his living family.

Las Tienditas
This Week’s Featured Sponsor
TALAS sponsors make this newsletter and other TALAS activities possible. Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
Vanir has delivered more than 1,000 projects for more than 100 school districts, totaling more than $6 billion in modernization and new construction cost. We facilitate effective and efficient coordination between district planners, regulatory agencies, community and user groups, advisory committees, design consultants and dozens of other participants.

Our education sector projects have included master planning, needs assessments, constructability review, project scheduling and budgeting, bidding, award, on-site construction management and project closeout. We also provide staff augmentation services such as “owner’s rep” and have managed architect, contractor and other professional consultant selection. Our services range from condition assessment/feasibility studies to complete program management for a number of districts.

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