TALAS E-newsletter – January 25

Posted on January 25th, 2021
Become a member today! TASA’s online Member Services Center is the place to go to become a member of TALAS. Please read these step-by-step directions or contact Debbie O’Donnell at 512.852.2108.
Texas News
‘We’re Not Losing a Generation:’ North Texas Teachers and Students Adapting to Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in widespread learning loss and exacerbated social inequities among students, but despite these challenges, North Texas educators are doing their best to deliver lasting lessons.

Zoom-based curricula have become part of the norm, but virtual is still different than in-person instruction, said Christopher Long, an assistant professor of K-12 science education at the University of North Texas. In many classrooms, student cohesiveness has taken a hit, meaning kids feel less connected to their peers than they have in previous years.

‘Let’s talk Texas’: State Senate redistricting committee looking for public input in virtual regional hearings
Regional hearings will take place on Zoom and public must sign up to testify

Every 10 years the Texas Legislature is tasked with redistricting, the redrawing of district maps for the state’s congressional, legislative and State Board of Education boundaries.

Redistricting is based on new census data each decade, but this year that census data has been delayed.

As Texas lawmakers await the data, which will determine size of districts and potentially add a handful of new congressional seats for the state, the Texas Senate Redistricting Committee has announced they will begin regional hearings to get public input.

McKinney ISD ‘elevating both languages’ at first districtwide Spanish spelling bee
McKinney ISD will host its first districtwide Spanish spelling bee this week.

Eleven students from Finch and Caldwell elementary schools, which are part of the district’s dual-language program, will gather in the district’s Central Administration Building at 5 p.m. Jan. 20 for the competition.

Zabdi Gonzalez, senior director of English learner support, said this was a special moment and a “big step” for the district.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Named Winner of Empowered Superintendent Award
The award considers categories of leadership, innovative projects, collaboration, and district awards and recognitions

Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa has been named the winner of the Empowered Superintendent Award by the Texas K-12 CTO Council.

According to Dallas ISD, the council selects a superintendent each year who has promoted and supported innovative uses of technology in their district.

Ysleta ISD to resume in-person learning February 1; District invests in classroom technology
The Ysleta Independent School District announced Wednesday that in-person classroom instruction at the campus will begin Monday, February 1.

The announcement comes for families that have opted to participate in either Hybrid Learning (on campus Monday-Thursday) or Face-to-Face Learning (on campus Monday-Friday).

“Dependent on the number of students whose parents opt for them to return to campus for Face-to-Face Learning, there is a possibility that teachers may be called to serve as both the remote and face-to-face instructors,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre.

Tomball ISD board approves extended sick leave for district employees for COVID-19
Although certain sick leave benefits provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired Dec. 31, 2020, Tomball ISD employees can still expect to receive extended paid leave related to COVID-19, according to a Jan. 13 press release from the district.

In a Jan. 12 board meeting, TISD board members unanimously approved to extend paid leave for employees undergoing quarantine because of a positive COVID-19 test or close contact with an infected person.

‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?’: Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities
Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Editorial: Community Labs offers model for testing in schools
While the development of an accurate, rapid and relatively affordable COVID-19 test is a remarkable achievement, it’s the community impact and benefit of any innovation that is the truest measure of its success.

In the case of Community Labs, the nonprofit co-founded by Graham Weston, J. Bruce Bugg Jr. and J. Tullos Wells, that measure is off the charts in a very short time. It’s impossible to overstate the significance of Community Labs’ innovative work for San Antonio and Texas.

Texas Sues Biden Administration Over Halt to Deportations
Texas on Friday moved to stop President Joe Biden from allowing a 100-day moratorium on deportations, bringing one of the first lawsuits against his new administration.

The lawsuit seeks a halt to the deportation moratorium “for certain noncitizens” that was to begin Friday. Biden has signed a raft of executive orders, including one revoking former President Donald Trump’s mandate that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation.

MASBA 10-week webinar series begins!
Monday, January 25, 2021
12:00 p.m. CST
From MASBA: Our first conversation on Monday, January 25, will feature the voices of school board members throughout Texas, including the new President of our sister organization, the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members, Trustee Ann Williams of Alief ISD.

Our first conversation is sponsored by our friends at TASB, the Texas Association of School Boards, who significantly contribute to MASBA’s mission of inspiring leaders of public education to empower Latinx students and to address issues of race and equity in our public schools.

As always, because MASBA is a TEA-certified provider of continuing education credits for Texas trustees, we’ll be providing CECs to all trustees of MASBA member districts for their attendance.
Looking for a new opportunity?
Career Advice
How to have more inclusive meetings over Zoom
Meetings can crush your soul.

My personal experience — and the prevailing wisdom of management and psychology research — is that meetings default to patterns like these:

• Whoever speaks first is likely to set the direction of the conversation.

• The higher-power, more extroverted, majority-demographic people are more likely to take up disproportionate airtime, receive credit, be given the benefit of the doubt and interrupt others.

• The larger the group, the less meaningful the conversation — and the less likely we are to break out into more meaningful, smaller group discussions because doing so is time- and space-consuming in the physical world.

• Key information is less likely to be shared when it is already known by others; lesser-known but important information tends to not be shared broadly.

• Whatever we did in the last meeting, we are likely to do again in the next meeting.

National News
Rural Schools Have Battled Bad Internet, Low Attendance and Academic Decline Through the Pandemic. Now the Push Is On to Return Students to Classrooms — Safely
Andy and Amy Jo Hellenbrand live on a little farm in south-central Wisconsin where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, heifers, chickens, goats, bunnies, and their four children, ages 5 to 12.

For the entire fall semester, the quartet of grade school students learned virtually from home, as their district elected to keep school buildings closed.

That has put a strain on the family, as well as the childrens’ grades and grammar.

“I definitely feel like they’re falling behind,” said Amy Jo Hellenbrand. “You just notice certain things as far as their language and how they talk. You’re constantly correcting them.”

‘That’s Cesar Chavez!’: Bust of civil rights icon behind President Joe Biden stirs excitement
“Placing a bust of my father in the Oval Office symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation,” says Paul Chavez, the civil rights icon’s son.

Darryl Morin, national president of the advocacy group Forward Latino, jumped from his chair when he saw it on TV — a bust of the civil and labor rights leader Cesar Chavez just behind President Joe Biden as he signed executive orders.

“I literally jumped out of my chair and yelled: ‘That’s Cesar Chavez! Cesar Chavez!'” said Morin, whose group has taken on civil rights and anti-discrimination causes in behalf of Latinos.

The bust, created by Paul Suarez 25 years ago, quickly attracted attention on social media.

Covid-19 Cases, New Syndrome on the Rise Among Children, Especially Latino Children
Pediatric doctors prepare for a wave of inflammatory syndrome cases

At least seven California children have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, more than 350,000 kids have tested positive for the virus and the number of youngsters diagnosed with a new, rare inflammatory syndrome continues to spread.

All of these stats are on the rise just as a new highly contagious strain of the virus is worrying parents and experts alike and as the state tries to move toward reopening schools next month.

OPINION: The Biden administration has a real chance to boost early childhood education
The pandemic created an urgent need for better, more affordable child care that can help families and strengthen the economy

Last week, President-elect Joe Biden announced he would seek to expand the child tax credit and make a $40 billion investment in child care as part of a broader Covid relief and recovery package. He invited Americans to imagine how a stronger “caregiving economy” could help enhance our nation’s security, promote family well-being and ensure child care providers have access to the “pay and dignity that they deserve.”

‘Language matters’: Obama inaugural poet Richard Blanco says poetry can help us heal
Poetry can see beyond the “abstract language of sociopolitical jargon and arrive at greater truths,” said Blanco, who was the country’s first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet.

The nation has gone through wrenching changes since Richard Blanco made history as the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet, as well as the youngest, at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013.

Despite the recent turmoil, Blanco believes poetry can help make sense of the issues — and of ourselves as a country — as a new president is sworn in.

Latino legal experts: Voting, civil rights should be top priority for AG nominee Merrick Garland
The Justice Department under Trump “was basically an instrument of the White House,” said one legal advocate, who urged it to be ready to “intervene” in civil rights violations.

When President-elect Joe Biden nominated Merrick Garland for attorney general, he made clear his expectations for the head of the Department of Justice. “Your loyalty is not to me. It’s to the law, the Constitution, the people of this nation,” Biden said.

Now Latino legal experts and scholars are weighing in with their expectations and hopes for the new attorney general.

Latino Hub at Sundance Film Festival Brings Industry Pros to Attendees Virtually
The 7th annual Latino Hub event at the Sundance Film Festival will take place virtually Jan. 30 from 2 p.m to 7 p.m. EST. Sundance is teaming up with the Latino Filmmakers Network and Avenida Productions. Both organizations focus on empowering independent filmmakers from underrepresented communities and promoting diversity across all aspects of the entertainment industry.

This year, Latino Hub will begin with the virtual event “Our Road to the Sundance Film Festival,” a “candid conversation” that will celebrate the filmmakers who were chosen to screen their films at this year’s high-profile fest. Filmmakers and other industry professionals participating on the panel include director Mariem Pérez (Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It), writer/director Alexis Gambis (Son of Monarchs) and co-writer/director María Belén Poncio (4 Feet High).

11 Books By Latinas Coming In 2021 That We Are Stoked About
The new year has arrived, and it’s stacked with a batch of new books for readers to devour.

While good reads might not heal us from the pains and losses of 2020 or save us from the uncertainties that remain ahead in 2021, being able to take a break from reality through literary fantasy or illuminating nonfiction can be gratifying (and healthy!).

For those searching for titles to pre-order among the abundance of new works expected in 2021, we have you covered. From debuts by some of our generation’s most brilliant thinkers to anticipated novels you’ll get through in one sitting, here are some exciting books by Latinas and Latinxs you’ll want to add to your reading list.

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!
At Imagine Learning, we believe every child deserves the chance to enjoy learning and the right to fulfill their unique potential.

For more than fifteen years, our foundation has been helping students acquire, develop, and strengthen the language skills necessary to fully participate in academic settings and prepare for college and careers.

Today, we provide a complete suite of adaptive digital curriculum and assessment solutions for PreK–8 that delivers unmatched excellence in language development—accelerating learning across subjects for all students.

Imagine Learning is passionate about igniting engagement, maximizing personal relevance, amplifying confidence and inspiring breakthroughs for students and educators.

David Webb – Regional Partnership Director, Texas – 214.883.2880

Copyright 2022 © TALAS. All Rights Reserved.