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Texas News
Dr. Stephanie Elizalde: Perfectly Imperfect
Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde gives her all to serve her community and the children growing up in it.

No one ever tells a hurricane to behave. When the powers that be tried to make her step in line, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, Austin ISD’s superintendent, refused to sit quietly. With the audacity of a winter storm in Texas, she made her stance clear to Time magazine and the world on Aug. 15 of last year: “I cannot live with a tragedy occurring because I was afraid of the possible consequences…That is just not something I’m willing to take the chance on. I realize, of course, that…may mean that we will be fined for requiring masks. I’d rather pay money than risk a child’s life.”

Superintendent Hinojosa marks Dallas ISD’s bold progress in his final State of the District address
In front of a 900-person crowd made up of principals, business executives, community leaders and parents, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa detailed Dallas ISD’s bold progress made over the past few years.

The Dallas Education Foundation and Dallas ISD teamed up to host the State of the District on March 4. With Hinojosa set to depart Dallas ISD after 42 years in education, the event showcased the progress and gains made during his 13 years leading the district as superintendent.

Socorro, Hanks schools mariachi win UIL state mariachi festival
The Socorro High School mariachi group Los Gavilanes and Hanks High School Los Trovadores won the Division 1 trophy at the 2022 Texas UIL State Mariachi Festival.

The group gave an extraordinary performance to earn the highest rating possible at the contest on Feb. 26 in Seguin, Texas, where dozens of other mariachi groups from across the state competed.

Texas Library Association forms coalition against banning books
The Texas Library Association (TLA) has launched Texans for the Right to Read — a grassroots coalition against efforts to ban certain books across the state.

The fight over which books are allowed inside public and school libraries has become more heated in recent months following an investigation that launched in October 2021.

These Houston teachers left everything behind in Kyiv: ‘I think we’ve lost it all’
Lindsey and David Murff live with two of their children and a giant teddy bear of a dog in a handsome, understated bungalow in Friendswood. It’s hard for even the Murffs to grasp that just a month ago, they had to leave their whole lives behind in Kyiv.

The Murff family had spent the last 10 years traveling the world, teaching at international schools in different cities for a few years at time until they landed in Kyiv last June. They were immediately smitten with the Ukrainian capital and its people. It smelled like coffee everywhere — a byproduct of the city’s countless mom-and-pop cafes — and new acquaintances would greet them with bear hugs, like family.

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National News
Vision, Your House in Order, and an Extra $20K: What It Now Takes to Hire a Superintendent
It’s not every day the school board president meets the superintendent’s plane at the airport.

But that’s what happened last year when Jonathan Cooper, the superintendent in Mason City, Ohio, returned after interviewing for the top gig in a Fort Collins, Colorado district. Word had trickled out due to that state’s hiring rules—and Cooper’s school board was determined to keep him.

Analysis: Study of 6 ‘Grow Your Own’ Teacher Prep Programs Shows How They Can Improve the Diversity of the Workforce
America’s teaching workforce is overwhelmingly white. But as pandemic stresses add up and a tight labor market offers other options, it’s Black and Hispanic educators who are substantially more likely to say they plan to leave the profession, threatening to exacerbate this lack of diversity.

The mismatch between a homogenous pool of teachers and an increasingly diverse student body has only gotten worse over time. In the 1999-2000 school year, 38 percent of public school students identified as people of color, compared with just 16 percent of teachers. In 2017-18, more than half of students were people of color, but the share of teachers of color remained stubbornly low, at 21 percent.

Why 2 districts say moving to equitable grading gives students more hope
‘Equitable grading’ follows in the wake of competency and standards-based models.

A shift to a more equitable grading in Nothern California is reducing students’ fear of failure and, proponent says, providing a clearer picture of the specific skills students have mastered.

While many districts overhauled the grading policies to account for the connectivity problems and the other challenges students have faced during COVID, a handful of K-12 leaders began the transition as a part of equity work that began years before the pandemic.

Teachers reimagine US history lessons with eye on diversity
Sit down. Be quiet. Follow instructions.

Brandon Brown followed these rules when he started teaching, seeking order in a classroom setting he was all too familiar with growing up. But he quickly realized that was not working for his students and that they were just regurgitating what he told them. So, he decided to get creative.

Brown, a former history teacher and assistant elementary school principal, is now a Billboard-charting educational rapper who performs around the U.S. He founded School Yard Rap, a California-based company that produces music about historical Black, Latino and Indigenous people often not found in traditional textbooks.

Political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz becomes first Latino to win prestigious prize
Alcaraz is the recipient of the 2022 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning.

One of the country’s first syndicated Latino cartoonists has received a top prize for editorial cartooning.

Lalo Alcaraz, a Los Angeles-based political cartoonist, is the first Latino recipient of the prestigious Herblock Prize in recognition of his editorial cartooning and his “passion, dedication and brilliance” in covering civil rights and other issues affecting U.S. Latinos.

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!
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Duane Moyer, Regional Director – 404.354.2930