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Texas News
Round Rock school board names Hafedh Azaiez of Donna as lone finalist for superintendent
The Round Rock school district Board of Trustees on Friday selected Hafedh Azaiez as the lone finalist for the superintendent position.

Azaiez, the current superintendent of the Donna school district in South Texas, will fill the role vacated by Steve Flores this year.

“My personal philosophy is to always strive to go from good to great,” Azaiez said in a news release. “We should never stop creating more opportunities for all our students. I always enjoy dealing with challenges because I see them as opportunities to grow and make a difference.”

Edgewood ISD combats vaccine hesitancy among Latinos
Edgewood ISD’s community engagement team constantly knocks on doors to educate the barrio. On a recent weekday, they went and asked Ernest Garcia to see if he was vaccinated.  

Garcia is the neighborhood handyman, a one-stop shop, so there are multiple reasons why he got vaccinated.

“My family, people around here y todo la escuala tambien [and all of the school as well,]” Garcia says.

Troubled by students she’s not reaching — ‘that no one is reaching’
Anne Fletcher worries her students won’t succeed.

It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus shut down most college campuses, and many of the problems that emerged at the start of the pandemic still plague Fletcher, who teaches English and developmental writing at Austin Community College.

More students than ever have dropped her courses. They’ve been battered first by the virus and, more recently, by a brutal winter storm and a major power crisis. A student who contracted Covid-19 this semester has fallen behind, but every effort Fletcher has made to reach him has been fruitless. Two of her students have been hospitalized with the virus. Several have family members who died or lost their jobs. Others struggle to remain engaged in their new virtual world.

Texas’ divisive bill limiting how students learn about current events and historic racism passed by Senate
The bill aims to ban critical race theory in public and open-enrollment charter schools. Supporters say it merely ensures students aren’t taught that one race or gender is superior to another. Critics say it limits how race in America is taught.

After hours of passionate debate about how Texas teachers can instruct school children about America’s history of subjugating people of color, the state Senate early Saturday morning advanced a new version of a controversial bill aimed at banning critical race theory in public and open-enrollment charter schools.

Texas Labor Organizer Montserrat Garibay Goes to Washington
As a Latina immigrant, Montserrat Garibay broke barriers in the Texas labor movement. Now she enters the national stage.

Twenty-nine years ago, Montserrat Garibay left Mexico City for Texas with her mother and sister. They were undocumented. At a public middle school in Austin, Garibay learned English. Later, she and her sister founded one of the first organizations nationwide of so-called Dreamers, young immigrants pushing for U.S. citizenship. Garibay became a citizen herself in 2012. In Austin, she worked as a pre-K teacher, then as an official in the local teachers union. She then served as the first Latina secretary-treasurer of the Texas AFL-CIO, the state’s major union federation. This spring, she’s on her way to Washington, D.C., where she’ll work for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as senior adviser for labor relations—a liaison position between unions and the Education Department that was scrapped during the Trump administration and resurrected this year under Joe Biden.

Texas’s Best Young Accordionists Carry on a Conjunto Legacy
At the Big Squeeze, the state’s most talented teen accordion players are keeping a historic Texas tradition alive.

Had this been a non-pandemic year, Christopher Ramirez and Ashly Nicole Molina would have been in Austin on a recent Saturday afternoon. As two of the four finalists for the sixteen-and-under conjunto category in the Big Squeeze—the annual competition of Texas’s best young accordion players—they would’ve played live at the Lone Star Plaza in front of the Bullock Texas State History Museum. They would’ve felt the butterflies in their stomachs that come from standing onstage in front of a crowd, playing in front of judges, family, and other competitors. And as they did, extending and compressing the accordions’ bellows that breathe life into the instruments, moving their bodies to the rhythms and sounds, they would’ve felt that anxiety melt away. 

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Upcoming Events
TALAS’s Intro to HTML Coding Workshop
Hosted by Skill Struck

This is a one-hour coding workshop for Texas educators. Participants will learn the basics of HTML and build their own website.
Skill Struck’s Coding Workshops are made with the purpose to engage and connect educators and STEM professionals into the world of computer science. Skill Struck provides a trainer and platform where audience members can learn the principles of web development. Using the programming language HTML, participants will leave the event with a functional website they designed.

Teachers can also use this course for professional development hours. Certificates will be sent upon request.
Supporting Your Career
Five Easy Upgrades To Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile has been important to career success for years, but now that we are all WFH and rarely interacting with people in person, it has become more important than ever. Your LinkedIn profile is your first impression, and it’s also the place people go when they want to learn more about you. Focusing a little effort on your profile now will help you make a giant deposit in your personal brand bank for 2021 and beyond.

So you agree that upgrading your profile would be a valuable investment in time, but you’re not sure where to start? Here are five easy enhancements that will make sure your profile demonstrates what makes you differentiated and compelling.

National News
How One State Is Using Education College Students to Plug an Ongoing Teacher Shortage
Faced with an ongoing teacher shortage during the coronavirus pandemic, officials in Connecticut announced plans late last year to allow college students to teach in public school classrooms, offering aspiring educators hands-on experience while alleviating the staffing crunch for administrators.

The pilot program, dubbed NextGen Educators, is a partnership between the Connecticut State Department of Education and Central Connecticut State University. It’s already active in Bristol, where 18 education students are working as apprentice teachers in elementary school classrooms. Three additional school districts are in line to participate if the program is expanded.

Rep Chuy Garcia: The Diversify Act would increase BIPOC representation among teachers
There is a significant shortage of BIPOC teachers in schools across America. 

College graduations among BIPOC individuals are lower than white people, and while the number is gradually improving, the opportunity to become an educator is slimmer for these aspiring teachers than it is for their white counterparts. 

The lack of teacher diversity in education has been an issue for decades. After the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2018 that 49.7% of all American children 0-17 years old were nonwhite, the situation became more dire. Most students today will go through public school education without being taught by a Black teacher. 

OPINION: New leadership at the top should mean big changes for English language learners
Why U.S. education secretary Miguel Cardona can make a long overdue difference

When I started my career as a fourth grade bilingual teacher, I was given two binders. One included academic standards for my state. The other was filled with the English language development (ELD) standards.

My job was to ensure that my students, all of whom were categorized as English learners (ELs), met these grade-level and proficiency standards by the end of the year.

Role of Equity in Reading Tests Divides Board Overseeing ‘Nation’s Report Card’
When students read, do their personal and cultural backgrounds determine how they understand the text, or are the skills and knowledge they pick up in the classroom more important?

That’s a question currently dividing the government body that oversees what is known as The Nation’s Report Card.

The dispute centers around the role of equity in a lengthy document that could determine how the federal government designs future reading tests. The authors filled it with references to “pop-ups” or short videos defining words or terms some students might not recognize, such as a talent show.

A support system for principals juggling multiple crises
Free expert coaches helped school leaders figure out every-day logistics in a pandemic, and think about the future of schooling, too

In February 2020, Jacqueline Adam-Taylor accepted a new job almost 2,000 miles away from her home in Springfield, Massachusetts. She packed up her desk as a high school principal and moved to Fort Worth, Texas to lead a kindergarten program, just after her new school and others shuttered because of Covid-19.

The turnaround specialist felt turned around herself. So when Adam-Taylor heard about executive coaching from the nonprofit group The Learning Accelerator, she jumped at it.

Meet The Linda Lindas, All Girl Band Making Noise with ‘Racist Sexist Boy’ Performance
The Linda Lindas are not your average mostly-teenage group of girls. In fact, they may be at the forefront of the next big social movement in music. Half Latinx and half Asian, The Linda Lindas are made up of 10-year-old drummer Mila, 13-year-old Eloise, 14-year-old Lucia, and Bella, the oldest of the group who is 16. Together, the young ladies make a sound that is part punk, part power-pop, and all raw talented sound.

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