TALAS E-newsletter – May 6

Posted on May 6th, 2020
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A Blueprint for Back to School
Key Points

Families and communities need schools to be ready to reopen as soon as public health officials signal it is safe. When public health officials give the green light, schools should be prepared to reopen. And a number of public health officials have indicated that they expect schools will likely be able to reopen this fall.

Together with a task force of accomplished educational leaders—including former state chiefs, superintendents, federal education officials, and charter school network leaders—this report sketches a framework that can help state policymakers, education and community leaders, and federal officials plan appropriately for reopening.

As communities and public officials start to think about the problems ahead, states, districts, and schools should consider at least six different buckets of work: school operations, whole child supports, school personnel, academics, distance learning, and general considerations. Because of the unique challenges of this moment, it is imperative that planning start now. 

Congratulation to TALAS President Ricardo Lopez for being featured on TASA’s Inspiring Leader Spotlight
In January 2018, Dr. Ricardo Lopez took the helm in Garland ISD, stepping into the superintendency with a vision of providing an outstanding education to all students in the district, without exception. In creating that goal, Lopez has also fostered an inclusive environment among staff in Garland, something that makes him proud.

“I am proud that our work is always about the people, and it always has been — those we work with, how to prepare our students for the future — while we continue to honor the past,” Lopez says. “Garland ISD is privileged to have a more than 100-year-old, glorious past. I am proud of our tradition of excellence, and that we have graduates who are now working and leading across the state, nation and world.”

Lopez takes pride in the success of numerous initiatives in Garland ISD, including an investment in Improvement Required (IR) campuses that involved reconstituting two IR campuses using the ACE campus turnaround model to great success: Both campuses moved from a D to a B in just one year. He is also excited that Garland is working to develop P-TECH programs and collegiate academies at all seven high schools in the district.

And TALAS’ Past President was featured earlier this year – Felicidades!
Inspiring Leader Spotlight: Martha Salazar-Zamora
Tomball ISD welcomed Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora as superintendent in 2017. Salazar-Zamora has worked in education for more than 30 years, serving in several diverse districts across the state. What makes her most proud of Tomball is the staff’s dedication to students and commitment to working as a team to the benefit of everyone in the district. She works to cultivate “Team Tomball,” a sense of community and teamwork and a culture of learning in the district that helps benefit individual learners day in and day out.

“We pride ourselves in providing exceptionally high academic instruction and have been recognized for that academic excellence,” Salazar-Zamora says. “In addition to high quality academics, I am proud that we place an equal emphasis on nurturing the whole child through opportunities to excel in fine arts and athletics, as well meeting students’ safety and social/emotional needs.”

The superintendent’s office can be a challenging place to be at times, but Salazar-Zamora says she keeps stress at bay by focusing on her commitment to honesty and transparency, and by focusing on positive results.

Tales from the front lines: Texas superintendents lead with
compassion as COVID-19 hits home –
Congratulations to Superintendent Veronica Vijil on
Fabens ISD being featured
For a little over a year, Veronica Vijil has served as superintendent in Fabens ISD, a district of more than 2,200 students that hugs the Texas/Mexico border, just south of El Paso. In Fabens, 25-30% of students don’t have access to mobile devices or computers at home, and 25-30% of students don’t have access to the internet at home.

While teachers are able to reach the majority of Fabens’ students virtually,
the district faces a challenge in getting learning materials to a significant portion of its students. With not much time to make a decision on how best to do this, Vijil decided that distributing lowtech paper packets was one of the best ways to reach these students.

“Each district has their own unique perspective for their own community that
they have to address,” Vijil says. “It cannot be one-size-fits-all.”

What’s happening in Texas
Nidia Cedillo named principal for Plano ISD’s Weatherford Elementary School
Nidia Cedillo was named as the new principal for Plano ISD’s Weatherford Elementary School at a board meeting May 5.

Cedillo comes to Plano ISD with sixteen years of education experience. Most recently, she served as an assistant principal for six years at Webb Elementary in McKinney ISD. She has also taught second, third and fifth grades as a bilingual teacher and an instructional coach.

“I’ve talked to the superintendent there [at McKinney ISD,] and he’s not very happy with me today, but he understands that great candidates find places to shine in other places, and Nidia is going to come and shine in Plano,” PISD Superintendent Sara Bonser said at the meeting.

PAISD, Nederland & PNG officials talk graduation plans and strategies EPISD
Port Neches-Groves Independent School District Superintendent Mike Gonzales said the district has several dates set aside in case school leaders need to push the original date back.

“Dr. (Scott) Ryan and his high school administration staff is working on a plan to possibly accommodate our graduates and their families,” Gonzales said. “Of course, all plans our preliminary and subject to change. It is important to note that we are still subject to any restrictions our governor and local officials place on our community.

“The health and safety of our community is extremely important, and we must consider every ounce of information when making this decision.”

BISD to hold in-person graduation ceremonies
The Brownsville Independent School District will hold in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies — with social distancing — for each of its high schools on or after June 1 at Sams Memorial Stadium, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez announced Tuesday after Commissioner of Education Mike Morath authorized the move.

BISD, like many school districts throughout the state, had been preparing to hold virtual online graduation ceremonies.

But on Tuesday Morath announced at a news conference in Austin that in-person outdoor graduation ceremonies are approved as long as they comply with social distancing regulations that are part of statewide executive orders in place by Gov. Greg Abbott in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas schools given green light for graduation ceremonies with conditions
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath was on the panel alongside Governor Greg Abbott Tuesday.

State leaders provided an update on the Texas response to COVID-19.

Morath announced new guidance on 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts.

He said schools can choose to have a virtual, hybrid, vehicle or outdoor graduation ceremony.

A virtual ceremony would be entirely online using video conference or other technologies.

Hybrid ceremonies are a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.

After Confirming Graduation Will Be Online Only, Dallas ISD Superintendent Looks Ahead
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said this year’s graduation will be online. He called it his toughest decision of the year — but now he’s taking on an even larger issue.

Hinojosa has confirmed that all of the Dallas school district’s 8,900 seniors will graduate online only.

“This is probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make,” Hinojosa said at a press conference. “This is a culminating activity for these graduating seniors. And then we’re going to have messages from myself. … I can’t go to 37 graduations but now I can.”

Hinojosa said virtual school would continue into the summer for all district programs.

In One Month: Deadline to Submit Session Proposals for the 2021 TASA Midwinter Conference 

If you’re interested in presenting a session at the 2021 TASA Midwinter Conference, January 24-27 in Austin, it’s time to submit your proposal! TASA will again use the Session Selector process.

How does it work? Potential presenters will submit proposals for sessions through May 15. Attendees will review the proposals June 15-30 and provide feedback as to which sessions they’re interested in attending at the 2021 conference. This process allows you to help create your own learning experience at the next Midwinter Conference. Submit your session proposal. 
Supporting Your Career
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Director of Human Capital Systems (Director I)
Manager of TELPAS and TELPAS Alternate (Manager III)

Your Source for Opportunities
Texas Association of School Administrators TASA Career Center
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McPherson & Jacobson LLC. https://macnjake.com/openings/
National News
COVID-19 Recovery Plan Assumptions and Recommendations
During his press conference on April 14, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled California’s Roadmap to Modify the Stay-at-Home Order, which describes six indicators that must be met before governor’s executive order can be modified.

In his presentation the governor described the need after the stay-athome order is lifted to “toggle back and forth” on social restrictions in response to changing conditions until “herd immunity” is achieved in the state.
Based on available information as of April 22, 2020, it is reasonable and prudent for the K-12 schools in San Diego County to create contingency plans based on the following assumptions.

9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen
Three-quarters of U.S. states have now officially closed their schools for the rest of the academic year. While remote learning continues, summer is a question mark, and attention is already starting to turn to next fall.

Recently, governors including California’s Gavin Newsom and New York’s Andrew Cuomo have started to talk about what school reopening might look like. And a federal government plan for reopening, according to The Washington Post, says that getting kids back in classrooms or other group care is the first priority for getting back to normal.

But there are still many more unknowns than guarantees. Among the biggest, says Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, is this: “Is it safe and healthy for my kids to pack them into that classroom?”

Here are nine key ideas — drawn from interviews with public health experts, education officials and educators around the country — for what reopening might look like.

The Legacy of Bobby Lee Verdugo, A Leader Of East LA Walkouts

At his Lincoln Heights high school in the late 1960s, Bobby Lee Verdugo was a popular football player and gentle jokester, with teasing eyes peeking out from under bushy brows. His playfulness got him in trouble, especially when he spoke Spanish. The teacher would march him to the front of the class to get paddled.

“As a young Chicano, I want to be tough, so you don’t want to complain too much,” Verdugo recounted to Latino USA in 2018. “But it hurt the spirit, you know. Little by little, they were breaking me.”

It wasn’t just the corporal punishment that was building up anger in Verdugo and other Latino students at Lincoln High School. It was also the disregard of their culture and language, being tracked into vocational classes, being treated like their futures were dead-ends.

The Very Best Code Switch Episodes For Kids
Over the past few weeks, all of us at Code Switch have noticed that a lot of you have children — bright young minds with boundless energy, just waiting to learn how to fight the power and advance racial justice. (Right?) But with everything that’s going on, finding ways to critically engage school-age kids has been a challenge at best.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a playlist tailor-made for our youngest listeners. We heard from some of y’all that you’re using our episodes as a way to entertain and educate your homebound children, so we rounded up some of our most kid-friendly episodes from the archives. We were inspired by our friends at Radiolab, who launched a new podcast called “Radiolab for Kids” — make sure to check them out, too.

We’ve combed through the episodes to make sure they’re free of profanity, graphic references and other adult content. (Although talking about race and racism is always complicated, so parents, use your judgment here.) Our episodes never have all the answers, and we’re hoping these will open up space for some good old-fashioned dinner-table discussions.

Support for TALAS Members
Education Elements – Click below to learn more about the events
NoRedInk provides a comprehensive, adaptive, mastery-based writing platform for grades 4-12 that is TEKS-aligned. NoRedInk balances grammar and writing skills with composition and revision activities. Our platform engages students with adaptive, interest-based content which allows teachers to easily differentiate in the classroom whilst tracking mastery on over 1000 skills. Additionally, NoRedInk’s writing assignments allow students to build a portfolio of written work and engage in a highly scaffolded drafting, revision and peer review process. It’s free to sign up and use with students! Learn more about NoRedInk and how it’s preparing students for ACT/SAT and STAAR.
Free Printable A-Home Activity Packs
At Curriculum Associates we will stand by educators every step of the way as we navigate through this pandemic.

Our Printable At Home Activity Packs are available for Reading and Math, in English and Spanish for grades K-8. Districts/schools are allowed to print resources should they wish to provide to students in a print format. Otherwise, districts can post via their LMS site or Google Drive for their students. These resources are absolutely free!

Printable At-Home Activity Packs:
Printable at-home activity packs are designed to provide students with valuable self-directed exercises and practice during extended absences from school. Each pack is designed to reinforce key concepts for a given grade and are available now on our public site.
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Being Prepared
Schools have a variety of reasons for school closures, ranging from inclement weather to outbreaks of infectious diseases. These lost school days disrupt curriculum timelines and occasionally need to be made up later in the year. Instead, forward-thinking schools are opting for Digital Learning Days.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already resulted in school closings around the world. Schools with ClassLink’s single sign-on and usage analytics have been delivering Digital Learning Days and are ready for COVID-19 related school closings.

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