TALAS E-newsletter – November 1

Posted on November 1st, 2021
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Mentoring Program Feature
Bryan Hernandez
Mentored by Dr. Ruben Alejandro
Bryan Hernandez
Principal, Utopia School, Utopia ISD

Bryan Hernandez is a South Texas native who is currently principal of Utopia School in Utopia ISD, where he has served since 2018. During his career as an administrator, he has been a champion of educational equity, with a consistent record of improving campuses through the use of community-oriented, restorative practices. His aspirations are to become a school superintendent and to give back to the public school system that originally provided the solid foundation for his own academic success.
Dr. Ruben Alejandro

In 2016, after 39 years in public education, Dr. Alejandro retired from his position as superintendent of Weslaco ISD. He was the first member of TALAS to sign up for the Mentoring Program and continues to shape the future of public education in Texas through his educational consulting work and his involvement with TALAS and other advocacy groups.
Texas News
Bilingual counseling program at UTSA addresses broad shortage of Latino mental health services
The UTSA Department of Counseling’s Bilingual Counseling Certificate training program was designed to meet the needs of the underserved Latino community. The training program also includes a multidisciplinary approach by collaborating with UTSA’s Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies to provide bilingual and bicultural instruction.

Additionally, the curriculum addresses the migrant experience and issues impacting borderland culture.

Texas lawmaker keeping mum on inquiry into what books students can access as school districts grapple with how to respond
Critics say state Rep. Matt Krause’s inquiry targets books about women, people of color and LGBTQ people. The lawmaker says providing specifics about his inquiry “could compromise a potential investigation.”

State Rep. Matt Krause said he will not be offering specifics related to his inquiry over which books about racism and sexuality are available at certain Texas public schools, such as how the roughly 850-book list included in his request originated, which districts received his letter or how those districts were chosen.

Texas universities with federal contracts are caught between Greg Abbott and Joe Biden over COVID-19 vaccine mandates
While some universities in other states that hold federal contracts have mandated vaccines for all employees, many Texas universities, which collectively have billions in federal contracts, are still reviewing the executive order before it goes into effect Dec. 8.

Many Texas universities — which collectively hold billions of dollars in federal contracts — are wrestling with how to navigate the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal contractors be vaccinated by Dec. 8 in a state that bans vaccine mandates.

In ‘Machete,’ Texas poet searches for hope during hard times
Tomás Q. Morín reflects on raising a newborn during a time of racial reckoning and a global pandemic, in his new collection of poems.

Becoming a parent changed Houston poet Tomás Q. Mórin’s outlook on racism, identity and life during the pandemic. In his new collection, “Machete,” Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool.

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National & International News
Biden administration considering giving $450,000 per person to immigrants separated at the border
There are still 1,727 children who have not been reunited with their families since being separated under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

The Biden administration could pay out up to $1 billion to immigrant families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services could end up paying out close to $1 million per immigrant family that was separated at the border. Sources told the Journal that around $450,000 a person is being considered, but that figure could change depending on each family’s circumstances. 

USDA announces $12 million investment to institutions serving Hispanic students
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced a $12 million investment to Hispanic-serving Institutions of higher education. 

This announcement was part of a launch of the first in a series of virtual roundtable engagement sessions with Minority-serving Institutions and Land-grant Universities serving underrepresented students.

U.S. Limits Immigration Arrests at Schools and ‘Protected’ Areas
U.S. immigration authorities will limit arrests at schools, hospitals, and other “protected” areas under guidelines issued Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, part of a broader effort to roll back the approach to enforcement under President Donald Trump.

Agents and officers are being directed to avoid making arrests or carrying out searches at a range of sensitive locations “to the fullest extent possible,” according to a memo from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas outlining the policy.

World Leaders to Explore Girls’ Education as Climate Crisis Solution at Upcoming United Nations Conference
An “unprecedented” level of interest in girls’ education as a climate solution is growing worldwide, advocates say, as youth empowerment and gender are set to take center stage at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference. 

From Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, roughly 20,000 international leaders and climate advocates will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the conference known as COP26. The next annual meeting is an opportunity to shape global climate priorities — during COP21, which took place in 2015, the landmark Paris Agreement was adopted to limit global warming. 

Building a Community to Support Latinx Student Success
Every five minutes, one Latinx person in America turns 18.

That’s according to Dr. Evans Igho Akpo, interim president at the Latinx Success Institute in Palmview, Texas. Akpo spoke on Wednesday, the final day of the 35th Annual Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) conference. He joined other scholars, like Dr. Cornel West, sharing insights on what it takes to make a successful and engaged Latinx student and Hispanic-serving institution (HSI).

Las Tienditas
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