TALAS E-newsletter – November 12

Posted on November 12th, 2020
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Texas News
Dallas ISD Students Struggling with ‘Devastating’ Learning Loss Because of Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone, but it’s been hitting Dallas students especially hard. During last Thursday’s school board meeting, Dallas ISD administrators suggested lowering educational goals because of drastic learning loss.

Overall, 50% of district students have lost learning in math and 30% of students have lost learning in reading, according to data from the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Even those students who maintained or gained knowledge still may not be working at grade-level.

Trustee Dustin Marshall said these “devastating” losses are a “worst-case scenario” of what could have happened during the pandemic.

Houston ISD to consider naming Grenita Lathan as permanent superintendent
Dr. Grenita Lathan has been shepherding Houston ISD for a while – two-and-a-half years to be exact – as its interim superintendent.

The HISD Board of Trustees appears to be heading towards resolving the job search for the superintendent role. And according to the agenda for the board’s meeting Thursday, trustees are considering whether to name Lathan as the lone candidate for the position.

The board could also consider resuming the search for the position, which was suspended back in February 2019, if Lathan isn’t named permanent superintendent.

Lathan was appointed by unanimous approval to the interim role back on March 22, 2018, in the wake of former HISD superintendent Richard Carranza’s departure.

San Antonio ISD thanks voters for passing largest bond in city history
The San Antonio Independent School District published an online “thank you” note to local voters Tuesday night after two of its bonds passed.

The bonds called on voters to approve funding for improvements on SAISD campuses like remodeling and technology.

“A huge thank you to San Antonio voters who said ‘Yes’ on the SAISD Bond election Props A and B! With this support, every single school in our District will benefit, whether it’s updated classroom technology, new AC systems, upgraded security, or renovations,” the district said Tuesday night.

The two propositions, totaling a $1.3 billion, was the most approved in San Antonio history, passing by a 2-1 margin.

Corpus Christi ISD approves stipends for all employees
The Corpus Christi ISD board of trustees on Monday approved one-time stipends for all employees, with an extra bump for teachers, nurses and librarians.

The stipends will be 2% of the midpoint of pay scales for all employees, with a minimum stipend of $500 for the lowest-earning workers, including custodians, food service staff, transportation workers and paraprofessionals. Those stipends will total about $4 million. An additional $570,446 will be divided among teachers, nurses and librarians.

Karen Griffith, the district’s deputy superintendent for business support service, said the district has about 3,000 teachers, nurses and librarians.

The district will pay the stipends using funds left over from the 2019-20 school year, which equal about $4.6 million.

TEA gives districts option to end online-only classes for struggling students
Some Texas students falling behind in online-only classes soon could face a mandate from their public school districts: return to campus, or find somewhere else to learn.

Faced with widespread reports of students failing and missing classes, the Texas Education Agency issued guidance Thursday that allows school districts to stop offering virtual instruction to individual students with poor grades or attendance.

It was not immediately clear whether any Houston-area districts plan to use the new authority, though none has vocally lobbied for the power.

Many of the region’s largest districts did not respond to requests for comment Thursday and Friday. Houston and Clear Creek ISD officials said they are reviewing the guidance. A Klein ISD spokesman said he was “not aware of any discussions about this.”

HISD, other local districts join program to receive free COVID-19 rapid tests
HISD plans to test a percentage of students and all campus-based staff who choose to participate.

A veteran Chavez High School English teacher also has biology on her mind these days.

“So far I’ve been COVID free,” said Coretta Mallet-Fontenot.

But she knows there are no guarantees while teaching face-to-face again.

“I, myself, and my immediate family, we’ve not had it thank God,” said Mallet-Fontenot. “And so we just take every precaution that we can.”
That’s something Houston ISD and many other districts may be doing too.

They’re participating in a program through the TEA and others that will offer free COVID-19 rapid testing to a percentage of students, with parental permission, and all campus staff.

Fewer students enrolled in Central Texas schools could have long-lasting impact
Across the country, public schools are seeing a decline in enrollment amid the coronavirus pandemic. The KVUE Defenders found even in Central Texas, where the population continues to grow, schools across the area report drops in the number of students attending school.

Why does this matter? School funding is based in large part on enrollment.

So here’s what it could mean for the future.

Texas schools still failing special education students, federal review finds
The state isn’t showing that it is ensuring students with disabilities, especially those with dyslexia, are getting the extra help they need, federal education officials said, echoing findings from a 2018 investigation.

Texas has failed to prove it did enough to overhaul a system that illegally left thousands of public school students who have disabilities without needed special education services, according to a letter federal officials sent the state last month.

A 2018 federal investigation found the state had been effectively denying students with disabilities the tools and services they need in order to learn, in violation of federal law.

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day
Candidates have not yet conceded in at least three contests for state House, saying they want to see more ballots come in.

A few battleground races in Texas are still not fully settled as the current runner-up holds off on conceding, waiting to see more votes get counted.

Here are contests where the candidate with fewer votes has not admitted defeat as of Monday night.

What to expect as Texas heads to the U.S. Supreme Court in bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act
On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a Texas-led challenge to the landmark health law.

Texas, leading a coalition of Republican states, heads to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday morning to argue that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and should be struck down in its entirety.

On Texas’ side: the Trump administration. On the other side: a coalition of Democratic states led by California.

Sponsor News
Austin Independent School District Selects IXL to Support Classroom Instruction and Distance Learning
IXL will provide math and English language arts support to students from pre-K to 12th grade

IXL Learning, the K-12 personalized learning platform used by 11 million students, today announced a three-year agreement with Austin Independent School District to bring its adaptive software to approximately 70,000 students. The deal provides 83 elementary schools and 17 high schools with access to IXL’s award-winning program to supplement instruction in math and English language arts.

Austin ISD is the fifth-largest school district in Texas and serves a diverse student body. The district turned to IXL because of its ability to align perfectly to Austin ISD’s textbooks and curriculum, plus IXL’s broad range of skills that individualize instruction and empower every student. Austin ISD will also take advantage of IXL’s at-home learning capabilities, which give students the flexibility to learn and educators the tools to instruct from a distance.

NoRedInk: Meeting Grade Level Writing Skills During Challenging Times
Dr. Anita De La Isla and the Director of Language And Literacy at Coppell Independent School District in Coppell, Texas. CISD uses NoRedInk, an online writing platform designed to build strong writers through interest-based curricula, adaptive exercises, and actionable data.

Dr. De La Isla was kind enough to answer some questions about the challenge students and educators are facing in these pandemic times, and the role NoRedInk is playing in keeping student actively engaged and evolving as writers.

Looking for a new opportunity?
Supporting Your Career
How to Revamp Your Resume for Today’s Job Market
I graduated last year and have a year of work experience but was laid off as coronavirus hit. Companies are now starting to hire again, and with so many people looking for work, the competition is overwhelming. I’m just not getting any responses to my resume. Any ideas about what I can do to improve my resume?

One of the most common resume-writing problems is misunderstanding how your resume will be found and processed. It is common to try to make your resume appeal to as wide an audience as possible. But the recruiters who search resume databases—where your resume will ultimately be stored when you send it to an employer—are looking for people qualified for one specific job, so you need to focus your resume on one specific job and not try to make it all things to all people. A one-size-fits-all resume is actually less discoverable in database searches, and it will appear to be less relevant and receive a less careful review whenever it is read by a recruiter.

National & International News
Joe Biden’s election as President heralds big shift in education policy
After a contentious, close race, Democrat Joe Biden, who was vice president during the Obama administration, is expected to win the 2020 presidential election. During the campaign, Biden outlined an education policy platform that has a number of possible implications for K-12 schools, including increased teacher pay, stricter Title IX rules, more Title I funding, additional coronavirus response and more. 

Both Biden and his pick for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, have criticized the Trump administration’s handling of school reopenings following coronavirus-related building closures in spring. 

Biden’s coronavirus response plan includes reopening schools and child care programs as the “the single most important step” to reopening the economy. As part of the next emergency package from Congress, he said he would push for $200 billion in education funding.

How Mexican American voters helped turn Arizona blue
Joe Biden flipped the state of Arizona blue for the first time in decades, boosted in part by a large share of votes cast by Mexican Americans, according to AP’s VoteCast survey.

Overall, Latinos make up 23.6 percent of eligible voters in this border state, and a third of residents in Maricopa County — which accounts for 60 percent of Arizona’s vote — are Latino or Hispanic. Mexican Americans made up the vast majority of that election demographic, AP found, and 66 percent voted for Biden compared to 33 percent for President Donald Trump.

Support for the two candidates was nearly split among white Arizona voters, with 47 percent supporting the president and 51 percent supporting the former vice president.

‘Building for the last four years’: Pennsylvania Latinos were pivotal for Biden
“We’ve been building for the last four years this movement,” said a Latina organizer. As many as 6 in 10 Latino voters in Pennsylvania supported Biden, according to exit polling.

Latinos are a small part of Pennsylvania’s electorate, but they came out strong for Joe Biden and were pivotal in helping deliver the state that gave him more than the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to claim the White House.

Exit polling showed that Latinos were about 4 percent of all voters who showed up at the polls. As many as 6 in 10 Latino voters cast their ballots Biden. President Donald Trump got 35 percent of Latino votes.

OPINION: Some advice for a new administration: Appoint a woman of color as U.S. secretary of education
None has ever held this role, so let’s send a message to our children

America seems more ready than ever for long-overdue conversations about race, gender and opportunity. One setting where those conversations matter a lot is in our schools — the places that explicitly define opportunity in our children’s formative years.

When we select people to lead our education systems, we send a loud signal to our children about what is possible for them. That’s why we need to talk about who holds the role of the nation’s top education post, secretary of education. As President-elect Joe Biden mulls Cabinet appointments, I suggest it is high time a woman of color led the U.S. Department of Education.

Dear Adult Leaders: Stop Wasting Time Debating Whether Schools Are Too Politicized. Reform Discipline, Inclusion & Curriculum Instead
American schools are inherently political. So spending time debating whether they have become too political is a gross misuse of resources. Instead, we should be dedicating our time and money to schools to work toward anti-racism by reforming disciplinary practices, equitable access to resources, and diverse staff and curricula.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this issue across the country. We see this in how the debate to reopen schools has been correlated more with party politics than safety and merit. We see this in President Donald Trump’s attempt to accuse public schools of “extreme indoctrination.” And we see this in the attempts to nullify progressive projects like The 1619 Project through the “1776 Commission”.

Latin America’s children face most education setbacks from Covid, UNICEF says
Over 137 million young people in the region still not back at school, with the economic impact “felt for years to come,” the UNICEF report said.

Latin American children have lost four times more days of education from the coronavirus pandemic than students in the rest of the world, a UNICEF report on Monday showed, with over 137 million young people in the region still not back at school.

Latin America has been hard hit by COVID-19, with more than 11.6 million cases and over 400,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations children’s agency found that the region’s children had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Sign on, Zoom in, Drop Out: Pandemic Sparks Fears That Without Sports and Other Activities, Students Will Disengage from School
This fall at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, the high school’s storied Ultimate Frisbee teams are “practicing” via Zoom. The team has ranked in the top 10 statewide for the past three years and in 2018 ranked among the top 25 teams nationally. But as schools citywide operate virtually, SLA athletes are reduced to sharing virtual workouts, chatting remotely with sports nutritionists and strategizing over old game footage.

And no, it’s not very satisfying, said co-captain Anthony Nelson, a senior — friends call him Tone. “I miss my teammates,” he said. “We have a lot of upcoming freshmen who don’t even know how good our team is.”

Betsy DeVos is on her way out. What will her legacy be?
In 2017, it took Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreaking vote to make billionaire philanthropist and school-choice activist Betsy DeVos the country’s education secretary.

Days earlier, she had struggled to answer basic education policy questions during her confirmation hearing. Her confusion, the evocative details — in response to one question, she said schools may need guns to protect against grizzly bears — and a surge in protest and civic activism against President Trump turned DeVos into a household name.

She has held onto that symbolic power. To many educators, her name remains a shorthand for feelings of frustration and disrespect. Her face became a staple of Democrats’ political ads nationwide, even though education policy was rarely central to the races. And when it became clear that Joe Biden would win the presidential election, the responses from many teachers came quickly: bye, Betsy.

The Origins of an Early School-to-Deportation Pipeline
Appeals to childhood innocence helped enshrine undocumented kids’ access to education. But this fraught politics of childhood has also inadvertently reinforced criminalization.

On May 17, 1972, Border Patrol agents in Guadalupe, California detained an undocumented Mexican worker and expeditiously scheduled him for “departure” from the United States. His deportation order for May 19 came just one day before a public meeting on the issue of discrimination in the Guadalupe Union School District. It was a case of state-sponsored retaliation. He had been fired from his job of more than two years at a local dairy farm and apprehended by federal immigration authorities for protesting insidious practices in the administration of a program for migrant students and demanding that his two children be provided a safe, non-discriminatory schooling environment.

Writer Marcella Ochoa on the Inspiration Behind Horror Film About 1970s Migrant Farming Community
The production company behind such horror movies as Paranormal ActivityInsidious, and The Invisible Man announced four new horror films that it will release on Amazon Prime in 2021–and one of them is a Latinx narrative.

The film Madres is included on Blumhouse’s new slate, which was announced by Deadline late last week. Madres tells the story of a Mexican-American couple, expecting their first child, who relocate to a migrant farming community in 1970s California where strange things begin to happen to the pregnant mother.

Madres is directed by first-time filmmaker Ryan Zaragoza. The screenplay was written by Marcella Ochoa and Mario Miscione and stars Tenoch Huerta, Ariana Guerra, Evelyn Gonzalez, Kerry Cahill, and Elpidia Carrillo.

Latino forgotten history: Book retells epic Mayan creation story most of us don’t know
Every culture has an origin story. Many Latinos can trace their cultural roots to an epic poem that was passed down in Central America for over a millennium — but this rich, important history has been largely buried, Mexican scholar Ilan Stavans says.

“The Popol Vuh in many ways is like ‘Beowulf,’ the Bible, the Viking sagas, ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey,'” says Stavans, a Latin American and Latino culture professor at Amherst College. “It tells stories of battles and the rise and fall of a people.”

Stavans is the author of “Popol Vuh: A Retelling,” a prose rendition of the heroic epic poem about the creation of the world as told by the K’iche’ Maya people of Guatemala. The book, with stunning illustrations by the Salvadoran folk artist Gabriela Larios, is out Tuesday.

Las Tienditas
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