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Texas News
Texas schools respond to House inquiry on library books about sexuality, race
At least two of the state’s largest school districts won’t comply with a Republican general investigating committee chair’s request to divulge information about books kept in school and classroom libraries — and even more say they won’t meet his Friday deadline.

Austin and Dallas Independent School Districts say they won’t respond to state Rep. Matt Krause’s request for them to go through a list of more than 800 books and tell him how many copies are in their possession and how much they cost. Houston ISD, the largest public school system in the state, declined to say whether it would do the lawmaker’s bidding.

San Antonio nonprofit lab giving San Marcos CISD weekly testing
On October 25, 2021, Community Labs, a nonprofit laboratory from San Antonio dedicated to assisting the public with COVID-19 testing, announced that they are partnering with San Marcos CISD to give the schools weekly testing.

This will be the first time Community Labs has served schools outside of Bexar County.

December runoffs could reshape Houston ISD board
Four of five Houston ISD trustees up for re-election have been pushed into runoffs, perhaps as much for their incumbency as their stances on district issues.

Three incumbents — Elizabeth Santos in District 1, Sue Deigaard in District 5, Holly Flynn Vilaseca in District 6 — all were the leading vote-getters in their races, but failed to garner at least 50 percent of the ballots cast. Trustee Anne Sung in District 7 finished about 4 percentage points, or 631 votes, behind challenger Bridget Wade in unofficial returns. Neither passed the 50 percent threshold.

Is Texas’ big reading push enough to make up pandemic losses? Here’s how one district helps students
Masks, virtual instruction and COVID-19 challenges made it hard for kids to learn reading.

Naomi Simpson sat with two kindergarteners at the front of her classroom in Midlothian and instructed: “Get your blending arm ready.”

Simpson arranged three letter tiles on the wood table in front of her students, straightened her left arm and then reached for her shoulder.

Texas schools can again set their own face mask rules after federal judge overrules Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban
The judge said the governor’s order impedes children with disabilities from the benefits of public schools’ programs, services and activities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act — freeing local officials to again create their own rules.

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National News
Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
The campaign to vaccinate elementary school age children in the U.S. is off to a strong start, health officials said Wednesday, but experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.

About 900,000 kids aged 5 to 11 will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in their first week of eligibility, the White House said Wednesday, providing the first glimpse at the pace of the school-aged vaccination campaign.

“We’re off to a very strong start,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, during a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

The Pandemic Exposed the Severity of Academic Divide Along Race and Class: New 2021 Data on Math and Reading Progress Reveal It’s Only Gotten Worse
Despite promises to focus on the growing racial and income divide among the nation’s students, new fall testing data show academic gaps have worsened, falling heaviest on some of the most vulnerable children.

While education researchers have sounded the alarm for more than a year — that pandemic learning hurts low-income students and students of color most severely — recent scores suggest education solutions cannot come fast enough.

“Guided reading” launched a district into one of California’s top performers
A low-income Central Valley charter district increased the percentage of Hispanic students reading at grade level from 39 percent to 58 percent

During Kelsi Iturralde’s 45-minute guided reading session on a recent Monday, six students at a time sit with her at a kidney table while the rest of the class “whisper reads” at their desks.

“I tell them not to read at the same pace that your neighbors are reading, not too loud that we’re distracting someone, but just enough that you can practice your reading voice,” the second grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School said.

Latina first-generation college students draw on lessons, mentor others
As colleges celebrate “first-gen week,” Latinas speak of their work guiding students of different ages. “I see myself,” one Latina graduating in 2022 said.

Noemi Rodriguez, 21, aspires to make an impact in her community through her work after college. But as she maneuvers through her final year at University of California, San Diego, balancing school, work and commuting has been an ongoing challenge.

Reading with children in a native language is key to bilingual learning
Reading with your young ones every day is one of the best ways to build connections in their brains and with family. Studies have shown why it’s even more important to read books written in the same language that is spoken at home.

Sylvia Espinoza turned reading with her daughter Edith into valuable time together.

“Edith has always like to read in Spanish, so she’s always asked me to read with her in Spanish,” Espinoza said.

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!
Newsela takes authentic, real-world content from trusted sources and makes it instruction ready for K-12 classrooms. Each text is published at five reading levels – with thousands of articles available in both English & Spanish to help Spanish-speaking English Language Learners with comprehension – so content is accessible to every learner. Today, over 2.5 million teachers and 37 million students have registered with Newsela for content that’s personalized to student interests, accessible to everyone, aligned to TEKS and other instructional standards, and attached to activities and reporting that hold teachers accountable for instruction and students accountable for their work. With over 10,000 texts in Newsela’s platform and 10 new texts published every day across 20+ genres, Newsela enables educators to go deep on any subject they choose.

Newsela’s offerings include Newsela ELA, Newsela Science, Newsela Social Studies, Newsela SEL, and more.

Contact District Partnership Directors Josh Cobb or Perla Sanchez for more information.