TALAS E-newsletter – October 29

Posted on October 29th, 2020
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Texas News
Congratulations to Lockhart ISD’s Mark Estrada, 2020 Recipient of the Texas State “Young Alumni Rising Star” Award!
The Texas State Alumni Association honored Mr. Estrada for his many accomplishments as the superintendent of Lockhart ISD, stating on Twitter that “he has secured almost $10M in grant and brought free high speed internet access to the district.” Congratulations!

Kermit ISD Recognized by State for Outstanding Achievement
Kermit ISD was recently recognized during the Annual Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards Conference this fall with a tribute acknowledging the district’s many accomplishments.

TALAS, along with 19 other organizations, endorse recommendations for Generation 26 2021 charter application
The Texas Association of School Boards sent a letter detailing the recommendations to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath on Thursday, Oct. 22nd. The letter is viewable in full at this link.
TEA designates Canutillo ISD to be next Math Innovation Zone
Canutillo ISD’s math program has earned a highly competitive Math Blended Learning grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that will scale Canutillo ISD’s roster of blended-learning math programs in grades pre-K through 8th, a practice that enables teachers to deliver personalized learning in order to meet the needs of all students.

Officials say this grant will allow Canutillo to work towards receiving a State Designation as a Math Innovation Zone.

“Canutillo ISD believes that opportunity is everything when it comes to preparing our students for college and career success,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Pedro Galaviz. “One of our core goals is to provide students a high-quality math program – one that is personalized for each one of our students.”

TEA selects Ysleta ISD for competitive Blended Learning Grant Program
Wednesday evening, officials with the Ysleta Independent School District announced that the district had earned a highly competitive Blended Learning grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that will expand the number of campuses featuring blended learning, a practice that enables teachers to deliver personalized learning in order to meet the needs of all students.

“We are excited for this opportunity to rethink our instructional models and continue the design for the future to ensure our students have the very best learning experience possible,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre said.

In 2015, Ysleta ISD launched its blended learning initiative at two campuses, and has since expanded to include nine elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school, for a total of 13 sites.

This new TEA grant will make it possible to expand Ysleta ISD’s roster of blended-learning campuses to include Del Valle Elementary and Del Valle Middle schools, which were selected due to principal and teacher commitment.

Corpus Christi ISD to offer free immunization clinics
Corpus Christi ISD is offering free immunizations for students who have not met state requirements.

Parents or guardians will need to be present and provide a shot record or a copy of a letter from their campus nurse verifying the immunizations needed.

“This is an opportunity for students to avoid being dropped from enrollment due to non-compliance of immunizations,” a news release stated.

Social distancing at school: How Austin ISD is preparing for more students on-campus
The Austin Independent School District is making preparations to allow even more students back on campus on Nov. 2, following TEA guidelines.

With the possibility of more kids in the classrooms, come more concerns about how schools will enforce social distancing and other safety protocols.

One letter sent to parents at Kealing Middle School stated, “Starting November 2, there are no capacity limits for the number of students allowed to come to school for classes. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has stated that social distancing is a recommendation. Therefore, depending on the number of families selecting in-person, during any given class period there may be more than the previously communicated threshold of 9 students per classroom that was set when practicing 6 feet of social distancing. Additionally, consistent enforcement of social distancing during class changes and during lunch poses many challenges, but we are working on ways to stagger release times for classes to limit congestion in the hallways during passing periods.”

Voters to decide on $3.7 billion Dallas ISD bond proposals
A record $3.7 billion bond issue is on the ballot for the Dallas Independent School District.

The proposed package includes five ballot propositions that would help the district updates its severely aging facilities and resources.

More specifically, the money would go toward:
  • Renovating aging facilities and building 14 new and replacement campuses
  • Investing in safety and security, including replacing metal detectors with more modern weapon detection systems
  • Upgrading pool facilities and replacing grass with athletic turf at all high school practice fields
  • Addressing racial equity by creating family resource centers in four historically redlined neighborhoods to house social services operated via public-private partnerships
  • Constructing a districtwide performing arts center

‘Life And Death Are At Stake Here’: Dallas ISD Teachers Union Calling For Return To 100% Virtual Learning
With COVID-19 cases increasing in Dallas County, many Dallas ISD teachers are calling for a return to 100% virtual learning.

“Life and death are at stake here for many employees, many students, and many of our families,” said Rena Honea, President of Alliance AFT, the DISD teachers’ union.
Honea says the teachers she represents are worried about the risks of continuing in-person instruction.

“Social distancing is a joke on many of our campuses,” Honea said. “It’s not happening. The facial coverings, the masks – they’re either not being worn, they’re seeing them worn inappropriately, either below the nose or even below the chin.”

Last week, Dallas County upgraded its coronavirus risk level to “red,” the highest it can be.

Houston-area school districts report enrollment drop of nearly 40,000 students
Districts particularly concerned about noticeable drop in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students.

Many Houston-area school districts are facing significant declines in enrollment as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt public education like never before.

Sixteen of the area’s 20 largest school districts report fewer students enrolled this year, according to a KHOU 11 analysis of data submitted to the Texas Education Agency.

Collectively, those districts are down 38,766 students.

The question is: Where have they gone?

Alarming failure rates among Texas students fuel calls to get them back into classrooms
Most schools hoped this fall would see students make up academic ground lost last spring when the pandemic hit. Instead, districts are looking for ways to reverse plummeting grades and attendance among students learning at home.

As fall progresses, Texas public school superintendents are realizing that virtual instruction simply is not working for thousands of students across the state.

Report cards from the first weeks of the school year show more students than last year failing at least one class. Students are turning in assignments late, if at all; skipping days to weeks of virtual school; and falling behind on reading, educators and parents report. Many parents say they’re exhausted from playing the role of at-home teacher, and some students without support at home are struggling to keep track of their daily workload with limited outside help.

For those affected by COVID-19 shutdown, Texas will spend $30M to help students with severe disabilities but advocates worry it’s not enough
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new program, providing supplemental assistance for special education students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas public school students with severe cognitive disabilities could receive up to $1,500 for tutoring, therapy, and other support services to address any learning disruptions suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Texas Education Agency and Gov. Greg Abbott announced the creation of the $30 million effort — the Supplementary Special Education Services program — on Wednesday.

Students would qualify for a one-time spending account for up to $1,500 in services if they are currently enrolled in public school, were enrolled during the closures brought on by the pandemic in Spring 2020, and are identified as having a low incidence disability, defined as a severe cognitive impairment, medically fragile issues or deaf-blindness.

Educators Wanted Vulnerable Students To Return First for In-Person Learning, But a Racial Divide Spoiled Their Plans
When Northside Independent School District superintendent Brian Woods designed his reopening strategy, he started with the kids who needed to be there most.

He felt certain that poor, largely Black and Latino San Antonio families without access to the internet, frontline workers in need of childcare, and those struggling to keep food on the table would be desperate to get their kids back into the school buildings.

He was wrong. “The assumptions we made about who would choose to return,” Woods said, “have not largely proven correct.”

Candace Valenzuela Is Ready To Make History as First Black Latina in Congress
On July 14, 36-year-old Candace Valenzuela was sitting at home, watching in slight disbelief as she inched closer and closer to making U.S. history. Valenzuela had been locked in a tight Democratic primary race for Texas’ open 24th Congressional District and, as results poured in, it was clear she was pulling ahead of her opponent, Kim Olson.

“At that point, people were calling me and screaming going, ‘You won, you won!’” Valenzuela remembers. But she wanted to wait until the results were official. “I was just like, ‘I need to hear the [Associated Press], guys. It’s not real until the AP says it’s real!’”

The AP published a breaking tweet announcing her victory ten minutes before midnight. Valenzuela, an educator and mother of two who got her start in politics as an at-large member of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, secured 60% of votes. Olson got 39%. The celebrations and excitement happened virtually due to the pandemic.

Upcoming Webinar:
Communication Leadership for a Brave New World
Wednesday, November 11th
12 noon PST • 3 pm EST
Please join us to hear from K-12 leaders exploring how communications have changed over the past 9 months. We’ll look at what’s working, what’s changed, and what leadership communications look like as learning and community health scenarios change from one moment to the next.
Reminder: Walden University TALAS Scholarship Program
In case you missed it: Walden University is offering scholarships to members of the Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents who enroll in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program and start classes between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

For more details, including eligibility requirements, deadlines, and instructions on how to apply, click the button below.
Looking for a new opportunity?
Supporting Your Career
How To Answer These Three Tricky Commonly Asked Interview Questions
You’d like to believe that when you’re meeting with a hiring manager, they’re prepared, well-trained in the art of interviewing and spent an inordinate amount of time researching your résumé and constructing pertinent questions. I’m sorry to be the one to disappoint you, but this doesn’t happen too often—or at all.

For some reason, management feels that a supervisor can easily segue into the role of interviewer without any advanced training. Since they’re not skilled in the art of interviewing, they’ll usually default to asking cliché-type questions. They won’t deviate too outside of the box, as they don’t want to get in trouble or be accused of saying anything too controversial, inappropriate or violative of rules and regulations.

The questions deemed safe are routinely asked. If you’re prepared, these questions can be your best friend. When you get what they’re driving at, you’ll know how to appropriately answer them. If you prepare ahead of time, it’s like being pitched a slow softball right over home plate and you could hit it out of the ballpark. Here are some commonly asked questions that could trip you up, if you’re not careful.

National News
Missing: Millions of students
U.S. school districts are struggling to reach kids because of the pandemic, and in many cases not finding them.

Powell High School Principal Chad Smith has knocked on at least 20 doors since the school year began, searching for kids missing virtual classes at his school just outside Knoxville, Tenn.

Nearly 30 percent of his students chose virtual learning this fall, and that includes the school’s most at-risk teens. Figuring out what’s getting in the way of their participation and helping them has to be the top priority, he said.

“It is a lurking, time-bomb problem,” he said. “I’m concerned [about] another lost year.”

Politics, Not Science, is Driving School Reopening Decisions to a ‘Really Dangerous’ Degree, Research Suggests
Over seven months after much of society shut down in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no uniform policy guiding school districts through the return of tens of millions of students to in-person education. In most jurisdictions, officials have spent the last few months balancing risks and responsibilities, resulting in millions of American students returning to the classroom even as millions of their peers still spend their days in front of a screen.

According to a growing number of education commentators, one major factor determining school reopenings is politics. In comparing how districts chose to either continue with virtual learning or welcome students back to their buildings, several academic and independent researchers have found that policymakers are guided more by the voting preferences of their neighbors than coronavirus case numbers.

How career and technical education shuts out Black and Latino students from high-paying professions
Career and technical education is viewed as a gateway to good jobs. But a new Hechinger/AP analysis finds a deep racial divide in who benefits.

Alphina Kamara wonders what might have happened if she’d been introduced to science and engineering careers at her Wilmington, Delaware, high school.

Kamara, who is Black, was enrolled in an “audio engineering” course that taught her how to make music tracks and videos instead of a regular engineering course that she recalls was mostly filled with white students.

When she asked an administrator at Mount Pleasant High School about this apparent disparity, she said she was told that the audio engineering course was created for “regular students.”

‘My Family Needs Me’: Latinas Drop Out Of Workforce At Alarming Rates
Throughout her years as a working mother climbing the corporate ladder, Farida Mercedes tried to be home for dinner with her kids. But until recently, she never imagined staying home full time.

“I respect stay-at-home moms. But it wasn’t part of my DNA,” said Mercedes, who spent almost two decades working for the cosmetics company, L’Oreal. “I love the hustle. I love being hungry and passionate. And I love my children. But I just couldn’t see myself out of that.”

That changed with the pandemic. Work became more stressful when L’Oreal’s sales dropped. Mercedes — an assistant vice president of human relations — had to lay people off.

The Overwhelming Pressure of Being a Successful Latino
Being a member of the Latinx community comes with its baggage, including a diverse cultural background, extraordinary resilience, delicious food, and the weight of your whole family on your shoulders. It is not a myth that a grandma’s biggest desire is to see their grandchildren become doctors and marry early.

As Latinos, we are born into these expectations that are constantly stressed during our growth, and more likely than not, those expectations have no steady support system or base to grow from. The pressure to be a successful Latino is real and, to be honest, not fair.

“Success” has a different meaning in a Latin country. As we see, our parents work two and three jobs to bring food to the table or enroll us in a decent school; it is almost verbatim that we cannot let them down.

New revelations about Trump admin’s child separation policies become key voter issue
“Our country is beginning to explore what pro-life means,” evangelical minister Luis Cortés said. “We have done something immoral and must fix it.”

After taking a back seat to the coronavirus pandemic, the reminder that the Trump administration intentionally separated babies and children from their parents to deter Central American migration is back in the news, two weeks before the presidential election.

This week, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers told a federal judge they have yet to locate the parents of 545 children and that the overwhelming majority of the children’s parents were deported.

The revelation — while many people are voting early — inserts an issue into the election cycle that was such a lightning rod in the 2018 midterms, Republicans tried distancing themselves from the administration’s separation strategy.

How U.S. Hispanics Are Building Generational Wealth Through Homeownership
Buying a home and investing in real estate is one of the most powerful ways immigrants can build generational wealth in the U.S. Nurys Marcel Minaya, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, understood this after buying her first home when she was 23 years old using an FHA loan. It was the beginning of her journey as a homeowner that came with a sense of pride, status and stability.

Minaya is among the more than 8 million Hispanic new homeowners who have injected $371 billion into the national gross domestic product through the housing market, according to estimates from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). Even with language barriers and underrepresentation in the real estate industry, the number of Hispanics who are buying property continued to rise. In 2019, nearly half of the Hispanic population in the U.S. were home owners, NAHREP shows.

How creative use of technology may have helped save schooling during the pandemic
It is estimated around half the world’s students’ schools remain shut down. All told, this has been a potentially damaging disruption to the education of a generation.

But one of the few positive outcomes from this experience is an opportunity to rethink how digital technologies can be used to support teaching and learning in schools.

Our collective experiences of remote schooling offer a fleeting opportunity for schools to think more imaginatively about what “digital education” might look like in the future.

‘We don’t have a voice or vote’: DACA students reflect on their ineligibility to vote in US elections
In 2016, Gonzalo Gonzalez dreamed of attending college, owning a house and one day obtaining his citizenship. However, on the night after the 2016 presidential election, Gonzalo Gonzalez didn’t sleep.

“I thought we would lose everything immediately,” he said.

Gonzalez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 6 years old and said Athens is the only home he’s known. He has no recollection of his time in Mexico. 

DACA grants those who came to the U.S. as children protection from deportation and eligibility to apply for work permits and a driver’s license. DACA allowed Gonzalez an opportunity to “live, not just get by” in the country.

‘Selena: The Series’ Trailer Charts Tejano Superstar’s Rise To Fame
Any doubts about whether Christian Serratos would be able to capture the essence of Selena Quintanilla were put aside Monday with the release of the first full-length trailer for Netflix’s “Selena: The Series.”

Serratos, best known for her portrayal of Rosita Espinosa on “The Walking Dead,” has already demonstrated her dramatic prowess in photos and teasers for the upcoming series. The new trailer, unveiled Monday, offers new insight into the series’ dramatic arc.

The two-part “Selena: The Series” is due out Dec. 4 and will emphasize the singer’s early rise to Tejano superstardom, continuing through what was intended as her crossover moment.

Las Tienditas
Psst! Did you know that the TALAS website has a new section showcasing our favorite tienditas featured on this newsletter? Check it out at the link below—and check back often, as we will be adding to the list as time goes on!
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