TALAS E-newsletter – October 8

Posted on October 8th, 2020
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Texas News
McAllen ISD’s J. A. Gonzalez named Texas Superintendent of the Year
The Texas Association of School Boards named McAllen ISD superintendent J.A. Gonzalez Superintendent of the Year on Thursday in a virtual event.

Gonzalez is the first superintendent to win the award in the district’s history and the first to win from the Rio Grande Valley since 2009.

A release from the district detailed the ceremony.

Two new TALAS affiliates launched: Greater Houston and El Paso
Two new TALAS affiliates were launched at TALAS’ Executive Board Meeting on Friday. Greater Houston TALAS (Martha Salazar-Zamora & Hilarion Martinez) and El Paso TALAS (Veronica Vijil & Mark Paz) are TALAS’ second and third affiliates after the Garland Association of Latino Administrators (GALA), which was launched last November.

We are excited and optimistic about these newly-formed associations and will continue to share news and announcements about our two newest affiliates.
Ysleta ISD principal named to statewide schools post
Norma Myers, principal of Capistrano Elementary School, has been named the 2020-2021 president-elect of Region 19 for the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).

“It is an honor to provide my service, leadership, and knowledge for such an admirable organization as TEPSA,” said Myers, who served as principal of South Loop Elementary School before it was consolidated this year with Capistrano Elementary School.

TEPSA is a statewide group that “strives to improve the education of Texas school children and the working conditions of its members.”

Historic: North Texan becomes first African-American man to win Teacher of the Year Award
A Dallas ISD teacher was named 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year.

Eric Hale, who teaches at David G. Burnet Elementary School, took home the honor.

The announcement was made on Wednesday during the virtual Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards Convention.

He was one of six finalists across the state and will now represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program in the spring.

Weslaco ISD opens campuses to students with connectivity issues
The Texas Education Agency allowed local districts to bring some students back and Weslaco ISD Superintendent Dr. Priscilla Canales says staff has been ready.

“After the closure, we had trainings that everyone had to go through.”

She says the trainings were on identifying COVID-19 symptoms and making sure staff knew what to do if they felt any.

The trainings were repeated as more staff returned to campus.  
The school is reopening to students who had issues connecting to their classes because of internet access.

‘I don’t know of any other district that has [done something] similar’: Magnolia ISD hires chief medical officer
Magnolia ISD has hired Dr. Alfred Martinez to serve as the district’s first chief medical officer, a newly created position for the 2020-21 school year, according to an Oct. 1 press release.

According to the release, the chief medical officer will oversee the implementation of various health service policies for the physical and mental well-being of MISD students and staff, such as developing safety protocols in relation to COVID-19.

In a Sept. 24 address to the Greater Magnolia Parkway Chamber of Commerce, MISD Superintendent Todd Stephens said he believes MISD is the first district locally—and one of the first, if not the first statewide—to hire a medical doctor.

Denver City ISD Names Lone Finalist for Superintendent
The Denver City Independent School District (ISD) Board of Trustees, at its October 5 meeting, named Dr. Patrick Torres as finalist for superintendent. By law, the Board must now wait 21 days before voting to hire Dr. Torres to be the new superintendent for Denver City ISD.

The Board has followed a lengthy process in determining the finalist. The Board hired Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Executive Search Services to direct the search.

The Board selected 6 applicants for initial interview and then 3 applicants were invited back for a second interview. The Board is scheduled to vote to offer a contract to Dr. Torres on October 27.

Dr. Torres has been an educator for 27 years. Prior to joining Denver City ISD, Torres has served as a teacher, coach, mentor, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent in districts that include Dallas ISD, Wylie ISD, Grapevine/Colleyville ISD, Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD, and Red Oak ISD.

EPISD, YISD, Canutillo ISD implement new delays, restrictions after meeting on rising virus cases
The El Paso, Ysleta and Canutillo independent school districts announced some significant changes to their operating plans following a meeting Friday with El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza and other health leaders.

That meeting was prompted by a spike in El Paso County coronavirus cases reaching almost 10 percent this week, as well as an increase in local hospitalizations.

As a result, EPISD said it would postpone the scheduled reopening of schools, YISD said it would further restrict attendance at athletic events and delay the date for teachers to return to campuses, and Canutillo ISD said it would extend remote learning.

Dallas College Receives $9 Million Grant to Help Latino Students
Dallas College was awarded a $9 million grant by the US Department of Education on Wednesday, September 30, for three of its seven campuses. The money will be used to improve the college’s academic resources and career development opportunities for Hispanic students.

press release posted on the institution’s website explained that the funding will focus on the El Centro, Eastfield, and North Lake campuses. It will also be used to support several initiatives across the Dallas College network.

The initiatives are launched to help underserved students succeed and overcome barriers to education.

UTSA receives Seal of Excelencia for commitment to accelerating Latino student success
The University of Texas at San Antonio announced last week that it has been selected by Excelencia in Education to receive the prestigious Seal of Excelencia, a comprehensive certification recognizing the university’s commitment and ability to accelerate Latino student success. The certification adds momentum to UTSA’s journey to become a Hispanic thriving institution, a model Hispanic Serving Institution that provides the highest quality education to advance social mobility and economic opportunities for Latino students and their communities.

Report: Number Of Hungry Families Nearly Doubled During Pandemic In San Antonio Public Schools
One out of four families in San Antonio public schools has experienced hunger since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a report released Friday by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Urban Education Institute.

The report is based on a survey of 1,125 families from eight local school systems conducted during the spring and summer. About 26% of the families surveyed told the institute that they sometimes or often ran out food without money to buy more.

“That level of food insecurity we have not seen before. Before the pandemic, a (2018 countywide) study set our level of food insecurity at about 14%. So during this pandemic, those figures have doubled for our public school families,” said Mike Villarreal, the director of the Urban Education Institute.

‘Disgraceful’: Latino civil rights organization plans to file lawsuit against Abbott’s mail-in ballot drop-off order
The League of United Latin American Citizens announced Thursday that it is filing a lawsuit against the State of Texas regarding Gov. Greg Abbot’s mail-in ballot drop off location order. Abbott ordered Thursday that each county would have only one mail-in ballot drop-off location, thus closing all other locations selected by local leaders.

Domingo Garcia, the national president for LULAC, the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, said Abbott is trying to suppress the Hispanic vote. He said the move “reeks of the continued voter suppression and rigging of voter turnout by Republicans against all Texans in a pandemic.”

From Walden University:
Introducing the TALAS Scholarship Program!
Celebrating Professional Excellence: 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.
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Supporting Your Career
The 3 things that great teams have in common
The invention of the organization — getting different humans together to collaborate on a project — is probably the greatest invention in the history of mankind. Through organizations, we’ve been able to build and create more value than any individual would likely have ever been able to imagine alone. And organizations are built on teams.

So it’s worth asking: What do great teams have in common? What do the teams that create consistent amounts of value all share? What do teams that overperform expectations have that underperforming teams lack?

5 school leaders’ expert advice for aspiring administrators
There’s no course or resource book that can truly prepare school leaders for every situation they will encounter — but there are key strategies and mindsets that can help aspiring administrators be effective leaders in the future.

“The pandemic is a classic example,” Steve Joel, superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska, told Education Dive. No one in school administration had professional development coursework in preparing for a major health crisis that would close school buildings for extended periods, he said.

But by learning, listening and collaborating with others during crises and everyday management responsibilities, administrators can gain confidence and reach positive results, Joel said.

National News
Trump: No More COVID-19 Aid, Including Billions for Schools, Until After I Win
President Donald Trump has declared that he won’t agree to a new coronavirus relief package before the Nov. 3 election, a potentially big setback for schools and educators who’ve hoped for months for additional aid from Washington.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump said he told administration officials involved in coronavirus talks with Congress to stop negotiating with lawmakers. He said that “immediately after I win,” he would restart talks to pass a relief bill focused on “hardworking Americans and Small Business.” He also attacked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by saying she had not engaged in COVID-19 relief talks in good faith.

Trump did not say what he planned to do if he loses the presidential election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. If he loses the election, his defeat could remove a key motivation for agreeing to a deal. And that might leave schools without the assurance of more federal relief as they start their spring terms.

‘We need to take away children’: Jeff Sessions and top DOJ officials were ‘a driving force’ behind migrant family separations in 2018, watchdog finds
The five U.S. attorneys along the border with Mexico, including three appointed by President Donald Trump, recoiled in May 2018 against an order to prosecute all immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, even if it meant separating children from their parents. They told top Justice Department officials they were “deeply concerned” about the children’s welfare.

But the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, made it clear what Trump wanted on a conference call later that afternoon, according to a two-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general into Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy.

“We need to take away children,” Sessions told the prosecutors, according to participants’ notes. One added in shorthand: “If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids.”

‘Latino Vote: Dispatches from the Battleground’ looks at Hispanic voter mobilization in 2020
“We were prepared for the ups and downs of any election cycle, but the pandemic and the protests just transformed everything.”

The opening scenes of Bernardo Ruiz’ new film depict a way of life that seems anachronistic now.

Young Latino campaign workers drive down the Las Vegas strip, heading to a shopping center where they will approach strangers and help them register to vote. Some organizers meet in person, in a bustling conference room. It was February 2020, a time before the threat of coronavirus was known, so there are no masks or social distancing. Instead, the focus is on mobilizing potential voters.

Higher ed partnerships expand high school curricular horizons
While high schools are focused on helping students take the next step after graduating, whether that’s attending a college or university or seeking a job, partnerships with colleges can add another layer of support to scaffold students on their way.

These partnerships can open the doors for students through multiple avenues, such as dual enrollment programs where colleges, like the University of Missouri-Kansas City, invite high school students to take classes for credit. Colleges can also support students through an Adopt-A-Classroom program, helping pupils not only learn more about a specific college, but potentially visit in-person. Partnerships, too, can help ensure more high school graduates are college-ready, capable of handling college-level courses and even completing their degrees on time.

How the Term ‘Essential Worker’ Obscures the Cost of Racialized Human Life
The Latino community is suffering a lot right now,” says Arnulfo Romero. The former field supervisor lives in Santa Maria, California, an agricultural community that, depending on which way its sea breeze blows, smells of strawberry, broccoli, or diesel. The town is small by California standards, populated by about 107,000 residents. Most, like Romero, are Latino of Mexican origin. Many are also Indigenous (primarily Mixteco).

While the Santa Maria Valley’s berry crops have sweetened the region’s reputation, its large concentration of COVID-19 infections now brings notoriety.

“Santa Maria’s number of coronavirus deaths has been higher than anywhere else in Santa Barbara County,” Romero laments. “The only place that looked like it was going to outpace Santa Maria was the prison in Lompoc. But it got worse here.”

How Google Intends to Change the Future of Latinx Business
Last month, Google announced a $3 million grant to the Hispanics in Philanthropy’s PowerUp Fund — a program created to support Latinx-owned small businesses across California, New York, and Texas.

Hispanics in Philanthropy started this project long before the coronavirus pandemic began. Before the economic consequences of COVID-19 in the U.S., access to capital at reasonable rates to start a small business was particularly difficult for black and brown communities. 

Beyond its financial aspect, Latinx people lacked the social capital needed to start their own business. Most of them did not have generational networks, strong bank relations, or even trusted financial institutions. Discriminatory lending practices also placed them at a disadvantage.

In ‘Siempre, Luis’ a look at Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biggest inspiration—his father
When Luis Miranda arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico in the 1970s, he looked like many young students of his time, with his jeans and shaggy hair. In the Big Apple, though, he realized that not everyone wanted people like him. Instead of culture shock, he experienced discrimination. “It didn’t matter if you were a janitor or a PhD student,” Miranda recalled, “what they saw was Puerto Rican, some brown person, some brown kid. Not a real American.”

Miranda went on to become an activist, a government official, a political consultant, and a loving father to three children—including his son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash, “Hamilton.” Now the older Miranda, who has long been a behind-the-scenes player in Democratic politics, is in the spotlight in a new documentary, “Siempre, Luis,” debuting October 6 on HBO and HBO Max.

Greenpeace USA launches Latinx environmental web series, ‘Planeta G’
Greenpeace USA recently launched a bi-weekly Latinx web series, Planeta G, which focuses on the intersection between the environmental movement and Latinx identities. The web series airs at 2 PM ET every other Monday on YouTube and aims to engage Latinx audiences by demystifying environmental topics and boosting Latinx voices within the environmental movement. Nuestra gente cares about the health of the planet. A recent Yale study found that over 70% of Latinx people in the United States are concerned about the environment.

Crystal Mojica and Valentina Stackl are the Latina co-hosts of Planeta G. They’re both environmental activists and Senior Communications Specialists at Greenpeace USA. Their series features Latinx guests, including youth climate organizers, influencers, activists, academics and celebrities. The episodes are accessible to both English and Spanish speaking audiences.

“From Equity Talk to Equity Walk”: Authors discuss new book on equity in higher education
Rhetoric alone about equity, diversity and inclusion won’t get the job done in higher education, say the authors of a new book.

Everyone in higher education has had the experience of hearing a college leader expound about the values of diversity or equity, or condemn a racist incident on campus. The statements are often eloquent and moving. The follow-up? Not so much.

This is the subject of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (Wiley). In the book, the authors focus on how to turn the talk into walk. The authors are Tia Brown McNair, vice president for diversity, equity and student success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and executive director of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Centers, also of AAC&U; Estela Mara Bensimon, University Professor and Dean’s Professor in Educational Equity at the Rossier School of Education of the University of Southern California; and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux, chief institutional research officer of the California Institute of Technology.

Latinx Podcasts We’re Subscribed To (And You Should Be Too)
We’re tuning you into some of our favorite Latinx podcasts that we hit that subscribe button to. You know? The ones that got us feeling like we’re chismeando and discutiendo with our gal pals. These podcasts feature discussions over Latinx identity and experiences, motherhood, spirituality, mental health, politics, entertainment and culture. Each shares the wide ranging perspectives and stories of the Latinx community and beyond, while making us feel right at home, seen, heard, and represented.

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