TALAS E-newsletter – September 10

Posted on September 10th, 2020
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Texas News
Tomball ISD’s Martha Salazar-Zamora featured in “District Leader: Transforming Education” podcast
When it comes to leading through an ongoing pandemic and amid the threat of multiple natural disasters, our guest today, Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora, believes in having a well-thought-out plan and communicating it clearly to all parties. When drastic, unexpected things happen, the best thing district leaders can do is to formulate a plan and to outline each required step so that everyone is on the same page, even when things are adjusted last minute. And to do this well, Martha believes that the three pillars of grace, patience, and love are key.

In this episode, our guest talks about their reentry plan, the two options they can offer families, how Hurricane Laura might be complicating matters, and what they are doing to mitigate the impacts of the crises. She discusses the lessons they have learned over the last few months, why there is yet a silver lining, and she advises district leaders and parents on the best way forward.

Martha is the Superintendent of the Tomball Independent School District (ISD) in Tomball, Texas. She is a member of the Texas Education Agency Commissioner’s Cabinet, Secretary for the Fast Growth School Coalition, and the past President of the Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. Martha earned her doctoral degree at Texas A&M University, 2 master’s degrees at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and her bachelor’s degree at Texas A&I University.

TALAS and other organizations voice opposition to proposed expansion of charter schools in Texas
TALAS joined other organizations and districts across the state in drafting a letter to the State Board of Education in opposition to 8 charter grant applications that have been approved by the Texas education commissioner.

Starting at 9 am on Thursday, September 10th, the SBOE will hear testimony from over 150 people regarding the new charter applications. You can listen live at this link.

The SBOE vote is set to be held on Friday, September 11th.
When each Central Texas school district plans to go back to in-person learning
It really feels like there are multiple first days of school this year — the date when online schooling started and the date when students actually come back to campus for in-person learning.

A majority of the schools in Central Texas have already started bringing at least some students back. Here’s a look at which ones did so today, which ones still have yet to bring kids back to campus, and which school districts have already brought kids back and how long they’ve done so.

Facing ‘bleak’ Covid projection and ‘fear,’ SISD decides to revise re-opening timeline
The Socorro Independent School District, the first Borderland school district to announce plans to return to campus, has revised its reopening plans.

Teachers will now have the option to work from home or campus through Oct. 2, according to the announcement late Friday afternoon.

Socorro Superintendent Jose Espinoza said they revised their phased-in re-opening plans after El Paso City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza gave a “bleak projection, differing from the guidance we had received and followed when developing our previous plans.”

All Austin ISD students will receive free school meals through December
Austin ISD families will be able to depend on the district to help keep their children fed through December.

Austin ISD announced on Saturday that in addition to its distribution of free produce boxes through Oct. 7, it will extend distribution of free meals for all students through December.

Through the program, students younger than 19 can receive one breakfast and one lunch meal daily on Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays serve as the weekend meal distribution day at curbside meal sites.

For weekend meals, families can receive six meals per child under the age of 19 (breakfast and lunch for Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

DFW schools to receive nearly $3 million to support Hispanic, under-represented students
Several schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will receive a number of federal grants totaling $2,872,100 to serve their Hispanic and under-represented student populations, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced.

The grant funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, and it is anticipated that each grant will be sustained for a total of five years.

“In Texas, more than one in three individuals identify as Hispanic, and I am proud to support Hispanic-Serving Institutions and their contributions to our state’s growing Hispanic community,” Cornyn said. “Quality education and diverse environments benefit everyone, and especially during these tough times I applaud Dallas-Fort Worth area schools for their work to secure these grants to better serve their students.”

Public School Exodus? Organization Reports Massive Influx of Homeschooling
Texas Home School Coalition has seen a spike of Texas families electing to withdraw from public schools.

As parents and children attempt to navigate onerous back-to-school guidelines for public schools across the state, the Texas Home School Coalition reports a nearly 400 percent increase in families deciding to withdraw from public schools and begin homeschooling.

Texas Home School Coalition, an organization dedicated to informing and inspiring families and promoting homeschooling in Texas, offers a free web portal to assist parents in withdrawing their children from public schools, automatically generating a letter that families can easily email to their schools to complete the withdrawal process and begin homeschooling.

In August 2019, THSC reports that it processed withdrawals for 1,044 families. In August 2020, that number skyrocketed to 4,055 withdrawals, representing an increase of nearly 400 percent.

In Texas’ poorest communities, substandard living conditions and health concerns abound—but local efforts are providing hope
For decades, millions of Mexicans flocked north across the U.S. border.

With agricultural jobs plentiful in South Texas, thousands of mostly low-income Hispanics began settling on cheap, rural plots of land, parceled off by developers who assured them basic infrastructure and services such as electricity and sewage systems soon would follow.

Decades later, many are still waiting.

Upcoming Events
ALAS & NABSE Present: True Talk Thursday
A live podcast hosted every Thursday
Series 1, Episode 3: Back to School – Parent Perspectives

Hosted by:
Dr. Maria Chavez-Armstrong
Executive Director | ALAS
Dr. Fadhilika Atiba-Weza
Executive Director | NABSE
Navigating Wellness During the COVID‐19 Crisis:
How School Districts Are Fighting To Stay Healthy

Wednesday, September 16th at 12 PM PST/3 PM EST

Featured speakers:
Schools are facing unprecedented challenges to the physical, mental and financial health of their students and employees during this age of the COVID‐19 virus. Join us for this informative panel discussion led by education executives from U.S. school districts as they discuss how they are navigating today’s issues and tomorrow’s opportunities in their districts. Registration is free. Sign up today!
17th Annual ALAS National Education Summit
Equity Leadership in Action: When to Sprint and When to Pivot

October 9–10, 2020
Regular registration ends October 1st!
The ALAS National Education Summit will virtually gather our 18 State Affiliates and education leaders from across the country to attend over 40 workshops covering topics in:

  • Leaders in Equity: Priority Planning
  • Policy and Economic Impact: Today and Future
  • Beyond Courageous Conversations: Race, Policing, Public Education
  • SEL in the year 2020: Resilient Systems
  • Innovative or Re-imagined? Results Matter!

And our Superintendents Plenary Panels:

Looking for a new opportunity?
Insights to advance your career
The secret to making Zoom meetings meaningful for you and your coworkers
Many of us are now working at home due to the pandemic. To our surprise, we’re seeing our coworkers more than ever before — but as tiny heads on our laptops in video meetings. Instead of bringing us closer together, all this online togetherness can sometimes make us feel miles apart, literally and emotionally.

On a recent episode of his TED podcast WorkLife, organizational psychologist Adam Grant explores the general phenomenon of loneliness in the workplace (listen here to learn strategies that can help you create more meaningful relationships with your colleagues). Of course, that episode was produced before remote work became a feature of our lives.

So TED asked Adam to take another look at loneliness at work — but specifically at virtual meetings and how those could be reimagined as ways to connect rather than feel disconnected. In a phone call with longtime mentor Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan, he discussed how to bond virtually with coworkers, the opening question you should ask instead of “How are you doing?”, and why it’s OK — even good — to let them see the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink.

How Far Back Should Your Resume Go? Here’s How to Decide
The struggle is real. After lots of thought, deliberation, and “aha” moments, you’ve decided to start looking for a new job. But before beginning this journey, you’ll have to face the job seeker’s rite of passage: writing or updating your resume.

As a career coach (and former corporate recruiter) who’s been penning resumes since college, I’m all too familiar with the career conundrums resumes cause—from what resume format to use to whether you should submit your resume as a Word doc or PDF, I’ve heard them all.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you might be wondering: How far back should a resume go? Why shouldn’t you just include all of your experience? What amount of work history is enough to convince a recruiter or hiring manager you’ve got the chops for the role, but is not so much they don’t know how to make sense of it all? Well the answer to this career quandary is: It’s complicated.

National News
15 TV shows and movies starring Latinxs to watch in September
September normally marks the beginning of the Fall TV lineup with premieres of new series and the return of audience favorites. But with the ongoing pandemic many cable networks and streaming services have a hard time releasing new content. Netflix, however, continues to dominate with the release of hundreds of new shows and movies. They also continue to provide some of the most diverse Latinx related content–which is especially fitting this month with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month on the 15th.

We made our picks for the latest TV shows and movies available for streaming, starring Latinxs, for you to binge and celebrate our culture during Hispanic Heritage Month. There’s a little something for everyone in the family, from documentaries highlighting the stories of Latinx voices like in HBO Latino’s Habla Now, series for children like Disney+’s Soy Luna, and classics like the coming-of-age classic Raising Victor Vargas.

New York Latino Film Festival returns next week with drive-in and virtual options
A festival celebrating Latino cinema is returning to New York City next week.

From Sept. 14-20, the New York Latino Film Festival (NYLFF) will return with drive-in/in-person experiences as well as virtual options. Originally founded in 1999, NYLFF was created to build audiences for Latino cinema, support the film community and foster relationships with Latino talent.

“Inspired by the resilience of the Latino community, NYLFF is proud to return with a fresh format featuring our first-ever drive-in experiences!” said Calixto Chinchilla, Founder of NYLFF. “We are proud to serve as an important platform for Latino creatives to share culturally relevant stories about intersectionality, diversity, and lived experiences in this country. Gracias to our sponsors for continuing to support our community of content creators and movie-goers. While there’s much learned this year, one thing we can all agree, the culture continues!”

Netflix Opens Hispanic Heritage Month with Virtual Latino Animators Panel
Animation fans and professionals can get unique insights behind the scenes of Netflix’s global hits and highly anticipated new projects from the perspective of Latinx creatives in a special virtual event next week. Celebrating the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month, Latino Creatives in Animation is sure to be an engaging, authentic conversation about creating community and fostering diversity in the industry, featuring seven talented animation professionals.

Meet Totó la Momposina: A Colombian Music Icon
Totó la Momposina, one of the best-known matriarchs of Colombian music, has helped turn her country’s sounds into humanity’s heritage.

I remember the very first time I heard the voice and saw the figure of the Great Totó la Momposina. It must have been 1999 or 2000, and my family took me to one of her concerts. I was nine or eight years old. Truth be told, there was a lot I didn’t understand about Colombian music or music in general. Hence it is no surprise I didn’t enjoy it.

Back then, my idea about good music was Britney Spears (I remember my brother saying, “Am I really going to give this to my sister as a birthday present?” when I chose Britney’s Oops!… I Did It Again at the record store, and he did buy it) and Shakira for Spanish music. So, when Totó la Momposina came out to the stage and began singing, her music seemed noisy to me, the drums chaotic, and I didn’t understand why someone would sing about fishers.

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!
Imagine Learning is TALAS’ first ORO sponsor for 2020–21!

At Imagine Learning, we believe every child deserves the chance to enjoy learning and the right to fulfill their unique potential. For more than fifteen years, our foundation has been helping students acquire, develop, and strengthen the language skills necessary to fully participate in academic settings and prepare for college and careers.
Today, we provide a complete suite of adaptive digital curriculum and assessment solutions for PreK–8 for literacy and Pre-K–HS for math. Our programs deliver unmatched excellence in language development—accelerating learning across subjects for all students. Imagine Learning works tirelessly to create programs that ignite engagement, maximize personal relevance, amplify confidence and inspire breakthroughs for students and educators.

For more information, contact David Webb.

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