TALAS E-newsletter – September 7

Posted on September 7th, 2021
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Your Dose of Inspiration
Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, first Latina superintendent of Austin ISD
Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, a native Texan and a third-generation public school educator, joined Austin ISD last year after a decade serving the Dallas school district.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Elizalde has served on multiple levels in many school systems throughout Texas and has been a persistent advocate for equity and inclusion. She has earned substantial recognition for her proactive approach to student achievement, including her strong focus on fostering community partnerships that benefit students, and her relentless efforts towards the professional development of school leaders, which she recognizes as critical for transformative change in any school system. As the Chief Schools Officer of Dallas ISD, she led the development of a program for coaching aspiring leaders that has produced numerous top school principals across the district.

Dr. Elizalde made headlines earlier this year with a courageous op-ed in Time Magazine on her decision to mandate masks in Austin ISD. Read the article here.
Texas News
Dallas Supt. Michael Hinojosa on Why ‘Everything’s at Stake’ in His Legal Battle Over Masking, Catching Students Up, Vaccine Mandates
As COVID cases surged across the country this summer, fueled by spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined the American Academy of Pediatrics in recommending that all students and staff wear masks in school. But in Texas, as in a handful of other conservative states, an executive order banning mask mandates forbade school districts from following that guidance.

In Dallas, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa felt that he was faced with a choice: risk over 153,000 students’ safety or risk legal challenges. The superintendent chose the latter, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban and paving the way for dozens of other districts in the state to follow the same path.

Texas school puts its first Black principal on leave in furor over critical race theory
Texas already has measures against teaching critical race theory.

A Black school principal has been placed on paid leave one week after a group of parents accused him of pushing critical race theory — even though the Texas school does not mention it in the district’s curriculum.

“I’ve only chosen to speak out against baseless allegations after [the district] allowed a man to speak my name at the July 26 board meeting,” Colleyville Heritage High School principal James Whitfield told The Dallas Morning News. “I have done nothing wrong by anyone.”

School Mask Mandates Will Be Decided by Courts, Not TEA, Commissioner Says
Mike Morath says he’s following the situation closely

The head of the Texas Education Agency says the ability of districts to require face masks in schools will have to be decided by the courts.

But TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said that doesn’t mean he’s not following the situation closely.

Some parents hope he can help settle the dispute over mask mandates.

Texas’ second special session of the year is over. Here are five things you need to know.
Lawmakers will return to Austin at least one more time this year to redraw the state’s political maps. Only Gov. Greg Abbott knows when that will be and if there will be additional special sessions beyond that.

The Texas Legislature on Thursday adjourned its second specially called legislative session, calling it quits four days early after pushing through a controversial elections bill that Democrats said would infringe the voting rights of minorities and reinstating funding for the legislative branch.

Looking for a new opportunity?
Region One ESC Executive Director Search
Region One Education Service Center is one of 20 regional education service centers in Texas serving 38 school districts and 10 charter school systems. They are currently looking for someone to fill the Executive Director role.
Take a look at who’s hiring:
National News
The Pandemic Modernized School Board Meetings — Will the Changes Last?
One Monday evening in September, Miami-Dade County Public Schools trustees logged on to their computers for what would turn out to be a 29-hour virtual board meeting to discuss returning to in-person classes.

The district, the fourth largest in the country, was one of only a few in Florida to receive permission from Governor Ron DeSantis to begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually due to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the area. Before they could make a decision on reopening, however, the trustees had 18 hours of pre-recorded public testimony to hear.

Spanish-language Covid disinformation is aimed at Latinos as delta surges
Radio shows and social media continue to spread dangerous disinformation on Covid, claiming that masks don’t work and the vaccine is dangerous and part of the “global reset.”

On a recent show on Actualidad, a Miami AM radio station, the host was promoting a false cure for Covid-19: the use of ivermectin, a drug used to deworm animals. The Food and Drug Administration has been warning against its use and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cautioned that poison centers are reporting an increase in severe illnesses caused by people taking the drug.

An Appalachian county kept school Covid cases down with strong community partnerships
Wi-Fi, food and lots of information allowed the school district to bring kids back in person safely in Garrett County, Maryland

It’s difficult to get good internet access in Garrett County, Maryland. The county lies in the Appalachian Mountains, full of peaks and ridges, trees and rivers. This geography blocks signals and slows internet speeds, even for Garrett County residents who do have a router at home. And the county’s southern edge meets the National Radio Quiet Zone, where cell and internet service is restricted in order to preserve data collection for West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope.

How are school districts easing transitions for Afghan students?
Preparations for incoming refugees include expediting enrollment and offering mental health, healthcare and other wraparound services.

As President Joe Biden announced the end of the longest war in U.S. history, schools across the nation prepared for an influx of refugees, who were among the more than 120,000 people that were evacuated from Afghanistan.

“So many of our students bring their cultural perspective, and they really add diversity to the classroom,” said Salimah Shamsuddin, refugee family support coordinator for Austin Independent School District in Texas. The district has been receiving refugees for over 14 years, and has so far enrolled 11 Afghan students from the 100-200 expected families estimated by Refugee Services of Texas. “We’re not really sure how many of those families are just couples, and how many are families with kids.”

These 10 Scholarships, Grants, and Funding Opportunities Are Open to Latinx Students Today
Many students think that they have to get scholarships before accepting college admission, but that’s just not true. There are fellowships, funding opportunities, and grants that have rolling applications for already enrolled students who demonstrate excellence in academic, athletic, and subject-specific expertise. And for students of color, there are additional opportunities for scholars based on their backgrounds.

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.

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