TALAS E-newsletter – August 6

TALAS E-newsletter – August 6

Become a member today!
TASA’s online Member Services Center is the place to go to become a member of TALAS.
Please read these step-by-step directions or contact Debbie O’Donnell at 512.852.2108.
Texas News
TALAS represented in Education Stakeholder Task Force
Late last week, TALAS President Rick Lopez and Executive Director Stan Paz were asked to join an education stakeholder task force for the Senate Democratic Caucus which included educators, school board members, parents, child care providers, as well as representatives from statewide organizations. The goal is to apprise the Senators of the main issues and potential solutions surrounding schools reopening according to Sushma Smith, Chief of Staff & Legislative Affairs, from Senator Jose Rodriguez SD 29. Recommendations were drafted with input from the stakeholders to be finalized in the next several days. Dr. Lopez looks forward to sharing the results of the Task Force in an upcoming newsletter.
El Paso ISD announces new principal assignments for 2020-21 school year
Officials with El Paso ISD announced the appointment of new principals for several campuses in preparation for the 2020-2021 academic year that begins on August 17.
“Principals play a key role in the success of every school, and we know we have selected outstanding educators to lead these campuses,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera.
“I am confident that their experience and commitment will help our students and teachers reach unprecedented goals, even as the pandemic alters the way we provide services to our community.”
GPISD announces raises for all teachers and staff due to pandemic
The Gregory-Portland ISD Board of Trustees has announced pay raises for all teachers and staff due to the working conditions during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s no secret that teachers and staff in our schools work hard every school year, but this year they are really going above and beyond for families,” said Superintendent Dr. Michelle Cavazos. “They’ve done a marvelous job completely re-envisioning how learning can be achieved in a safe manner, and shown their resolve to adapt to constantly changing guidelines and requirements as they are received from the state.”
Austin ISD labor union makes list of reopening demands, asks AISD for school to start in September
Education Austin, the labor union for Austin Independent School District employees, made a list of school reopening demands for district leaders as school is scheduled to begin virtually on Aug. 18.
“Nervous as hell is how we’re feeling. We’re hearing from teachers and school employees every single day and it’s unvarnished. This is not about talking to your boss. This is about talking to your union that you can be completely honest with. People are scared,” said Education Austin’s President Ken Zarifis.
The labor union is asking for AISD to reschedule the school year to Sept. 8 and asking for online learning to be offered for nine weeks or more after the Sept. 8 start date.
Garland ISD makes back-to-school plans for students with special needs
The first four weeks for all students at Garland Independent School District will be virtual, but parents are facing the decision of continuing online or face-to-face learning after.
For many families with special needs students, it’s a difficult choice to make.
“We can get much more accomplished face-to-face, and my child needs that interaction,” said Jeanie Marten. She’s the mother of Sean Marten, an incoming freshman at Sachse High School. Sean has autism. The best option for her child is to have in-person learning.
But for Shannon Thompson, her family is choosing to continue virtual learning. “At that time, our [Dallas County COVID-19] numbers were so high, I felt like I had to choose online just to protect her,” said Thompson. Her daughter, Madison Thompson, is a junior at Rowlett High School with Down syndrome.
United ISD trustees vote to extend potential return-to-school date to October
During a UISD Special Call meeting on Tuesday, the district’s board of trustees voted to extend past the first four weeks of online instruction and add an additional four to the start of the school year. The start of the optional on-campus transition will now be set to Oct. 19.
According to Gloria Rendon, UISD’s Deputy Superintendent of Administration and Operations, the school year will start with on-campus instruction for students unable to connect to the internet or who will not have a device at the start.
To try to accommodate as many students as possible, the district has rolled out a plan to try and provide devices and connectivity to different areas of their population. A total of 36 campuses have been wired to provide internet connectivity to the surrounding areas, allowing students and parents to park and receive a wifi connection.
San Marcos CISD Superintendent Cardona addresses State of the City
During his address, Cardona highlighted the district’s new career-ready, college-ready and military-ready facility which has been completed, the district’s growing dual-language program, the district’s AVID, and Gear Up Programs.
“We were just notified by the state of Texas that our high school is considered an early college high school,” Cardona said.
According to Cardona, San Marcos CISD will see 100 students amongst the incoming freshman entering the early-college program; last year, the district had 48 enrolled in the program with approximately 42 making it through.
“Are we where we want to me? No, our goal was to be an A rated district,” Cardona said. “And at some point we will get to be that A rated district.”
South Texas Students Push for Change on Racial Issues
Alamo Heights is not known for hosting protests, especially Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
However, a leaked video of Alamo Heights students sparked a protest in the mostly white, affluent neighborhood.
“There was three girls, two were cheerleaders, who were yelling and screaming the n-word,” recent graduate Mckenzie Hervey said. “But I’m guessing it was supposed to be a private video but it leaked out.”
Alamo Heights High School’s student body is 54 percent white, 40 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent Black. Current students, including 16-year-old Sky Ervin, shared their experiences with protesters.
New Opportunities
  • Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations
  • Executive Director of Special Education
  • Executive Director of Literacy, K-12
  • Executive Director of Math & Science, K-12
Career Advice
11 Pieces of Career Advice You Wish Your Younger Self Knew
Hindsight is 20/20. As a Career Advisor, I have the opportunity to talk to college students and help them avoid the mistakes my colleagues and I made in our careers. Don’t misunderstand me, we love what we do, but because of what we know we all would have done one or two things differently and we all would love to share these insights with our younger selves. Here are 10 Pieces of Career Advice You Wish Your Younger Self Knew:
1. Do NOT follow your passion
I know, I know, this is exactly the opposite of what everyone tells themselves, their friends, their children, and if you have any regret about your career you blame the fact that you didn’t follow your passion. My advice, follow what you are good at, even if it is not something you are passionate about. Employers pay people who do their jobs well, so well in fact that they begin to create better ways to do their job which is called innovation.
Cal Newport, an Assistant Profession of Computer Science at Georgetown University, wrote a book called So Good They Can’t Ignore You. The premise of the book is to NOT follow your passion, you can follow your interests he says and they may lead to passion, but true passion grows out of being really really good at something. Don’t believe me? Check out number 8 in the link below and read about Steve Jobs in Newport’s book.
National News
Groundbreaking Research Reveals Black And Latinx Girls Are Left Out Of Leadership Pipeline From The Start Due To Systemic Racial Bias In Schools
GIRLS LEADERSHIP, a national, educational nonprofit started in 2009, announces new findings from READY TO LEAD, a groundbreaking research study that will monumentally impact the way that girls, especially Black and Latinx girls, are supported and taught to become skilled and ambitious leaders. These findings, released in partnership with lead sponsor Morgan Stanley, will inform new curriculum and pathways for leadership development for the diverse needs of 25 million girls across the U.S., initiating necessary changes within educational institutions to address systemic gender and racial injustices.
“We understand from the research findings that there is often a dangerous disconnect between the experiences and perspectives of our country’s teaching force—about 80% of whom are White women—and the girls—over 50% of whom are girls of color,” says Simone Marean, CEO and Cofounder of GIRLS LEADERSHIP. “This begged us to ask the question: What happens when Black and Latinx students, who know their power and already identify as leaders, speak up in a classroom? These findings forced us to think differently about how to properly support and train teachers to see the value—rather than the threat—of these strong voices. It also taught us that much more research is needed to understand this bias at the beginning, in elementary school.”
Immigrant Educators Helping Immigrant Students Through Coronavirus: Maria Rocha, One of 2,000 Texas Teachers Covered by DACA, Is Turning Her Anxiety Into Advocacy
an Antonio second-grade teacher Maria Rocha knows the uncertainty facing many immigrant students. As a Dreamer who grew up in the Texas Hill Country, she lived it.
She still lives it, really, she said. Even with this summer’s DACA decision from the Supreme Court, life as an undocumented immigrant in the United States is never a sure thing.
Last month the Trump administration announced it would not allow newly eligible Dreamers to enroll in the program, and would reduce the renewal cycle from two years to one. For as long as the administration makes immigration central to Trump’s re-election campaign, Rocha knows that undocumented Americans and their families are in for a roller coaster.
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Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
Anytime, Anywhere Learning
Today’s education environment demands that schools are prepared for quick shifts between remote, in-person, and blended learning. This can be challenging, but schools don’t have to face this daunting task alone. ClassLink was built for this.
Students need easy access to online resources. Teachers and administrators need actionable analytics. ClassLink makes the switch to remote learning less complicated by creating consistency in how students and staff engage with digital learning tools. Both teachers and administrators also have the ability to track engagement with resources.
TALAS E-newsletter – August 6

TALAS E-newsletter – July 30

Become a member today!
TASA’s online Member Services Center is the place to go to become a member of TALAS.
Please read these step-by-step directions or contact Debbie O’Donnell at 512.852.2108.
Texas News
San Antonio School Districts Weigh Legal Action Over State’s Latest Reopening Rules
For weeks, Texas school districts have been buffeted by changing state guidelines on reopening schools, pushback from teachers and families, and fluctuating local coronavirus conditions.
School districts have tried to adjust as required, but after yet another abrupt shift Tuesday, some district leaders have snapped instead of bending.
Just weeks ago, the Texas Education Agency assured districts they would be funded fully if a local health order forced them to close campuses and move instruction entirely online. But when Attorney General Ken Paxton issued nonbinding guidance Tuesday morning that stated local health authorities don’t have the power to levy blanket closure orders, the TEA responded hours later by stating that districts wouldn’t get funding for going fully remote under these sweeping orders.
Reentry Plans for 2020-21
Ysleta ISD video gives glimpse of what return to school might look like amid coronavirus
A video by the Ysleta Independent School District that gives the first glimpse of what school might look like when students return to class this fall is going viral.
The video is part of the district’s new Back to School Central feature on its district website, designed to be a one-stop shop for parents as they consider their children’s learning options.
The video, with more than 29,000 views, features students getting their temperatures checked before they enter the school, walking in hallways 6 feet apart, and eating at desks with trifold desk dividers. It also shows buses getting sanitized.
Teachers in Dallas’ Hardest-Hit Zip Codes Speak Out About Reopening Schools
In the weeks and days before the Dallas Independent School District made its decision about restarting the school year as COVID case surged in Texas, public comments in virtual town halls and school board meetings trended toward caution about an in-classroom start.
But in call after call, another trend emerged.
“I teach in Oak Cliff.”
“I teach in the 75211 zip code.”
Oak Cliff teachers’ calls consistently stood out in both their collective participation as well as their impassioned comments. Their schools are located in some of Dallas’ hardest-hit zip codes, including 75211, where COVID rates have been two and three times higher than most of Dallas County’s other zips codes.
Thousands of Austin ISD laptops are unaccounted for as a new school year approaches
As the school year approaches — one that will begin with students learning at home — a new concern is rising.
The Austin Independent School District estimates between two and four-thousand Chromebook laptops are unaccounted for.
According to the district, this isn’t uncommon at the end of the summer. The majority of these laptops belong to seniors and students who are no longer in the district.
Then a pandemic happened.
Fort Worth ISD says it has not decided whether to open with online or in-person classes
Fort Worth school officials have not yet decided if they will stick with online-only classes for the first six weeks or allow in-person classes in mid-August, Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said at a virtual town hall Tuesday.
School officials must decide what to do after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said public health authorities may not close schools “for the sole purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections.” Tarrant County’s health officials had ordered the first six weeks of school to be online only because of rising coronavirus cases in the county.
The goal with the order was to keep students at home until several weeks after the Labor Day holiday to avoid a potential spike in cases that could spread through schools.
Some North Texas school districts plan to challenge county orders, start athletics sooner after AG Ken Paxton’s letter
At least three North Texas school districts plan to challenge local health orders by conducting athletic activities earlier than told by county officials.
Sunnyvale ISD, a Class 4A school in east Dallas County, will begin athletic activities Monday — over a month sooner than county orders allow, according to football coach and athletic director John Settle.
Both Tarrant County and Dallas County issued postponements of in-person learning — and therefore extracurricular activities — earlier this month, but a Tuesday guidance letter penned by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said school districts, not local health authorities, should decide when they would open their doors.
New Opportunities
  • Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
  • Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations
  • Executive Director of Special Education
COVID-10 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
This site provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes. The model is simple, intentionally so, and provided some context for the rationale to halt large gatherings in early-mid March and newly relevant context for considering when and how to re-open. Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide further support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures. Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases.
National News
House approves bill to create Latino museum on National Mall
The House has passed a bill to establish a Smithsonian museum for American Latinos that would showcase Latino history, art and culture.
The bill was approved Monday by a voice vote and now goes to the Senate, where it has bipartisan support.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus hailed the bill’s passage, noting that a museum honoring Latinos has been under consideration for more than 15 years.
“The Latino story is an American story, and our history is a central thread in the history of our nation,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, the group’s chairman.
The VOCES series returns this Fall with two new documentaries about Latino lives in the U.S.
The Latino community has been part of the civil rights struggle in the United States since its very beginning; however, 2020 has been a year full of challenges for Latinos in the U.S. that will end at the polls. That’s why it’s more necessary than ever to make the history and lives of Hispanic people — and their diversity — visible in the country.
That’s the goal that led Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) to announce two new documentaries in the series VOCES, which explores Latino lives, and will premiere this fall on PBS as a hymn to democracy and its community leaders, and a warning that there is still much to do in the fight for the rights of Hispanics.
The first of these, which will premiere on September 15, is Building the American Dream, by filmmaker Chelsea Hernandez, which focuses on the situation of immigrant construction workers in Texas and their demands for justice in an industry marked by exploitation.
Communities Need Accurate Count of Children to Meet Need for More Schools, Educational Resources
In counties and cities across the country where the population is growing quickly, demand for new schools and educational resources is growing, too.
Take, for instance, the 27J School District outside Denver.
The combined population of three counties in the district has jumped by 30% since the 2010 Census – the last nationwide count – and was swelling so fast that the district in 2015 began issuing bonds to construct new schools.
Results from the 2020 Census are important to school districts across the country – whether fast growing or not – because they provide a baseline for the next 10 years of school planning.
Black census logo with census red tagline
Last spring, three new schools were under construction, and middle- and high-school students there were sharing the newly opened Riverdale Ridge High School for the first half of the school year.
Learn more about a
personalized learning platform
IXL is a K-12 personalized learning platform used by 10 million students in the US, including nearly 800,000 in Texas. It combines a TEKS-aligned K-12 curriculum, a Real-Time Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and actionable analytics to give teachers and schools everything they need to personalize instruction and help students progress faster. ICL is an approved blended learning program for the Math Innovation Zones initiative and Blended Learning Grant Program.
IXL is easily accessible from school and at home and can be used to support any learning formate for this unique back-to-school season. Teachers can get students caught up quickly this fall with the Real-Time Diagnostic, which pinpoints knowledge levels in 45 minutes and generates personalized action plans to help each learner close gaps. And, with custom-built skill plans for the TEKS, MWEA MAP assessments, and popular textbooks such as Texas GO Math! and Lucy Caulkins Units of Study, IXL takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect IXL content to support teachers’ daily instruction.
For more information, visit ixl.com/membership/administrators or contact orders@ixl.com!
TALAS sponsors make this newsletter
and other TALAS activities possible.
Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
About Renaissance Focus Skills
Focus Skills are—simply put—the building blocks of student learning. Based on extensive research into how learning progresses in reading and mathematics, Focus Skills provide a roadmap for closing learning gaps as you move every student toward greater mastery.
TALAS E-newsletter – August 6

TALAS E-newsletter – July 23

Become a member today!
TASA’s online Member Services Center is the place to go to become a member of TALAS.
Please read these step-by-step directions or contact Debbie O’Donnell at 512.852.2108.
Congratulations!
Dallas ISD’s Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde is named Austin superintendent
Dallas ISD will soon be looking to replace yet another leader from Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s Cabinet.
As first reported by the Austin American-Statesman’s Melissa Taboada, Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas’ chief of school leadership, was selected from 64 applicants and six semifinalists to become Austin ISD’s next superintendent.
Outgoing Austin Superintendent Paul Cruz announced his plans to resign in February, leaving the post to serve as the co-director of the Cooperative Superintendency Program at the University of Texas at Austin.
State law requires any board of trustees to give public notice of a superintendent finalist for at least 21 days before voting to offering a contract. Cruz earned a base salary of $329,617, according to The Statesman.
Reentry Plans for 2020-21
Tomball ISD teams up with Axiom Medical to offer health care assistance districtwide through new app
Tomball Independent School District announced in a press release Monday, July 20, its new partnership with Axiom Medical by providing district staff across all facilities health care support amid the COVID-19 pandemic to guide and encourage employees at schools.
On top of safety protocols and guidelines ready in preparation for the 2020-21 school year, Tomball ISD employees will have an extra layer of care when school starts August 18 by using Axiom’s CheckIn2Work application. Axiom Medical is an occupational health services and incident case management provider for employers based out The Woodlands.
The app is intended to help stop the spread of the virus by delivering a self-service health confirmation by prescreening staff for COVID-19-like symptoms prior to entering school.
CCISD will pay bus drivers, attendants, safety monitors their guaranteed hours for the 2020-2021 school year
With the school year approaching and districts preparing to start remote learning, many bus drivers are wondering what’s going to happen with their jobs.
The economic impact from the coronavirus has been a continuous struggle for many businesses across the Coastal Bend. With the uncertainty of schools reopening for in-person learning, bus drivers are worried about their jobs.
“In a way, it would be worth it for some of us because we have to make ends meet and get the bills paid, but at the same time we have to worry about getting sick because maybe one of the kids might have it,” local bus driver Cecilia Zamora said.
San Marcos CISD releases plan for 2020-21 school year, delays in-person classes until at least Oct. 5
San Marcos CISD board of trustees were presented with a tentative reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year at a July 20 meeting.
The tentative plan revealed SMCISD students will begin the semester Sept. 8 100% virtually for the first four weeks.
In-person classroom instruction will start Oct. 5 for students whose parents chose to do so following the four weeks of remote learning. However, the district may extend remote learning by up to four additional weeks until Oct. 30, depending on the increase of COVID-19 cases in Hays County.
Garland ISD: Remote learning extended through Sept. 7
Following an order issued by the Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) Department on July 16, Garland ISD announced that the district’s remote start of school would be extended through Sept. 7. From Aug. 10 to Sept. 7, all students will attend school remotely with no option for face-to-face instruction.
Families who have chosen face-to-face learning will begin attending class on campus on Sept. 8. Additionally, all extracurricular activities, including athletics and fine arts, are canceled by this order and will resume Sept. 8, the district stated.
According to the order, Dallas County is reporting record-high numbers of COVID-19 cases as well as record-high numbers of COVID-19 related hospitalization. As a result of this, DCHHS deemed it necessary that public and private schools from prekindergarten through grade 12 shall not reopen for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7.
Preparing with PPE: Protective equipment from TEA lands in Brownsville
The Brownsville Independent School District took delivery Tuesday on two truckloads of Personal Protective Equipment from the Texas Education Agency as the district prepares for the day students are able to return to physical classrooms.
In all, the shipment totaled 43 pallets of PPE including disposable and reusable masks, gloves, contact-free thermometers and more than 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. District officials said the shipment adds to PPE that BISD was already stockpiling.
“Even though we’re starting the year 100% online, we’re thankful TEA has given us these additional supplies so we’ll have plenty of PPE in our inventory when the day comes that students can return to actual classrooms,” Superintendent Rene Gutierrez said. “We’ve already invested lots of money in PPE.”
Canutillo ISD to donate laptops to help support distance learning in El Paso region
Canutillo ISD
At a special meeting, the Canutillo Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the donation of 1,500 plus laptop computers to other school districts.
District officials say the move was to “help ensure every child in the region has equal access to an education.”
“When a child succeeds, our community succeeds because we are responsible for all of them,” said Superintendent Dr. Pedro Galaviz. “The superintendents in the region have always created partnerships and collaborate rather than compete. And during this unprecedented time, we will all come together to make sure every student has access needed for a quality education.”
New Opportunities
Insights to advance your career
The 10 questions candidates always forget to ask in job interviews
It’s easy to forget in the moment, but a job interview goes both ways. You’re both judging whether you’re a good fit for the position and the company. Too many job seekers act like they’re on the witness stand in court, but a good job interview is actually a two-way conversation.
Ask some of these commonly glazed over questions at your next interview. You’ll look interested and curious to your interviewer while gaining a better understanding of how you’d fit into the position.
1. What does a typical day look like in this role?
A job description doesn’t necessarily tell you how you’ll be spending most of your days, hour by hour. When you’re considering a job, it’s important to be able to visualize yourself in this role on an average day to see if this is a good fit. Is this a 9 to 5? A 9 to 6? A whenever to whenever? A job you’re expected to check in with during off-hours? How often will you be in meetings? How much of your day will be scheduled for you and how much of it will be independent?
National News
‘No One Else Is Going to Step Up’: In a Time of Racial Reckoning, Teachers of Color Feel the Pressure
Many teachers of color are used to being in a room full of white coworkers. They’re used to being looked at in staff meetings when issues of race are brought up. And they’re used to feeling like it’s their responsibility to lead schools toward anti-racist education.
It can all be exhausting, teachers of color say. And these responsibilities might be amplified in the fall as schools resume, in some capacity, amidst a national reckoning on race spurred by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black men and women.
Grassroot groups have emphasized the importance of self-care for teachers of color. To do the sometimes-grueling work of leading on racial justice, experts say, minority teachers need to take time for themselves to recharge and refuel. And a big part of that is finding a community with others from similar backgrounds—whether that’s within teachers’ own schools or on a national level.
Learn more about a
personalized learning platform
IXL is a K-12 personalized learning platform used by 10 million students in the US, including nearly 800,000 in Texas. It combines a TEKS-aligned K-12 curriculum, a Real-Time Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and actionable analytics to give teachers and schools everything they need to personalize instruction and help students progress faster. ICL is an approved blended learning program for the Math Innovation Zones initiative and Blended Learning Grant Program.
IXL is easily accessible from school and at home and can be used to support any learning formate for this unique back-to-school season. Teachers can get students caught up quickly this fall with the Real-Time Diagnostic, which pinpoints knowledge levels in 45 minutes and generates personalized action plans to help each learner close gaps. And, with custom-built skill plans for the TEKS, MWEA MAP assessments, and popular textbooks such as Texas GO Math! and Lucy Caulkins Units of Study, IXL takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect IXL content to support teachers’ daily instruction.
For more information, visit ixl.com/membership/administrators or contact orders@ixl.com!
TALAS sponsors make this newsletter
and other TALAS activities possible.
Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
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