Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 25th is National Voter Registration Day! October 9th Deadline for November 2018 Election

Friends don’t let friends forget to register to vote!                            
September 19, 2018

September 25th is National Voter Registration Day, and the deadline to register to vote in Texas for the November election is October 9th. This week, make sure every eligible student, bus driver, cafeteria worker, counselor, custodian, staff member, teacher, and parent is registered to vote. Your vote is your voice and you can’t vote if you’re not registered! The kids are counting on you to speak up for them at the polls, so make sure you are registered today!

To do:
1.     Celebrate National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 25th by inviting deputy voter registrars (League of Women Voters or Texas Retired Teachers) onto campus to register students and staff.
2.     Celebrate civic engagement and show that voting can be fun. Get some ideas from the Be A Texas Voter civics curriculum.
3.     Download the new Own Our Vote Toolkit specifically created for teachers and principals.
4.     Remind staff and eligible students to check their registration status now! The last day to register is October 9th.
5.     Remind educators to take the Oath to Vote if they haven’t already done so!

Social Media Posts to share:
Your vote is your voice. Make sure you register today!  #txed #vote

Your students aren't old enough to vote - Be their voice! Register to vote! #txed #vote

Do you have a 2018 voter registration card? Check if you are registered here. #txed #vote
Friends don’t let friends forget to register to vote! Encourage 3 friends to register today.  #txed #vote

Laura Yeager
Texas Educators Vote

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Read about one of the largest workplace raids in 10 years

I don't have a date for this publication in the Houston Chronicle but this raid happened recently in Paris, Texas on the morning of August 28, 2018.  Paris is located north of Dallas by the Oklahoma border.  

These folks are here to work.  They mostly also do jobs nobody else wants to do.  The vast majority are not refugees, but in fact come to the U.S. because of the allure of U.S. jobs.  And then to treat the this way is unconscionable.

What happened to these workers and their families is heartbreaking.  And it has been injurious to an entire community. 

-Angela Valenzuela

After Paris immigration raid, Can a community come together? By Emily Foxhall |

Houston Chronicle

PARIS — When he heard the helicopter, Juan Esquivel was halfway through his 6 a.m. shift at Load Trail, a northeast Texas trailer manufacturer. Maybe someone needed a medical evacuation, he thought.
He was wrong.
Federal agents were swarming the property near the city of Paris that morning on Aug. 28. They rounded up 159 employees who they believed immigrated here illegally, including Esquivel, who is 39 and has lived in the United States for 23 years.
The event was big news in the area, where voters overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump. Some found themselves grappling with the personal consequences of hard-line immigration policies on their neighbors. Others continued with life as usual, standing strong in their views that deportation is deserved for people who come here illegally.
The aftermath of the raid, which officials said was one of the largest workplace raids in the last decade, continues to reverberate here and in the nearby communities where many of the workers live, illustrating the stark divisions within the country's immigration policy, and Trump's zero-tolerance enforcement of the law.
The 147 men and 12 women detained are now enmeshed in immigration proceedings that may alter their lives. As they wait, their suffering has been largely private, with some relatives afraid to leave their homes. Criminal charges are expected in the case against the company, founded by an immigrant. At least one person detained is already being deported.

Esquivel came to the United States from Mexico with a visa and never left. He made more money here than he believed he could back home. He returned after each shift to his wife and two daughters in a quaint nearby town called Honey Grove.
 "We came to do one thing, and that's work," Esquivel said. "We were in Honey Grove. Nothing can go wrong."
At 10:27 a.m. that morning, Esquivel sent a text message in Spanish to his wife: Immigration is here.
She was at home making tostadas, expecting him to return that afternoon.
At 12:20 p.m., he sent another message: They have us.
Cornelius Thiessen, the founder of Load Trail, moved his family in 1995 from a small town in Mexico to Paris. The city today is home to 25,000 people, plus an Eiffel tower replica, topped with a red cowboy hat.
But beneath that whimsy lies a racist past, said 60-year-old Brenda Cherry. A horrific, public lynching occurred in 1893. A confederate statue next to the county courthouse is dedicated to "our heroes." To Cherry, the city remains divided.
"For me at least, Paris is very racist, but there is a denial that it is," said Cherry, who is black.
Here, Thiessen sought safety for his family, recounted Kevin Hiebert, 35, the chief executive officer of Load Trail. Thiessen's brother started a company in the rural landscape outside of town, and Thiessen did the same. He immigrated using an investor visa, reserved today for those who invest a minimum of $500,000 in a business.
Thiessen was a Mennonite, a persecuted religious group that sought sanctuary in Mexico, among other places. His business, like his brother's, makes steel trailers used by landscapers and farmers. Thiessen ran the company until he died in 2015. Load Trail went to his children, who hired Hiebert to take charge.
When he started the job, Hiebert knew Load Trail had gone through an immigration audit in 2014, which the Dallas Morning News reported resulted in a $445,000 fine. Afterward, the company put in place a software system to verify Social Security numbers, attorney Gene Besen said. Load Trail hired consistently since then. By 2018, the company employed roughly 700 people.
"Currently, our efforts are focused on conducting our own investigation to ensure we know all the facts and circumstances that contributed to the events of two weeks ago," Besen wrote in a statement Thursday. "We expect to cooperate with [the] DOJ and demonstrate that the company has always endeavored to comply with all applicable laws."
The raid surprised Hiebert. He declined to comment on whether he knew people worked there without proper paperwork. But he wanted to discuss immigration policy, and why it seems Americans cannot talk to each other about it.
"We've seen outpouring of support from very unlikely people," Hiebert said. "I think if we can use our experience in any way to positively move the discussion forward, we owe it to the industry. We owe it to the community. We owe it to the good people that we lost in this.
He added: "As long as we keep talking past each other, we're not going to change it."
Besen, the attorney, sat next to him as he spoke.
Every table but one filled up on a recent Friday morning at McKee's diner, which generally caters to a working class crowd, said owner Brent McKee, 61. Every patron but one was white. (The city, according to the U.S. Census, is 67 percent white, 23 percent black and 8 percent Latino.)
Over coffee, waffles and eggs, conversations normally drift from work to football to Trump, McKee said, and the raid came up the day it occurred. On this morning, McKee clapped a man on the shoulder who wore suspenders decorated with the American flag. "Wassup," he said.
McKee whistled his way over to the u-shaped counter. He was glad Trump demanded President Barack Obama's birth certificate, he said. He offered his thoughts on the raid: "The law is the law," McKee said, "and that's what I believe."
It's easy to find others who share McKee's perspective. Outside an antique store in the town square, Bill Brown, 71, sat on a bar stool, smoked a cigarette, and explained that, if it was so hard to immigrate the right way, people should change their own countries. "We've changed ours repeatedly," he said.
As with McKee, the raid left his life unchanged.
In a bakery down the street, Daniel Martinez, 25, declared the whole situation messed up. With his hair pulled back in a bun, he said he felt increasingly like he was of the minority opinion. The raid brought out people's true feelings, not all of them kind.
"The discussion is becoming more real," Martinez said.
The unforgiving rhetoric echoes that of Trump, who has likened Mexicans to criminals. The president campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration. He has tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, which protects children brought here illegally by their parents. His policy of separating children from their parents at the border was widely condemned, forcing him to abandon it.
Workplace raids, such as the one in Paris, were another part of the equation. This year, agents have detained illegal workers in Nebraska, Minnesota and Tennessee, plus 7-Eleven stores nationwide. Federal officials say such enforcement helps guard American jobs, protect illegal workers and level competition.
The raid left Load Trail gutted, missing many of the people who worked there longest. The company, with a base wage between $15 and $20 per hour, received new applications afterward, but not enough to fill every position. It has a high turnover rate and can only train people so fast.
There are other large companies in town where people might look for work, too, such as Kimberly-Clark and Campbell's Soup. In July, the unemployment rate in Lamar County, where Load Trail is located, was 3.7 percent, slightly below the state average of 4.0.
At Load Trail, employees lamented the loss of their colleagues. Tractor operator Jeremy Posey, 44, said some of those detained were his friends, in spite of a language barrier and stereotypes he held when he first started the job.
"I was out there every day with these people," Posey said. "My views have changed for the better."
Beto Prado, a 48-year-old pastor at a local church, was eating lunch with his 7-year-old daughter at school when he got a call about what was happening at Load Trail. He told her he had to go and hurried to the company to see it for himself.
For two hours, Prado watched the raid. The situation hit home: Prado immigrated here illegally. But he was one of nearly three million people who gained amnesty under a 1986 law, signed by President Ronald Reagan, granting amnesty to immigrants who arrived before 1982.
On a recent afternoon, Prado sat on a pew in Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia, where the relief efforts for those affected by the raid were organized. He still hadn't told his daughter what happened. He didn't know how he would answer her questions.
"We have a lot of good people here," he said. "They pay their taxes. They love America."
In the church, it was quiet. The woman spearheading the relief efforts was back home in Tyler. Volunteers from Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, were back in Dallas and Fort Worth. Others from Cosecha planned their return to New Jersey.
The church usually conducts services twice a week, but in that first week after the raid it opened daily, offering food and financial and legal help. Local Mexican restaurants donated meals. At her father's store selling Latin American pastries and food, Eloida Muñoz, 27, put out a jar to collect money.
"We know a lot of the families connected," she said, "so we wanted to help them out."
As the immigration cases moved along, it was going to be up to Prado, the remote volunteers and a small group of locals to keep the assistance going. Resources were limited. The bulk of the $45,000 donated through GoFundMe was going to the affected families. They turned off some lights in the church at least once to save on the electric bill. They planned to transition to opening the space only twice a week.
Those detained also helped each other. Within a week of the raid, by one organizer's count, two-thirds of those taken by agents that day were released on bond. Some posted $5,000 to get out, others $7,000. One of them, Miguel Oliva, 63, stopped by the church on a recent afternoon to see if he could help.
Oliva bears the scars of a hard life: On his back, where he said gang members stabbed him, prompting him to leave Mexico more than 20 years ago; three fingers on his left hand cut short in a work accident when he arrived in Texas; along his elbow, from when he fell while roofing. He can barely bend an index finger that he hurt while welding.
Now, after the raid, Oliva worried about his 26-year-old son, who has special needs. He doesn't know whether he will be able to stay with his family in Texas. Neither does Esquivel, who first heard the helicopter and thought someone might be hurt. It was hard for the two men to imagine leaving their children behind.
When Esquivel spoke about the raid, he sat in his living room, where photos of his two daughters covered one wall. One girl listened, curled up on a sofa with her grandfather. Another snuggled in an oversized chair on her mother's lap.
"This is home for us," the mother, Mayra, said. "This is home."
Chronicle photographer Marie D. De Jesús contributed to this report.

Emily Foxhall is the Texas Storyteller for the Chronicle. She has written about mental health, crime and the Fort Bend County's ongoing evolution from rural to urban. She joined the Chronicle in 2015 after two years in Orange County, Calif., reporting for the Los Angeles Times and its community papers. Her work also has appeared in the New York Times, the Texas Tribune and the New York Observer. She is a Yale graduate and a Houston native. Email her Follow her on Twitter at @emfoxhall.
Photos by Marie D. De Jesús
Design by Jordan Rubio
The Houston Chronicle is dedicated to serving the public interest with fact-based journalism. That mission has never been more important. Show your support for our journalism at

Sunday, September 16, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT: INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY, Oct. 6, 2018 5100 E. 7th St, Austin, Texas

Ethnic Cleansing: Trump’s New Strategy by Ed Rincon

Check out Dr. Rincón's excellent blog, too.  It is titled, The Culture of Research.  -Angela

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ethnic Cleansing: Trump’s New Strategy 

by Ed Rincon

Edward T. Rincón, Ph.D., President
Rincón & Associates LLC
If you were under the impression that ethnic cleansing takes place only in other countries with maniacal dictators, perhaps it is time to reflect on the recent behavior of President Trump in regards to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.  By some accounts, the disaster recovery in Puerto Rico was a clear example of the deliberate and prolonged neglect of a large segment of U.S. citizens.

An estimated 3,000 Puerto Rican residents died as a result of Hurricane Maria – not just from the immediate storm but also from the inadequate recovery efforts that allowed too many victims to suffer from the limited access to clean water, food, transportation and medical attention. The level of human misery in Puerto Rico, which continues to this day, was apparently of little consequence to President Trump who boasted that the recovery effort was one of the most successful in U.S. history.  Making matters worse, President Trump even now rejects the estimate of 3,000 deaths from Hurricane Maria, suggesting that the high death estimate was merely a political ploy by Democrats to “make me look bad.”   

Trump’s suggestion that the 3,000 deaths resulting from Hurricane Maria was a political ploy by Democrats is consistent with other conspiracy theories that point to his detachment from reality, including such things as:

·        Promotion of the birther theory regarding President Obama;
·        The claim that Muslims celebrated 9/11 on rooftops;
·        Suggesting that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination; and
·        Claiming that 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election.

President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for Puerto Rico and its leadership, even delaying the waiver of the Jones Act to expedite the delivery of needed resources. Indeed, his disdain for other non-white and immigrant groups has been shown through statements and policies, including the separation of Latino children from their families;  legal action to end the DACA program;  travel restrictions based on religious beliefs;  and the consistent derogatory statements made in reference to Mexicans,  Haitians, black athletes, and war heroes like the late Senator McCain.  More recently, the Trump administration announced the transfer of $10 million from the FEMA budget to ICE  -- an action that further underscores the priority placed on the removal of unwanted groups. Perhaps it is time to ask: Is President Trump developing a program of ethnic cleansing? 

As defined by a United Nations Commission, ethnic cleansing is defined as follows:  
“….rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas. “
Since he became president, Donald Trump has implemented a number of programs that could fall under this definition of ethnic cleansing,  including  arbitrary arrest and detention; confinement in ghetto areas (i.e., families in detention centers); forcible removal; displacement and deportation (i.e., even asylum seekers);  deliberate attacks or threats of attacks on civilians (i.e., especially protestors at campaign rallies); and robbery of personal property (that is, seizure of personal property from forcibly removed persons). 

Although Trump has yet to implement some of the most coercive practices that have been utilized globally by current and past dictators, following is a listing of the various practices that have been used to achieve the objectives of ethnic cleansing:
  • Murder
  • Torture
  • Extrajudicial executions
  • Rape and sexual assaults
  • Severe physical injury to civilians
  • Use of civilians as human shields
  • Destruction of property
  • Attacks on hospitals, medical personnel and locations with the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem, among others.

Without intervention by legal advocates and human rights organizations, one wonders how many of these most coercive practices President Trump would implement given the opportunity and growing support by his conservative base.  Yet, the withholding and delay of needed emergency assistance and the resulting 3,000 deaths of Puerto Rican citizens presents tangible evidence that President Trump has added a new dimension to the ethnic cleansing formula. 

Apparently, it is not enough to separate families, deport asylum seekers, place immigrant children in detention centers, and publicly disparage immigrants and non-whites – it now appears acceptable to simply delay or withhold emergency assistance in order to punish or remove unwanted segments of the U.S. population.  To say the least, this is a disturbing development and made equally frightening by the many “pro-life” Republicans who choose to remain silent on this issue.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning? by Claire Cain Miller

This story was on the front page of the New York Times last Monday.  The jury is in: Students benefit from children who look like them, particularly minoritized boys.  When we speak of equity in schools it's clear that we need greater diversity in the teacher workforce.  To get there, we should consider growing our own educators by creating pathways into the teaching profession while also addressing the higher education teacher preparation curriculum to address issues of bias, prejudice, and institutionalized forms of racism, and oppression, as a whole.

Thanks to Pedro Pedraza for sharing.

Angela Valenzuela

Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?

Research shows that students, especially boys, benefit when teachers share their race or gender. Yet most teachers are white women.

As students have returned to school, they have been greeted by teachers who, more likely than not, are white women. That means many students will be continuing to see teachers who are a different gender than they are, and a different skin color.
Does it matter? Yes, according to a significant body of research: Students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students.
The homogeneity of teachers is probably one of the contributors, the research suggests, to the stubborn gender and race gaps in student achievement: Over all, girls outperform boys, and white students outperform those who are black and Hispanic.

Yet the teacher work force is becoming more female: 77 percent of teachers in public and private elementary and high schools are women, up from 71 percent three decades ago. The teaching force has grown more racially diverse in that period, but it’s still 80 percent white, down from 87 percent.

There are many things that contribute to children’s academic achievement, including teachers’ experience and training; school funding and zoning; and families’ incomes and home environment. And teachers have long been predominantly white and female. But new educational opportunities for girls may mean that they can take more advantage of the benefits of female teachers. And studies show that teacher diversity can make a difference in students’ performance and their interest in school.
The effect is stronger on boys. Research has found that boys, and particularly black boys, are more affected than girls by disadvantages, like poverty and racism, and by positive influences, like high-quality schools and role models. Yet they are least likely to have had a teacher that looks like them.
“We find that the effect is really driven by boys,” said Seth Gershenson, an economist studying education policy at American University. “In the elementary school setting, for black children and especially disadvantaged black children, the effect of having even just one black teacher is fairly big and robust and a real thing.”
When black children had a black teacher between third and fifth grades, boys were significantly less likely to later drop out of high school, and both boys and girls were more likely to attend college, Mr. Gershenson and his colleagues found in a large study last year. The effect was strongest for children from low-income families. The study included 106,000 students who entered third grade in North Carolina from 2001 to 2005, and it followed them through high school. There was no effect on white children when they had a black teacher.

Teachers’ gender does not necessarily have a big effect during elementary school but seems to make more of a difference when children are older. Then, girls do better with a female teacher and boys with a male one, said Thomas Dee, a professor of education at Stanford.
When eighth graders had a female teacher instead of a male one, boys fell behind girls by the equivalent of three and a half months of learning, according to a well-regarded study he wrote, which compared the effect of two teachers of different genders on the same students. When students and teachers were the same gender, teachers also had more positive impressions of students, and students looked forward more to the subject. The study used Department of Education data on 25,000 eighth graders from 1,000 schools.
In high school and college math and science courses, studies have shown that when women have a female instructor, they get higher grades, participate more in class and are more likely to continue to pursue the subject.
Researchers say it’s not entirely clear why teachers’ gender and race make a difference; it’s likely to be a combination of things. Students tend to be inspired by role models they can relate to. Same-race teachers might be able to present new material in a more culturally relevant way. Also, teachers sometimes treat students differently based on their own backgrounds and stereotypes. Social scientists call this implicit bias, when stereotypes influence people’s thinking, often unconsciously.
A variety of research, for instance, has shown that teachers tend to assess black students differently from white students. Preschool teachers judge black children more harshly for the same behavior. White teachers are less likely than black teachers to assign black students to gifted and talented programs even if their test scores match those of white students. When black students had both a white and black teacher, the black teachers consistently had higher expectations for the children’s potential.

Teachers’ biases can end up becoming self-fulfilling prophecy, Mr. Gershenson has found. “The high expectations actually motivate kids to do better,” he said. “Black students are hurt by that lack of optimism that white kids get, and black kids with black teachers rise to meet their expectations.”
Sometimes teachers underestimate students of their race or gender, suggesting that they have internalized stereotypes about their own group and that white and Asian-American students may not experience negative effects from having nonwhite teachers.
Girls perform about the same as boys in math on average through eighth grade. By age 17, there is a meaningful male advantage in that subject.
A new study, not yet published, found that math teachers favored boys over girls, and white students over black or Hispanic students — and that female teachers were biased in favor of boys and that nonwhite teachers were the most biased in favor of white students.
“These results indicate that enduring cultural biases may have long residual effects on stigmatized groups,” said Yasemin Copur-Gencturk, one of the authors and an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California.
Long term, the evidence suggests it would make a difference to train and hire more diverse teachers. But researchers say there’s also something that schools can do immediately, with the teachers they already have: teach them about their biases and stereotypes. It can lead to fairer treatment of students.
The research shows that no matter their demographics, teachers can overcome some of the effects of bias, Mr. Dee said. He summed up the interventions this way: “Signal to students your deep faith in their capacity to learn, coupled with your high expectations that they’ll do great things, full stop.”
It’s surprisingly effective and simple to do, social scientists have shown. One study found that merely informing teachers about their stereotypes closed gaps in grading. An hourlong online tutorial for teachers has halvedsuspension rates for black students, after training educators on how to value students’ perspectives and view misbehavior as a learning opportunity.

Another strategy is coaching teachers on how their language can unintentionally signal to students that they can’t excel. Teachers are taught to convey to students that intelligence is not fixed, but built through hard work, and to talk about each student’s value and belonging in the classroom.

Retaining current teachers is also important, researchers say. More qualified people would stay in the profession if the jobs had better pay, benefits and support. Nonwhite teachers in schools with poor resources are at particular risk of burning out.  

“It also matters just to have a really good teacher,” Mr. Dee said. “We don’t want to lose sight of that as we support diversity.”
Claire Cain Miller writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot. She joined The Times in 2008 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @clairecm  Facebook
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Students Thrive When Teachers Are Like ThemOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe