Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Talk with Paul Tough: Tues., Oct. 29, 2019 4:30 – 6 p.m. at UT

Free parking for K-12 and higher education educators in the Brazos Garage who show an ID badge with their affiliation.
Reporting for six years on higher education, including at The University of Texas at Austin, Paul Tough has written what author Tara Westover, the author of Educated, calls an “indelible and extraordinary” account of higher education in the United States. His previous books include Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, (Links to an external site.) Helping Children Succeed (Links to an external site.) and How Children Succeed (Links to an external site.), which spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the public-radio program This American Life. 
Hear from Tough, in conversation with award-winning UT faculty featured in his new book, "The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us." The discussion will be moderated by College of Education Dean Charles Martinez, with opening remarks from Provost McInnis and College of Natural Sciences Dean Paul Goldbart. This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs encouraged: (Links to an external site.)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Exciting News! The Texas SBOE will soon hear African American Studies: View Sign-Up Instructions Here

Dear Ethnic Studies Friends and Advocates:

Exciting News! The Texas SBOE will soon hear African American Studies.  At this point in the process, AAS TEKS Standards are getting developed.  Please read all pertinent info below. Sign-up happens on Nov. 8, 2019 for the following week of testimony.  We hope that K-12 students and college students show up and testify on why Ethnic Studies: African American Studies is necessary in our public schools.

Native American Studies will be up next for consideration, it appears.  Making progress here in Texas.  Please share with your networks!

-Angela Valenzuela


Public Hearing Sign-Up: African American Studies at Texas SBOE

Nov 8 at 8 AM – Nov 11 at 5 PM

William B. Travis (WBT) State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress, room 1-109, Austin


The Texas State Board of Education will hear public testimonies for an Innovative Social Studies Course for African American Studies that is currently being considered for inclusion in the state TEKS Catalogue for Social Studies and Ethnic Studies.

The hearing will take place between Nov. 12 and 15th. The exact day and agenda will be posted here:

In order to speak at the public hearing, you will have to sign up at the following link:

However, you will need to sign up between Friday, Nov. 8th at 8 am and Monday, Nov. 11th at 5 pm.

Make sure to sign up as speaking "For" the course even if you have suggestions for modification. SBOE members need to know that there is broad support for this course, that it makes a positive impact on students, and that it needs to address the full complexity of African American history and culture.

Aim to bring 15-18 copies of your statement to the hearing so that you can give a copy to each board member.

Please bring students, parents, and teachers to make their voice heard.

To review the course standards, click here:

Note:  You may also register by calling (512) 463-9007 or in person at the William B. Travis 
(WBT) State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress, room 1-109, Austin, Texas 78701 
during this time frame. Late registration is available on-site up to 30 minutes prior 
to the start of the meeting. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

On the subject of right-wing extremism in Texas

Purchase of Texas GOP Nearly Complete

Dennis Bonnen played with fire and got burned by off-the-edge ideologues who now control Texas Republican leadership. 

Whether Dennis Bonnen fell into a trap or helped plan the conspiracy, his demise as Texas State House Speaker sends a clear message from Empower Texans' mouthpiece Michael Quinn Sullivan and his billionaire benefactors to the entire Texas GOP:  If you aren’t with us, we will take you out.  

Deep-pocketed ideologues' investment in the Texas GOP is paying off

The big money behind the takeover of Texas Republicans belongs tofundamentalist oil baron Tim Dunn and a cadre of mega-wealthy extremists.  Their return on investment is almost complete.  For years, Dunn and the other deep-pocketed ideologues have spent millions of dollars through various dark money front groups – chiefly Empower Texans – to move Texas policy and politics so far to the right it would make Mussolini blush

Dunn, Sullivan and the others have been on a mission to replace politicians they don’t like with ones who are willing to do their bidding.  Their brand of elected official includes those who believe that “rape is non-existent in marriage,” and others who really seem to enjoy filing legislation that endangers women.     

Dunn bankrolled the rise of the Texas Tea Party.  He controls extremistLieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.  He and his cabal of right-wing donors have also given hundreds of thousands to manipulate Greg Abbott’s agenda. The ridiculous “bathroom bill” that could have caused the state economic disaster?   The draconian anti-choice measures designed to limit women’s access to health care?  The idiotic removal of local control from cities and counties to manage their own communities? All occurred thanks to Empower Texans funded by Dunn and wealthy extremists.

Report exposes inequalities against Hispanics at UT

My sense is that this report offers a helpful template for examining Latina/o educational equity in higher education, in general.  Click here to download the entire report.  The report is in the public domain, so feel free to share.
-Angela Valenzuela

Report exposes inequalities against Hispanics at UT

Photo Credit: Emma Overholt | Daily Texan Staff

In 2016, psychology professor Francisco Gonzalez-Lima was awarded the top amount of grants in his department, amounting to more than $7 million. He was among the top published professors in his department and published 23 articles all while teaching six courses.
That same year, when the psychology department’s Merit Review Committee scored the professors, his white counterparts received a score of “exceeds expectations,” yet his merit score only reached “meets expectations.” While his colleagues received promotions and merit pay raises, Gonzales-Lima continued to be paid one of the lowest amounts in his department.
“The main issue is a glass ceiling,” Gonzalez-Lima said. “You can go in, but you cannot go beyond. There is a resistance to continue regardless of your merit as a professor.”
The Independent Equity Committee, formed by eight Hispanic professors, quantified inequalities for Hispanic students and faculty at UT. They compiled their research into a report and sent it to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost on Oct. 8. The committee is still waiting to hear back about a meeting date to discuss the findings. 
“The report is grotesque,” said history professor Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, a committee member. “It shows the degree of inequities that you can see at all levels of the University.”

Of the 1,706 tenure and tenure-track professors, only 119 were Hispanic — 48 of which work in the College of Liberal Arts. Only 21.4% of all UT students are Hispanic, compared to the state’s 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds, according to the report. 
White employees at UT were paid on average 49% more than Hispanic employees in 2017. Hispanic professors were paid an average of $167,095, more than $25,000 less than white professors. Female Hispanic faculty were found to be paid the least out of all minority faculty, at $160,356 for professors on average. 
According to the report, out of 929 campus-wide teaching awards issued since 1958, 30 have gone to Hispanic professors.
Sociology professor Gloria González-López said she questioned whether her own issues or the system’s inequalities hold her back from achieving at the same level as some of her white colleagues. She said contributing to the report helped her realize this was not just her problem.
“With women, the picture becomes more complicated,” González-López said. “We know that academia is patriarchal but also racist. Latinas are at that intersection.”
Only 14 of the approximately 250 administrators among the offices of the president, provost and directors in schools are Hispanic, according to the report. There are 10 Hispanics serving among the 130 positions of dean, associate dean or assistant dean, all of whom are men. The Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies has never had a Hispanic director, according to the report.
The report recommends replacing department and committee elections with a rotational system of qualified and willing candidates selected by a committee. History professor Alberto Martínez, chair of the Independent Equity Committee, said democracy often leaves out minorities when those who vote are majority white, which is the case in all departments. He said the rotational system will achieve greater diversity, as it will only be merit-based.
“Instead of being merit and experience, it is a matter of popularity,” Martínez said. “Just because someone is elected does not mean that they are the best candidate. In a way, democracy is a substitute for meritocracy.”
The report also recommended hiring and appointing more Hispanic faculty, modifying the holistic admissions review process and instituting an annual investment of $2.3 million to compensate for the pay disparity. Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost, said she has read over the report and is working on formulating solutions before the meeting.
“We heard this sense of urgency clearly in their report,” McInnis said in an email. “We share this urgency and will remain focused on taking real action through an inclusive and deliberate approach. The information provided in the report builds on our understanding, and we look forward to listening and working collaboratively to build a more equitable and inclusive UT-Austin.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Mexican American, Immigrant, and Greater Latino Community Deserves Palm School

Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt recently announced that she wants to sell the iconic, historically Mexican American Palm School located in downtown Austin.  Not only is it a place to which Mexican children were segregated, but it belongs to the rich and storied experience of the Mexican American Community here in Austin, Texas.
Arts Commission Chair Jaime Castillo suggests in a recent interview in the Austin Monitor, that Palm School will work best as a "museum and cultural learning space, with the possibility of hosting arts and music events to help address the programming overflow from the MACC."  He is urging to the county to sell the school to the City of Austin "as a gesture of respect and honor for Mexican Americans and their place in Austin’s history.” Plus, he adds, its proximity to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center would make it another important touchstone for the City's Latino community.  

Another argument is that Mexican Americans and Latinos, generally, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, simply merit much greater investment by their city leaders than has frequently been the case.  Not only is this fair, but Latinos pay a heck of a lot in taxes and should have much more to show for it than we do.

One doesn't have to look too far to see that Latinos pay dearly in state and local taxes.

A recent study by the "New American Economy," a bipartisan immigrant advocacy group found the following about the Austin Metro Area based on a state-by-state analysis of U.S. Census Data.

Immigrant Household Income equals  $11.0 billion while the taxes they  pay equals $2.8 billion.  Broken down by state and local taxes, Austin metro immigrants paid $747.1 Million.  Moreover, the amount they pay to a federal government is a whopping $2 billion!  It's so shameful and disgusting to consider that these very dollars are used to harass, round up, and deport them.

Consider also other evidence of immigrants' contributions to the Austin Metro Area with a literal 25,037 immigrant entrepreneurs residing here. Another statistic additionally shows that immigrant residents are 13.6% more likely to be entrepreneurs that U.S.-born residents.

Given my focus herein on the immigrant community, this is a gross underestimate of our contributions as Mexicans and Mexican Americans to this city because these figures do not even include Mexican Americans or Latinos/as, generally, like myself.

Inasmuch as this is a calculus or subtext in these deliberations, it is nonsense and terribly offensive for anyone to think that the Mexican American and immigrant, largely-Mexican, community is taking and not giving back when, as the Palm School-coveted-land-grab helps illustrate, that the exact OPPOSITE is true.  

Our community is deeply invested in this issue.  We are involved and we are watching.  To this end, please note the following, happening at this very moment:

Oct 22, 2019 1:30pm Travis Co Public Hearing Save Palm School

May what is right and just prevail.

-Angela Valenzuela

Immigrants In Austin Pay More Taxes, Have More Spending Power Than In Other Large Texas Cities

  MAR 22, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Push to increase the number of teachers of color in California classrooms gains momentum: Initiatives underway to increase diversity among California teachers

This article is evidence-based with respect to the importance of teachers' race and ethnicity in terms of how it matters significantly for students' lives at the classroom level, impacting positively the achievement gap.  This focus in California on the recruitment and retention of teachers of color needs to happen everywhere.


Push to increase the number of teachers of color in California classrooms gains momentum

Initiatives underway to increase diversity among California teachers

Increasing the number of teachers of color in California classrooms has been a top priority for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond since he started the job in January. Now, he’s planning a statewide task force focused on improving teacher diversity in California schools. 
“The data shows when kids see a teacher who looks like them it makes a huge difference,” Thurmond said in an earlier EdSource interview.
Hiring a diverse group of teachers can help students academically and provide role models for their future, research has revealed.
Thurmond already has assembled an advisory group focused on closing the persistent achievement gap between students of color and their white and Asian peers. 
Research shows a strong association between poverty and students’ lack of success on achievement tests. And while poverty is not unique to any ethnicity, it does exist in disproportionate rates among African-Americans and Hispanics, and among English learners.
Having more teachers with diverse backgrounds in the classroom has a positive impact on learning for students of color and for closing achievement gaps, according to a study from the Learning Policy Institute. Students of color generally have higher test scores, are more likely to graduate from college and to succeed in college when they have teachers of color in the classroom they can look to as role models.
But this doesn’t happen often enough. Fewer than 4 percent of teachers in California were African-American and 20.7 percent were Latino, while 5.4 percent of the state’s students were African-American and 54.2 percent were Latino in 2017-18, according to data from the California Department of Education. About a quarter of the state’s teachers are male.
A survey of participants of a virtual town hall on the achievement gap, hosted by the Department of Education in Sacramento in September, found that an overwhelming majority agreed that getting more teachers with diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds into classrooms is essential to reducing the achievement gap. 
The Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative has come to much the same conclusion. The group is led by four co-chairs: Manufou Liaiga Anoa’i, a school board member with the Jefferson Elementary School District in Daly City; Ryan Smith, chief external officer for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schoolsa nonprofit that runs 18 schools within Los Angeles Unified; Roseann Torres, CEO of Torres Law Group and a board member in the Oakland Unified School District; and Elisha Smith Arrillaga, executive director of The Education Trust-West, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the achievement gap. 
At least 100 people across the state have been working with the initiative, which launched in February. Diversifying the teacher workforce is a large part of their discussion, Smith said.
 “We see recruitment and retention of teachers of color to be key to improving the outcomes of marginalized students,” he said. 
Smith said the most impactful teacher he had growing up was another African-American male who told him he could do anything and that there would be obstacles, but that he believed in him.
“What I see is that when students see themselves in the educator we put in front of them and when the educator can speak to the experiences of the student and understand the culture that the student resides in and they understand the challenges of being a person of color, there is a connection there that is important,” Smith said.
The California Department of Education defines teachers of color as all teachers who are not white, said Scott Roark, a spokesman for the department.
Thurmond and the California Department of Education also want to identify effective strategies of school districts that have successfully been able to recruit and retain teachers of color, according to Smith. They want to work with advocacy groups to raise awareness about the need for those teachers and to spotlight universities that have effectively increased the number of students of color who go on to become teachers.
San Diego State University recently started a program aimed at increasing the number of Latino and bilingual teachers in California. Beginning next year the university will accept 100 students from local colleges into its bilingual credentials program, which prepares teachers to teach in bilingual K-12 classrooms. The program, which is supported by a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, will offer students a stipend.
That effort will be ratcheted up when a task force focusing on increasing teacher diversity in California classrooms begins its work. The California Department of Education is in the early stages of putting the task force together and no timelines have been set, according to Roark. The task force will work closely with CSU Northridge, which has a program focusing on preparing men of color to become teachers. 
In the meantime, the Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative will continue to meet monthly and conduct virtual town halls, surveys and regional meetings with stakeholders across the state. 
Although the group’s recommendations to close the achievement gap won’t be completed until early next year, a report released in September by The Education Trust and Teach Plus, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers for leadership roles, may offer some insight into what is needed to retain black and Latino teachers.
The report, “If you listen we will stay: Why teachers of color leave and how to disrupt teacher turnover,” is primarily based on interviews with administrators and teachers who identify as African-American or Latino, from California, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas.
The report offered four recommendations to state leaders to help recruit and retain African-American and Latino teachers:
  • Offer loan forgiveness, service scholarships, loan repayment incentives and relocation incentives.
  • Invest in the recruitment, preparation and development of leaders committed to positive working conditions for a diverse workforce.
  • Collect and study data on teacher recruitment, hiring and retention by race and ethnicity.
  • Ensure curriculum, learning and work environments are inclusive and respectful to all racial and ethnic groups.
The teachers who were interviewed said they often experience an antagonistic school culture and feel undervalued and disconnected from the curriculum being taught. They would like to be allowed to teach in more creative and meaningful ways because students aren’t always represented in the curriculum or in classroom materials, according to the report.
The teachers said they want to work in an environment where they can impact students beyond test scores and allow them to graduate with a strong racial identity. They tend to stay at schools where there are strong relationships among staff and a commitment to equity, social justice and the dismantling of racism, according to the study.
“Recruiting teachers of color only gets them into the building,” according to the report. “We must pay equal, if not more, attention to their retention to make a long-lasting change in the diversity of the workforce.” 

Diana Lambert is based in Sacramento and among other topics writes about teachers and teaching in California

Language Carries More Than Words. An Interview of Ojibwe Scholar David Treuer

Epistemology, or ways of knowing, is a concept that is oftentimes hard to grasp because it's hard for us to imagine ourselves outside of our current ways of knowing.  Though not always, one tends to grasp it more readily if you speak two or more languages.  

That said, how we know what we know is mediated by language and culture as this exquisite interview with Ojibwe scholar, David Treuer.  His most recent text that is receiving significant notoriety is titled, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present 

Certain concepts, ideas, and the feelings that accompany them, particularly in the realm of identity caught up with a deeps sense of history and place, simply cannot be fully translated.  Hence, the importance of language and cultural preservation and revitalization.

The interview transcript appears below.  However, I encourage you to hear his interview with Krista Tippett in this On Being podcast.

-Angela Valenzuela

On Being with Krista Tippett 

featuring David Treuer

Image by Dan Koeck, © All Rights Reserved.

Language Carries More Than Words


Writer David Treuer’s work tells a story that is richer and more multi-dimensional than the American history most of us learned in school. Treuer, who grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, helped compile the first practical grammar of the Ojibwe people. He says the recovery of tribal languages and names is part of a fuller recovery of our national story — and the human story. And it holds unexpected observations altogether about language and meaning that most of us express unselfconsciously in our mother tongues.

Image of David Treuer

David Treuer divides his time between the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. His books include Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, and most recently, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.