Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Unraveling Education: Houston, we have a Problem! & his name is AJ Crabill [Storytime], Feb 21, 2024


April has been a busy travel month. I'll soon post on what's happening right now with the protests at UT Austin. I've definitely kept up throughout.

In the meantime, this is a must-listen to podcast that's illuminating of how people in power are able to carry out their agenda even when the science doesn't back them up. 

For our friends from Houston that experienced the takeover of their district last year, this will definitely resonate. So terribly concerning.

-Angela Valenzuela 

“Welcome to Unraveling Education, the podcast that's part storytelling, part information and part

whodunit. We'll be investigating the underlying issues harming the public education system and identifying the key players involved. Welcome back to Unraveling Education.

I'm Danielle Ford, former trustee of CCSD, which includes Las Vegas, Nevada. In today's episode, we're going to begin with an update on the happenings in CCSD. We could call this part the Jara saga.

How many times would Jara actually have to be fired or resigned for it to constitute as a saga? It's four, right? Yeah, then I think we're there.

Then we will jump back to where we left off with the story time. I'll explain the snazzy conference, the board Jara and CCSD staff attended with other school boards across the country and some of the national vendors we were introduced to. That will also include the incredibly traumatic experience I had with some of the other board members, which I may still have some PTSD from.

And then the really scary epiphany that was had at yet another conference that the board and Jara went to. You'll learn the complete background of the mysterious stranger who was introduced in[…]”

From Unraveling Education: Houston, we have a Problem! & his name is AJ Crabill [Storytime], Feb 21, 2024

This material may be protected by copyright.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Building Bridges Amid Book Bans Capitol Summit by Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT) on April 21-22, 2024 [video]


View here.
So happy to share this Instagram video by youth organization, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT) headed by Cameron Samuels and his outstanding team...Da'Taeveyon Daniels, Christianna, Angel Huang, Haydn, and the rest of them who came from as far as El Paso and Beaumont. 

Specifically, I highlight here Saturday evening's anti-book-banning event at Book People this weekend here in Austin, Texas. It was livestreamed on Instagram. You can view the video here. 

It was awesome hanging out with Children's Defense Fund Texas Program and Policy Manager, Youth Engagement Maggie Stern. Thanks for teaching me how to make a Zine.

Maggie is so gifted and loving in everything she does to help cultivate many of our youth into the incredible, wonderful people they are. It's also clear that there are a lot of great things these young people are doing with their lives on their own time, too.

As for myself, I'm blown away after having spent two days contemplating not just book bans, the attack on librarians, and an absence of libraries in some schools, but actually talking about books, audiobooks, and the transformative, liberating power of books, librarians, and libraries.

Basil, thanks for opening up my eyes about Emmanuel Kant and the Enlightenment. It was eye-opening. Another one I came across was Sharon Smith's text titled, Subterranean Fire. Looking forward to all my Summer reading. What a treat! 

This gave me the opportunity to share books with them, too, as per this initial recommended listI honestly can say that I've lived my whole adult life and I've never had an extended conversation with youth about books.

These young people are our future. My heart is so full after spending the weekend with them and Maggie. Honestly, my friends, our future couldn't be in better hands. These young people are so incredibly bright, principled, passionate, and phenomenal. Do take some time and listen to the video. My heart is full.🩷

-Angela Valenzuela

Follow SEAT on Instagram @studentsengagedtx



Saturday, April 20, 2024

Podcast Interview with Dr. Angela Valenzuela on Ethnic Studies, CRT, and Where we Should be Headed in Education



Happy to share this podcast Interview that took place during the pandemic on Ethnic Studies, CRT, and where we should be headed in education with Dr. Abdín Noboa-Rios and Dr. Tony Baez. You can link directly to this interview below or view it here on Youtube.

I listened to it recently and happened to like my responses to Drs. Noboa-Rios and Baez' questions. 

As I think about Ethnic Studies and Critical Race Theory (CRT), my biggest concern is not solely with the mischaracterizations but also with the anti-intellectual agenda of not wanting to know minoritized or subaltern voices, histories, cultures, languages, identities, ways of knowing and so on when so much of what they're about is redemptive, intellectually expansive, and fully enhancing of everybody's lived experience.  I speak of these kinds of things in the podcast. 

Someday, Ethnic Studies will simply be called "a good education." Check out the Educa K-16 Podcast sponsored by the The DoMas Group and the various interesting interviews they've gathered over the years.

-Angela Valenzuela

UT-Austin program cuts come with attempts to regain politicians' trust after DEI law, president says

Ok, so were UT cuts more aimed at gaining politicians' trust more than SB17 compliance? That's what's suggested here. As expressed by Jennifer Ebbeler, I, too, am concerned of an endless dynamic of appeasing the legislature. What comes next? I hate to ask.

-Angela Valenzuela

UT-Austin program cuts come with attempts to regain politicians' trust after DEI law, president says

AUSTIN, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 22: Students walk through the University of Texas at Austin on February 22,

2024 in Austin, Texas. President Joe Biden has announced another $1.2 billion in student loan forgiveness,

adding to a total of $138 billion forgiven. That announcement comes despite a Supreme Court Ruling that

blocked relief for student loan debt last June. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

April 15, 2024

Samantha Ketterer | Houston Chronicle

A University of Texas at Austin shakeup that led to the layoffs of 49 employees — many of whom were previously reassigned from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion positions — was partly driven by a desire to protect the long-term outlook of the institution as conservatives have increasingly lost trust in higher education, President Jay Hartzell told faculty Monday.  

Hartzell’s statements at a meeting of university’s Faculty Council became the most detailed explanation provided since UT-Austin shuttered a rebranded version of its diversity office and advocates sounded the alarm about the consequently closed programs and job losses. 

Read more: Lawmaker behind Texas DEI ban expects universities to still strive for 'diverse outcomes'

The decisions were not made to comply further with Senate Bill 17, which bans diversity hiring programs, DEI training and DEI offices in public higher education, Hartzell said. He believed that the university came into compliance with the bill by its Jan. 1 deadline — although a number of complaints have made clear that some people think otherwise, he said — but he decided to close some programs in the rebranded office as an effort to eliminate job redundancies. Another factor was a recognition that UT as a flagship is subject to more scrutiny than other Texas institutions and needed to prove to lawmakers that it is a good steward of state resources. 

“Ultimately, my role is to worry about the long-run future of the university — thinking about not only what had to happen by Jan. 1 but as this plays out over the coming months and years, how am I doing what I can to mitigate what I believe and many others believe are real and imminent risks?” Hartzell said.

“Those are risks,” he said, “that if left unchecked, could affect the very basic way we run the university.”

SB17 led to major changes at universities across the state, with UT-Austin among several that reorganized its diversity offices to toss a focus on minority populations and serve all students. The announcement earlier this month to close the rebranded Division of Campus and Community Engagement and relocate some of its programs then came as a surprise — as did the following revelations about the firings and some program closures, including the Women’s Community Center.

Hartzell clarified Monday that several factors led to the program closures. In addition to the changing climate surrounding a mistrust of higher education, the original adjustments stemming from SB17 caused some redundancies across the university as programs became more general, the president said. 

Administrators looked for programs overlapping with others at UT and opted to discontinue those programs, he said. The result was a smaller division with more autonomous programs that could be moved elsewhere.

In all, 49 positions were eliminated and eight associate or assistant deans will be returned to their full faculty positions, Hartzell said. Those who were fired will be paid through July 5 but will also receive special consideration for any open positions for which they’re qualified. The president took responsibility for the decision, which he made in consultation with his leadership team, he said.

“That is something that we clearly don’t take lightly,” Hartzell said. “I hate that it affected people. It’s something our whole leadership team worked on and fretted over.”

The changes this month came as many students and faculty in the UT community already feared overcompliance with the law.

Hartzell pointed Monday to several signals of high levels of scrutiny. State Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Conroe Republican and the author of the ban, had warned state university officials that simply renaming DEI offices and job titles was not enough to comply with SB17. Hearings will occur in May where high-ranking officials in the state’s university systems will explain how they have implemented the law. And Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week issued a charge for the continued monitoring of the ban.  

The state will conduct an audit every four years to ensure universities' compliance, carrying ramifications on state funding for those in violation, said Andrea Sheridan, deputy to the president for governmental affairs and initiatives. 

Some people have been “spending their days” looking for ways the university has not been in compliance, Hartzell added. There have been some honest mistakes, he said, and some where those filing the complaints got it wrong. 

“I’m sure it’s not over,” Hartzell said.

HIGHER ED: UT-Austin firings anger students, advocates as lawmakers call for enforcement of DEI ban

Changes to the public perception of higher education have changed starkly in recent years. About 50% of people self-identifying as Democrats say in public surveys that they trust the field, and fewer than 20% of people self-identifying as Republicans say the same, the university president said, citing data shared at an Association of American Universities conference. 

The UT System Board of Regents has also instructed the university of its desire for UT-Austin to act in ways that restores and raises public confidence in the institution, Hartzell said.

“We’re all working on trying to help people understand how great we are, but we’re in a setting where there’s a lot of concern about higher education, the role that we play in society,” he said.

One associate professor expressed relief that the changes to the community engagement division didn’t stem from compliance to SB17. But the overarching issues are still problematic, especially if they ever lead to attacks on what faculty members can teach, she said.

“It’s deeply concerning however to hear that they do relate to concerns about the long-term stability of the university and particularly the support of our Legislature for what we do on campus,” Jennifer Ebbeler said. “It seems like there’s a potential for a dynamic here in which we are continually trying to appease the Legislature.”

Hartzell answered that he’s an optimist, although he understands the worry that universities are a “moving target.”

“Part of what we do, people don’t fully understand,” he said. “What’s all on the top research universities as a community is to help the country see why we’re here.”

Photo of Samantha Ketterer
REPORTER Samantha Ketterer is a Houston Chronicle reporter covering higher education. She can be reached at

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

My Blog Is Ranked Number 5 Among The Top Education Blogs In Texas: Showing "My Flex" on this day of April 17, 2024


As you can view for yourselves here, I am very pleased to announce that my blog is ranked number 5 among the top education blogs in Texas. Glad I checked. When I shared this yesterday with my students, one of them expressed, "You got flex!"

Cool, so "I got flex"—a new expression for me.

This blog got going 20 years ago. Before that, I ran a listserv for 7 years. If you want to know why I blog, I invite you to read this Nov. 10, 2021 message titled, "A Personal Message on Why I Blog and a Word of Thanks by Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D."

Although I don't—and have never blogged—for pay or for recognition, I am nevertheless pleased that after 20 years of doing so, I am nevertheless getting recognition for this. I have to admit, I was somewhat shocked to learn that I'm a notch below the Texas Education Agency (Texas' state Department of Education) and above the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Tribune, as well as many other reputable blogs. 

This could also all shift in a heartbeat, so I'm just showing my flex today. That's all. I promise to continue doing my best to put forth credible material and opinions into the blogosphere. This seems even more important as we enter into a world of AI where sources, authenticity, and authoritative perspectives matter more now than ever. 

Moreover, I am fully aware of the global reach my blog has far beyond Austin, Texas, and the United States, to include such places as those highlighted on this day of April 17, 2024, from the past 7 days of page turns noted on this map. Even as I definitely have regular visitors, other places light up differently depending on what I'm posting. It would be amazing to someday regularly reach every corner of the planet. The power of the Internet, no less...

In the meantime, abundant thanks to all my readers. 

Y'all got flex, too! We all got flex! Muchísimas gracias!

Sí se puede! Yes we can!

-Angela Valenzuela

Monday, April 15, 2024

INVITATION: Student-led SEAT24 Summit @ Book People on Sat. April 20 & at the Texas State Capitol on Sun. April 21, 2024


I'm thrilled to announce that Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT) is here in Austin, Texas on Friday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21st to demand a seat at the table in decisions that directly affect them.

I know there are a lot of great things happening among our youth in Texas, but this is tops! Plus, it makes enormous sense to me for young people to be accomplish this via a focus on policy. Long overdue.

Follow and friend them on Instagram at

Saturday, April 20, 2024— "Building Bridges Amid Book Bans," at BookPeople, located at 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703m., Austin, Texas

For Saturday's welcome program, SEAT is welcoming community members of all ages for a student-led panel conversation on the freedom to read and learn as follows:
• 4:30 PM (CT) doors open
• 5 PM (CT) Program begins
🎥 Livestream or Zoom option available. Register HERE.

Sunday, April 21, 2024 Texas State Capitol Auditorium, 9AM-2PM

Come listen to a series of keynote speakers, myself included, together with hands-on leadership activities, an opportunity to network and celebrate youth engagement and visibility in policymaking.

💌 Reach out to for questions and volunteer/adult engagement, and follow them @studentsengagedtx on Instagram to stay posted 📝

Register for SEAT's main summit 📝

I couldn't be more proud of these youth.

-Angela Valenzuela

Saturday, April 06, 2024

A Timeline of Challenges to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Texas at Austin


As promised in my previous blog post, here is a chronology or timeline of recent events at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) that highlights public statements. on Senate Bill 17 and its implementation. Understanding that the timeline is listed out by date of publications, it's not a strict timeline. That said, what I am seeing is that the publications do track closely to the playing out of events at UT Austin.

The struggle began much earlier, of course, during the 88th (2023) Texas legislative session, much of which I have already captured on this blog.

This is most definitely a dark moment in the history of UT and Texas. Have courage, my friends, and be sure to reach out to whoever represents you to let them know your thoughts and feelings about this negative and harmful attack on diversity in our state. Also, be sure to vote and to get others around you to vote. Your vote is your voice. Su voto es su voz!

In the meantime, also read this New York Times piece by Confesossore (2024) titled, "America is under attack”: Inside the anti-D.E.I. crusade," as this will provide some context. Moreover, given that this is a national "crusade," folks in other states can keep current via the DEI tracker appearing below.

My plans are to update this specific blog regularly. My goal is not to be exhaustive, but as informative as possible. This is going to be playing out for some time.

-Angela Valenzuela




Editorial board. (2023, March 10). Editorial: Abbott's attack on diversity policies is a step backward, Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board. 

American Association of University Professors (2023, Sept. 27). Faculty in red states express concerns over political interference.

Confessore, N. (2024, Jan. 20) “America is under attack”: Inside the anti-D.E.I. crusade.

Texas Public Policy Foundation (2024, Feb. 13). TPPF Announces Top Priorities for the Texas Legislative Session [website]

Svivastava, N. (2024, March 25). Native student organization moves powwow off campus

Brandon Creighton  letter to Chancellor Williams and the Board of Regents of University of North Texas System: (cited in the Creighton press release above)

Hartzell, J. (2024, April 2). Organizational Changes. University of Texas at Austin. (also Hartzell letter below )

Mangan, K.  (2024, April 2). After DEI Ban, UT-Austin Eliminates a Division and Lays Off Its Former Diversity Staff, Chronicle of Higher Education

Joint Press Release by Texas AAUP & Texas NAACP. (2024, April 2). UT Austin Staff Laid Off in new SB 17-related development.

Bryant, J. & Appleby, C. (2024, April 3). These states’ Anti-DEI legislation may impact higher education.

CBS News. (2024, April 3). Austin Fires Dozens to Comply with Texas TEI Law.

Executive Committee of the UT Austin advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). (2024, April 4). Protest Letter to Jay Hartzell.

Editors. (2024, April 7).The harsh consequences of the Texas GOP's fervor to crush DEI at UTAustin American-Statesman

Kepner, L. (2024, April 12). 'This was a breach of trust': TX NAACP confirms 66 former UT DEI jobs lost at UT, Austin American-Statesman.

Gretzinger, E. (2023, April 17). 'A Pawn in a Game' Why Texas A & M's lone Black professor of nursing called it quits, Chronicle of Higher Education

Irwin, L. (2023, April 18).  UT Austin students protest layoffs over new DEI banThe Hill.

Kepner, L. (2024, June 11). UT Austin initiates discipline for student protesters, places hold on transcripts, Austin American-Statesman

Miscellaneous Pertinent Documents
National Urban League. (2024). WE DEMAND DIVERSITY! Advocacy Toolkit
National Urban League. (June 3, 2024). Active Campaign Dates.

April 2, 2024

Dear UT community,
Soon after the passage last year of Senate Bill 17 — which prohibits many activities around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — the University embarked on a multiphase process to review campus portfolios and end or redesign the policies, programs, trainings, and roles affected by the new law. Our initial focus was to ensure we made the required changes by SB 17’s January 1 effective date, but we knew that more work would be required to utilize our talent and resources most effectively in support of our teaching and research missions, and ultimately, our students. 

Since that date, we have been evaluating our post-SB 17 portfolio of divisions, programs, and positions. The new law has changed the scope of some programs on campus, making them broader and creating duplication with long-standing existing programs supporting students, faculty, and staff. Following those reviews, we have concluded that additional measures are necessary to reduce overlap, streamline student-facing portfolios, and optimize and redirect resources into our fundamental activities of teaching and research. 

For these reasons, we are discontinuing programs and activities within the Division of Campus and Community Engagement (DCCE) that now overlap with our efforts elsewhere. Following these changes, the scale and needs of the remaining DCCE activities do not justify a stand-alone division. As a result, we are closing DCCE and redistributing the remaining programs. This means that we will continue to operate many programs with rich histories spanning decades, such as disability services, University Interscholastic League, the UT charter schools, and volunteer and community programs. Going forward, these programs will be part of other divisions where they complement existing operations. We know these programs and the dedicated staff who run them will continue to have positive impacts on our campus and community.

Additionally, funding used to support DEI across campus prior to SB 17’s effective date will be redeployed to support teaching and research. As part of this reallocation, associate or assistant deans who were formerly focused on DEI will return to their full-time faculty positions. The positions that provided support for those associate and assistant deans and a small number of staff roles across campus that were formerly focused on DEI will no longer be funded.

I recognize that strong feelings have surrounded SB 17 from the beginning and will shape many Longhorns’ perceptions of these measures. It is important that we respect the perspectives and experiences of our fellow Longhorns as the changes we are announcing today take effect. It is also important that this continues to be a welcoming, supportive community for all.

Respect for our students, faculty, and staff will be essential as we make these changes. The Division of Student Affairs will work to ensure that current student-facing services will continue to be available for the rest of this semester, and student workers also will retain their positions through the end of this term. Staff members whose positions are being eliminated will have the opportunity to apply and be considered for existing open positions at the University, and resources will be made available to support them.

UT Austin is a world-class public research university serving all of Texas and more than 50,000 incredible students. Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff continue to affect the world in meaningful ways each day. Other campus leaders and I appreciate your ongoing efforts as we seek to maximize the impact of our teaching and research.
Sincerely yours, 

Jay Hartzell