Stella M. Chávez | KERA News

Stella M. Chávez

Reporter/Blogger

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.

Ways to Connect

Texas was the first state in 1985 to pass a law requiring students to test and treat students with dyslexia, but many parents still feel schools aren’t doing enough to help dyslexic kids.

Dallas Independent School District

Every Dallas ISD student will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free, the district announced Tuesday.

Nearly 90 percent of students in Dallas public schools qualified for free and reduced-priced meals last year, and district officials say about that many could be eligible this year. Processing that many meal applications costs money, so the district is changing the program by offering free breakfast and lunch to all of its students.

Rosanna Boyd / UNT

More than 800,000 students whose first language is not English attend Texas public schools. About a quarter of them are in North Texas classrooms. The challenge for many educators is figuring out the best way to teach these students. A hotly-debated question is whether they should learn English through immersion or some other technique such as bilingual education.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Jarrell Brown made an impression last month as one of the stars of Student Speak Out: A KERA American Graduate Special. During the hourlong TV show, he and five of his peers asked each other questions and talked about what it takes to graduate from high school.

Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul / KERA News

The suspect in Monday’s Navy Yard shootings had North Texas connections – and a checkered past.

Friends described Aaron Alexis, a discharged Navy reservist who lived and worked in Fort Worth, as a nice guy who was interested in Buddhism and Thai culture.

Alexis, 34, told them that he liked guns and was a good shooter. His shooting got him into trouble with police: He was arrested in Fort Worth and Seattle in separate gun-related incidents.


A long line of leaders of Dallas schools has come and gone since August 1884 when a man named W. A. Boles was elected superintendent. KERA’s Shelley Kofler looks at this revolving door of superintendents in a story that aired today.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Phantasia Chavers has faced a lot of heartachce for a 14-year-old: a stepdad who died in a car crash, a dad in prison, a cousin shot to death. But this 9th grader has her sights set firmly on college, and she's just started out as a football trainer.

Phantasia Chavers
Willow Blythe / KERA News

Meet Phantasia Chavers. She may only be 14, but she’s already experienced a lot of heartache. When she was 7, the man who raised her was killed in a car crash. Last year, a cousin her age was shot in the head and killed.

Vogel Alcove, a longtime champion of homeless children, has found larger digs. The Dallas Independent School District, which has a partnership with the nearly 25-year organization, said today that the group would be moving into the district’s former City Park Elementary School building south of downtown.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The Dallas School District just issued a statement from board president Eric Cowan who says the results of an independent investigation into whether or not Superintendent Mike Miles interfered with a contract would not be shared with the public, at least for now.

In the press release, he says that the report would be delivered to all board trustees and they would be given a chance to read and review the report before any discussion of it.

KERA News

A long line of leaders of Dallas schools has come and gone since August 1884 when a man named W. A. Boles was elected superintendent.

In a quarter century, no Dallas school district superintendent has lasted more than six years. Through the years, there have been some retirements, resignations, firings, a few interims and even a prison sentence.

Victor Palomares / KUHF

NPR aired an interesting story on Monday about how the coal industry in Texas is paying for science teachers to attend a camp where they learn all about mining.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Hogs are running rampant in Dallas. That's right -- parts of the nation's ninth-biggest city are beset by a plague of feral pigs. The problem's so bad that last month, the city approved a three-year, $284,000 contract to catch the beasts, which are wreaking havoc on land, especially in the southeast wilds near the Trinity River. So we took a ride with the city's official hog-catcher.

The Texas Education Agency is creating an Office of Complaints, Investigations and School Accountability after a state audit found the agency failed to uncover a widespread cheating scandal in the El Paso School District.

The state auditor’s office has released a report that basically says the Texas Education Agency isn’t doing its job to uncover cheating scandals.

The report, done at the request of Education Commissioner Michael Williams, says TEA “failed” to do its due diligence when it looked into cheating allegations in the El Paso Independent School District.

What does it take to finish high school? In this hour-long special, you’ll meet six North Texas students tackling this topic. Four of the students will describe the odds they’ve had to overcome to graduate while two are still trying to finish.

If you missed it on KERA TV Wednesday night, you can watch the entire show online. We’d also like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using #studentsspeakout.

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UPDATE: Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles has raided City Hall and hired the mayor’s Chief of Staff, Paula Blackmon. Her marching orders are to improve relations with elected officials and business leaders.                                      

chemisti / Flickr

NPR's Wade Goodwyn recently set out on a bird-watching adventure at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge with veteran guide Karl Haller.

Haller's 97 years old and shows no signs of giving up what he loves to do. Hear Goodwyn's tale here.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A long line formed outside the Dallas County Health and Human Services building on Friday. Most were parents waiting to get their child immunized before the first day of school on Monday.

Schools require that students be up to date on all of their required shots, but the recent outbreak of measles in North Texas may also have prompted some parents to take immunization more seriously.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Last week, we introduced you to Chance Hawkins, a 15-year-old teen battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy who maintains a positive outlook on life in spite of the physical and academic challenges he’s facing. He failed the STAAR test at Dunbar Middle School and his mom was determined to find a smaller school for him.

The state’s new school accountability system came out last week and many folks are still looking at how schools in their area fared and what it all means. Education Reporter Matthew Haag at The Dallas Morning News points out how four Dallas public schools did what only 22 other Texas schools did — go from the lowest rating of “academically unacceptable” under the previous accountability system to “met standard” under the new ratings. It was the most of any school district.

A new documentary about teachers is coming to CBS this fall. The two-hour TV special Teach will focus on the year-in-the-life of four public school teachers during the 2012-13 school year. One of them is Lindsay Chinn, a 2003 graduate of Coppell High School. Chinn teaches at Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College in Denver, Colorado.

Fort Worth voters could be looking at a bond election in November. This week, Superintendent Walter Dansby presented several possible scenarios for bond programs ranging from $585 million to $777 million. Trustees are expected to vote Aug. 23 on whether to hold a bond election in November.

Seth Sawyers / Flickr Creative Commons

Fort Worth voters could be looking at a bond election in November. This week, Superintendent Walter Dansby presented several possible scenarios for bond packages ranging from $585 million to $777 million.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the least costly option would include a new high school, more classrooms and security and technology improvements. A different package includes the construction costs of a performing and fine arts campus, new buses and student uniforms. Trustees are scheduled to vote on whether to hold an election on Aug. 23.

American Airlines

Tuesday's lawsuit to block a merger between Fort Worth-based American Airlines and U.S. Airways brought together an unlikely alliance -- U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who's launched a conservative bid for governor. They joined five other states and the District of Columbia. Here's a look at how it's playing out in Texas.

Tom McFadden

How do you get kids interested in science? You have them rap about it. At least that’s what some schools around the country are doing as featured in this recent NPR story. Students in the San Francisco Bay area squared off with hip-hop songs about complex science topics they researched and wrote.

Via NPR: Science Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Bring Hip-Hop Into The Classroom

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Every year, a group of Dallas public school librarians puts out a list of 20 children’s books that are bilingual or in Spanish. The objective is to help other librarians pick out books for the nearly 40 percent of students in the district who don’t speak English or speak it well. Since this initiative began in 2006, the list has gotten the attention of librarians far beyond the district.

Marketplace aired an interesting story about online summer school last night. School districts around the country are offering classes via YouTube and other online sites in an effort to cut budgets.

Texas Graduation rates continue to go up and have a reached a new record high, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said Tuesday.

A study released by the Texas Education Agency shows the Class of 2012 had a graduation rate of 87.7 percent up from 85.9 percent in 2011. The graduation rate has steadily increased since the class of 2007 when 78 percent of students graduated.

Dallas ISD

The Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles has told his top staff and board trustees that his wife, Karen, and youngest child, Anthony, plan to move back to Colorado Springs. Miles said in an email Sunday night that the move will help insulate his son, who is going into seventh grade, from negative media coverage.

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