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.

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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.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas ISD 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.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Heading to high school is a challenge for any kid. There are new friends, new teachers and the normal ups and downs of being a teenager.

For 15-year-old Chance Hawkins, the road is even tougher. Chance has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and deterioration. It’s often fatal by age 25.

Still, Chance is an upbeat kid. He's one of the students we’re following from 8th grade through high school for the series Class of 17, part of KERA’s American Graduate initiative.

Norma Gonzales, who won election to Irving's School Board this year, was arrested Saturday after police said she walked out of Wal-Mart with $184 worth of items. Police report that she took off in her car after the store's loss-prevention officers tried to detain her. She was eventually pulled over by police and booked into jail.

A newly signed bill in Texas will require students who begin high school this year to pass only five standardized tests to graduate instead of 15. The Texas Tribune looks at this change, which also impacts curriculum and what classes students must take to graduate.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas ISD has told other school districts in a letter that they should not hire teachers who didn't resign by a July 12 deadline.

RIP Kidd Kraddick Facebook page

It was a summer night in 1984. I was 11 years old. My family and I had just finished packing the car for our annual summer trip to visit relatives in Mexico. Duran Duran had released its hit single, “The Reflex,” a few months earlier. I was a huge fan of the band, so I was ecstatic when I learned the song was number one that night during the top 10 at 10.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Collin County school district of Lovejoy has only 3,400 students, but it has some pretty big ideas.

Next month, it’s going to start acting like a private school – at least for kids who live outside the district. Those who want to attend its schools will have to start paying tuition.

The Dallas Independent School District graduated a record number of students this year, according to numbers released by the district Wednesday.

DISD reports that 7,302 students received diplomas in June - the highest number in 31 years. That's 345 more students than graduated in 2012 and more than 1,600 graduates since 2007.

Vernon Bryant / Pool photographer, Dallas Morning News

Judge Lena Levario will not have to recuse herself in the contempt case involving Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins.

Administrative Judge John Ovard ruled Monday that the burden of proof had not been met to remove Levario after allegations were made that she  was biased against Watkins.

Lifetouch / Lifetouch

Otha Thornton, the new president of the National Parent Teacher Association, is in town this weekend attending the state PTA's Summer Leadership Seminar. 

He sat down for a few minutes with KERA News to talk about his goals for the 117-year-old organization.

wyoguard / Flickr

GED testing is joining the digital age. Beginning in January, there will be no more paper tests. Students will have to use a computer. That’s launched a debate among people who give the test and the State Board of Education which is wondering if it should seek an alternative test for adults who want to get a high school equivalent certificate.

During the State Board of Education meeting this week, Texas Education Agency's attorney David Anderson said there's nothing on the books to prevent school districts from using the CSCOPE curriculum. CSCOPE came under fire earlier this year and in May, Republican Sen. Dan Patrick said Texas school districts would no longer use its lesson plans.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that DISD trustees want to hire former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins to review whether proper protocol was followed in a request for proposals from groups that provide parent education services.

Northside Independent School District in San Antonio made news last year when it decided to require students at two of its campuses to carry ID badges containing microchips. The campuses chosen had low attendance rates. The district announced this week that it has ended its tracking program.

crunchystars / Flickr

A new study by the Pew Research Center finds that technology is helping middle and high school students be more creative and  collaborate with others. But the same survey of teachers also finds that kids are more likely to take shortcuts and have a hard time understanding complicated and longer material.

The College Board is keeping up with the digital times. Beginning today, high school students can look up their scores on Advanced Placement exams online instead of waiting for them to come in the mail.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

In the West Dallas branch of the city’s public library system, students are learning English. That's no surprise -- especially for a neighborhood with many Latino immigrants.

What's different here, though, is that both parents and kids are in class -- right across the hallway. The dual effort is part of the new Atmos Energy Literacy Center, which opened in January as a partnership with Texas A&M University Commerce. 


Stella Chavez / KERA News

It would be nice if triple digits were limited to paychecks, area codes, and padlocks. But that’s not the case in Dallas-Fort Worth. The summer’s first triple-digit temperature made an early arrival this week, and Friday was even hotter. Here are four tips to beat the heat.

Laura McFerrin

Many North Texas closely followed Wednesday's Supreme Court decision in two cases -- gay marriage in California and the Defense of Marriage Act. Some residents spoke with KERA News about the court's rulings and what it means to them.

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