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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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.

Steve Rhodes / Flickr

Update, 12:40 p.m.:  In Dallas, some gay rights advocates called the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act a partial victory because states like Texas do not recognize same-sex marriages. However, Texas couples who were married in other states will now be eligible for federal benefits.

"While the SCOTUS ruled against federal discrimination, they left state discrimination in place," Lynn Walters, Executive Director of Hope for Peace and Justice, said in a press release. "While it is a partial victory, it means that far too many same gender couples will continue to suffer discrimination in a state like Texas."

 

Sean MacEntee / Flickr

Imagine a public school district that gives iPads to every single student. It's happening. And it's happening in the country's second-largest school system -- Los Angeles Unified School District.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dallas Fire-Rescue officials say an electrical short caused a fire Monday that destroyed Luna’s Tortilla Factory on Harry Hines Boulevard. They say the short happened "in or near the neon Luna's sign on the South side of the building," and that the fire then raced through the attic. No one was injured in the fire.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

For eighth grade students heading to high school, summer’s supposed to be a fun time. But for one Mesquite girl, it’s been kind of stressful. In this installment of KERA’s series Class of ’17, we meet Alex Gutierrez who didn’t have the math grades to get into the private high school she wanted. Now, she’s going to have to get through summer school to advance to the ninth grade.

Dallas-based Susan G. Komen says a drop in participants is the reason why it has decided to cancel half of its 14 fundraising walks. The three-day events in Dallas-Fort Worth, however, will continue.

Lawyers for some property-wealthy school districts in Texas have asked District Court Judge John Dietz to consider reopening the school funding case. Dietz has scheduled a hearing on June 19 to listen to arguments.

Update, 6:20 p.m.: Former Dallas schools Chief of Staff Jerome Oberlton was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday after pleading not guilty to charges of accepting kickbacks while he worked for Atlanta Public Schools.

Mahendra Patel, Oberlton's partner in the scheme they're both accused of participating in, also was released on bond, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

KERA News

DISD says  nearly 300 teachers received termination notices today after a school board vote last night.

Seven of the nine board members voted in favor of terminating the teachers and two DISD principals. Trustees Carla Ranger and Bernadette Nutall cast the dissenting votes.

The principals are being fired under a controversial  plan by Superintendent Mike Miles that requires them to meet new benchmarks.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Seven of the nine Dallas school board trustees voted to terminate the principals of Madison and Roosevelt high schools Thursday night.

Update, 3:59 p.m.: Rockwall ISD's buses for secondary school students will be delayed up to 45 minutes.

Update, 3:48 p.m.: Mesquite ISD will release its high school students at 4 p.m.; buses running 30 minutes later than normally scheduled. 

Update, 3:45 p.m.: Plano ISD says most activities will continues as schedule but asks parents to check with their students' individual campuses.

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD also reports that all after-school activities will continue as normally scheduled.

CSCOPE, an online curriculum system used by nearly 80 percent of Texas school districts, will be a thing of the past, Senator Dan Patrick and other Republican state lawmakers announced Monday. The decision follows concerns raised by some conservative groups that the curriculum promoted anti-American values.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Among the challenges that many school districts face is the number of economically disadvantaged students and, in some cases, kids without a steady home.

One class in the Fort Worth Independent School District decided to tackle this problem, and they did it with style.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Dallas city leaders announced on Tuesday a new partnership aimed at improving blighted and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Economic Partners Investing in Communities, or EPIC, includes the Dallas Police Department, GrowSouth, Safer Dallas Better Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity.

Bickel & Brewer Storefront is suing the Grand Prairie Independent School District claiming its at-large election system violates the Voting Rights Act and denies Latino voters fair representation.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Irving School Board is taking a new direction after Saturday night’s election. Randy Randle, Lee A. Mosty and Norma C. Gonzales – allies of censured trustee Steven Jones – won their respective seats.

Among the changes Randle wants is for immigrant children to learn English through immersion instead of the current bilingual program. Randle defeated Mike Gregory for District 7.

BdwayDiva1 / Flickr

A record number of Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college last fall outpacing their white counterparts, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Using U.S. Census data, the study found that seven in 10 Hispanic students, or 69 percent, who graduated in 2012 went on to college compared to 67 percent of white students.

Six candidates are running for three seats on the Irving Independent School Board. 

KERA has reported that the election could lead to a shift of philosophy among a majority of board members and that may lead to significant changes for Irving schools.

KERA asked candidates about their qualifications, changes they support for the district and their perspective on charter schools.

Irving ISD Place 5

Manny Benevidez   Did not respond.

Gwen Craig

·        Age:  63

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