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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The legal battle over the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas took another turn Friday. Texas withdrew its request to block Syrian refugees from coming here. The state isn’t dropping the suit though – it’s asked the judge for an injunction hear by Wednesday.

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There was a time when recess was part of every kid’s day. Today, not so much. A Dallas school board trustee wants to change that.

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A recent survey of the state’s 100 largest school districts found that an overwhelming majority of students who failed one or two end-of-year exams were allowed to graduate this past year.

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Last week, President Obama’s immigration plan suffered a setback, when a three-judge panel upheld a lower court’s injunction against it. The controversial program would have deferred deportation for more than 4 million undocumented immigrants across the country.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Many African-American youth grow up in poverty and come from single-parent households. And about 60 percent of African-American males drop out of school by the ninth grade. Cedar Valley College, south of Dallas, is trying to change those numbers with a $2.45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

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Dade Middle School in Dallas ISD has historically faced many problems -- from student discipline issues to high staff turnover. Parents and community leaders are organizing a summit this weekend to try to boost neighborhood involvement and turn Dade into what’s called a “community school.”

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On Tuesday, Dallas voters passed the largest school bond package in the district’s history. So what happens next? Here’s a look at what residents can expect.

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School bond packages won easily in Dallas, Highland Park, Grand Prairie, Rockwall and Allen ISDs.

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The Dallas Independent School District has a high percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged and learning English. Given these challenges, district officials were pleased with how some students fared on the recent Nation’s Report Card. Here are some of the highs and lows.

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Dallas County is facing scrutiny because of how immigrants are detained in jail. More than a dozen people have sued Sheriff Lupe Valdez and the county for how their cases were handled.

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It doesn't have the glitz and glamour of a midterm or presidential election, but this election still has some weighty issues on the ballot. Along with seven state constitutional amendments, some North Texas school districts also have bond proposals for voters to consider. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

For children who come from low-income families and have gotten little early childhood education, oral language skills are often slow to develop.

That’s why teachers in Dallas are making an effort to get young students to speak in complete sentences. 

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Steve Payne, principal of Allen High School, has retired. District officials made the announcement on Tuesday, but didn’t give many details.

As part of KERA’s American Graduate initiative, we dig into the $1.6 billion bond issue that Dallas voters will decide on November 3. First, we look at what exactly is in the package -- new schools, expanded cafeterias and a lot of new technology. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Fort Worth’s new superintendent Kent Scribner officially begins his new job next week. But he’s already been spending a lot of time getting to know staff members and the community. Today, he and interim Superintendent Patricia Linares spoke about what the district has accomplished and where it’s headed.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park may seem like just another spot where kids play while their parents hang out. But the local education non-profit Big Thought is giving children another reason to visit. The group touts it’s written the country's first curriculum for a park that’s also aligned with state education standards.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dallas school board trustees hired Michael Hinojosa as superintendent Tuesday night. This is his second time in the top spot. Hinojosa led the district for six years, leaving in 2011.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Sir Ken Robinson, who boasts the most-watched TED Talk of all time, was in Dallas on Thursday for an education conference called “Changing the Odds.” Robinson argues that the current education system has some outdated assumptions about intelligence and creativity.

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Dallas faced an unprecedented public health scare in the fall of 2014 when a Liberian national was diagnosed with the Ebola virus. KERA is exploring lessons learned – and taking a deeper look at what happened last year – in a new series called Surviving Ebola. The special program will air this afternoon at 2 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Twenty-five percent of teens will struggle with an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. And about 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they become an adult. North Texas students and a teacher talk about the factors that fuel these symptoms and what they’re doing about it.

Dora Rivas made national headlines for her efforts to transform the school lunch menu. Under her watch as executive director of Food and Child Nutrition Services in Dallas ISD, students were given healthier food options.

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Last week, The College Board released the latest batch of SAT scores for high school students – and they’re down nationwide. They’re even worse in Texas. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

When it comes to Texas rivalries, few match Dallas versus Houston. And that extends to the school systems. 

Fort Worth ISD

Fort Worth recently tapped Kent Paredes Scribner – who comes from Phoenix – to lead the district after a 21-day waiting period. He spent Monday, the first day of school, meeting with students and teachers. And last week, he sat down with KERA.

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Monday is the first day of school for North Texas students. Getting them there will be up the thousands of bus drivers who are on the road practicing their routes. We tagged along for the ride with one longtime driver in the Fort Worth Independent School District.

Across North Texas, teachers and staff are gearing up for the return to school. In Dallas, the district held its annual back-to-school rally, or convocation, on Wednesday. There was music, dancing and a pep talk from Interim Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

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Some immigrants have what’s known as the matricula consular, a form of identification issued in their native country. The state, however, doesn’t accept the card. Neither does Dallas County, and that has immigrant advocates worried about how the policy will affect children who need a birth certificate to enroll in school.

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Some immigrants have what’s known as the matricula consular, a form of identification issued in their native country. The state, however, doesn’t accept the card. Neither does Dallas County, and that has immigrant advocates worried about how the policy will affect children who need a birth certificate to enroll in school.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Over the past few weeks, KERA's American Graduate project has explored why it’s so tough to lead a large urban school district. Both Dallas and Fort Worth are looking for superintendents. This week, we look at how changes in urban districts have made the job even harder.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

At the Pike Park summer camp in Dallas, kids do the usual summer camp stuff -- play games, dance, draw and eat. What makes this camp different? The kids are also learning about where they're going to camp -- the once-thriving uptown neighborhood known as Little Mexico.

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