Stella M. Chávez | KERA News

Stella M. Chávez


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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Only 3 percent of students who attend the country’s top colleges and universities come from low-income families. That’s according to a new report out this week from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

On Thursday, the last group of migrant kids staying at a Rockwall County campsite was transferred to other temporary shelters. Last week, a larger shelter in Ellis County sent off its last kids. The co-owner of the Rockwall camp spoke to KERA about her experience.

National Weather Service / Twitter/@nwsfortworth

The Garland Independent School District is one of the school systems in the tornado zone that’s scrambling to reopen. No school buildings there were seriously damaged, but there are all sorts of complications – displaced families, disrupted bus routes, destroyed bus stops.

Jackie Arias

South of Dallas, more than 170 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the EF-3 tornado that hit Ellis County. That includes Shields Elementary in the Red Oak Independent School District. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Saturday’s tornado destroyed numerous homes and businesses in rural Collin County. Two people died near a feed store in Copeville and an infant died 20 minutes north in Blue Ridge. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

In rural Collin County, three people died during Saturday’s tornado outbreak. Part of the destruction happened in Copeville, east of Lavon Lake. A husband and wife reflect on their dramatic evening. 

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

The Allen High School marching band will be in Pasadena, California, next week for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Getting the 700-plus members of the Eagle Escadrille across the country won’t be easy. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Nearly 500 immigrant children are temporarily staying at a campsite in Ellis County, about 45 minutes south of Dallas. Two hundred more are expected to arrive there by the end of the week. 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The first group of immigrant children arrived in Ellis County Friday afternoon. Hundreds of kids will stay at the Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center in between Maypearl and Waxahachie.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Update, Friday afternoon: The first group of immigrant children arrived in Ellis County late Friday afternoon. 

Jazzmany / Shutterstock

A federal judge on Wednesday denied the state’s latest request to keep Syrian refugees out of Texas.

Twelve Syrian refugees were expected to arrive in Texas on Monday, including a family of six in Dallas.

Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

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.

Aleph Studio /

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.

baipooh / Shutterstock

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.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

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.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

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.”

JD Hancock / Flickr

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.

Dallas ISD / Facebook

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

leisuretime70 / Shutterstock

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.

lcars / Flickr

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.


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. 


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.