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.

Ways to Connect

University of Texas at Arlington

George Siemens, an expert in digital learning, will be spearheading a new research lab at the University of Texas at Arlington. The Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, or LINK Lab, will look at how new technology – such as online learning – is affecting higher education.


Middle school can be a tough transitional period. Students leave the comfortable nest of elementary school and face new challenges like harder classes and older kids.

Middle school students and the obstacles they face were the focus on Monday’s noon hour of “Think.” The show reairs tonight at 9 on KERA 90.1 FM or listen online.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Middle school can be a tough transitional period. Students leave the comfortable nest of elementary school and face new challenges like harder classes and older kids.



Earlier this year, we introduced you to a diverse group of students making the transition from middle school to ninth grade. The series, called Class of 17, is part of a nationwide public broadcasting initiative called American Graduate.

Catholic Charities of Dallas / Catholic Charities of Dallas

Young people who are in the country illegally face many tough questions.

Can they get a job? Will they get deported?

A year ago, the Obama administration implemented a program that allows some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country temporarily. As of September, 93,277 applications from Texas have been accepted and 72,408 have been approved. But thousands more still haven’t applied.

Mark Makela / The New York Times

Class size is an ongoing challenge for school districts around the country. The New York Times reports that though the recession has ended, the impact of budget and staff cuts is still being felt in the classroom. Many districts have had to increase their student-t0-teacher ratio.

Frisco School Superintendent Jeremy Lyon believes healthy children make better grades.  His philosophy is one reason the American Heart Association recently made Lyon the first superintendent appointed to an affiliate board. Here's more on how Lyon plans to put his passion into practice.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

All year long, KERA has followed the Class of ’17 from eighth grade to high school as part of the American Graduate initiative. Today, we catch up with Alex Gutierrez whose struggles in math sent her to summer school. Alex is now in a brand new charter school with a multicultural twist.

In Texas, many students have ended up in court for getting into fights or even cursing. Some have also ended up with criminal records. In 2010, the advocacy group Texas Appleseed spoke out against the high number of students being issued citations, in particular African American students.

The number of first-year teachers hired in Texas public schools has dropped significantly, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

Anthony Spangler / Open Channels Group PR

Nearly 1,800 kids and spouses of those lost in combat are in town for the 8th annual Snowball Express. It’s a four-day, all-expenses paid weekend filled with activities, which gives families an opportunity to bond.

January’s Grammy Awards is billed as music’s biggest night. The Grammy Foundation is now also recognizing teachers. When nominees were announced last week, a Plano orchestra teacher learned she’s up for the first ever Music Educator Award.

Star-Telegram/Ross Hailey

The ice storm that’s blanketed North Texas streets and highways has spawned a new name: cobblestone ice.

Cobblestone ice – sounds poetic, doesn’t it?

Not if you’ve had to drive through it.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

More than 20,000 runners from 25 countries are planning to run in Sunday’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, but icy conditions are not helping ease their nerves. These runners have put in months of training and plan to show up at the starting line no matter what -- unless the race is canceled due to the winter storm.

(UPDATE: Since this story first aired and was posted online, the marathon has been canceled due to the ice storm.)

City of Dallas

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings responded Tuesday to federal housing officials who say the city is violating civil rights laws with its affordable housing practices. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleges that the city has steered most of its housing for low-income residents to southern Dallas.

NPR aired an interesting story this morning about how some parents think their kids begin their school day too early. They and some experts say students aren’t getting enough sleep and wake up feeling groggy. Sleep deprivation can ultimately lead to irritability and health issues like depression. Now, there’s a national petition promoting legislation to prevent public schools from starting before 8 a.m.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When you think of book clubs, you don’t necessarily think of boys. And when you look at the most recent Nation’s Report Card, the scores reveal that boys don’t fare as well as girls on reading tests. Here’s one book club that’s bucking that trend.

Irving ISD

The Irving school board is expected to hire a new superintendent next month. The lone finalist is Jose Parra, the superintendent of Lockhart ISD, a much smaller Central Texas school district south of Austin.

Now that Texas lawmakers have revamped high school graduation requirements, the State Board of Education must decide what courses should be considered advanced. KUHF Public Radio in Houston looks at this issue, which the board takes up this week. A final decision is expected in January.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When kids with autism, Asperger’s and Down syndrome get too old for high school, the next big challenge is how to build an independent life. That’s what the Plano non-profit My Possibilities specializes in. The center is taking an artful approach.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

There are more foreign students in the U.S. than ever before. Texas ranks third in the nation. That’s according to the latest Open Doors Report released Monday by the nonprofit Institute of International Education. The University of Texas at Dallas has the third-highest number of international students in the state. KERA visited the campus to hear from students who’ve made the decision to leave their home country in search of a higher education.

Lakewood PTA

An East Dallas group of residents is talking about creating an independent school district for the White Rock Lake area. They say the Dallas school district is too big and mismanaged. Former State Rep. Allen Vaught created a Facebook page, which now has more than 2,500 likes.

Students from low-income families often don’t apply to the best schools in the country. Ivy League universities like Harvard have noticed and are trying to figure out how best to connect with those students.

Yesterday’s show Here & Now featured a story from Houston’s public radio station KUHF that looks at how one program there is tackling this issue head-on.

Lakewood PTA

A group of parents who live around White Rock Lake in East Dallas wants to split from the Dallas Independent School District. That’s right, the group wants to secede and create a new school district it’s calling White Rock ISD. But the hurdles are high.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Students learning Arabic at Central Junior High in Bedford have three teachers – the two in their classroom and another one 5,000 miles away. In Morocco. Once a month, the class calls him up on Skype. The students practice speaking Arabic and learn something about breaking down cultural barriers, too.


Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Voters in the Fort Worth Independent School District are being asked to support nearly half a billion dollars in bonds to improve facilities and instruction. Three proposals to do just that are on the Nov. 5 ballot. Offering pre-kindergarten to more children is one of the measures under Proposition 1.

A new documentary airing next week on KERA-TV takes an in-depth look at the challenges facing Latino students, their families and educators. Bernardo Ruiz, executive producer of The Graduates/Los Graduados will be speaking with “Think” host Krys Boyd during the 1 p.m. hour of the show today. You can tune in on 90.1 FM or listen online.


The University of Texas at Arlington is hosting a conference about online learning in December with the help of a $97,200 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event will bring in speakers from universities around the country that offer massive open online courses, otherwise known as MOOCs.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

David Marquis has spent nearly 40 years writing and performing three installments of his one-man play ‘I Am A Teacher.’ He draws from that experience in the classroom, diving into education issues that are as relevant today as when he wrote part one in 1976. The three plays will be performed as a trilogy for the first time this weekend at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

In KERA’s Class of ’17 series we’ve been featuring students as they begin their journey through high school. For Chance Hawkins, that trip has been bumpy. Chance, who has a form of muscular dystrophy, started the year at Cassata, a small, private Catholic high school in Fort Worth. But he didn’t stay long. He has since transferred to a big public school, Dunbar High. His story shows the challenges schools face in adapting to a student’s special needs.