class of '17 yearbook

The journey from
8th grade to graduation

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Teachers On The Edge: Visa Problems Plague School Districts Around The Country


Nearly 80 teachers in the Dallas Independent School District face deportation when their visas expire later this year.

Bill Zeeble/KERA News

Nearly 80 teachers in the Dallas Independent School District face deportation when their visas expire later this year.

 

In Garland, two dozen teachers are still in limbo. Recruited from other countries, they’re on the verge of losing their jobs and being deported when their H1-B visas expire. They’re not alone. School systems and teachers across the country – and just down the highway in Dallas – are dealing with similar visa problems.

The KERA Radio story

 

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The New SAT: Less Vocabulary, More Linear Equations


The standardized test that's been giving America's college-bound teenagers nightmares since the 1920s is getting a makeover. On Wednesday, the College Board offered new details on changes to its SAT. Among the biggest shifts: Gone are the days of memorizing obscure vocabulary words. Though if you're in high school and set to take the SAT next year, don't burn those vocabulary flashcards just yet. The changes don't kick in until spring 2016. Why the changes? "It is time for an admissions assessment that makes it clear that the road to success is not last-minute tricks or cramming but the learning students do over years each day," College Board President David Coleman said last month in Texas. In other words, a test that measures years of classroom study instead of hours of test prep. The new SAT will have three sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math and an essay. Read More

Battle For Governor Shines A Light On Pre-K


Dallas and Fort Worth school districts are ramping up efforts to enroll more eligible children in pre-kindergarten.  The push comes as gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis spar over who has a better plan for early education. The KERA radio story. Inside the pre-kindergarten class at Dallas’ Good Street Learning Center, it might seem like the 4-year-olds keeping time with rhythm sticks are just playing a game. But as they follow teacher Sara Tinsley, tapping two sticks together, they’re developing motor skills and learning to follow instructions for changing up the beat and paying attention. Read More

Mexican-American Studies Won’t Be Statewide Elective, But State Board Oks A Compromise


The State Board of Education on Wednesday didn’t approve a statewide Mexican-American studies elective. Instead, it adopted a measure that asks publishers to submit textbooks on Mexican-American and other ethnic studies to a list of instructional materials for social studies classes by the 2016-17 school year.

School districts will now have the option to develop their own classes on Mexican-American, African-American, Native American and Asian-American studies. State education officials say that option has always existed. The Fort Worth district, for example, already offers a Mexican-American studies class. Nevertheless, several districts around the state, including Houston, recently passed resolutions in support of a statewide Mexican-American studies class.

SBOE Opts for Compromise on Mexican-American StudiesInstead of making Mexican-American studies an official high school course, the Texas State Board of Education has settled on a tentative compromise that would allow school districts to decide whether to offer the course. “It wasn’t necessarily what we were hoping, with a stand-alone course for Mexican-American studies,” member Marisa Perez, a San Antonio Democrat, said in an interview after the meeting.

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Source: The Texas Tribune and Associated Press

Class of ’17: Battling Teenage Depression In High School


Phantasia Chavers, a ninth grader in Cedar Hill and one of KERA's Class of '17 students, recently took up the guitar. In school, she sometimes teased for being interested in things other kids aren't.

Stella M. Chávez/KERA News

Phantasia Chavers, a ninth grader in Cedar Hill and one of KERA’s Class of ’17 students, wants to learn how to play the guitar. In school, she’s sometimes teased for being interested in things other kids aren’t. She says she doesn’t want to do what everyone else thinks is popular.

 

One in ten adolescents suffers from depression by age 18. It’s something that one of the members of KERA’s Class of ’17 is wrestling with. We check back in with Cedar Hill ninth grader Phantasia Chavers.

The KERA radio story

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Garland ISD Accuses Former Official Of Profiting From Foreign Teacher Visa Program


More than 600 teachers on H1-B visas were hired to work in the Garland school district during a 10-year period. In that time, the district says the former head of human resources, Victor Leos, pocketed fees and took numerous all-expenses paid recruiting trips to the Philippines. District officials and a law firm working with the district revealed those findings Tuesday. Some of the teachers who were recruited face deportation when their visas expire in a few months. Read More

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Meet the Team

KERA News

Stella M. Chávez

Stella M. Chávez

Reporter/Blogger

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Stella’s journalism roots are 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. In her spare time, she enjoys running, biking and writing. She also spends a lot of time caring for her mom.

Bill Zeeble

Bill Zeeble

Reporter

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues. He’s won numerous awards over the years, with top honors from the Dallas Press Club, Texas Medical Association, the Dallas and Texas Bar Associations, the American Diabetes Association and a national health reporting grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation. His radio pieces have aired on nearly every national news show carried on KERA, from NPR and American Public Media to the BBC.  Zeeble, a native of the Philadelphia area, has worked in public radio in the Chicago area, Corpus Christi and New Orleans. He spends time working with NPR to teach students how to do radio journalism. He and his wife have 2 dogs and 2 cats, adopted and rescued.


Dallas stock photography provided by Justin Terveen

General stock photography provided by Shutterstock

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Class of ’17 is a five-year KERA News project to explore the world of education – particularly the road to graduation – through the eyes of a diverse group of young North Texans. We’ll follow these kids through the crucial transition from 8th grade to high school, then all the way to senior year and graduation – or whatever comes after school. We’ll also chart the latest education news, research and techniques. And just like high school, we’ll have a little fun along the way. It’s all part of KERA’s American Graduate initiative, a national public broadcasting effort to explore the dropout crisis. And you can have a voice in the Class of ’17 – tweet #KERAClassof17.

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