Educators told all English language students can learn

EL PASO — When Luis F. Cruz walked into Baldwin Park High School as principal in 2005 he realized he had entered a toxic environment where teachers blamed parents for their students failures, that only students who spoke English and knew their arithmetic were encouraged to succeed. He knew that culture had to a change, that graduation rates had to be valued above athletics and he demanded that his teachers start saving lives. “Did you come prepared to save lives today? Because we are all in the business of saving lives,” he told them. According to Cruz, a study confirmed that people that finish high school live ten years more then people with a lower level of education.

Decisions on fate of El Paso school facilities await elected school board

EL PASO, Texas — After months of deliberation, the El Paso Independent School District Board of Managers decided to postpone most decisions on campus consolidations. The El Paso Independent School District last year released results from a $4.2 million study of existing school facilities in various areas throughout the the city. The study analyzed the operation of the schools, focusing on issues of student capacity and efficient use of resources. It initially included recommendations that the school system consider closing eight elementary schools: Roberts, Vilas, Beall, Alta Vista, Zavala, Fannin,Travis and Schuster Elementary schools. One recommendation in the plan is to rebuild some of the elementary schools entirely; while the others would become campuses for grades K-8.

Happy once-in-lifetime Pi Day 3.14.15

Pi Day 2015 is being called the event of the century. Pi Day is Saturday, March 14. Get it? The date – 3.14.15 – corresponds to the first five digits of pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is an irrational number that continues with no repeating patterns into infinity. 
On Saturday morning – 3.14.15 at 9:26:53 – we’ll see the first 10 digits of pi line up.

Dual language education system expanding in border schools seeking to close learning gap

EL PASO — Martha Briseño and Bella, her five-year-old daughter, sit only a few inches apart from each other, but a set of words, letters and sounds hover like a wall between them. “Look what I can do mommy,” Bella said. Briseño responds to her in Spanish. Somehow, despite the differences, two languages clash and unite simultaneously. “Yo quiero que sea una niña bilingüe, que hable los dos lenguajes con fluidez (I want her to be bilingual, to speak both languages fluently),” Briseño said.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo program connects learning with cultural roots

EL PASO – After seven years, tribal culture still serves as the core of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s Empowerment Program to improve its schools, enrich its community and encourage higher education. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo introduced the program in 2007 to focus on the education and employment needs of the Tigua community. The program concentrates on teaching the Tigua people how education can improve their lives and their community. According to the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s website, the Empowerment Program is a “consolidation of the Tigua Indian Training and Employment Program funded by the Department of Labor WIA and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Education Department funded by various sources such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” Tribal Empowerment Director Christopher Gomez said that when Ysleta del Sur Pueblo received a grant from U.S. Board of Education they decided to incorporate their culture into the curriculum in their pre-k program.

5 underreported stories of 2014

By Wesley Juhl –
WASHINGTON – While important stories about the Ebola crisis, Islamic state group and nationwide protests dominated headlines this year, the news media neglected other important stories. Several prominent journalists met at the Woodrow Wilson Center in December to discuss the most underreported stories of 2014. No one at the event would admit to missing an event outright – one journalist said that would be tantamount to admitting to malpractice – but they shared news they said should have gotten more widespread attention. 1. Loose nukes in Pakistan
Pakistan has at least six nuclear sites and could have as many as 200 nuclear devices by 2020.

Today’s parents challenged by tech trends changing childhood experience

EL PASO – Vanessa Canales has seen her daughters — ages 2 and 3 — give up playing with dolls and switch to spending long hours every day glued to the family’s iPad and her iPhone. And she’s all for it. “Parents are becoming too over protective when it comes to allowing children to incorporate technology in their play time. They must realize the importance it will have later on in their life,” said Canales, 30, a nurse at Las Palmas Medical Center. But widespread public concern that technological devices may have negative effects on young children, such as a lack of social skill development and even obesity, have driven some of the world’s leading technology innovators to put a damper on their children’s use of mobile tools.

Border job growth tied to better college prep, school funding

EL PASO – Political and community leaders on the U.S.-Mexico border are promoting improved college graduation rates as a key to future economic development in the region. The importance of increasing the number of college graduates to attract and fill high skill, high paying jobs was a big part of the discussion at the 2014 Border Legislative Conference Sept. 12 in El Paso. The conference brought together civic, political and business leaders from both sides of the border to talk about issues of trade, commerce, mobility and education. “There must be a push for higher education in order for the border region to succeed,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

Rural schools struggle to roll out online Common Core tests

WASHINGTON – It’s a takeover of public education by the federal government. It’s not rigorous enough. It’s too rigorous. It’s not developmentally appropriate. It’ll require schools to collect data about students, including political and religious affiliations.

Public policy a key to creating women leaders, panel says

WASHINGTON – Lajla Brandt Jakhelln has the life many women want, but struggle to have, in the United States. She’s the deputy chief of mission at the Norwegian embassy and  the mother of three, a good example of policies in place in Norway that allow both women and men to maintain leadership roles and cultivate a family. Those policies include subsidized day care, maternity and paternity leave and the ability to work part time until the youngest child turns 12. “It is indeed possible to combine empowerment, care and work,” Jakhelln said. “Each country has to find its own path.”
The U.S. encourages women to strive for leadership positions individually, a method called “leaning in” after a book written by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

Empower girls, keep them in school, global education experts say


WASHINGTON – Globally, 30 million girls don’t get a basic education, according to the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Isabel Matenje, a gender and social development specialist who is married to the ambassador of Malawi to the U.S., was one girl who got the opportunity to pursue an education.  In fact, she was the only girl at her school who didn’t drop out. “I happened to go to a secondary school that was in a district where my dad came from and that was kind of the rural district,” Matenje said. “I was working very hard, being advised by my parents that I needed to succeed. The other girls’ parents weren’t helping them to understand what education was all about.”

Experts in women’s education said Tuesday at the Brookings Institution that it is important for girls and their families to see the value in educating girls and empowering them to feel entitled to an education.

La enseñanza del inglés en Juárez mantiene un escaso nivel de aprendizaje entre estudiantes universitarios

CD. JUAREZ — “Hello, my name is Alicia”. Esa expresión, junto con los nombres de los números y colores, fue lo único que Alicia Contreras Vargas logró aprender mientras cursó la secundaria. En retrospectiva, la hoy estudiante universitaria recuerda que sus clases de inglés simplemente “no tenían chiste”. Al igual que Contreras Vargas, un gran número de estudiantes en Ciudad Juárez reconocen el bajo nivel de aprendizaje logrado a lo largo de tres o más años de recibir cursos de ese idioma, pero no saben explicarse del todo las causas de ese déficit.

Alicia Keys says reading the script for “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” was heart wrenching. She was a co-producer of the film that tells the story of two boys growing up in the Bronx. (Alejandro Alba / SHFWire)

First lady, Alicia Keys screen movie at White House as part of education push

WASHINGTON – Michelle Obama brought a backup to a film screening at the White House Wednesday as part of her campaign to encourage children to go to college. Singer and songwriter Alicia Keys co-produced the film, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” which a group of teachers and other educators watched and discussed. Keys and a teacher led a discussion of the film, and Obama talked to the crowd about her reaction to the film. “The minute I got through watching this movie, I said, ‘I’m going to screen it at the White House,’” Michelle Obama said. “This is the movie that should begin the conversation that is already happening on what it is we have to do to invest in kids in this community.”

The film tells the story of two grade-school boys who are living with the day-to-day struggles of fending for themselves in the Bronx.

Rancho 3M provides shelter to 84 children. (Diana Arrieta/

Juarez’ drug-war orphans find sanctuary, education and hope at Rancho 3M

CIUDAD JUAREZ – The 10-year-old boy’s stable family life, his modest home, and a routine that included going occasionally with his parents to Peter Piper Pizza for dinner came to a catastrophic end when the drug war plaguing Ciudad Juárez struck home killing his entire family. Caught on the street in a crossfire of warring gangs, Juan dropped under a nearby parked van, covering his eyes. Everything turned fuzzy. When he came out from under the van, his father, mother and sister were dead and he was an orphan. A few weeks later, Juan boarded a bus with 12 other children en route to Rancho 3M to a private Christian orphanage and school founded by American missionaries in the nearby town of Guadalupe.

An education lifted la chicanita from the lettuce fields into academia

EL PASO – Memories flowed with the tears as the anthropology professor recalled the hardscrabble days when as a child she stooped to pick lettuce in the fields of New Mexico from early morning until dusk. “I picked everything I can possibly think of except for watermelon and grapes,” says Dr. Gina Núñez-Mchiri, 38, who teaches at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was only eight when she started working alongside her mom and dad and her four siblings. It was exhausting work, hard on her little body, dirty and sweaty. “Growing up with migrant farm working parents was very difficult, very challenging,” Núñez-Mchiri says.

Second Life’s Virtual World Proves Useful in Educational Settings

EL PASO, Texas — For several years now, Professor John Dunn has wanted to offer an online graphic design course for his students at The University of Texas at El Paso, but one problem held him back. In a traditional graphic design course, individual student work is displayed and critiqued by their instructor and peers. Recreating this environment online has posed as a challenge for Dunn, until now. Today, students gather at the XSITE art studio in Second Life and meet with Dunn’s avatar, RU12 Rodex. According to, Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual community created entirely by its membership.

Border Stories: Photography as an Instrument for Education

EL PASO — The brisk pace of life carved into the faces in Bruce Berman’s photographs carries stories of the humor, sadness and diversity that exist along the U.S.-Mexico border. The gallery at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial Museum rang with excitement as the crowd that gathered for the event drew from Berman’s energy as he entered the room. “What am I thinking? I’m too old for this,” said Berman.  But his eyes told otherwise as he sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by the framed moments he had captured through the lens of his camera.  Each photograph seemed to tell a different story from the same book. “These photos are not at all about me,” Berman said, “They are absolutely about the people in the stories.” His exhibition was a collection of pictures taken along the El Paso-Juarez border.

New VA Education Program Causes Backlog

EL PASO — The Post 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 33), is a new education program from the Department of Veterans Affairs that provides education and housing assistance to individuals with at least 90 days of active duty service on or after Sept. 11, 2001. But with so many applicants, it caused a backlog that stalled education benefits to active duty members, veterans and dependents. The bill provides full tuition to an institution of higher learning, a housing allowance and a books and supplies stipend, not just to those with 90 days of service but also to those discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. When the Post 9/11 GI Bill became effective on Aug.