Sharp enrollment losses in lower grades raise more concerns about El Paso population growth

The number of El Paso County children enrolling in kindergarten through second grade has dropped precipitously in the last seven years, further evidence that El Paso’s once-robust population growth has stalled. El Paso County schools – including both traditional school districts and charter schools – had 34,603 students enrolled in kindergarten, first grade and second grade this year, according to data released in March by the Texas Education Agency. That’s down more than 5,000 from the 2011-12 enrollment in those grades, according to TEA records, a decline of 13%. Related: El Paso population growth rate hits 8 decade low, census estimates show
Only one traditional school district in El Paso County – Canutillo Independent School District in the western part of the county – has seen an increase in K-2 population in the past seven years. Canutillo’s K-2 population grew by 88 students to 1,345 this year, or 7%.

Educator shares 5 tips for supporting immigrant and refugee students

By Katrina Landa, Ed.D.

In 2016, the United States welcomed 96,874 refugees, including 15,479 from Syria alone, according to the US Department of State’s Refugee Processing Center. Nearly 60 percent of those refugees were children.  As these families settle into the country and children enroll in local schools, teachers face the unique challenge of ensuring refugee students feel welcomed, while also meeting their educational needs. 
 
As the ESL and bilingual coordinator at American College of Education (ACE), I frequently share my experience in working with refugee, immigrant and foreign language-speaking students and offer teachers these top five tips below. 
 
1. Establish a safe space in your classroom. You must be vigilant and stop any bullying immediately.

Air pollution leads to lower grades for some El Paso schoolchildren, study finds

El Paso’s poor air quality is driving down school performance for children in neighborhoods with high rates of airborne metabolic disrupting chemicals, researchers say. In a study published in the September issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso and Northeastern University looked at school performance among fourth and fifth-grade public school children in El Paso. They found that children exposed to higher levels of airborne toxins had lower grade point averages,

Related: Air quality one of biggest threats on U.S., Mexico border

Study author Stephanie Clark-Reyna, a second-year doctoral student at Northeastern University who attended UTEP as an undergraduate, said she hopes the research will have an impact on how El Paso addresses its unique air quality issues. “Air quality in El Paso is concerning because of the trucking industry. Last time I looked it up, something like 800,000 trucks passed through a single port of entry in one year,” Clark-Reyna said.

El Paso becoming new frontier for space research, business ventures

Our lives are full of consumer products that can be traced back to NASA: invisible braces, infrared ear thermometers, memory foam and cordless drills. Now one El Paso-area organization has partnered with NASA to make this kind of technology transfer easier. The Space Race challenge offers business planning, networking, mentorship and support to teams who are competing for up to $1.2 million in funding from venture capital investors. The Center for Advancing Innovation, a global public-private nonprofit is facilitating the program with El Paso-based Medical Center of the Americas Foundation. “NASA has a very large number of researchers who are primarily dedicated to solving NASA’s problems, but once that technology has done its job for NASA, by and large, that’s the end of the road, said Jeff Fuchsberg, the director of intellectual property and innovation projects at the center.

Little Free Library movement spreading in El Paso

After hearing about the international Little Free Library project, El Paso school librarian Lisa Lopez found local partners to bring the movement to this border community. There are now more than 100 public boxes stocked with books throughout the city to encourage literacy efforts. Borderzine reporter Andrea Macias has the details of the program in this video report.For more information on the Little Free Library project visit littlefreelibrary.org

 

Early college, endorsement programs enhance Texas high school options

As an eighth grader at Clint Middle School, 13-year-old BobbiAnn Owen decided she would apply to an early college program that is part of Clint High School that allows students to obtain an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from 12th grade. She was delighted when she made the cut. She was one of 70 students accepted to the selective and demanding program out of 159 applicants. Clint school district has 2,907 high school students and all the benefit of applying for Clint Early College Academy before their freshman year. BobbiAnn now, half a year into the program, is making personal sacrifices to excel and remain in the program.

Look at the pros and cons of studying abroad

It was all so enchanting. The cobblestone streets, beautiful European architecture, foreign accents and food … . It was my first time visiting Europe; London and Madrid, to be exact, and I completely fell in love. It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life, but it sure changed the way I viewed a lot of things.

Does a Buddhist temple have a place on a college campus?

EL PASO — Separation of church and state, unless we’re talking about a Buddhist temple at the University of Texas at El Paso? To celebrate its centennial, UTEP is undergoing a major physical transformation and a very visible part of the makeover is the placement on campus of a Lhakhang, or Buddhist temple. The temple was given to UTEP by the people of Bhutan after it was built for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival that took place in Washington D.C. in 2008. It was later shipped to El Paso and kept in a warehouse until money was raised to place it on campus. The Bhutanese architecture at UTEP is undeniably beautiful and so is Bhutan, it’s people and culture.

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.

First Lady talks education to Hispanic audience

By Percy Luján

NEW YORK CITY — First Lady Michelle Obama, featured speaker at the League of United Latin American Citizens convention, which concluded here this past week, didn’t venture into the national debate about the 50,000-plus Central American children clogging the U.S.-Mexico border. She left that contentious politicized subject up to husband Barack. Instead, addressing 1,200 LULAC members at a unity luncheon here, she chose to talk about education and Latino youth. After commending LULAC for its consistent civil rights advocacy on Latino and black education issues, she shifted, “While all of you are proud of what you did, you are by no means satisfied.”

A U.S. Department of Education study released in April showed the high school graduation rate for Hispanic students nationwide was 73 percent, 13 points lower than for white students in the school year ending in 2012. For African-American students it was 69 percent.