How can Texas end its bilingual teacher shortage? UNT-Dallas has an answer

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One in five kids struggles with English in the state’s public schools, and they don’t have nearly enough teachers to help them all.

So the University of North Texas at Dallas is investing millions to build a bilingual teacher “superhighway” to train more of these badly needed educators through its Emerging Teachers Institute.

The institute is recruiting aggressively through grass-roots campaigns and now offers an accelerated pathway to a degree for some students.

That’s gotten the attention of Luis Borja, a Sunset High School freshman who already knows he wants to be a bilingual teacher. At just 15 years old, Luis recently attended a symposium organized by UNT-Dallas where he learned about a young Oak Cliff community activist who taught third grade at his old elementary school.

Luis can see himself doing the same. Growing up, he was frustrated for classmates who struggled to learn because there weren’t enough teachers who could speak to them in their native Spanish.

“Someone has to be the leader to help them get on their feet,” he said. “In elementary, I saw how some couldn’t communicate and had trouble speaking. I felt bad for them. How come there was no one to help them? How come no one could step up and be a leader for them?”

Luis is now on what educators hope will be a fast track for him to be that leader. Sunset’s new collegiate academy includes a focus on bilingual education that allows students to earn an associate’s degree from Mountain View College by the time they graduate high school. They can then seamlessly transfer to UNT-Dallas to earn a teaching certification.

Texas has 1 million students who struggle with English. Even as the number of kids needing assistance has grown, the pool of qualified bilingual teachers has been shrinking sharply.

In 2009, Texas had 24,500 bilingual or English as a second language teachers. That’s one for every 30 kids who needed them.

But last school year, the state had 21,144 such educators, or one for every 48 students who struggle with English.

The biggest challenge in finding bilingual teachers often isn’t pay, but getting would-be teachers interested in the profession. That’s where UNT-Dallas wants to start.

John Gasko, dean of UNT-Dallas’ Emerging Teacher Institute, said the goal is to get local students hooked on teaching early and keep them engaged.

“Bilingual education is an art form that requires a lot of skills,” he said. “It’s not just about language but about being relatable and understanding what your students are going through. Today’s middle school and high school kids here know what that means.”

The university’s innovative marketing includes developing an anime-style comic about a heroine who’s a teacher by day and superhero by night. The series — by popular local artist Hector Rodriguez, who is also a bilingual education teacher — aims to show how teachers help solve social issues affecting neighborhoods.

The aggressive recruiting campaign relies on nonprofits, church groups and volunteers to talk to families and teens about opportunities in bilingual education.

Florencia Velasco Fortner, president and CEO of The Concilio, said her nonprofit works with Spanish-speaking families dealing with health and education issues and sees first-hand their struggles to communicate in schools.

Members of the community group have visited shops along Jefferson Boulevard to talk to owners and patrons about encouraging kids to seek teaching as a career and return to their neighborhoods to work one day.

Competition for qualified bilingual teachers is so fierce that many are poached by recruiters from across the country who swoop into Texas to tap the state’s talent pool.

That means some school districts turn to Spain or other countries for bilingual teachers. But they may not be sensitive to the immigration or cultural challenges that the Latinos who grew up in Texas face. Those students who need bilingual education primarily come from families of Mexican or Central American descent.

“When you come up through the system here, you’re not leaving it up to chance that they will understand,” she said. “They’ve seen it or experienced it first hand.”

So far, UNT-Dallas has raised more about $2 million to build up the bilingual education program and make it as affordable as possible. H-E-B grocery store magnate Charles Butt made a donation that will allow some aspiring teachers to get full scholarships when transferring from community colleges.

UNT-Dallas’ efforts are part of amped-up efforts across the area to train more bilingual teachers.

Grand Prairie ISD has partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington to offer high school juniors and seniors dual-credit opportunities that also put them on an accelerated path toward becoming bilingual teachers.

And just this month, Dallas County Community College District officials approved an agreement that will let students take teaching courses from Texas A&M University-Commerce at the El Centro College campus in downtown Dallas. The plan is to eventually offer bilingual education and Spanish education certifications.

The amped-up efforts are essential to Texas, said UNT-Dallas’ Gasko. Many of the state’s largest school districts need about 300 new bilingual teachers each year, he said.

And since bilingual teachers tend to have their pick of job opportunities — with many districts offering up to $10,000 in stipends or signing bonuses to recruit them — getting them to teach in their neighborhood schools is a challenge.

That’s why helping students such as Luis get on the path toward certification more quickly — by repeatedly offering training and residencies at their local campuses — is key to keeping them engaged.

“We’re doubling down on these kids by honoring not only their language culture but investing in them so that they’ll be the ones leading their community,” Gasko said.

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North End Dallas: Tips for Finding a Moving Service

A good moving service can help you when you are moving. They have employees who know how to properly pack your belongings and they are good at moving delicate items.

However, it is hard to find the right moving service in North End Dallas. A good moving service has a good reputation, has been helping people move for several years, and the workers behave professionally when they are helping you move.

Here are the best tips for finding a good moving service.

1 – Reputation

Check the reputation of the moving service you want to hire. A good moving service has a good reputation. It has been helping people move for several years and a lot of people love the moving service. In fact, if you read their reviews online, you will find that they have good reviews only.

2 – Experience

The best moving services in North End Dallas have been helping people for several years. They are experienced so the workers know how to pack your belongings properly. They have the best trucks and they store your fragile items safely. You won’t have to worry about losing some of your items when they are being moved. Avoid new moving services because they do not have enough experience.

3 – The Cost

Hire a moving service that you can afford. The good thing is that there are so many moving services in North End Dallas. Ask them for bids. Choose the best bids, but make sure that the moving service is right for the job. Avoid very cheap bids because the service may not be right for this job.

You now know how to find a good moving service in North End Dallas. Hire reputable moving service that has been in this business for a long time.

A one-two punch: Dallas must end housing segregation to reduce chronic poverty

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Dallas is a city divided by bad housing policies. By intent or default, city policies encourage affordable housing in southern Dallas and market-rate housing in much of the rest of the city. That has resulted in concentrated, generational poverty in predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods south of the Trinity River.

Bottom line: Dallas will not address chronic poverty until it comes to grips with how housing policies have divided this city along racial and income lines.

In a new report, Mike Koprowski, executive director of Opportunity Dallas, a newly formed research and advocacy organization, echoes that conclusion. Dallas, he says, will remain unequal and become increasingly poorer until the entire community embraces a comprehensive housing plan. The plan needs to provide minority residents near the poverty line with the economic mobility that comes with living closer to “high-opportunity areas” in predominantly white and wealthier neighborhoods.

Those are tough words from the former chief innovation officer at the Dallas Independent School District, but the community needs to heed them. From our work on the Bridging Dallas’ North-South Gap and Finding Lifelines for the Working Poor projects, this editorial board has heard over and over again about the need to link low-income workers in high-poverty and minority neighborhoods with jobs, and their children with educational opportunities, that don’t exist where they live now.

African-American and Hispanic families, many of them of low-income, are concentrated in the neighborhoods in Dallas that have the fewest commercial and city services, the worst transportation and the worst schools.

Is it surprising that Dallas has the dubious distinction of having the highest neighborhood inequity of any city with more than 250,000 residents? Or a poverty rate that has increased 42 percent over the past 15 years? Children who grow up in poverty and attend poor schools are likely to become part of yet another cycle of generational poverty and massive neighborhood economic inequality.

To reduce poverty and improve economic mobility, this community must encourage more mixed-income neighborhoods and progressive housing policies to increase minority residents’ access to better opportunities. But this can’t be accomplished without a sea change in the way real estate developers, nonprofits, fair housing advocates, neighborhood associations and urban planners think about how racially divided housing patterns affect economic mobility.

And that’s where Opportunity Dallas can make a difference in driving this discussion forward by speaking truth to power.

The group has a host of smart proposals. Here are the most promising places to start:

Increase access to high-opportunity areas with federal housing vouchers

Research shows that low-income children who moved to a higher-income neighborhood before age 13 were more likely to attend college, get married, have children with a father present in the home, and live in better neighborhoods as an adult; they were less likely to be on government assistance.

Halt discrimination in rental vouchers

Dallas landlords routinely refuse to rent to voucher holders, even if the voucher covers the rent. Consequently, about 60 percent of vouchers are virtually worthless. And about 90 percent of those affected are people of color, most of them African-American. Ironically, some landlords accept the vouchers in low-income neighborhoods and reject them in wealthier neighborhoods, which perpetuates housing segregation.

Increase the supply and availability of mixed-income housing citywide

Dallas needs to develop city policies to encourage private-sector developers to build racially diverse mixed-income housing. This includes developing an ordinance to help people in gentrifying neighborhoods from being forced out of their communities. How? It could be accomplished through preservation districts, better home repair assistance, or using a portion of Tax Increment Financing district revenue to construct affordable housing and tax abatement for longtime residents.

Revitalize low-income neighborhoods

The city needs to make better use of its land bank program and develop a comprehensive housing policy and market analysis that considers the impact of development decisions on housing choices, employment and educational opportunities. Southern Dallas contains 60 percent of the city’s land mass but only 15 percent of the city’s property tax base, meaning that this is a growth opportunity. To its credit, the city manager’s office is formulating a market analysis to better understand this problem.

Flawed housing decisions that have divided this community by race and income must end. Once that changes, the entire city stands to gain.

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Dallas Prosecutor Fired After Clash With Uber Driver: Listen

DALLAS, TX — A Dallas County assistant district attorney was fired Monday after an Uber driver alleged that she berated him while riding in his car.

Shaun Platt, the driver, posted an audio recording of the incident to his Facebook and Reddit accounts in which Jody Warner, the 32-year-old now-former ADA, can be heard belittling the driver and calling him names.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced Monday in a press release that she had decided to terminate Warner, saying, "her behavior is contrary to this office’s core principle of integrity, and it will not be tolerated."

In a press conference Tuesday, attorney Peter Schulte and Judge Elizabeth Davis Frizell came to Warner’s defense, saying that Johnson acted too abruptly in deciding to fire Warner.

"The reason for our conference today is to make sure that you understand that there are two sides to every story," Frizell said. "It’s concerning to me what I have heard about this particular case, because I don’t believe the current District Attorney’s office has all the facts. and I do believe if they had all the facts from both sides, not just from one side, a different decision would have been made in this particular case as to whether or not to terminate Miss Warner."


Warner addressed reporters at the conference, apologizing for her behavior.

"I just want to apologize for my language — to the district attorney’s office — for embarrassing the office that I love very much and respect very much. I embarrassed my family, I embarrassed myself. That is not who I am," Warner said.

Warner admitted she had been drinking at an East Dallas pub before Platt picked her up. She told reporters she began to feel "uncomfortable with the route that he had been taking" when the driver deviated from the directions his GPS gave him to get to her home. Warner, who has worked with sexual assault victims, said she is always more "on edge."

Platt told the Dallas Morning News Warner berated him before he pulled the car over, ended the ride and asked her to leave the car. About five minutes after he pulled the car over, Warner called the police, The News reported.

Platt said before he began recording the incident, Warner threatened that Platt was "never going to work again" and that she "knows people." Platt told The News that she said, "Who are they going to believe? I’m a district attorney."

He then began recording the incident. In the recording, which contains graphic language, Warner can be heard berating Platt and calling him names like "idiot" and "retard."

Read the transcript from an excerpt of the exchange:

Warner: "Oh my god you’re an idiot. You are a legitimate retard. What a joke. I want to go home so badly, but you’re so stupid I want the cops to come so that they can f*ck you up. That’s what I want. Like, you’re such an idiot. I want the cops to come."Platt: "Ma’am, please."Warner: "Dude, you’re all — everything is being recorded. I’m an assistant district attorney, so shut the f*ck up. You had the opportunity to take me home. I think this might be kidnapping right now, actually."Platt: "It’s not kidnapping, ma’am. You’re free to leave."Warner: "It is, ’cause there was an Uber — I’m pretty sure our destination — and you have not taken me to the destination. You’re holding me here. So why don’t you take me to that g*ddamn destination?"Platt: "Ma’am, please leave my vehicle."Warner: "Why don’t you take me to that destination?"Platt: "Ma’am, exit my vehicle please."Warner: "So you’re kidnapping me?"Platt: "I’m not kidnapping you."Warner: "Do you know where my — I had — so like — you know when you picked me up? I gave you a destination; you’re not taking me there. Under the law, it’s recklessly keeping me from where I was going, and you haven’t done that. So you’e kidnapping me right now. You’re committing a third to a first degree felony. So do you want to take me home? Or do you want to stay here? We can hang out; I’m not scared. It’s cool. I was trying to be nice to you. Do you want to take me home, or do you want to — it’s weird. [Unintelligible speaking]."

Platt told The News that a police officer showed up after Platt switched off the recording and took Warner aside. Platt told The News, "She said ‘I’m the DA,’ and she said [to the cop], ‘Can I speak with you?’"

The officer spoke with Warner, then asked Platt, "You good?" Platt replied "I guess so," but told The News, "I should have said, ‘No, I’m not good.’ It was intimidating. I was intimidated."

Warner left with the officer.

Platt said he reported the incident to Uber, who assured him the app would not match him up with Warner again. Platt told The News he forgives her for her behavior.

"I’m sure she’s a good person when she’s sober," he said.

Listen to the recording here (graphic language):

Image via YouTube, Dallas Morning News

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Late Dallas mayor’s 107-year-old home to be reborn as North Oak Cliff eatery

This time next year, give or take, there will be a new restaurant in a very old North Oak Cliff home — a home built in 1910 by the former Chief Justice of Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals who would become Dallas’ mayor during the Texas Centennial of 1936. For that, you can thank the Dallas City Council and the developer for which several council members had nothing but kind words when blessing his project — and its parking requirements — at the end of Wednesday’s council meeting.

Developer Jim Lake, who helped reshape and remake the Bishop Arts District and the Cedars, bought the residence and the archives of Mayor George Sergeant six years ago from the family’s longtime caretaker. And it was always Lake’s intention to convert the house into a restaurant — because, as he told the council, he needed to “make a reasonable return on our investment.”

But there was one significant hang-up: parking requirements.

City regulations, and the plan commission, said because of the way the property’s zoned for mixed-use, Lake needed 30 parking spaces before he could get the OK to convert the home into an eatery — or, one space per 125 square feet of restaurant floor area. But, Lake has long argued, there isn’t enough room around the historic house to accommodate that many cars — especially given the crush of development devouring that part of Oak Cliff near Bishop Arts at Zang and W. Davis Street.

“We were trying to squeeze them in there,” Lake said. “But it didn’t work.”

Nearby residents, complaining of the congestion in their single-family neighborhood off W. Neely Street, came to council Wednesday to reiterate their demands for more parking spaces, not fewer. And in documents sent to the council, city staff said it was “understanding and sensitive” to their concerns.

However, staff said Lake could make do with 22 spots, especially given the property’s proximity to the Oak Cliff-to-downtown free streetcar line. Documents prepared for Wednesday’s meeting said that was the only option left for a tumbledown house whose sole salvation was the restaurant being proposed by the developer.

“In order to revitalize the building and allow for the creation of a high density business,” staff told council, “a parking reduction can be the trade-off for preserving and updating a structure that is important to the history of the City of Dallas.”

In the end, the council sided with city staff — and Lake. The home of The Centennial Mayor will be spared.

“I think this building is significant to the character of Oak Cliff and our heritage,” said North Oak Cliff’s council member Scott Griggs. He lauded Lake as “someone willing to make this investment as a passion project.”

The council was ultimately faced with two choices: approve the parking and give the house a shot at a second life — “the hallmark of the entire Bishop Arts District,” Griggs said — or vote no and allow Sergeant’s home to continue to rot. Lake, whose investment is surrounded by new multi-family construction, even considered moving the house out of the city limits.

“We’ve been offered three times what we paid for that property,” Lake said in an interview. “We could have sold it a long time ago. If the council had voted no, we would have relocated the house to another site — somewhere. And then we would have sold the site.”

And if Lake had parted with the property, the next developer could have built, by right, a three-story mixed-use structure that would have brought even more traffic into the already overwhelmed neighborhood.

The house, which Lake said Wednesday had been abused over the years by the homeless and vandals, has long been on preservationists’ most-endangered lists. Lake said after the council meeting Wednesday that renovations will begin within the next 60 days following the unanimous vote in favor of lowering the parking needs.

“This particular project is historically significant and has so much history behind it,” Lake said, “we thought all the citizens of North Oak Cliff and Dallas should come visit.”

Its name, for now, will be The Mayor’s House Restaurant.

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Cowboys push through bizarre plays to topple Chiefs

Check out the top moments that helped define the outcomes of Sunday’s NFL matchups.


(Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Just two seconds were on the clock before halftime when the Kansas City Chiefs dialed up the perfect play to foil Rod Marinelli’s prevent defense.

With eight Dallas Cowboys defenders stationed inside their own 10-yard line — looking for a Hail Mary — Alex Smith took the snap from Kansas City’s 44-yard line and flipped a pass over the middle for Tyreek Hill.

Tyrone Crawford, the Dallas defensive end, was assured as he turned back to watch the play develop.

“Oh, man, we’ve got this,” Crawford remembered thinking, flashing back in the boisterous locker room following the 28-17 victory.

“All those guys are down there.”

No matter.

Hill, the lightning-fast receiver who doubles as one of the NFL’s most dangerous returners, had a convoy of blockers in his midst. He went into full punt-return mode, darting and dashing to a stunning, 56-yard touchdown.

Crawford’s next thought: “Are you kidding me?”

It was that kind of day at JerryWorld. Strange things happened.

The much-maligned Dallas defense essentially kept one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in check, regaining its groove after the mid-game lapse — Dallas gave up a 62-yard TD drive to start the second half to fall behind for the only time in the entire game, 17-14 — to pass a major test.

If you saw this coming, you should hang out with Tony Romo, Nostradamus in a broadcast booth.

But there they were. This rebuilt defense, applying heat from the front with the likes of Crawford, NFL sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving and rookie Taco Charlton. Kareem Hunt, the NFL’s rushing leader, ran for just 37 yards. Kansas City was 4-for-11 on third-down conversions. Smith, the NFL’s highest-ranked passer, threw his first interception of the season.

If Dallas (5-3) is going to stay in the thick of the race, this is the type of defense it will need.

“I think we’re starting to get close to the type of defense we want to be,” linebacker Sean Lee said.

More tests await: Next up, Atlanta. Sure, the Falcons are sputtering, but they’ll be at home. Maybe reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. are poised for a flashback. Then Philadelphia comes to North Texas. The Eagles, the hottest operation in the NFL, put up 51 points against the Denver Broncos’ top-ranked defense Sunday.

No, this road will not get any easier for the Cowboys — especially if they’re without Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas had its star running back in the mix Sunday, after his six-game suspension was put back on hold by an administrative stay ruling Friday — another entry into the saga that is Elliott legally fighting the NFL’s contention that he violated the league’s domestic violence policy. But despite limited practice time, he rushed for 93 yards on 27 carries, with a touchdown, to provide his typical foundation for the Dallas offense.

But with his on-again, off-again suspension drama flowing with the rulings from the four courts that have touched his case since the suspension came down in August — prompting Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw to crack on a studio show that he’s been the NFL’s comeback player of the year three times over this season — there’s a different layer of inspiration with Elliott’s presence.

When Elliott returned Friday, wideout Dez Bryant reports, “He got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting room.”

Still, while hoping the suspension is nullified, the Cowboys have all along braced themselves for the possibility that Elliott’s appeals will be exhausted and he’ll sit for six games. The deeper this uncertainty goes into the season, the closer the possibility that Elliott will miss some, if not all of the stretch run in December that could determine a playoff berth.

With that scenario in the air, the Cowboys need to prove they can win games like they did Sunday, when the defense dominated and Dak Prescott played splendidly. Prescott passed for an efficient 249 yards (2 TDs, 0 INTs, 106.8 rating) and had three timely runs (27 yards) that included a 10-yard TD scramble and two scampers for first downs.

Also, while Bryant caught six passes for 73 yards, it was Terrance Williams with the 100-yard game (9 catches, 141 yards) and Cole Beasley with a pair of TD catches.

All of that balance on offense, all-around defensive effort, a special teams lockdown. A complete game, to run the winning streak to four games. If they ultimately lose Elliott, is this the formula for the Cowboys to keep winning?

“No, we won with him,” Bryant pointed out. “We need him.”

Having Elliott, Bryant added, creates the matchups for everyone else. Yet not having him might represent the adversity just around the corner.

After the crazy touchdown before the half — some serious in-game adversity — the Cowboys demonstrated a certain resilience.

“Let it go, we can’t change it,” Crawford said of the mindset. “We just have to keep playing.”

They’d better keep that mantra in mind.


PHOTOS: Best of NFL Week 9

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