María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.
President & CEO, Intercultural Development Research Association
Dr. Maria “Cuca” Robledo Montecel is president and CEO of the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to equity and excellence in education. IDRA works with school systems, institutions of higher education, and communities across the country to create education that works for all children, particularly those who are minority, poor or limited-English-proficient. Dr. Robledo Montecel is responsible for creating and managing organizational strategies that further that mission.
María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.
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Recent Speeches or Statements
- Video: “Until Next Time” remarks on the occasion of celebrating 13 years of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in Brazil, 2012
- Can’t Wait to Celebrate 100% Graduation in Texas – On TEA’s Latest Dropout Study, statement, August 10, 2012
- Fair Funding is Essential to Having Excellent Schools for All Texas Students, statement, December 14, 2011
- Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably, statement, May 25, 2011
- Don't Repeat Past Wrongs in Texas Education – Insufficient Attention and Lack of Investment in Education Helped Put Texas Where it is, statement, February 9, 2011
- Opportunity Matters: The Call to Increase Excellence and Equity, testimony, June 8, 2011
- Equal Access to a Quality Education – The Civil Rights Issue of Our Generation, keynote, March 29, 2011
- Keynote Address – Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, keynote, February 1, 2011
- “An ‘Until Next Time’ from San Antonio – On the Occasion of Celebrating 13 Years of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in Brazil,” IDRA Newsletter, October 2012
- “Higher Education Success – Key System Strategies,” IDRA Newsletter, May 2012
- “Time to Make High School Graduation the New Minimum,” IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2011
- “Honoring the Life of Dr. José Angel Cárdenas,” IDRA Newsletter, October 2011
- Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework, 2010
- “At a Time When We Most Need Strength, Texas Education is At-Risk of Being Weakened,” IDRA Newsletter, June-July 2010
- “Holding On to the Goal of Quality Education for Every Child,” IDRA Newsletter, September 2009
- “Presenting IDRA’s Framework for Effective Instruction of Secondary English Language Learners,” IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2008
- “Costs of Bilingual Education,” with Albert Cortez, Encyclopedia on Bilingual Education, 2008 (Vol. 1, pp. 180-183)
- “The Civil Rights Issue of Our Generation,” April 29, 2011
- “Continuities with Lessons in Dropout Prevention,” December 17, 2009
- “The Civil Rights Issue of Our Generation,” April 29, 2011
- “School Change Strategies,” April 27, 2009
- “Fundamentals for School Change,” April 7, 2009
- “Action for School Change,” October 21, 2008
- “Framing Systems Change for Student Success,” March 2, 2007
- “School Holding Power for Every Child,” January 4, 2007
Dr. Robledo Montecel’s lifetime concern with youth has provided inspiration and vision for many communities across the country. Going against the current deficit model approaches in schools, she champions the value, integrity and possibilities of all children.
Dr. Robledo Montecel holds a bachelor of social work degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and a master’s degree in educational evaluation from Antioch College. She earned a doctorate in research and evaluation from the Urban Education program at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Her dissertation topic was “Utilization of Research in Education: Theories in Use Among University Faculty and Local Education Agency Personnel.”Dr. Robledo Montecel was named a Women and Minorities Research Fellow by the National Institute of Education.
A nationally-recognized expert on the prevention and recovery of dropouts, Dr. Robledo Montecel pioneered research on school dropouts in Texas. She was principal investigator and project director of the Texas School Dropout Survey Project, the first statewide study of dropouts in Texas. The research examined the scope and economic impact of the dropout problem. The results of the study informed the development of dropout prevention policy and practice in the state. She was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Houston where she studied differences in campus dropout rates with the Houston Independent School District, and was project director of the JTPA-funded evaluation of model programs for young adults without a high school diploma.
Under her leadership, IDRA’s innovative dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, has made a visible difference in the lives of more than 721,000 children, families and educators. The program was validated under the U.S. Department of Education’s National Diffusion Network as a program that works. It was also identified as a Program of Academic Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs and was selected as a 1992 Star of Texas program and 1993 Best of Texas program. In addition, The Peter F. Drucker Foundation recognized the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program for excellence in non-profit management.
In the 1990s, she served as principle investigator in an OBEMLA national study of effective programs serving English language learner (ELL) students around the United States, and identification of the critical program elements determined to be essential to delivery of effective instructional services to ELL students. This research produced the Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English rubric now used by schools around the country to help guide development or refinement of instructional programs for ELL students in a variety of settings. She also has served as principal investigator for landmark research studies, such as IDRA’s seminal bilingual education cost studies in the states of Colorado and Utah in the 1980s, which assessed cost factors involved in delivering bilingual instructional services to ELL students.
Dr. Robledo Montecel led IDRA’s role as managing partner in building the ENgaging LAtino Communities for Education (ENLACE) initiative, which was designed to strengthen the educational pipeline and increase opportunities for Latino students to enter and complete college. ENLACE was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Houston Endowment, Inc.
Dr. Robledo Montecel currently serves on the policy committee of the Public Education Network and on the advisory board for the Univision Education Campaign. She also has served as an invited expert on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and was invited to present testimony before the federal Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives.
She served as a member of the Texas Task Force on Dropout Prevention and as a consultant on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Program in Immigrant Education. She served as a member of the Texas Task Force on Dropout Prevention and as a consultant on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Program in Immigrant Education.
Dr. Robledo Montecel is an associate member of Hispanics in Philanthropy, a founding member of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, a three-term trustee of Our Lady of the Lake University, and served on the founding board of directors of the Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation, an organization created to strengthen ties between Mexican citizens and the Mexican American community. She served as co-chair of the San Antonio 2000 Lifelong Learning Council. Dr. Robledo Montecel chaired the San Antonio Community Education Leadership Program and served as board member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She served as an elected trustee of the San Antonio-Mexico Foundation for education.
Dr. Robledo Montecel has authored and co-authored a number of publications focusing on effective bilingual education, school holding power and parent leadership. These include: The Undereducation of American Youth, a study of the 16- to 24-year-old population in the 50 states; The Answer: Valuing Youth in Schools and Families, which presents strategies for communities, educators and parents working to keep young people in school and to educate those who have dropped out; and Hispanic Families as Valued Partners: An Educator’s Guide, which provides background information about minority families and recommendations for involving them in their children’s schools. In 2009, she published, Continuities – Lessons for the Future of Education from the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, which vividly captures seven key lessons for improving the quality of education for all students. It presents the voices of youth, teachers, family members and program leaders and the reasons valuing youth is at the heart of school transformation.
IDRA’s new book, Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework, edited by Dr. Robledo Montecel and Christie Goodman, shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students using the Quality Schools Action Framework™ developed by Dr. Robledo Montecel.
Dr. Robledo Montecel has been named among the top 100 Hispanic influentials by Hispanic Business magazine and was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame.
IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, directed by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to strengthening public schools to work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.
Contacting staff at IDRA: Thanks to the world of spam, we cannot post the email address of individual staff members. However, you can either call IDRA directly at 210-444-1710 or use our online form to have your message directed to the staff member you want to reach.