Using inclusive, cutting edge and broad based strategies, IDRA develops leadership within communities, schools, and policymaking bodies to create collaborative and enlightened educational policies that work for all children.
Learn more about significant education policy issues at state and national levels by selecting a box at the bottom of this page.
Tracking, Endorsements and Differentiated Diplomas – When ‘Different’ Really is Less
IDRA released an updated policy note following the close of the legislative session to give outline the new Texas graduation plans and changes to high school curriculum. The new system encourages placing students in different paths toward graduation, some college bound and some bound for labor. This is bad educational policy and practice. To create true opportunities for all of our children, we must commit to high quality curriculum for all students and full, equitable funding of all our schools, especially those neighborhood public schools in our neediest communities. It’s time for Texas to step up, not step back.
A Post Session Assessment of Texas Education Policy Changes Considered, Adopted and Rejected in 2013
Following the close of the 2013 Texas legislative session in May, IDRA assessed policies adopted, rejected or never given the chance to see the light of day. In contrast to the previous session in 2011 when lawmakers labored to craft a budget and attempt to address major education issues while facing an expected multi-billion dollar shortfall, the 2013 session was more of a struggle to convince policymakers to increase investments in the critical areas of education, healthcare, and water and state infrastructure.
, Ph.D., gives an overview of legislative actions regarding key education issues: fair funding, private school vouchers, high-stakes testing and accountability, student curriculum and tracking, accountability for English learner education, and charter schools expansion.
Why More Charter Schools and School Vouchers Are Not Needed in Texas
IDRA released a new policy brief in May 2013 that presents IDRA’s analyses finding that no new additional charter sites are needed in Texas. Instead, more effective and efficient use of the available charters currently authorized by law could address existing demand. IDRA’s research also shows that vouchers do little if anything to improve local public schools and, for the most part, fail to deliver on promises to provide better quality academic outcomes for students enrolled in lower performing public schools. Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO stated: “Texas must do what is best for all Texas students and their families. Our children are worth more than education by lottery.”
IDRA Policy Issues in 2013 for Texas
Much is at stake as the Texas Legislature convenes in Austin until June 2013. See IDRA’s policy issues for this session in Texas. The issues include: equitable funding, public funding for public schools, high-stakes testing and accountability, student access to instruction, special program funding (state aid for English language learners and low-income students), teaching quality, student tracking, and higher education access.
IDRA Calls for Greater Federal Role in Education
In testimony presented before the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission, IDRA stated that it is imperative that new federal policies be adopted to protect the right to equal educational opportunities for all of our students in every state. “When families can’t count on their neighborhood public school to be funded equitably, something has gone deeply wrong in America.” See IDRA’s three recommendations.
Education Funding in Texas
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Court Rules: Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably
The ruling on February 4, 2013, by the Texas District Court, Judge John Dietz presiding, that the Texas school finance system as currently constructed violates the Texas Constitution affirms what communities and educators have known for years. Our state clearly is not providing the resources necessary to educate all children to the high levels that are needed in the 21st century. Consonant with the ruling of the district court, IDRA calls for the following: The time for increased and equitable funding is now – What is needed are critical resources, not more time; Special population funding increases are required; Target revenue and hold-harmless funding should be ended with no more phasing out; Public funding must be reserved for public schools; and Facilities funding priority should be given to public schools. See the statement by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO and related resources.
White Paper: The Cost of Inequity in Education
This literature review looks at the policy-related research regarding education and the cost of inequity. Research has established that the benefits of providing additional schooling for a greater percentage of students far outweigh the additional expenses that are associated with keeping more students enrolled all the way to graduation from high school and college. This white paper provides a brief background and then looks at the following topics: non-separate, but still unequal; expanding expectations for all schools and all students; access to higher education; economic payoff of high school and college diplomas; the additional costs associated with graduating more students from high school and college; recognition of the non-education based cost of education inequity; and other cost savings correlated with increased levels of educational attainment. It closes with a summary, conclusions and related policy implications.
IDRA Presents Expert Testimony in School Finance Trial
More than half of the school districts in Texas - representing three-fourths of the students - have sued the state for its failure to provide sufficient and equitable funding to ensure all students graduate prepared for college and career. IDRA’s director of policy, Dr. Albert Cortez is presenting expert testimony today. One of IDRA’s findings is that Texas’ richest districts have over $35,000 more to spend per classroom on teachers, books, etc., than our poorest districts. IDRA has created a dashboard to collect news about the Texas school finance trial for easy access for parents, school folk & communities. You can see the latest news stories, live tweets, images, etc.
See the slides from Dr. Albert Cortez’s testimony on December 3, 2012, in the school finance trial.
See the IDRA’s initial report, “the Extent of Equity in the Texas School Finance System and Its Impact on Selected Student Related Issues.”
Fair Funding Now! for Texas Education
In 2011, the Texas legislature cut education funding for the first time in four decades. Instead of ending funding disparities, they walked away – pushing millions of Texas children aside. But communities across the state are taking action to make sure that schools are equipped to guarantee that all children graduate ready for college and career. Get tools, handouts, news and more resources at IDRA’s Courageous Connections – Fair Funding Now! website.
Visit IDRA’s Fair Funding for the Common Good website for news and resources
Infographic: Texas School Funding Equity Gap
See IDRA’s new graphic showing how some children are considered more valuable than others in Texas. It doesn’t have to be this way. (shareable web graphic, png)
Infographic: State Ranking in Education Funding
See IDRA’s graphic showing Texas' rank of 43 in education funding per student. It doesn’t have to be this way. (shareable web graphic, png)
Infographic: High School Attrition in Texas
See IDRA’s graphic showing how Texas public schools are losing one out of four students. It doesn’t have to be this way. (shareable web graphic, png)
Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs in Texas
Almost 10 years ago, IDRA gave voice to the thousands of Texas public school students who were being criminalized, ostracized and stigmatized for “offenses” that were formerly managed by a simple timeout or even a visit to the principal’s office with its seminal assessment of Texas DAEPs. IDRA’s latest policy update released March 2009, shows that in the last decade, more than three quarters of a million students have been sent to DAEPs. Four out of five students of them are not there because of serious offenses. Put simply, DAEPs are a mess. They don’t work for kids, they don’t work for schools, and they don’t work for Texas.
Read Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs in Texas – A 2009 Update (pdf)
Access to Quality Curriculum Weakened in Texas
At a time when we most need strength, Texas education is at-risk of being weakened
IDRA President and CEO, María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., outlines how Texas’ new tracking graduation plans are likely to have a devastating effect on the state.
What Parents Want to Know about the New Texas Graduation Guidelines
The new Texas graduation guidelines went into effect with incoming ninth grade students in the 2010-11 school year and contain critical information we must provide parents, educators, students and community members. As educators, we are obligated to inform parents and students of the consequences related to each track or program. Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D, provides some quick facts for schools to convey -- in a language that is comprehensible for each family. The information is based on the questions parents have been asking IDRA about the new guidelines.
See bilingual PowerPoint presentation: Texas High School Graduation Requirements Tejas Requisitos de Graduación
See our one-page graphical flier on the New Texas Graduation Programs (pdf) (sharable web graphic, png)
IDRA publications related to education policy