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.
IDRA Policy Issues in 2015 for Texas
Much is at stake as the Texas Legislature convenes in Austin this January. See IDRA’s policy issues for this session in Texas. The issues include: fair funding, special program funding, access to instruction for ELL students, quality curriculum for all students, accountability that doesn’t hurt children, access to early childhood education, education of immigrant children, access to high quality teaching, higher education access for success, and public funding for public schools.
The New Every Student Succeeds Act -- Progress and Promise or Retreat and Surrender
Last week, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, making it the first major overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 13 years. While it advances some important civil rights protections, it also is saddled with many questionable provisions and uncertainty. See IDRA’s overview of the provisions of the ESSA that are good for equity for underserved schoolchildren and those that are not.
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.
English Learner Education
The New ELL Toolkit – Potentially a Great Resource… but Beware of Misuse
The U.S. Department of Education recently released a new, comprehensive English Learner Toolkit, which is a compilation of the latest research findings, current policy and resources or “tools,” such as sample surveys and assessments, for districts and schools to use in addressing the educational needs of their English learners. When used in its entirety, the kit will be a great new resource for districts and schools to provide a quality education for English learners as required. But, the toolkit also may be misused to justify practices that do not protect the civil rights of English learners or that promote detrimental programs. IDRA’s letter highlights potential areas for abuse of the toolkit.
IDRA files Amicus Brief in Fisher v. UT
IDRA has filed a friend of the court, or amicus, brief in the higher education admissions case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Filed on October 30, 2015, our brief encourages U.S. Supreme Court to consider systemic challenges facing Latino and African American students in public schools. IDRA’s brief presents research for the court to consider on several challenges facing, and being overcome by, Latino and African American students in Texas’ PK-12 public education system, including under-resourced schools, under-preparation for college entrance exams, disparate student discipline referrals, student mobility, and the importance of diverse experiences.
Classnotes Podcast: How the Fisher Case Relates to Equity in Public Schooling
David Hinojosa, J.D., gives a quick background of the Fisher v. University of Texas case and outlines IDRA’s amicus brief, which presents research on several challenges facing Latino and African American students in Texas public schools, including under-resourced schools, under-preparation for college entrance exams, disparate student discipline referrals, student mobility, and the importance of diverse experiences.
Education Funding in Texas
The State of Texas Open-Enrollment Charter Schools
IDRA provided written testimony of its research and analysis on charter schools in Texas. The state Senate Committee on Education met December 7 to take up interim charges regarding charters. IDRA’s testimony, “The State of Texas Open-Enrollment Charter Schools and a Modest Proposal to Diversify and Improve Public Charter Schools,” focuses on issues impacting the Texas Senate’s study of the approval, expansion, and revocation of public charter schools in Texas, including the performance of charter schools in Texas and efficiency concerns related to the expanded funding of charter schools. We conclude with a proposal for the Senate to consider an approach to new charters that would aim to ensure high quality, equal educational opportunities in a diverse learning environment.
Court Rules Again that Texas School Funding Must Serve All Students Equitably
The Texas District Court, Judge John Dietz presiding, ruled in August of 2014 that the Texas school finance system violates the Texas Constitution. Judge Dietz ruled that the current funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO, said: “The state of Texas has struggled with inadequate, inequitable education funding for far too long – perpetuating funding schemes that value some groups of schools and students over others. That was the old Texas. It is time for the new Texas – one that provides equal educational opportunity not for just some – but for all of its children.”
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
Three out of four parents of teens in the Texas Rio Grande Valley have not received info about the new tracking policies and graduation plans
The Equal Voice-Rio Grande Valley Network surveyed more than 1,600 parents about their knowledge about Texas’ curriculum tracking policies and new graduation requirements. Few parents across 24 school districts and 30 cities in the Rio Grande Valley had received information from their children’s schools. IDRA analyzed the survey data and developed a report with the survey’s key findings, implications, and recommended next action steps for communities. Results were shared at an event and press conference in August 2015. See the bilingual infographic and the report as a PDF or on Slideshare.
Bilingual Flier on the New Texas Graduation Requirements
The Texas Legislature changed the graduation requirements for Texas students. The Texas diploma is no longer standard across the state. Some rigorous courses are no longer required by Texas, which means many students may not be prepared for college. But it doesn’t have to be this way. See this one-page flier for an overview of the requirements and what families, schools and communities can do. (also available for black and white printing)
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.
IDRA publications related to education policy