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Friday, 30 January 2015

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Parents can be vocal and assertive leaders advocating for excellent schools. Through IDRA’s almost 40-year history, a strong model of parent engagement has evolved, constructed from the experiences in the field, especially with Title I schools and the families whose children attend them. This website helps families see how their school is doing and how the school should treat you (English & Spanish), see actions families can take, get resources on IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education model and learn about college preparation for all students.

Get the IDRA Newsletter by Email
We’ve launched the IDRA Newsletter in a mobile-ready e-Letter format! Now you can choose how you want to receive the newsletter, which is also published in print and on the IDRA website. Sign up to get the IDRA Newsletter by email today!


Seven Elements of the PTA Comunitario Approach
Meaningful family and community engagement is a critical element for strengthening schools. IDRA’s PTA Comunitario model is an innovation for parent organizations and for school-family-community collaborations. Yet it is probably very close to the intentions and actions of the founders of PTA over a hundred years ago. The roots are in colonias (unincorporated communities) in south Texas. This eBook outlines the seven elements of the PTA Comunitario approach that make it so unique and powerful. 

PTA Comunitario ~ The Power of Family Leadership in Education
The idea that parents don’t care about education is a myth. When families are treated with dignity and respect, they become the strongest long-term advocates for a quality public education for all children. An example of this is the PTA Comunitario model, which is grounded in IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education process and decades of experience engaging parents and families in education and partnering with community-based organizations in South Texas working with poor families in distressed colonias. In late 2012, IDRA was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to expand development of the PTA Comunitario model in five communities in Central and South Texas, through the i3 Initiative.

Federal Grant to Help Expand Relationship Between Parent and Community Groups in the Rio Grande Valley
IDRA hosted an Investment in Education (i3) grant kick-off event today to announce the development of community-based PTAs in five communities in the Rio Grande Valley . For the past three years, IDRA, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA) and ARISE have successfully partnered to implement the PTA Comunitario, a community organization-based PTA that gathers family leaders in Texas ’ poorest communities to engage them on education policies and educational opportunities for their children. As part of the grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) fund, five additional school districts will join the original partnership to expand these efforts. The five additional school districts are: La Joya ISD, San Benito ISD, La Feria ISD, Donna ISD and Rio Grande City ISD.

Video on Communities Using Data
See video interview of Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., about communities using data [06:02 min]. He tells the story of a group of low-income Spanish-speaking families and their high school children used data and surveys to collaborate with their school to improve math instruction. He states: “If data is presented in meaningful chunks, parents will look it, will ask the right questions and, if supported and encouraged, will take steps to at least dig deeper in a way that will help the school understand: here is what we need to do to resolve this problem.”

Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools
Many educators are not aware that the education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision or that certain procedures must be followed when registering immigrant children in school. The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education recently reminded schools that activities that deny or discourage students to attend school are unlawful. See IDRA’s School Opening Alert for details. Available in pdf in English and Spanish.

Families Engaging Each Other to Improve Schools – IDRA’s Annual La Semana del Niño Parent Institute™
In the United States , schools have a long tradition of equating student success with family involvement. Just like motherhood and apple pie, family engagement in schools is the accepted mantra and expectation. Of course quality instruction and resources also have much to do with student success, but many accept the notion that family engagement is one very important aspect of student growth and ultimate success. So while in theory no one argues with the philosophy of family involvement, the type of engagement has been a loosely defined arena. In this article, Frances M. Guzmán, M.Ed., discusses how involvement of families has been determined more recently to focus on active partnerships that drive school reform and promote student achievement. She also outlines IDRA’s work in this area from our Family Leadership in Education model to the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute™, which has become known for its innovation in showcasing parents as presenters.

Video Introduction to the IDRA OurSchool Portal
The IDRA OurSchool portal is designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them. [02:16 min]

Tracking, Endorsements and Differentiated Diplomas – When ‘Different’ Really is Less
IDRA released a new policy note in April 2013 that presents an overview of the failure of tracking in schools and what tracking looks like in Texas . Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO stated: “A vital state must have educational parity for all students and not parcel out one set of opportunities for some and minimal expectations for others… Policymakers and schools should not make pre-college decisions on behalf of students or track them into low-level courses that limit career options. It’s time for Texas to step up, not step back.”

Opportunity Matters – IDRA 2012 Annual Report
Forty years ago, in 1973, IDRA was founded by Dr. José Angel Cárdenas, in San Antonio . It was on the West Side of this city that Hispanic families and community members took to the streets and to the courts – even to the U.S. Supreme Court – to demand an equitable public education for their children. That struggle, for educational equity and excellence for every student, was the driving force behind our founding. And it is the thread that is woven across everything that we do today and will do tomorrow. IDRA’s latest annual report tells stories of our work through three strategies.

¡YA! Es Tiempo – Securing Educational Excellence and Equity for All Students in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas
See how more than 100 residents in a Rio Grande Valley community talked with White House officials, examined data about their schools and developed strategies and commitments they will take to improve schools for children and youth in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Rosie Castro on Parent Engagement” IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 115
IDRA led the bilingual parent institute at the Texas Association for Bilingual Education with a focus on: “Bilingual Ed Paves the Road to College.” Rosie Castro presented the keynote and talked about the value of bilingual education in schools today, how she emphasized to her young sons (San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro) that they were going to go to college. Ms. Castro directs the Center for Academic Transitions at Palo Alto College in San Antonio . IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework emphasizes the role of community and families to strengthening public schools to work for all children. Ms. Castro has a powerful legacy of community advocacy and, during her keynote, gave suggestions for finding partners to help parents support their children’s education.

You can also see a video of her keynote presentation (26 min).

Engaging Parents in Education
A new publication by the U.S. Department of Education profiles five parent information and resource centers, including IDRA Texas PIRC, and best practices in parent engagement. View publication here.


IDRA Texas PIRC Director Profiled
The director of the IDRA Texas PIRC, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., was profiled in an interview in Our Children magazine. Our Children has provided the pdf version of the article for view here.


IDRA’s book, Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework™. See how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students. Visit the book’s web page to get a table of contents, excerpt, related podcasts and other resources related to this book. Order your copy today! 

IDRA Classnotes Podcast – conversational audio program with episodes on parent engagement.




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