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Monday, 03 August 2015

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The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

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June-July 2015 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
June-July 2015

Focus ~ Accountability and Civic Engagement

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Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

Supporting Undocumented Youth through Community Engagement
Given that children from families with at least one undocumented parent make up almost 7 percent of all K-12 students in the country, it is imperative that we as a community provide these youth with the necessary support structures to achieve their academic potential and grow up to be thriving adults.  In this article, Sofia Bahena, Ed.D., discusses  how schools, families and communities can play a significant role in development and educational experiences of undocumented youth and those who are members of mixed-status families.

¿Y Ahora Qué? And Now What? – Community Groups in South Texas Work Together to Improve Education
Over the course of eight years, the Equal Voice-Rio Grande Valley Network has grown with 11 community-based organizations and seven working groups, all collaborating to give voice to an estimated 50,000 constituents in their low-income communities. Throughout it all, with funding from the Marguerite Casey Foundation and leveraged funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the Kresge Foundation, as Josie D. Cortez, M.A., describes here IDRA has provided strategic capacity strengthening support to the Equal Voice-RGV Network and its individual organizations. She highlights one initiative in particular that led to a revealing community survey about graduation requirements.  

Listen to our Classnotes podcast episode on Engaging Parents through Powerful Coalition Building, with José Medrano of the START Center in South Texas


Parents from Across Texas Share Ideas and Strategies at Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute
Nearly 300 people participated in the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute this spring, most of them parents – and all of this with minimal advertisement, in fact, mostly by word of mouth. The institute is designed to be a forum for parents to demonstrate their roles as decision-makers and as presenters, which are the two highest components of IDRA’s family leadership model in education. In this article, Felix Montes, Ph.D., summarizes results of in-depth interviews from participants who attended the institute this year.  

Watch videos from the IDRA’s Annual La Semana del Niño Parent Institute™. Multiple sessions  were streamed live and are on YouTube. Topics include:


- Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program [44:27 min]
- Family Leadership for Student Success – Full day in the central room [05:13:04 min]
- The Prek 4 SA Model [27:21 min]
- Leadership in Early Childhood Education [31:57 min]
- Texas Education Policy [54:31 min]

Six Teens Win 2015 National Essay Contest Awards – Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Tutors Share Stories of the Program’s Impact on Their Lives
Six students received prizes in a national competition among participants in the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors wrote about how the program helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better.

See the full text of the winning essays 


Effective Dropout Prevention – Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. Learn more about the program and how to bring this program to your school.


Meet Sofía Bahena, Ed.D., IDRA Senior Education Associate
This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. Dr. Sofía Bahena is a member of IDRA’s Department of Civic Engagement. She has been part of a group of Latinos diligently working to establish the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance (HLAA), the first of its kind to be officially recognized by Harvard University. As a first-generation college student and as a Latina in higher education, the mentorship and support from her community has played a critical role in her academic and professional journey.

2015 Martha A. Hernández Scholarship Winner Announced
Ms. Alexis Valdez has been selected as this year’s Martha A. Hernández Scholarship recipient. During her life and in her work at IDRA, Ms. Hernández distinguished herself for exceptional professionalism, service and care of others. IDRA set up a scholarship in her name through the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. The San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame presented this scholarship award and others during a candlelight ceremony for graduating seniors at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of San Antonio ISD. In addition, SAWHOF presented each graduate with a commemorative copy of the commencement address presented by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel at the Our Lady of the Lake University graduation in May 2015. The text of the address is available online at Congratulations to Ms. Alexis Valdez and to all the graduates of YWLA and OLLU!


May 2015 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus    

Classnotes podcasts on Accountability and Civic Engagement

Parent Institutes for Education – Episode 89

Communities Using Data to Improve their Schools – Episode 34

School Change Strategies – Episode 53

School Accountability to Poor Families – Episode 60

Video: Dropout Prevention that WorksSee this quick overview of how the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program impacts students and schools. [01:30 min]

Communities in Action for Strengthening School Holding Power – Communities and their neighborhood public schools can strengthen school holding power to guarantee that every child graduates from high school ready for college and the world of work. Strategic action must take place at the community and school level as well as at the statewide systems change level. Get ideas for action.


Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools – Download the alert as a bilingual school opening alert flier (English-Spanish) to share with others. Get more information on our dedicated webpage



Commencement Address
Dr. Maria "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, OLLU alumna and president and CEO of IDRA, delivered the Commencement Address in May at the graduation ceremony for Our Lady of the Lake University. 


Call for Applications for IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program – IDRA is inviting research applications for the IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program. This will be the second round of this new fellows program to support research that will inform efforts to secure equitable funding of public schools across the country.



IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™



 Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.


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