(April 29, 2011) There has never been a time in the history of education in this country in which equal opportunity has been a reality. It has never been the case that most minority students graduated from quality high schools or from any type of high school. In her keynote at the national conference by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, IDRA President, Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, states that we cannot meet the nation’s goals of educating American youngsters to compete in a global economy without closing the racial-ethnic gaps in high school graduation and college completion rates. She describes IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework that shows how we can transform schools into places of excellence and equity. She also provides examples of schools and communities that have done just that. Send comments to
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* Dr. Montecel explains why more than a half century after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education and Mendez vs. Westminster cases, the promise of educational opportunity for all students in the United States still remains largely unfulfilled.
* She shares the startling high school dropout rates for Black and Hispanic across the nation, and discusses the related impact on lost wages, taxes, and productivity.
* Dr. Montecel introduces IDRA's new book, Courage to Connect – A Quality Schools Action Framework. She talks through the publication's premises, as well as the five critical questions that must discussed in the quest for educational equity:
1) What outcomes are we seeking?
2) What do we need as levers of change?
3) How do we make change happen?
4) Which fundamentals must be in place?
5) Where do we focus our change?
* She talks about connecting school outcomes -- graduation and college readiness -- with the actionable knowledge, accountable leadership, and enlightened public policy needed to produce those outcomes.
* Dr. Montecel explains why the oft-touted national "report cards" offer an incomplete picture of the state of education.
* She talks about IDRA's "OurSchool" portal and shares a story of how the tool is being used by a community group in
South Texas to deliver real educational change.
* Dr. Montecel discusses the impact that quality schools can have on local communities, including lowering crime rates, increasing tax revenues, and driving greater civic engagement.
* She stresses the importance of "effective governance" in education, and offers the example of a new high school principal in
Atlanta who rallied his teachers and revitalized the learning environment.
* Dr. Montecel talks about IDRA's work with MALDEF over the years in the fight on school finance equity in
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