Education Policy

Federal Education Advocacy

The promise of quality education is our nation’s promise not to the privileged few but to all our children.

Federal education policies impact funding for schools that serve marginalized students, enforcement of critical civil rights protections, and important data collection requirements. Federal agency and court decisions impact how schools across the country serve students. IDRA works to ensure these laws, rules and court decisions are equitable and expand educational opportunities for all students.

Learn more about IDRA’s work to build safe and welcoming schools for all students below.

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While state laws and education agency rules influence much of how schools function, federal policies and court decisions also play a critical role in how students are served in elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

Federal laws, like the Every Student Succeeds Act, the CARES Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, provide funding, protections and programmatic support to schools with historically underserved students, including students of color, students from families with limited incomes, immigrant students, English learners and students with disabilities.

Federal agency rules and guidance provide instructions for schools about how departments interpret and enforce federal law, including important civil rights protections for students. And decisions made by federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, influence how schools, districts, municipalities, states and many others comply with laws.

IDRA’s national policy work brings research, data, and student and family experience to federal bodies to ensure equitable policymaking at every level.

Learn more about IDRA’s national priority policy recommendations.


Changing Policy

IDRA’s National Policy Priorities

Joint letter to U.S. Senate leadership in response to bipartisan Senate legislative proposal on gun violence prevention, June 14, 2022

IDRA and over 1,070 organizations, representing all 50 states and D.C., submitted a public comment to the Biden Administration urging action to protect immigrant families, April 25, 2022

IDRA and 20 other Texas education and policy organizations submitted joint comments to the U.S. Department in support of proposed rules that would make the federal Charter School Program grants more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. If adopted, charter schools that apply for the federal start-up funds would be required to document the impact on the affected school districts and students who choose to attend their local public schools. April 13, 2022

Students Deserve Access to Books and Curricula that Reflect their Experiences –IDRA Statement on U.S. House Hearing “Free Speech Under Attack: Book Bans & Academic Censorship,” April 7, 2022

Serving All Students: Promoting a Healthier, More Supportive School Environment, Hearing by the U.S. House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, February 16, 2022

Joint letter to the calling for action in support of a suite of bills to address harmful school discipline and policing, with Federal School Discipline and Climate Coalition and 205 other organizations, October 26, 2021

Joint Letter to U.S. Department of Justice urging for the end federal funding for police in schools, with American Civil Liberties Union and 150 other organizations, February 25, 2021

IDRA Gives Recommendations to Members of the President-elect Biden Education Transition Team – Incoming administration should focus on much-needed COVID-19 relief and policies that promote systemic educational equity, December 9, 2020

10 Ways the Biden/Harris Administration Can Prioritize School Integration in its First 100 Days, National Coalition on School Diversity (IDRA is a member), December 2020

President-Elect Joseph R. Biden regarding Federal School Discipline and Climate Recommendations, signed by Open Society Policy Center, IDRA and almost 100 other organizations and individuals, December 18, 2020

Letter to U.S. Congress Allow Sufficient Time for Data Processing and Quality Assurance in 2020 Census, October 2020

Comments in Response to Interim Final Rule on CARES Act Programs; Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools, Leadership Conference Sign-On Letter, July 30, 2020

Joint Letter to Congress Regarding Next Round of COVID-19 Funding, with Southern Education Foundation and others, July 27, 2020

IDRA Letter to US Congress Urging Education Equity in Next Stimulus Package, July 27, 2020

Joint Statement on Educational Equity During COVID-19, April 29, 2020

IDRA CARES Act Letter to Congressional Leaders, April 20, 2020

Supplemental Funding for English Learners/Title III in COVID Relief – Joint Letter, April 17, 2020

A Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis and to Establish Stronger Efforts to Promote Racial Equity in San Antonio, August 19, 2020

Signing on to Legislation

IDRA joins more than 200 organizations and individuals as part of the Federal School Discipline and Climate Coalition to send letter to Congressional offices to end corporal punishment. April 29, 2022

Support Legislation to Advance Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climates, joint letter with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 230 other organizations. The five bills we’re urging lawmakers to support are the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (S 2125/HR 4011); the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S 1858/HR 3474); the Protecting our Students in Schools Act (S 2029/HR 3836); the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2021 (S 2410/HR 4402); and the Ending Pushout Act of 2021 (HR 2248). January 19, 2022

Joint letter by the National Coalition on School Diversity, IDRA and over 50 organizations and numerous individuals supporting the Strength in Diversity Act (HR 729), January 11, 2022

Joint letter by the National Coalition on School Diversity, IDRA and over 50 organizations and numerous individuals encouraging Congress to retain the Fostering Diverse Schools Program in the FY 2022 budget, January 11, 2022

Recommendations from the Federal School Discipline and Climate Coalition (FedSDC) in Response to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Request for Information Regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, July 23, 2021

The Federal School Discipline and Climate Coalition’s (FedSDC) comments in response to OCR’s, Request for Information Regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline — Docket ID ED–2021–OCR–0068, July 23, 2021

Strength in Diversity Act of 2019 (HR 2639), see the bill’s timeline by the National Coalition on School Diversity

Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act (S 4360/HR 7848)

Protecting Our Students in Schools Act 

Acting on Research and Data 

What Safe Schools Should Look Like for Every Student – A Guide to Building Safe and Welcoming Schools and Rejecting Policies that Hurt Students, IDRA Issue Brief, by Morgan Craven, J.D., June 16, 2022

Building Supportive Schools from the Ground Up – Community Recommendations on Federal Relief Funds for Education, by Morgan Craven, J.D., December 15, 2021

Policy Primer: Ensuring Education Equity During and After COVID-19, IDRA’s living document listing policies to preserve and promote educational equity

Cutting Public School Relief Funds to Subsidize Private Schools – Issue Brief, July 16, 2020

Influencing Agency and Court Actions

Supreme Court Further Erodes Separation of Church and State in Public Schools – Public School Employees Should Not Elevate Any Faith Over Another, June 28, 2022

Supreme Court Allows Use of Public Funds for Religious Instruction, Giving License to State-Subsidized Discrimination, June 22, 2022

Letter with recommendations to ensure that the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX rules provide strong protections against sexual harassment, as well as other forms of sex discrimination, in schools. National Women’s Law Center, joined by 56 organizations including IDRA, March 15, 2022

Letter providing recommendations for the Civil Rights Data Collection, including general reporting procedures and demographic data elements, emergent bilingual (English learner) student data, and school discipline and policing, February 11, 2022

Letter urging the Office for Civil Rights to make changes to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) timing and survey instrument, sent by Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, IDRA and 28 other organizations, March 22, 2021

IDRA Lists Concerns with Proposed Amendments to Title IX Gender Equity Regulations – Comments on Title IX Regulations to the Department of Education, January 30, 2019

Civil Rights Data Collection Comment to the Department of Education, November 18, 2019

IDRA Comment on Equitable Services in the CARES Act to the Department of Education, July 31, 2020

IDRA Amicus Brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, October 30, 2015

Engaging Communities

IDRA partners with the Teach the Truth coalition, which believes that students across the state of Texas deserve an accurate, honest and quality education that allows them to see themselves represented, to access truthful information and to learn from our past in order to build a better future for themselves and our country.

  • Teaching Truth Webinar Series: Protecting and Advancing Culturally Responsive Curricula in Our Schools – coming soon

Joint letter supporting the confirmation of Miguel Cardona to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education, by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, IDRA and the 108 other organizations, March 1, 2021

Understanding and Addressing Racial Trauma and Supporting Black Students in Schools – Policy Brief, February 2021

A Promise to Fulfill the Legacy of Brown and Mendez

How to Submit Public Comments to the U.S. Department of Education

Tighter Census Bureau Deadline Delivers Blow to Communities with Hard-to-Count Populations – With Changes and Action, We Are Capable of Getting a Complete Census Count, August 19, 2020

Creating Your Education Blueprint for Action – Mendez and Brown Community Dialogues – A Launch Kit

Communicating Effectively 

IDRA Federal Education Policy – Inside! Dream Act, digital inequity, youth leaders, banning corporal punishment, May 26, 2022

IDRA Federal Education Policy Update – Inside! Book bans, corporal punishment, just-ended Georgia legislative session, April 21, 2022

A Civil Rights Community Response to Attacks on the Right of Students to Learn About Historical and Ongoing Racial Oppression in the United States, July 8, 2021

Congressional Briefing Stresses Need to End Corporal Punishment of Students – Event video

Supreme Court Ruling Widens the Door to Use Public Funds for Vouchers and Religious Schools, Statement on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, July 1, 2020

IDRA Lauds Supreme Court Decision to Keep DACA Alive, Urges Schools to Affirm Immigrant Rights, June 18, 2020

IDRA Praises Supreme Court Ruling Affirming Rights of LGBTQ Employees to be Free From Discrimination, June 15, 2020

Commentary: Not aiding DACA students merciless, by Celina Moreno, for the San Antonio Express-News, May 13, 2020

Seven Actions to Fulfill the Promise of Brown and Mendez

Eradicating the School-to-Prison Pipeline through a Comprehensive Approach to School Equity, Arkansas Law Review, by Morgan Craven, J.D., Paula Johnson, Ph.D., & Terrence Wilson, J.D., Summer 2020

Court Decision on the “Public Charge” Rule Leaves Schools to Fill Gaps to Address Children’s Hunger, Housing Insecurity and Other Needs that Affect their Learning, January 27, 2020

How Should Schools Respond to ICE Raids? Some Advice, Corey Mitchell, Education Week, August 9, 2019

Protect college admission laws that reward merit, hard work [op ed], Celina Moreno, J.D., Texas Tribune, April 4, 2019

For more resources, see IDRA’s Federal Policy site.