The IDRA EAC-South helps create schools that work for all children by creating access to equal and equitable educational opportunities. Since 1975, the center has guided thousands of school districts to focus on educational opportunity as a fundamental responsibility and civil right for which all schools and districts are accountable.
The IDRA EAC-South specifically serves states and school districts in federal Region II: Washington, D.C., Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
At the request of a local or state education agency, the IDRA EAC-South can help schools and communities develop the capacity to offer innovative, asset-based solutions in meeting the educational needs of traditionally underserved students and communities. The center uses federal funds to offer its expert services at little or no cost to school districts.
Focused Areas of Need
Based on the identified problem and need, the center can provide an array of high quality, research-based technical assistance services, ranging from universal products such as surveys to comprehensive, ongoing training and technical assistance in the following equity areas.
Race Equity. Research shows that we still have progress to make to ensure that students of color receive and equitable educational opportunities. Issues in equity and desegregation negatively impact student success in numerous ways to include a lack of access and opportunity to gifted programs and advanced coursework, low expectations, disproportionate student discipline, and unequal resource distribution. Inequitable educational opportunities can lead to higher dropout rates, lower graduation rates, and lack of college and career readiness. Promoting equity for students of all races helps schools ensure equal opportunity for learning and academic achievement, improved school climate, and meaningful parent and community engagement.
Sex and Gender Equity. Issues of gender equity can potentially impact all students, but some of the most vulnerable students are those who are subject to discrimination based on gender identity, sexual preference, and actual or perceived orientation. Resolving these issues not only requires tolerance, but also acceptance and understanding. Schools must also address less obvious biases, such as the low representation of girls who pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) studies and careers. Alleviating inequity based on sex and gender helps schools improve learning and academic achievement by addressing serious concerns in bullying, sexual/gender harassment, climate and unfair disciplinary practices.
National Origin Equity. As the United States has become more ethnically diverse, it is imperative that schools ensure that all student groups are welcomed and supported. Among other needs, achieving national origin equity requires tackling the challenges that face English learners (ELs) at all levels. This may include providing proper instructional support to teachers of ELs, addressing the achievement gap, accessing higher-level courses, ensuring equal access to co-curricular and extracurricular activities, preventing segregation of ELs, and addressing the over- and under-representation of these students in special education. Ensuring students are treated equitably regardless of national origin helps spearhead positive student engagement, high expectations, and a robust learning environment for all students.
Religion Equity. Religious equity can be a complicated issue because it not only involves protecting the right to free expression of a religious minority student subject to harassment or exclusion but also safeguarding the free exercise of religion of all other students and school staff. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prevents public entities from promoting or denigrating any religion. This may mean that educators and school personnel must allow students of any religion to pray or express their religious beliefs, to wear religious articles, and to avoid encouraging any religion over another. Much like other areas of equity, religious equity requires tolerance, understanding and acceptance from all parties to promote the safest, most inclusive learning environment for public school students.
Types of Technical Assistance Available
IDRA EAC-South staff work collaboratively with LEAs and SEAs to define the level of assistance required to meet the desegregation needs of the schools using research-based and evidence-based practices tailored to local need and resources. Prospective clients may self-identify an area of need or may be subject to intervention by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Justice, or similar state civil rights enforcement agency. The center provides three innovative, needs-based and outcome-focused forms of assistance to serve school districts across the region.
General Education Assistance (GEA). This assistance model delivers a variety of universal tools and products designed to assist schools in developing an awareness and understanding of equity and desegregation issues. GEA tools provide opportunities for self-improvement through online support and information dissemination. These tools are available upon request and will be added to the interactive, collaborative website. The GEA tools include: Virtual Learning Communities, Informational Presentations & Webinars, Real-Time Consultation Services, Web-based Training Packages, Repository of Resources, Social Media, and Newsletters, Podcasts & Videos.
Focused Educational Assistance (FEA). The FEA is an extended service delivery model consisting of an agreement between an LEA or SEA and the IDRA EAC-South to address an educational challenge in a strategic, focused way. Data-driven decision-making is central to this strategy, which aims to significantly impact a desegregation or equity concern. The FEA allows both the client and the IDRA EAC-South to share costs and commit resources such as staff, time, and materials to resolve educational issues. The FEA strategy may include both onsite technical assistance and online components available from the GEA.
Comprehensive Educational Planning (CEP). The CEP is the most extensive and complex technical assistance strategy offed by the IDRA EAC-South. The CEP approach may also utilize the resources established by the GEA. A CEP has three phases:
- Phase 1: Assessing the interrelated systems or components that adversely impact protected, underserved, minority, or disenfranchised learners and families.
- Phase 2: Identifying key stakeholders for problem-solving and strategic action planning. This phase involves extensive analysis to assist the center’s recommendations for policy revision and reorganization to improve outcomes for the population of focus.
- Phase 3: Creating an intensive, asset-based plan of the key components that need to change and to clarify desegregation outcomes that will create the greatest impact on the learners of focus.
Other services available to your district may include participation in regional meetings, institutes, and other meetings and access to a variety of desegregation and equity information. The center creates and supports model programs that can be used by other school districts and state education agencies to develop more equitable policies and practices.