Families & Communities


Family Leadership in Education Articles in English

What Parents Want to Know about the New Texas Graduation Guidelines – The new
Texas graduation guidelines went into effect with incoming ninth grade students in the 2010-11 school year and contain critical information we must provide parents, educators, students and community members. As educators, we are obligated to inform parents and students of the consequences related to each track or program. Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D, provides some quick facts for schools to convey — in a language that is comprehensible for each family. The information is based on the questions parents have been asking IDRA about the new guidelines.

Establishing Home-School Partnerships for Success in Science – Building strong home-school partnerships is an effective strategy for success in supporting children’s achievement in science. Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., and Veronica Betancourt , M.A., outline teaching and learning premises undergirding the importance of parent and family engagement with references to research support for this approach. They also suggests essential competencies that reflect a positive approach in operationalizing this strategy and offer techniques for implementation. Additional resources are provided online to help in creating a culture of effective parent engagement in schools.

Communities, School Boards and Education Policy – Public education has long been dependent on support from local communities, yet we are seeing a growing disconnect between educational professionals and their communities. Albert Cortez , Ph.D., considers why this has occurred and more importantly what is needed to strengthen these connections. He notes that IDRA’s interactions with local community-based organizations suggest that strong community interest in supporting and improving public schools is a highly underutilized resource at both the local and state levels.

Hosting Superintendents, Quizzing Candidates and Marking Maps – A Fully Engaged PTA Comunitario – A superintendent is the main guest for a supper in a community center; a candidate is asked about his position on a new graduation requirement policy; and a parent documents online the effects of serious budget cuts to education. In this newsletter article, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describes these actions of families taking leadership and using actionable data to improve their neighborhood public schools.

Family Engagement in Early Childhood – IDRA’s New Semillitas de aprendizaje™ Cartitas Letters Home Series – Throughout the generations, we have passed down tales to children, who, in turn, fashion stories from their days. But in the formal context of the classroom, not all children have had access to the rich world of the story. IDRA has developed its Semillitas de apprendizaje™ bilingual supplemental curricula and materials to build on what is working and help address this gap. In this newsletter article, Laurie Posner, MPA, shows how the new Cartitas or “letters home” series is designed to fostering school-family partnerships around storybooks that speak to young children.

Interview: Engaging Parents through Powerful Coalition Building to Support Education – Community engagement does not mean starting from scratch. Advocates in communities long have come together to tackle specific needs, like health, housing and development. In this Courageous Connections interview, José Medrano, of the START Center in South Texas, describes how, in the Texas Rio Grande Valley several such groups are working together to focus attention on education, particularly local dropout rates.

Harnessing the Power of Web 3.0 with IDRA’s OurSchool Data Portal – In this article, Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., describes the IDRA OurSchool portal, Web 3.0 and other ways that educators can use advances in technology to improve schools and consequently student achievement. She says that, in order to challenge and engage students as more advanced technologies emerge, many educators and educational systems will need to incorporate the power of Web 3.0.

Helping Parents Use Data to Improve Schools – An Interview with Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools, by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. – In this interview, Anne Foster, executive director of Parents for Public Schools, describes how PPS is training parents to interpret data and to better understand how schools and school boards function. She gives several examples of transformations that have occurred as a result, like improving science achievement and dramatically improving graduation rates. The full interview is available through the IDRA Classnotes Podcast (via iTunes or http://www.idra.org/resource_center_categories/classnotes-podcast/).


Family Leadership in the Field – Lasting Community Leadership in Education, by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., outlines IDRA’s work to create lasting community leadership in education showing that 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.

Community Leaders Discuss How PTA Comunitarios Give Voice to Parents in their Children’s Education, interview in which four leaders of the nation’s first PTA Comunitario talk about their experience and passion for community engagement in education. Read the condensed version translated into English. The full interview is available in Spanish through the IDRA Classnotes Podcast.

The Family, School and Community Partnership Equation, by Frances M. Guzmán, M.Ed., describes how school districts can assist incoming children and families with programs like the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. HIPPY is a home-based instructional program targeting the families of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds before these children enter a public school setting.

Ready or Not, Here They Come – Preparing for the Class of 2018, by Laurie Posner , M.P.A., wonders if we are doing all that we can to make sure that today’s fifth graders are on a path to graduate from high school ready for college.

Using Semillitas de aprendizaje™ in the Early Childhood Classroom, by Juanita C. García, Ph.D., and Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., describes how IDRA’s new curriculum encourages early literacy experiences by basing each classroom lesson unit on a book and its message, using music and songs to promote awareness of sounds and structure of language, and including activities that encourage conversations and descriptions of their learning.

Expanding School Governance through Participatory Community Engagement, by Dr. Villarreal and Dr. Rodríguez, provides a scenario where students, parents and community expand the role of governance beyond that of policymaking to a more inclusive community governance model where parents and students play four major roles.

School and Community Capacity Building for Collaboration, by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describes how, rather than mailing school-level report cards, truly accountable schools have real communication with individual families, and they provide collective opportunities for conversation about how children are doing academically and socially.

School Principal Discusses the Dramatic Transformation of His School presents an Interview with Dr. Lucious Brown of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Atlanta for this new Courageous Connections feature article.

Accountability that Doesn’t Hurt Students, by Dr. Albert Cortez, presents examples of dysfunctional accountability policies and the faulty assumptions that drive their adoption. It examines alternative accountability approaches that do not harm students and that, at the same time, support positive educational outcomes for students.

A Policy Shift From Preventing Dropouts to Graduation for All, by Dr. Albert Cortez, Ph.D., calls for a new graduation-for-all goal that will require major re-tooling of an education system that was designed to produce just enough graduates to get by.

The ARISE South Tower PTA Comunitario – An Example Community-Based School Engagement tells how, with assistance from the IDRA PIRC and support from Texas PTA, ARISE formed the country’s first PTA Comunitario. Author, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., discusses how their leadership is proving to be a model of community-based school engagement.

¡YA! Es Tiempo Event Highlights – Securing Educational Excellence and Equity for All Students in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, recounts this event where Rio Grande Valley community leaders dialogued with White House officials. More than 150 participants examined data about their schools and developed strategies and commitments to improve schools for children and youth in the Rio Grande Valley.

Tyranny of Old Ideas About School Board Responsibilities, by Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., and Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., offers suggestions for updating existing school board member responsibilities to be more inclusive and responsive to today’s changing demographics and school requirements.

Implications of Inequitable Funding on the Quality of Education at the Campus Level, by Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., discusses the impact of inequitable funding on teaching quality and civil rights.

Tyranny of Old Ideas About School Board Responsibilities, by Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., and Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., offers suggestions for updating existing school board member responsibilities to be more inclusive and responsive to today’s changing demographics and school requirements.

ARISE South Tower PTA Comunitario – A New Model of Parent Engagement tells the story of 20 parents in a south Texas colonia who formed their own community-based official PTA unit.

Family Leadership in Education – Putting Principles into Action lists ideas for successful parent and community engagement, based on IDRA’s principles of family leadership in education

Benefits of Parent and Community Engagement – A Community of Learners Approach discusses how effective parent and community engagement can improve teacher effectiveness and help school districts weave a web of support for all students to graduate college ready.

Supporting the Dream of Going to College Through Powerful Student Engagement shares the story of IDRA’s work with high school students who actively counseled their peers on how to access information about going to college and how to seek financial aid options.

How One Group of Families Explored Clues about their Children’s Math Education tells a short story of how a group of parents in a distressed area of the Texas Valley worked together to solve the mystery of why their children’s math education was of such poor quality.

“Youth Matters” states that the best way to engage students is to first acknowledge they have a voice and truly believe that what students have to say about their education matters. She tells the story of more than 1,000 students from Oakland-area high schools who completed a report card survey designed and developed by Oakland high school youth organizers. (by Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., IDRA Newsletter, January 2010)

“Zero Tolerance ≠ College Prep” gives insights into academic support services that help to level the playing field so that all students graduate, are college ready, and are equipped to exercise their option to continue their education at a college or university (by Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D.; IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2009)

“School Attrition Rates and Title I School Accountability to Families – Necessary Information” discusses Title I requirements for schools to provide information to parents and what kinds of questions parents can be asking. (by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.; IDRA Newsletter October 2009)

Student Success through Capable Communities and Schools discusses the three change strategies – community capacity building, building coalitions and school capacity building – and how they relate to family engagement (IDRA Newsletter September 2009)

“Actionable Knowledge – Putting Research to Work for School Community Action”
Presents a review of research literature on actionable knowledge. (by Laurie Posner, M.P.A.; IDRA Newsletter August 2009)

“The Role of a Family Friendly Principal” highlights of principal behaviors like his that are congruent with IDRA’s family leadership principles. (IDRA Newsletter June-July 2009)

Creating a Campus Culture of Teacher High Expectations and Support gives a former principal’s view of how IDRA”s family leadership principles apply directly to a school principal. (by Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D.IDRA Newsletter June-July 2009)

Customer Service for School Improvement describes a professional development session for the secretaries, clerks and support personnel of a school district that is strategically aiming to improve its services to and engagement with families. (IDRA Newsletter May 2009)

The Lens for Viewing the Full Dimensions of Families portrays different lenses for partnering with families in schools. (by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter April 2009)

The Family Friendly Principal presents actions of a family friendly principal based on IDRA’s six principles of family leadership. (by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter March 2009)

Putting our ChIPS on the Table for Children in Public Schools imagines some federal projects that would be useful in accelerating educational transformation through community connections and family leadership. (by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter February 2009)

Parent Consultation and Curriculum – Meaningful Dialoguedicusses the importance that school consultation with informed parents continue as a requirement in Title I.(by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter January 2009)

Creating Culturally Responsive Parent Engagement – Principal Shares Strategies for Success reflects on some of the highly successful examples of culturally-responsive parent engagement that have been evidenced in one Texas school district. (by Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D., and Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter November-December 2008)

From the Cradle to College presents college prep tips teachers, counselors and administrators can share with families to help them navigate the journey from the cradle to college. (by Leticia Rodríguez, Ed.M., IDRA Newsletter September 2008)

How are the Students Doing? More than Test Scores! Title I Accountability and Attrition Studies looks at the state of accountability measures (IDRA Newsletter September 2008)

Effective Parent Outreach highlights the most powerful approach of parent outreach. (IDRA Newsletter August 2008)

Authentic Consultation – NCLB Outreach Leadership and Dialogues for Parents, Students and Teachers tells the story of parent-student-teacher dialogues that can provide an accountability forum for a high school campus that has not been making adequate yearly progress. (by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter June-July 2008)

Families and Curriculum describes how families can use IDRA’s guide, Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English, to examine how effectively the school is teaching the children. (IDRA Newsletter March 2008)

Community Conversations about Math Learning and Teaching describes several specific activities that schools and parents have done together to use the support of their parents to make a difference in student math achievement. (by Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., and Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter January 2008)

Getting 30 Warm Bodies to the Meeting? Parent Engagement is More than This! compares two paradigms of parent engagement and makes the point that the NCLB parent involvement requirements fall under the newer paradigm. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter November-December 2007)

Parents Choosing Success for Their Childrensummarizes the public school and supplementary educational services under Title I for parents. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter October 2007)

NCLB Parent Involvement Requirementsgives life to the letter of the NCLB law through four examples. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter September 2007)

IDRA’s Family Leadership Principlesdescribes the six principles that have been the basis of IDRA’s work with families, schools and community groups. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter September 2007)

Telling the Truthsupports the framing of school conversations about families and children from the position of value, hope and vision. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter August 2007)

Stop the Merry-go-Round, Children Might Fall Off!emphasizes how parents can be stewards of good school governance. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter June-July 2007)

This We Knowzeroes in on parents as advocates and catalysts for quality teaching. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter May 2007)

Raising the Bar on Parent Engagement

Engagement Sounds, Sparks and Movementsillustrates non-traditional effective examples of family and student communication and participation in education. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter March 2007)

Accountability and Equity in Our Schools highlights the interconnections between holding schools responsible and ensuring that the money and resources needed are available. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter February 2007)

Every Family Engaged = Every Child Ahead focuses on six key levers families have through the NCLB parent participation requirements. (By Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA Newsletter January 2007)