The IDRA Education Policy Fellows Program moved from Texas in 2021 to Georgia for the state’s legislative session in early 2022. The program’s inaugural cycle in Texas operated from November 2020 through July 2021. The IDRA fellowship program was generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Trellis Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and in partnership with the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship, facilitated by Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service. IDRA’s Research Fellowship was supported in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellowsprogram was established in 2013 by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.
Mikayla Arciaga, M.A. Ed., spent the last five years teaching high school math and coaching swimming at Title I schools in both Florida and Georgia. While still in the classroom, she worked with multiple school districts in a variety of roles focusing on community engagement, curriculum improvement, teacher development and policy analysis. During her summers, Mikayla collaborated with and led a team of policy fellows assisting school board members in metro Atlanta and across the country. She contributed to several projects including a line-item review of an $800 million budget, an equity audit of almost 200 school board policies, and an analysis of both school and state-level per-pupil expenditure data.
Throughout her work at the school district level, she recognized the need for high-quality accountability processes in the public school system, which motivated her to pursue a master’s degree in program evaluation in the educational environment from the University of Florida. Mikayla’s policy interests are centered around dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, accessibility for students with disabilities and digital accessibility. Outside of education policy, her other great love has been to make swimming accessible to learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. As a swim coach, she has worked to create a space focusing on sportsmanship, community, and joy, bringing home the first city championship in school history.
Schools Should Value Student’s Lived Experiences, Not Censor Them – IDRA Testimony against HB 1084 in the Georgia General Assembly, presented by Mikayla Arciaga, M.A.Ed, to the House Education Academic Innovation Subcommittee, February 9, 2022 – See video
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Preparation and Access to College
Dr. Altheria Caldera is a scholar, writer and equity activist whose other identities include dog-lover, nature-enthusiast and college football fan. The Alabama native began her professional career as a middle school English teacher. As a teacher educator for the last four years, she aims to equip her students with the knowledge necessary to effectively teach students of color in P-12 schools. Through her research and scholarship, she aims to promote access and equity for all minoritized students in academic institutions that span the P-16 spectrum. Altheria earned her Ph.D. in education studies from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and is looking forward to learning how to apply her classroom knowledge to state-level advocacy work.
As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Altheria identified and pursued advocacy opportunities to expand access to and ensure success in postsecondary education spaces, particularly for students of color. After the fellowship cycle ended, Altheria became assistant professor of language arts and reading at Howard University and director of its DC-Area Writing Project.
Araceli Garcia grew up on the South Side of San Antonio and is the daughter and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants. As the culmination of her hard work and the sacrifices of her family, Araceli graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Chicanx/Latinx studies and a minor in education. Araceli is the first person in her family to attend college, and she has held several leadership positions within the Stanford University Latinx community, where she found a home away from home. In addition to her studies, Araceli has worked alongside detained immigrants fighting for their right to seek asylum. She plans to pursue a law degree.
As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Araceli identified and pursued advocacy opportunities that ensure equitable and excellent schools for English learners and immigrant students. After the fellowship cycle ended, Araceli entered the University of Texas’ School of Law.
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Digital Communications and Community Engagement Advocacy
Thomas Marshall III is a native of Columbia, South Carolina and is new to the Houston area, residing in the Third Ward. He attended Clemson University for his undergraduate studies, where he received a B.A. in English with a minor in youth development studies. Educational equity is at the core of his heart and collegiate career. During his undergraduate career, he mentored and holistically developed men of color, ranging from first-year students to seniors in high school. To Thomas, educational equity is when the institution of education decides to take ownership of the inconvenient truth: the history of inequities in education put marginalized folks first. His research interests include the recruitment and retention rate of Black males at predominantly white institutions. He is currently a student in the master of education (higher education) program at the University of Houston.
As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Thomas executed a strong digital communications and community engagement advocacy program for the 87th Texas legislative session. After the fellowship cycle ended, Thomas joined the IDRA staff as a policy communications strategist.
IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Equitable Response to COVID-19 in Schools
Christina Quintanilla-Muñoz, M.Ed., is a second-generation, Latina master’s student studying quantitative methods in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Christina believes that voices from students and other advocates of color are grossly under-represented in the policymaking space. She hopes to learn how to be a stronger advocate for families, students and educators in local communities, using advocacy and community-focused data collection strategies to identify their needs.
As an IDRA Education Policy Fellow, Christina identified and pursued advocacy opportunities that address both the new and the existing systemic needs that schools, students and families have due to COVID-19. After the fellowship cycle ended, Christina joined the IDRA staff as research analyst.
Except where otherwise noted, content produced by IDRA fellows during their fellowship is licensed under a Creative Commons (CC-BY). This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.