• IDRA Newsletter • June- July 2001
José A. Cárdenas, founder and director emeritus of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), was recently honored by the Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT). Dr. Cárdenas earned the “Child Advocate Award” from the TFT for his outstanding work in the development of multicultural and bilingual education programs, and his important work on behalf of equity in school funding that would provide every child in Texas with an equal access to a quality educational program.
The TFT has presented the Child Advocate Award only four previous times in the organization’s 27-year history. Dr. Cárdenas is the first non-elected official to receive the prestigious award. John Cole, President of TFT, said, “We don’t give this award annually, or on any regular schedule. We give it only to really exceptional people who have worked extraordinarily as advocates for children, and whose achievements in the field of education have been extraordinary.” Previous recipients were former Texas Senators Greg Luna and Carl Parker and former State Representatives Wilhelmina Delco and Ernestine Glossbrenner.
At 19, Dr. Cárdenas began teaching junior high school science in Laredo, and discovered what would prove to be a life-long love of children and teaching. He continued his educational career as a teacher and an administrator of the Edgewood Independent School District and later as chair of the Education Department at St. Mary’s University. Dr. Cárdenas then took a job in educational research at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Later, he returned to the Edgewood Independent School District where he served as superintendent from 1969 to 1973. Dr. Cárdenas’ work in public schools was supplemented by many years of full and part-time college teaching and almost 30 years in educational research and development. He also participated as an expert witness, and/or consultant in over 70 civil rights cases involving the denial of equal protection or the civil rights of children. In all of the cases, participation was on behalf of children.
In 1973, Dr. Cárdenas founded IDRA as an independent, non-profit organization, dedicated to creating schools that work for all children. IDRA fulfills its mission through professional development, research and evaluation, policy and leadership development, and programs and materials development. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than 27 years, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities.
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[©2001, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the June- July 2001 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]