by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • January 2018 •

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.Last year in April, IDRA held its 19th Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute. Among the many concurrent sessions, we have taken the materials for four of the presentations and created packages to be used for training and technical assistance for school districts. These packages are tools to strengthen family engagement in public schools.

The first package is “ESSA Requirements for Schools and Parent Involvement” based on a presentation by David Hinojosa, IDRA Director of National Policy. The goal is to train families on how the state and the local school district must have plans to improve learning for all students, including poor and minority students and to involve the community in creating those plans. Key elements are:

  • Parents serving on peer-review teams to evaluate school district and state education plans,
  • Involving parents in creating state report cards,
  • School outreach to parents,
  • Partnering to create school-parent compacts,
  • Family engagement funding, and
  • Statewide family engagement centers.

The materials include a lesson steps, an ESSA Action Pack for community members, and a PowerPoint set on ESSA. (The training materials are available free online.)

As states get their ESSA plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education, families can review local equity plans and have input on how Title I programs are carried out to serve economically disadvantaged communities. Even though each state has its own unique ESSA plan, the family engagement requirements are universal and provide an important opportunity for families to influence both policy and practice.

The ESSA requirements for family engagement don’t speak to providing parenting sessions or to working with parents for volunteerism and fundraising. The rules, however, do specify that districts inform families about the academic goals for, and achievements of, students in Title I schools.

Along with the need to serve children whose families are economically disadvantaged, there are issues of civil rights in public education. Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, the IDRA EAC-South technical assistance in the U.S. South promulgates family engagement as a civil rights issue because families are the most logical advocates and supporters of all children’s rights to an accessible, excellent, equitable and welcoming public school.

The 20th Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute will be held on Friday, April 6, at the Whitley Center in San Antonio, the same site where it has been for the last four years. It will be bilingual (English-Spanish), with some sessions live-streamed, and offer an array of concurrent presentations of interest to families, with many of the presentation led by parents. Family leadership in education is the connecting thread and overarching theme of the event.

box about Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., is an IDRA senior education associate. Comments and questions may be directed to him via email at 

[©2018, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 2018 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.]